21st June 2014
What is the truth about the Somnath temple and Mahmud of Ghazni?
Indian history is a mountain of complexity. Not only does it relate to a HUGE number of kingdoms and rulers but all kinds of interpretations, which only a professional historian can unravel. I am no professional historian, but each time I attempt to take India forward India blocks the way by asserting PRIMITIVE hatred amongst the two religions of Islam and Hinduism.
India likes to remain a medieval nation, and no amount of prodding it to become a modern nation shows signs of being actualised. The BJP, which is in power today, is ENTIRELY there because of its ability to strengthen the Hindu-Muslim divide. People in India feed off the Hindu-Muslim divide.
India seems to be a lost cause.
I don't know whether there is anything of value in my trying to enter this deep and dirty water of the history of India's communal past.
EVEN IF there was the greatest bigotry in the past, that doesn't mean modern India should have anything to do with it. There was the most vicious hatred and internecine killings amongst Christians in Europe, in the past. That doesn't mean modern USA or Europe are obliged to do anything about these ancient killings, apart from have historians study it for the record.
However, there distorted histories cause deep confusions. It is possible that by picking up this topic, I'll merely add to the confusion. I hope not to add to the confusion but to increase clarity. At least the history should be known properly, in all its complexity.
Once again, please be aware that my interest in looking at this issue is not political but objective. It doesn't matter what happened. None of that justifies any hatred/crime today.
Even historians fear to grapple with this issue. It is worthwhile, however, to look at it, to increase one's knowledge.
THIS IS A PLACEHOLDER BLOG POST re: Somnath Temple. I've not formed any view, nor am I in a hurry to do so. I'll keep adding references till one fine day I've got enough information to form a view. Please provide any SCHOLARLY links/ evidence that you are aware of. If not to me, hopefully this info will be of use to beginning students of history in schools and colleges.
Rebuilding by public (NOT government) funds in mid-20th century:
"Patel also pledged the reconstruction of the ancient but dilapidated Somnath Temple in Saurashtra — he oversaw the creation of a public trust and restoration work, and pledged to dedicate the temple upon the completion of work (the work was completed after Patel's death, and the temple was inaugurated by the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad" [Source]
Romila Thapar's view on the complex history of the temple
Ram Puniyani's views
Mahmud Gazni on way to Somanth encountered the Muslim ruler of Multan (Abdul Fat Dawod), with whom he had to have a battle to cross Multan. In the battle the Jama Masjid of Multan was badly damaged. Further on way he struck compromise with Anandpal, the ruler of Thaneshwar who escorted his army towards Somanth with due hospitality. Gazni’s army had a good number of Hindu soldiers and five out of his 12 generals were Hindus (Tilak, Rai Hind, Sondhi, Hazran etc). Before proceeding to damage the temple he took custody of the gold and jewels, which were part of the temple treasury. After the battle he issued coins in his name with inscriptions in Sanskrit and appointed a Hindu Raja as his representative in Somnath. [Source]
Notes by Manmit Madan on FB
Various historical sources such as Martin Ewans, E.J. Brill and Farishta have recorded the introduction of Islam to Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan to the conquests of and Mahmud:
The Arabs advanced through Sistan and conquered Sindh early in the eighth century. Elsewhere however their incursions were no more than temporary, and it was not until the rise of the Saffarid dynasty in the ninth century that the frontiers of Islam effectively reached Ghazni and Kabul. Even then a Hindu dynasty the Hindushahis, held Gandhara and eastern borders. From the tenth century onwards as Persian language and culture continued to spread into Afghanistan, the focus of power shifted to Ghazni, where a Turkish dynasty, who started by ruling the town for the Samanid dynasty of Bokhara, proceeded to create an empire in their own right. The greatest of the Ghaznavids was Muhmad who ruled between 998 and 1030. He expelled the Hindus from Gandhara, made no fewer than 17 raids into northwestern India,
He encouraged mass conversions to Islam, in India as well as in Afghanistan
Attack on 'Kafiristan':
Another crusade against idolatry was at length resolved on; and Mahmud led the seventh one against Nardain, the then boundary of India, or the eastern part of the Hindu Kush; separating as Firishta says, the countries of Hindustan and Turkistan and remarkable for its excellent fruit. The country into which the army of Ghazni marched appears to have been the same as that now called Kafirstan, where the inhabitants were and still are, idolaters and are named the Siah-Posh, or black-vested by the Muslims of later times. In Nardain there was a temple, which the army of Ghazni destroyed; and brought from thence a stone covered with certain inscriptions, which were according to the Hindus, of great antiquity.
Mahmud, according to several contemporary accounts, considered himself a Ghazi who waged jihad on the Hindus. His plunder of Hindu temples and centers of learning is noted later in the article. Al-Biruni writes:
In the interest of his successors he constructed, in order to weaken the Indian frontier, those roads on which afterwards his son Mahmud marched into India during a period of thirty years and more. God be merciful to both father and son! Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims. This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places. And there the antagonism between them and all foreigners receives more and more nourishment both from political and religious sources.
PETER VAN DER VEER
Ayodhya and Somnath: Eternal Shrines, Contested Histores, Social Research, Vol. 59, No. 1, Religion and Politics (SPRING 1992), pp. 85-109 [JSTOR]