The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in its scientific survey report on the Gyanvapi mosque complex has concluded that “there existed a Hindu temple prior to the construction of the existing structure” at the site.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque Matter: Unraveling the Legal History
- Key Findings from the ASI Report on Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque: Unveiling Historical Insights
- Key Takeaways from the ASI Report on Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque: Navigating Complex Realities
Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque Matter: Unraveling the Legal History
Origin of the Legal Tussle:
- Dates back to a 1991 petition filed in Varanasi district court, seeking the restoration of Gyanvapi land to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
- Alleges that the mosque was constructed under Aurangzeb’s orders, involving the destruction of a part of the temple in the 16th century.
Revival of the Case:
- In 2019, a petition was filed after the Supreme Court’s Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute verdict.
- Varanasi district court directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific survey, leading to a series of legal actions.
Interruption by Allahabad High Court:
- In 2021, Allahabad High Court halted proceedings in the Varanasi court, citing the Places of Worship Act 1991.
- The Act prevents changes in the religious character of a place of worship as of August 15, 1947.
Recent Developments – ASI Survey:
- In July 2023, Varanasi district court tasked the ASI to conduct a scientific survey of the mosque.
- The objective was to ascertain if the mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.
- The Supreme Court temporarily paused the survey, which was eventually initiated by the ASI in August 2023.
Key Findings from the ASI Report on Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque: Unveiling Historical Insights
Destruction Under Aurangzeb’s Reign:
- The pre-existing structure, likely a Hindu temple, was likely destroyed during the 17th century, under Aurangzeb’s rule.
- An engraved loose stone recorded the mosque’s construction during Aurangzeb’s reign, specifically between 1676 and 1677.
- Maasir-i-Alamgiri (1947) by Sir Jadunath Sarkar supports the destruction of the pre-existing structure, following Aurangzeb’s orders to demolish schools and temples.
Demolition of Vishwanath Temple:
- Aurangzeb’s officers reportedly demolished the Vishwanath temple at Kashi on September 2, 1669.
- A total of 34 inscriptions found during the survey, in Devanagari, Grantha, Telugu, and Kannada scripts.
Deities’ Names and Significance:
- Inscriptions revealed names of deities like Janardhana (Vishnu), Rudra (Shiva), and “Umesvara.”
- Significance attached to terms like Maha-muktimandapa mentioned in three inscriptions.
Mutilation of Vyala Figures:
- Vyala figures, Hindu mythological creatures, mutilated for reuse, along with floral designs, indicating repurposing of the pre-existing temple.
Integration of Central Chamber:
- The central chamber and main entrance of the pre-existing temple are part of the current structure.
- The central chamber now serves as the central hall, while the original entrance is blocked.
- Original entrance adorned with carvings of animals, birds, and an ornamental torana (gateway).
Sculptural Remains and Cellars:
- Sculptures of Hindu deities and architectural members found in cellars, providing evidence of a large Hindu temple.
Reuse of Pillars:
- Pillars from the pre-existing temple repurposed to create cellars in the eastern part of the platform.
Ongoing Legal Battle:
- The report adds significant historical depth to the ongoing legal dispute surrounding the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque case.
Key Takeaways from the ASI Report on Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque: Navigating Complex Realities
Complicated Legal Battle:
- The Gyanvapi Masjid case remains entangled in a complex legal battle with profound historical and religious implications.
Transparency through ASI Report:
- The Varanasi court’s decision to disclose the ASI report is a significant move toward transparency in addressing the longstanding dispute.
- The Opposition has maintained silence on the matter, indicating a cautious approach or a strategic wait-and-watch stance.
RSS and BJP’s Approach:
- The RSS and BJP expressed no urgency in delving into the issue, preferring to let the courts lead the way in resolving the matter.
Comparisons with Ayodhya Ram Temple Issue:
- An RSS functionary highlighted the mobilizational aspect of the Ayodhya Ram temple issue in the 1980s, positioning it as a means to address concerns and reach out to the public.
Evolution of Societal Awareness:
- Unlike the past, where society was less attuned to cultural concerns, the current scenario sees society actively embracing these concerns collectively.
Cultural Concerns in Mainstream Discourse:
- Cultural concerns, once taken up by the Sangh as mobilizational issues, have now become collective concerns embedded in mainstream societal discourse.
-Source: Indian Express