The richly jewelled idols taken from the pagan temples were transferred
to Agra and there placed beneath the steps leading to the Nawab Begum Sahib's mosque, in
order that they might ever be pressed under foot by the true believers. The city 's name
was changed to Islamabad. Can you guess thename of this unfortunate place? We can tell
you who published those words. He was Vincent A. Smith ICE, CIE, the famous historian
If you cannot guess, it was Mathura, the birth place of Sri
Krishna. Most of the idols were from the just destroyed Kesava Deva mandir, built at the
spot where the popular avtaar was believed to have been born some 3,400 years ago.
If Mahmud Ghazni was a juahil or a barbarian, one might have been inclined
to overlook his outrage and excuse him. But both Al-Beruni and Utbi, who were chroniclers
and lived in Ghazni's times, certified that Mahmud was devout and built beautiful mosques
in his Ghazna. For the author it is difficult to do unto others what he would dislike
others doing unto him. It is not easy for a conscience to live with double standards. The
author is not a regular worshipperand yet he can appreciate what puja prayer or ibadat
means to others. He wouldhate to distrub them. So much for sentiment. Beyond that of
course is the Hindu in him which tells him that every karma leads to bhagya, every
deed goes to shape destiny. Every action has a reaction, equal and opposite.
This reasoning must have been alien to Mahmud Ghazni in 1017 AD,
although his forefathers must have been Hindu or Buddhist, or possibly, pagan (there
was no Islam until the seventh century). Do you think that the misfortunes of the Afghan
peoples especially since the Soviet invasion in April 1978 are the bhagya resulting
from the karmas of iconoclasts like Mahmud? He was not the only blood thirsty
invader. There were a series of them from Afghanistan. The last big vandal was Ahmed
Shah Abdali of the 18th century. What was perpetrated at Mathura, is unthinkable in any
context of civilization.
You will experience it better when you read what a British Christian
had to say. As a Hindu, all that the author will say is that no one is more widely adored
amongst us than Sri Krishna. From Jammu in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, from
Dwarka in the west to Imphal in the east, there are any number of Krishna worshippers.
Moreover, there is no Hindu who would not be an adorer of this son of Mathura. He gave the
Bhagawat Gita to us. Even today, every Hindu swears by it before answering in any court,
just as Christians and Muslims swear by the Bible and the Quran respectively. If there be
any one book from which a Hindu wishes to understand his faith, it is the Gita. In fact,
everyone, at least in India, understands what Sri Krishna means to the Hindu psyche.
Justas Sri Ram exemplifies the uncompromising idealist, Krishna personifies the
comprehensive realist. When a Hindu has a problem, he wonders what Kesava would have done
to solve it with his genius for tactics and strategy. If he wishes to celebrate a
festival, he thinks of Giridhar Gopal. If he dreams of frolic, he sees Gopinath. If he lo
for love, he cannot but help dream of Radheyshyam.
In his Mathura: A District Memoir, Growse has recorded his exhaustive
survey and research about Brajbhoomi. He was so overhelmed by the vandalism that visited
the area repeatedly, that he wrote feelingly, although his home was in far away England.
To quote: thanks to Muhammadan intolerance, there is not a single building of any
antiquity either in the city itself or its environs. Its most famous temple-that dedicated
to Kesava Deva (Krishna) - was destroyed in 1669, the eleventh year of the reign of the
iconoclast Aurangzeb (Alamgir was also his name). The mosque (idgah) erected on its ruins
is a building of little architectural value.
Mahmud Ghazni was however the first iconoclast to vandalise Mathura. That was in 1017
AD about which Growse wrote: If any one wished to construct a building equal to it, he
would not be able to do so without expending a hundred millions diners, and the work
would occupy two hundred years, even though the most able and experienced workmen
were employed. Orders were given that all the temple should be burnt with naphtha and fire
and levelled with the ground. The city was given up to plunder for twenty days. Among the
spoils are said to have been five great idols of pure gold with eyes of rubies and
adornments of other precious stones, together with a vast number of smaller silver images,
which, when broken up, formed a load for more than a hundred camels. The total value of
the spoils has been estimated at three millions of rupees; while the number of Hindus
carried away into captivity exceeded 5,000.
Today Balkrishna is worshipped in a little room which appears like a servant quarter
attached to the back of the idgah. Pathos can be experienced by any visitor,
whether a devotee or otherwise.
To go back to Aurangzeb, over two centuries after the desecration, Growse felt that: of
all the sacred places in India, none enjoys a greater popularity than the capital of Braj,
the holy city of Mathura. For nine months in the year, festival follows upon festival in
rapid succession and the ghats and temples are daily thronged with new troops of way-worn
pilgrims. So great is the sanctity of the spot that its panegyrists do not hesitate to
declare that a single day spent at Mathura is more meritorious than a lifetime passed at
Benares. All this celebrity is due to the fact of it being the birthplace of the demi-god
In his chapter entitled The Braj Mandal, the Ban Yatra and the Holi as
Growse puts it: Not only the city of Mathura, but with it, the whole of the westem half
of the district has a special interest of its own as the birthplace and abiding home
Vaishnava Hinduism. It is about 42 miles in length with an average breadth of 30 miles and
is intersected throughout by the river Jamuna. In the neighbourhood Gokul and Brindaban,
where the divine brothers Krishna and Balaram grazed their herds. He continues: Almost
every spot is traditionally connected with some event in the life of Krishna or of his
mythical mistress Radha.
To paraphrase William Shakespeare, not all the scents of Arabia would suffice to
wash away the sins of Ghazni and Alamgir at Mathura. And since it is not posible to claim
back what was destroyed long ago, the return of the Idgaah and the shuddhi
of Krishna janmabhoomi or the birth place of Krishna, is the only