The second myth about temple desecrations is that a few Hindu scholars like Professors
Ram Swarup and Sita Rarn Goel have exaggerated their incidence. The truth is that
iconoclasm was an integral aspect for long periods in the medieval history of India. The
original sources of information are nearly all contemporary Muslim chroniclers who wrote
in Arabic or Persian. Inumerable Muslim sources and their prolific records are proof that
the badshahs as well as Muslim elite considers desecrations to
be important enough to be recorded at such length.
A number of chroniclers have described with exhilaration the desecrations in their time
indicating satisfaction at the service performed for the sake of Allah. One of the last
Islamic scholars to have commented gleefully on temple desecration was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
who founded Aligarh Muslim University in his well known treatise called Asan's Sanadid.
Yet another modem luminary to have writte with pride was Maulana Hakim Sayed Abdul Hai
(affectionately called Abdur Hai), Rector, Daurul-Ulum Nadwatul-Ulama at Deoband.
After their arrival in India in the 18th and 19th centuries, British scholars also took
interest in the subject of temple desecration. For purposes of research, the used medieval
chroniclers. In addition to the invaluable information they were able to dig up, they
added their knowledge by personal surveys of the sites where deseorations had taken
place. An outstanding surveyor was Lt. Gen. Sir Alexander Cunningham, the first Director
General of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The fact that medieval Islamic chroniclers as well as British historians took so much
interest, is evidence enough of the historic importance of temple desecration
Medieeval scholars presumably were gratified at the damage that their invading partrons
were able to inflict on a non-Muslim civilization. They considered faith as the bedrock of
Hindu civilization. The destruction of a temple would help in cracking bedrock and thus
make it easier for conversion of Hindus into Muslims; progress towards the esablishment of
Darul Islam. British historians were critical of this destructive aggression and lamented
particularly the attempted obliteration of many a beautiful temple
Uncannily, most modem Indian historians have ignored medieval Islamic
chroniclers as well as British archaeologists. The result has been that few history books
carry the tragic saga of temple desecration. This mischief of silence has, in turn, given
the impression that isolated Hindu scholars are the only ones who have made a hue and cry
about mandirs having been damaged or destroyed by Muslims. In the following pages are
given three maps drawn by Professor Eaton alongwith his list of 80 temples and a
bibliography of his sources. These are taken from his Essays on Islam and Indian
History, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2000.