Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"Commercial" renovation or atheistic destruction?

Tuesday, 05 August, 2008 , 04:07 PM

We don’t have to go to Kabul or Karachi or Islamabad to see the State-sponsored destruction of non-Muslim heritage structures or objects or places of worship. We can see that happening in Tamilnadu today. In 2001, the Talibans in Afghanistan gave a death sentence to the ancient gigantic Buddha relics of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in these words: ‘All we are breaking are stones.

These infidel statues are insulting to Islam and should be destroyed so that the infidels could never worship them again. These shrines of infidels should be destroyed forthwith and torn down’. These Buddhist relics had withstood the onslaught of centuries and ravages of nature for more than 2000 years. The then UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL ENVOY, Pierre LaFrance, in Kandahar pleaded for the continued existence of these exquisitely carved, beautiful and gigantic Buddhist statues of Bamiyan. The Taliban rulers treated this request with contempt and unconcealed hatred. Thus the Taliban Government destroyed those Buddhist statues forever and ever.

Under an anti-Hindu and atheistic DMK government in Tamilnadu, ancient relics -- cultural and religious Hindu relics -- are getting destroyed everyday as part of high State Policy. Human hands have brought down the massive and beautiful mandapa situated in the historically famous Varadharaja Perumal Temple at Kancheepuram in Tamilnadu, which has with stood the onslaught of five centuries. This ancient temple was built by the Cholas in 1053 and it is one of the 108 divyadesams or the holy abodes of Vishnu. It is located in that part of Kanchipuram which is traditionally known as Vishnu Kanchi. Vishnu Kanchi has been the home for a lot of famous Vishnu temples, including the Varadharaja Perumal Temple. Ramnujacharya is believed to have resided in this temple.

Varadharaja Perumal Temple is a huge temple spread over a 23 acre complex. The earliest reference to this temple is in a Pasuram of Boothathazhwar, dating back to 600 AD. Perhaps this temple was a small temple during the time of Pallavas. The temple originally consisted of an image of Narasimha at the foot of a small rocky boulder. Later, a standing form of Vishnu was installed on top of the rock. It was then called Arulalar temple. The village was called Athiyur because there were a number of ‘Athi’ trees around. The temple began to gain prominence in the 11th century, during the period of the Cholas. Kulothunga Chola-I encased the rock and built a structural temple around the standing Vishnu in A.D. 1100. Later by stages, spread over a few centuries, this temple expanded with the construction of several shrines, prakaras (corridors) and gopurams. According to Dr. Nagaswamy, Vijayanagar Emperor Krishnadevaraya (1509-1530) built the present sanctum sanctorum, the Vimana above it and covered it with gold sheet around A.D. 1525. Krishna- devaraya also rebuilt the sanctum of Thayaar (Vishnu’s consort) and the Vimana, and covered this Vimana also with gold. Krishna- devaraya’s successor Achyuthadevaraya built the Kalyana Mandapa on the left side beyond the western entrance to the temple in 1535 AD. This Mandapa is known for its several hundred pillars with intricate carvings of horse-riders, dancers, musicians, and Gods and Goddesses. It is known as Nootru-Kaal Mandapam.

Apart from constructing the exquisitely beautiful Nootru Kaal Mandapam, Vijayanagar King Achyuthadevaraya also built another Mandapa with a few hundred pillars, all hewn out of granite. This was used for conducting temple festivals in the past. Later, it was used as a Goshala, or cow shed. It is this Mandapa that has been pulled down now under the pretext of ‘RENOVATION’. This Mandapa originally encased a Central Mandapa with carved pillars. This has already been demolished. Broken pillar-members, some of them numbered, lie in a heap. This Mandapa was not touched in any manner during the days of English Rule. I am presenting below two pictures relating to the destruction of this Mandapa in Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Kancheepuram.

When this Mandapam was being destroyed, Dr. R.Nagaswamy, former Director of the Tamilnadu Archaelogy Department rightly said: ‘What is happening now is total destruction. They are not dismantling it. They are smashing it with a crane’. I fully endorse his view that it is ‘a thoughtless act of destruction and renovation. The Mandapa could have been cleaned easily, conserved and preserved. The entire Mandapa is in good condition. The walls are in perfect alignment. It has survived for 500 years without tilting or developing cracks. Except that it has not been cleaned, it is in good shape’.

The Varadharaja Perumal temple was earlier subjected to a bout of cultural vandalism (Dravidian Talibanism!) when the murals of Vishnu, Lakshmi and other Gods in the Hindu pantheon were whitewashed. The surviving paintings have faded or peeled away. They have not been preserved. Thus, the atheist government may be working in a phased manner for the total obliteration of the Tamilian temple heritage and ethos.

I spoke to Shri Ramgopalji, President of Hindu Munnani. He told me that Hindu Munnani activists launched a strong protest outside the Varadharaja Perumal Temple yesterday evening (4 August, 2008 Monday evening).

Shri Ramgopalji also told me: ‘What is happening in Tamilnadu is a total State assault on Hindu Religious and Cultural Heritage in an uninhibited and unabashed manner. Even in the dark days of British Rule, there was no such organised State assault on Hindu Temples and places of worship. Even an unpopular Viceroy like Lord Curzon was a great Champion of India’s Cultural Heritage. It was he who was responsible for the passing of Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904’.

Lord Curzon who was Viceroy of India from 1899-1905 said: ‘There is no principle of artistic discrimination between the Mausoleum of the Islamic Despot and the Sepulcher of the Christian saint. Whatever is beautiful, whatever is historic and whatever that tears the mask off the face the past and helps mankind read its riddles – these and not the dogmas of a combative theology should be the criteria by which a responsible Government must be guided in its approach to preservation of monuments. I regard the Stately or beautiful or historical fabrics of bygone age as a priceless heirloom, to be tenderly and almost religiously guarded by succeeding generations; and during my administration of the Government of India, no one shall find me niggardly or grudging in the practical realization of this aim’.

I would like to invite the attention of Tamilnadu government to the four-pronged destruction of temple heritage taking place in Tamilnadu with the full connivance and participation of the Department of Religious and Charitable Endowments:

A. Mindless Destruction of Temple Pillars, Mandapams, Prakarams etc. in the name of ‘Renovation’.

B. Destruction of Temple Walls and Pillars with ancient, precious and irreplaceable of Pallava, Chola, Vijayanagar and Nayak inscriptions.

C. Paintings of Vijayanagar and Nayaka periods are getting vandalized in temples under the cover of ‘white washing’ and such other routine maintenance works. Dr. David Shulman, an Indologist who has studied mural paintings of Tamilnadu has observed, ‘The problem is very urgent. If action is not taken immediately these treasures of Tamilnadu, which are part of the national heritage will disappear’.

D. Many Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have already been destroyed by a mindless approach to the public issue of stone quarrying throughout Tamilnadu.

Talibans in Afghanistan only destroyed non-Muslim structures. We have a government in Tamilnadu which believes in total obliteration of all Hindu heritage in the name of ‘Periyarism’. The common people of Tamilnadu have already declared themselves against the anti-Hindu and anti-God philosophy of ‘Periyarism’. The number of common people visiting temples everyday in every district in Tamilnadu has reached astronomical proportions today. No popular government believing in the rule of ballot (not bullet!) can afford to ignore this patent fact.

According to Will Durant, ‘As a result of fanaticism, thousands of temples which had represented the art of India through a millennium were laid in ruins. We can never know, from looking at India today, what grandeur and beauty she once possessed. India before Islam was one of the most advanced civilizations of all time. The Islamic invasion of India was probably the bloodiest story in history’.

It will not be fair to compare anti-Hindu and anti-Rama men like Karunanidhi with Emperors like Aurangazeb. Aurangazeb was a devout Muslim and true to his faith. According to historical records, he prayed to the Supreme Allah in Mecca in the thick of a battle in which he was leading the forces against the Uzbeg Chiefs of North Western India. On the contrary, Karunanidhi has said ‘The word Hindu itself means a Thief’. Against this background, it is highly amusing to read the infantile statement of K R Periyakaruppan, Tamilnadu Minister for Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) to the effect: ‘The DMK led government has been more Hindu friendly than earlier regimes’. The whole world knows today that how very Hindu-friendly Karunanidhi and his DMK Government are, mainly on account of their total commitment to the wholesale destruction of Rama Sethu.

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At 7/12/2009 09:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why there is no outrage from locals? Where are the Hindu politicians ? No body seems to be interested in protecting Hindus or their heritage. Although south indians are very proud of their 'traditional' hindu culture, this destruction is happening in their neighbourhood and they are silent.


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