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GYAN VAPI AND TEMPLES APPLICABILITY OF “PLACES OF WORSHIP LAW- 1991” –DISCUSSION

May 22, 2022

       MEANING OF GYAN VAPI: This was derived from the name of an adjoining waterbody — Gyan Vapi (“Well of Knowledge”) — which was a sacred site in itself and, in all likelihood, predated the Vishweshwar temple.   CAUSE FOR THIS DISCUSSION: CONTEMPORARY CIRCUMSTANCES  In the year 1991 parliament passed a law namely an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947 and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. This Act is currently a topic of hot discussion. The incident which brought this law into the public domain is a suit order by Senior Division Civil Court Varanasi in which one Sohanlal Arya has claimed that Gyan Vapi Mosque is the temple. The said temple structure was partially demolished as per orders of the then Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. By an order Civil court carried out the survey in the meantime Muslim community leaders approached the Supreme Court to seek a stay of the proceedings before the Varanasi court. The Supreme Court has granted a stay and is now hearing the matter. The Supreme Court has also by its order transferred the suit to Varanasi Court District Judge. BRUTAL HISTORY OF INVASION, CONVERSION, AND DESTRUCTION OF TEMPLES IN INDIA : Indian history is full of conflict, invasion, and bloodshed. Hindus had to face atrocities at the hands of invaders.  India was invaded by many foreign forces and two large invaders are the Mughals and Britishers. Aurangzeb was a cruel Mughal dynast, and he ordered for demolishing of temples. They converted Hindus to Islam by force. This painful, harsh, brutal, unkind history of this land cannot be erased, forgotten, and denied. Below is a map of the Mughal Empire: Antecedents and history: General Order of the destruction of Temples: 9th April 1669 One of the main objectives of Aurangzeb’s policy was to demolish Hindu temples. When he ordered (13th October 1666) removal of the carved railing, which Prince Dara Shukoh had presented to Keshava Rai temple at Mathura, he had observed ‘In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple’, and that it was totally unbecoming of a Muslim to act like Dara Shukoh (Exhibit No. 6, Akhbarat, 13th October 1666). This was followed by destruction of the famous Kalka temple in Delhi (Exhibit No. 6, 7, 8, Akhbarat, 3rd and 12th September 1667). In 1669, shortly after the death of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber, a general order was issued (9th April 1669) for the demolition of temples and established schools of the Hindus throughout the empire and banning public worship (Exhibit Nos. 9 & 10). Soon after this the great temple of Keshava Rai was destroyed (Jan.-Feb. 1670) (Exhibit No. 12) and in its place a lofty mosque was erected. The idols, the author of Maasir-i-Alamgiri informs, were carried to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque built by Begum Sahiba in order to be continually trodden upon, and the name of […]

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