Taj Mahal
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India during the Modi government has been full of surprises, twists, and turns. With Pakistani spy pigeons, to banning beef, the latest controversy is rather an old one which started when PN Oak wrote his 1989 book “Taj Mahal: The True Story”. The book claimed that the Taj Mahal, a monument that has become India’s symbol of international recognition, was in fact, a Hindu temple built in 1155, ages before the Mughals came to the subcontinent. A petition, which was based on PN Oak’s claim, filed by six lawyers was shot down by the Supreme Court.

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The claim and credibility 

One must keep in mind that Oak is the author of many books and conspiracies including one in which he claims that Hindus had once conquered Italy and in fact, West Minister Abbey was also a “Shiva temple”.

Mr. Jain, one of the six lawyers, said that the Taj Mahal was actually a temple called ‘Tejo Mahalaya’. He and his five colleagues also made ‘Lord Agreshwar Mahadev’, the plaintiff, owner of the “temple”. In the original claim by PN Oak, even the name Taj Mahal was the “corrupt” form of the “original” Sanscrit name “Tejo Mahalay” which signified it being a Hindu temple for the deity Shiva rather than it being a tomb as the story dictates.

Keeping all of these factors in mind, there is no credibility to any of these claims to make them valid even for discussion. British historian, William Dalrymple, stated that Hindu supremacists “have found it hard to believe that such a masterpiece was built by the same Muslims they despised”.

One must keep in mind that Oak is the author of many books and conspiracies including one in which he claims that Hindus had once conquered Italy and in fact, West Minister Abbey was also a “Shiva temple”. The claim to the Taj Mahal had also been accepted by many leaders of BJP, the current ruling party. ‘Laxmikant Bajpai’ a former leader of the BJP once claimed that the Tomb was, in fact, a temple sold by Hindu king Jai Singh to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He also claimed that there were indeed documents proving his claims. Alas, he was unable to present them.

Keeping all of these factors in mind, there is no credibility to any of these claims to make them valid even for discussion. British historian, William Dalrymple, stated that Hindu supremacists “have found it hard to believe that such a masterpiece was built by the same Muslims they despised”.

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The argument against the petition

Other arguments made by many of the groups that claim that the tomb is a temple, state that many of the practices such as the taking of the shoes before entering and so forth are all Hindu practices. They claim that there are no records of the building being built by the Muslim ruler.

One of the main arguments which is and was used by historians was the physical appearance of the tomb. The Architectural elements that make the Taj Mahal what it is today, are influenced by Islamic Architecture, which were not introduced before the Muslims entering and settling into the sub-continent. Parsa Venkateshwar Rao, an author stated that, “History shows conquerors all over the world converting existing monuments to suit their own ideas, but this claim about the Taj Mahal is absurd because features such as the dome and minaret cannot be found in earlier periods and it is silly for the judge to have even allowed the petition.”

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Other arguments made by many of the groups that claim that the tomb is a temple, state that many of the practices such as the taking of the shoes before entering and so forth are all Hindu practices. They claim that there are no records of the building being built by the Muslim ruler. They claim that the wood from the door indicates it was built 500 years before the Shah Jahan’s time. They also claim that the Muslims corrupted the system, hid or altered all the documentation, and erased or concealed any signs of it being a temple. All of these claims have been made without any proof or documentation, whats so ever.

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The verdict against the Plaintiff

The Indian court officially rejected claims that the Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple while hearing an appeal to let Hindus pray in the historic monument’s premises. They further concluded that only Muslims were allowed to pray in the “Tomb” that Shah Jahan built for one of his wives as a final resting place. Dr. Mahesh Sharma, India’s Culture Minister, said that “the government has not found any evidence which can suggest that Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple of Shiva”.

This concluded the entire debate and the claims by the six were turned down. Experts, however, believe that this is not the end of the case as many more are pushing forward to make the historic ancient Tomb, famous for its beauty, into a temple with an entirely new and controversial story.

A collection of tourist bodies warned: “The Taj Mahal is a major tourist attraction and a symbol of national pride not only for Agra but also for the entire country… Making the Taj Mahal controversial would affect not only the source of attraction for the world but also tourism in the country.”

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This concluded the entire debate and the claims by the six were turned down. Experts, however, believe that this is not the end of the case as many more are pushing forward to make the historic ancient Tomb, famous for its beauty, into a temple with an entirely new and controversial story.

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