Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saraswathi Temple Makes Way For Mosque


The Paramara dynasty which ruled part of the present day Madhya Pradesh from the 8th Century A.D. onwards reached the pinnacle of its glory during the reign of King Bhojaraja during the first half of the 11th Century A.D. He was known as the ruler of Ujjain and Dhara. This Dhara is the same as the State of Dhar which was a part of the Central Provinces, now renamed Madhya Pradesh. King Bhoja was probably a boy of 15years or so when he ascended the throne and during his reign from 1010 to 1060 A.D, the country attained the highest state of eminence and the Paramaras rose to the zenith of their power.

Bhoja Raja was not only a great and popular king but was an equally great man of letters who authoured nearly 30 works on diverse subjects like Astronomy and Astrology, Medicine, Sanskrit Grammar, Philosophy, Alankara, Poetry and Prose, Lexicography, Dharma Shastra, Economics and Administration etc. In fact, he had read all the available books in Sanskrit on Kingcraft and Administration. He was skillful in the use of 36 weapons used in those days in warfare. His erudition was such that he could hold his own in learned debates against the greatest scholars at that time. His versatile mind did not limit the activity only to the business of war and writing. It was also extended towards building up a good number of educational institutions and temples
and thus make Malwa an ideal kingdom. It is unfortunate that a good number of those constructions built during his regime were destroyed subsequently by the first conquest of Malwa by the Muslim rulers. Even the Bhojashala [college] founded by him in Dhar and housing a Saraswathi temple inside, was partially destroyed and made way for a mosque.

The present day Kamal Mouli Mosque at Dhar stands at the same site which was once occupied by the Bhojashala. It is still recognized and called as Bhojashala by the local Hindus. The existing modern structure is Islamic in style and architecture and was constructed with the materials got out of demolishing the Saraswathi temple which stood on the same site as the college. When King Bhoja built the temple, he had installed an Ashtadhatu idol of Goddess Saraswathi [bust only] which is now in the custody of the British Museum in London. Late Dr. V. Raghavan, well-known Sanskrit scholar from Madras and President , International Association of Sanskrit Studies, who visited the British Museum a couple of years back, has confirmed his having seen the idol in the British Museum. Raghavan has also stated that the idol has an inscription at the base mentioning the date of inscription as 1034 A.D which coincides with the period of Bhojaraja’s reign. The Goddess is in the ‘Abhanga’ pose with four hands, partially damaged. She wears a crown; her ear-rings hang down to her shoulders; she wears a pearl necklace; a pearl-embroidered band encircles her breast and her waist is decorated all round. She is in a meditative mood with a serene and lovely face. [The description is from a copy of the photograph with me].

Though it was an established fact that the mosque had come up in the place originally occupied by the Saraswathi temple, it was difficult to prove the same with concrete evidence. The reason was that for a thorough study of the structure of the mosque, the permission of the Mosque authorities was necessary which was all along denied. However, after India became independent, the Department of Epigraphy. Government of India, got the permission and a delegation was sent to examine the structure of the mosque. After a thorough study of the structure, it could be established that the iconoclastic Muslim rulers of Malwa in the 15th Century had destroyed the Saraswathi temple and used the same materials to put up the present Kamal Moulvi Mosque. A large portion of the flooring of the mosque prayer hall is paved with black marble slabs which were used to build the temple, but with the face turned inwards. These slabs, when removed and examined, disclosed that they contained some Sanskrit inscriptions which were hidden by their being turned upside down.

A curious and unexpected incident revealed as to how the mosque walls were constructed. The walls have been lined with granite slabs. At the junction of two walls, crevices have been left, wide enough to allow a hand to go in. Some visitor to the mosque, out of sheer curiosity put his hand inside the crevice and felt the backside of the lining. He was amazed to discover that they contained some inscriptions. When the matter was further examined after removing a slab from the lining, to the amazement of one and all, it was found that it contained an inscription in the form of a wheel containing Sanskrit shlokas pertaining to grammar. The idea behind the wheel is that the science of language---Grammar—must form part of the temple of Saraswathi, the Goddess of speech. From a close look at the inscriptions on the wheel in the form of Shlokas, one can Sanskrit grammar without much effort. It is because of the fact that the science of language, the grammar, is worthy of worship, that the wheel with the grammar inscriptions was installed in the temple. The Department of Epigraphy has now published the text of the inscription with an English translation.

The Mosque was closed for several years and in the year 1940 Muslim devotees were allowed to offer Namaz. In 2003 the Bhojashala Complex was also opened to the Hindus to enable them to offer Pooja. This was done in compliance with the directive of the Archaeological Survey of India [A.S.I.] which directed that that Hindus should be allowed to perform Pooja inside the Complex every Tuesday from dawn to dusk with flowers and rice. Apart from Tuesdays, the Hindus are also allowed Pooja facility on the ‘Basant Panchami Day’ once in a year. Muslims are allowed to do Namaz every Friday for two hours from 1 P.M to 3 P.M. Tourists are allowed entry into the historic Complex on other days by paying a nominal admission fees.

Source Material:

1. Hindu Dharma by Paramacharya of Kanchi
2. The Vedas by Paramacharya of Kanchi
3. Immortal Bhoja’s Royal House by Sri. M.K. Ranganathan
4. An Anthology on Aspects of Indian Culture by Dr. V.Raghavan.
5. Cultural History of Ancient India by R.Sathianathaier, Annamalai University.

Created: Friday, November 7, 2008 10:38 AM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home