Sardar Patel, not Nehru, dropped proposal to reconstruct Somnath with govt funds on Gandhiji's suggestion

Somnath before the construction of the new temple began
By Dr Hari Desai*
Sometimes people are made to believe that descriptions in historical novels are real history. Even courtier historians who present history as per the convenience of rulers find their way to textbooks, polluting the minds of younger generations. A perverted version of history is taught to students till historians dare make corrections, or ask rulers to get things corrected.
It is normal for heroes in India to be painted as villains. The neighbouring Pakistan boasts of having a 5000-year old civilization! And, villains in India like Mahmud Ghazni are considered heroes in Pakistan!
Few know that Panini, born nearly ten centuries before the birth of Islam in the seventh century, on the border of present-day Afghanistan, wrote Sanskrit grammar, was a Pathan. Yet, ironically, he may not be considered a Pathan today, since terms such as Pathans and Arabs are commonly used only for Muslims.
One would have heard scholars in TV debates branding Chinggis Khan (also known as Genghis Khan), the 13th century Mongol ruler as “Muslim”. But the fact is, he called Jews and Muslims as “slaves”. Worse, he forbad Islamic tradition of slaughtering animals. The first person to embrace Islam in his family was his grandson, Berke Khan, in Bukhara. Qutlug Nigar Khanum, mother of the founder of Mughal Empire, Babur, was the descendent of the founder of Mongol Empire, Chinggis Khan.
Chingiss Khan
Jawaharlal Nehru, born in Allahabad and educated in England at Harrow and Cambridge, visionary and idealist, scholar and statesman of international stature, was Prime Minister of independent India for 17 years. In his scholarly book, “The Discovery of India”, written in Ahmednagar Fort prison during the five months, April to September 1944, Nehru writes:
“Unlike the Greeks, and unlike the Chinese and the Arabs, Indians in the past were not historians. This was very unfortunate and it has made it difficult for us now to fix dates or make up an accurate chronology. Events run into each other, overlap and produce an enormous confusion. Only very gradually are patient scholars today discovering the clues to the maze of Indian history.”
One would be surprised to read Prof Shanta Pandey, a historian of Delhi University, presenting Sanskrit as the official Durbar language of Mahmud Ghazni, who was responsible for the loot and demolition of the Somnath Temple way back in 1026 AD. Mahmud was son of Sabatgin, who was a Hindu or a Buddhist, who embraced Islam and ruled over Ghazni, having a large population of Hindus, including his own Chief of the Army, Tilak, according to historian Shambhuprasad Harprasad Deshai, IAS (Retd) in “Prabhas ane Somnath” (1965), published by Shree Somnath Trust.
Late Deshai describes how the King of Gujarat, Bhimdev I, ran away leaving his subjects at the mercy of the invader, Mahmud, instead of challenging him. When the King of Gujarat had no guts to face the army of Ghazni at Anahilwad Patan, the capital of Gujarat, at least 20,000 Rajput warriors laid down their life to defend the motherland at Modhera!
Panini
There is a misconception about Nehru refusing to grant government funds for the reconstruction of Somnath Temple in 1947 when his deputy, Vallabhbhai Patel, took vow to get the historical temple of Somnath reconstructed at government cost. Some courtier historians try to malign Nehru, presenting their all time favorite argument of rift between Nehru and Sardar.
Despite such efforts, one comes across KM Munshi writing in his book “Pilgrimage to Freedom" Vol I: “When Junagadh fell, Sardar Patel, as Deputy Prime Minister, pledged the Government of India to the reconstruction of the historical Temple of Somnath. The Cabinet, Jawaharlal presiding, decided to reconstruct the Temple at Government cost. But Gandhiji advised Sardar not to have the Temple reconstructed at Government cost and suggested that sufficient money should be collected from the people for this purpose. Sardar accepted his advice.”
The Nehru Cabinet took the decision after Gandhiji expressed his views twice publicly in the prayer meetings. Patel died on December 15, 1950. Nehru criticized Munshi, his Cabinet member, “for working for the reconstruction of the Temple”, and even advised Dr Rajendra Prasad, President, to abstain from attending the ceremony of installation of the deity.
Dr Prasad went to Somnath on May 11, 1951 and performed ceremony. Of course, the Government of India did not find it worth to even issue a press note! Nehru always tried to project his secular image and to some extent an image of an atheist.
One would be surprised to know that President of the All-India Hindu Mahasabha, Barrister VD Savarkar, was an atheist! In fact, Nehru was not an atheist as Munshi records in one of his letter-commentaries (“Kulapatina Patro”, January 8, 1967).
As one of the founders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Munshi expressed happiness about a change he gathered in the religious attitude of Nehru after the Somnath episode. Nehru participated in the religious ceremony at Sanchi and approved generous grant for reconstruction of Sarnath. Even in 1954 when, as UP Governor, Munshi accompanied Nehru to Allahabad to take stock of the arrangements of the Kumbha Mela, Nehru got down from the jeep and washed his face with the pious water of Ganga.
Mahmud Ghazni
A newspaper correspondent, who followed them, reported that Nehru performed Sandhya (evening prayer) and washed his Janoi (a sacred thread)! Munshi quotes the “will of Nehru” and his approach of “scientific temperament”, where his love and devotion for people, Ganga and Jamuna rivers can be seen. In the historic document dated June 21, 1954 (a decade prior to his death), Nehru expressed his desire, “I do not want any religious ceremony performed for me after my death”, adding:
“My body to be cremated… my ashes (be) sent to Allahabad… A small handful of these ashes should be thrown into the Ganga… The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her racial memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever-flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga… The Ganga has been to me a symbol and a memory of the past of India, running into the present and flowing on to the great ocean of the future… a handful of my ashes be thrown into the Ganga at Allahabad to be carried to the great ocean that washes India’s shore.”
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*Senior Ahmedabad-based journalist and researcher. Blog: http://www.haridesai.com/

Comments

Anonymous said…
Very good insight!
biren padhya said…
The reconstruction of temple somnath was challenged in court by some of gujaratis. Because more than 50 percent debris and remains were ok to use. There were many kabar also in the campus because invaders live their for many years. Belief of people that muslim lived their use temple as living , may have used qurbani in the place was their. So somehow people's opinion may be on side of reconstruction.