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Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar
By Bharat Dogra*
At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again.
It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views.
Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimately result in disruption of peace. The judiciary can also play a very helpful role to prevent the spread of messages and actions which are cleared aimed at disrupting peace and incite communal disharmony.
In various parts of world including India, due to a complexity of factors, at certain times, some kings and invaders may have been responsible for the highly deplorable actions of plunder, damaging or perhaps even demolition of some religious and worship structures. This can certainly be studied in the specific historical context of those times with all the involved causes and implications, with the objective of evidence based inquiry. However there cannot be any justification for misinterpreting or exaggerating or falsely representing such situations with the objective of seeking revenge or indulging in any actions which will disrupt peace and harmony in present times. This applies to the entire world including India.
In addition in the more specific context of India we need to point out that there are many examples of Muslim kings contributing to the construction as well as maintenance of temples including some very important temples in famous pilgrimage centre like Ayodhya, Mathura and Vrindavan. 
In fact in many pilgrimage places and temples including Ayodhya, Chitrakut, Mathura and Vrindavan, the contribution made by Muslim kings is well remembered and appreciated, but people who want to express such sentiments have been increasingly silenced.
According to documents of Mughal days, Akbar enlarged and consolidated grants to temples and temple-servants in the Mathura region by his farmaans, dated August 27, 1598 and September 11, 1598 in Vrindavan, Mathura and their environs. Jahangir not only continued these grants; he substantially added to these. Jahangir added at least two temples to the list of the thirty five already supported by Akbar's grant of 1598.
In addition he provided 121 bighas of land for 5 families of temple sevaks. Jahangir also visted Vrindavan temple in 1620. The documents mentioned also reveal that whenever temple priests had any serious problem they approached Mughal rulers or their senior officials and generally the rulers/officials took action to solve this problem.
The nawabs of Oudh gave several grants to the temples of Ayodhya and provided them protection in other ways. The Diwan of Nawab Safdarjung built several temples in Ayodhya and arranged for the repair of other temples. Nawab Safdarjung gave land for the construction of a famous temple here. Asafadullah's diwan gave further help for the construction of the temple.
Documentation is available on several famous temples in Chitrakut, Varanasi, Ujjain, Allahabad and other places to confirm the grants made by Muslim rulers for their support.
In addition to supporting the maintenance of temples several Muslim rulers also made efforts for the translation of Hindu scriptures in other languages and for supporting the religion learning of Hindu scholars.
Akbar started a translations department to get the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bible translated into Persian language.
In many places including Ayodhya, Chitrakut, Mathura and Vrindavan, the contribution made by Muslim kings is well remembered and appreciated
In the Deccan kingdoms, a sixteenth century king Adil Shah established a very good library to look after which he appointed a Sanskrit scholar Vaman Pandit. His descendent Ibrahim Adil Shah was called the 'friend of the poor' and 'world's teacher' due to his policies of benevolence and goodwill. In his songs he often pays respects to Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning. He played an important role in the development of some Hindu religious places.
Bahmani Sultan Alla-ud-Din-II (1436-58) was devoted to Narasimha Saraswati, a great Hindu sage. Ibrahim II, the Adilshahi ruler of Bijapur (1580-1686) was also a devotee of Narsimha Saraswati. He built a small shrine near his palace in Bijapur and placed the paduka (footwear) of the saint here.
In Kashmir the 15th century king Zain-ul-Abdin sent messengers to call Hindus who had fled due to the intolerant policies of a predecessor. He was a scholar of Sanskrit as well Persian, and played an important role in translating parts of the Upanishadas into Persian. He publicly participated in Hindu festivals and constructed temples.
In Bengal Pathan Kings like Sultan Nazir Shah and Sultan Hussain Shah followed similar policies and arranged for the translation of Mahabharata and Bhagwat Puran into Bengali.
In view of the easy availability of so many examples of the protection and support of Hindu temples, scriptures and saints by Muslim rulers, a question naturally arises -- why has this been entirely ignored by those who spread communalism? Isn’t it tragic that our heritage is being distorted by fanatic and communal forces to spread discord and violence?
In these difficult times very powerful and resourceful forces are trying to communalize the situation and spreading a lot of misinformation regarding history and other matters to secure their narrow sectarian objectives. These forces are not bothered about how harmful this will be for our country and society.
It is therefore very important that the factual information regarding our common heritage and communal harmony should be taken among people in a big way. All forces of national unity and social harmony should make extensive efforts for this with mutual cooperation. In additional the constitutional precepts of equality of people of all religions, the right to religion and worship of all people and basic precepts of secularism should be well protected by the judiciary.
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*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; his recent books include ‘A Day in 2071’, ‘When the Two Streams Met' and ‘Man over Machine-A Path to Peace'

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