Friday, October 12, 2007

Taj Mahal a Vedic temple?

We all know the popular story behind the Taj Mahal. It goes like this..

It was built by the Moghul Emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal,designed by Ustad Isa of Iran, completed in 22 years (1631 to 1653) by 20,000 artisans brought to India from all over the world.

Now listen to the alternate story(theory?)

Taj Mahal is not Queen Mumtaz Mahal's tomb, but an ancient Hindu temple palace of Lord Shiva (then known as Tejo Mahalaya), worshipped by the Rajputs of Agra city.

This theory was proposed by Professor P.N. Oak. He has put forward evidences to support his theory.

P. N. Oak (born 1917), full name Purushottam Nagesh Oak, is a Maharashtrian Brahmin historian associated with the Hindutva movement. Because of his association with the Hindutva movement, many consider his theory as manifestations of anti-Muslim sentiment.

In the course of his research, Oak discovered that the Shiva temple palace had been usurped by Shah Jahan from then Maharaja of Jaipur, Jai Singh. Shah Jahan then remodelled the palace into his wife's memorial.

In his own court chronicle, Badshahnama, Shah Jahan apparently admits that an exceptionally beautiful grand mansion in Agra was taken from Jai Singh for Mumtaz's burial. The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur is
said to retain in his secret collection two orders from Shah Jahan for the surrender of the Taj building.The use of captured temples and mansions as a burial place for dead courtiers and royalty was a common practice among Muslim rulers. For example, Hamayun, Akbar, Etmud-ud-Daula and Safdarjung are all buried in such mansions.

Here is a copy of a page of the Badshahnama This is from the Government of India's National Archives, and available from the instituional libraries dealing with the medieval history of India.

Had Shahjahan really built the Taj Mahal as a wonder mausoleum, history would have recorded a specific date on which she was ceremoniously buried in the Taj Mahal. No such date is ever mentioned. This important missing detail decisively exposes the falsity of the Tajmahal legend.

Even the year of Mumtaz's death is unknown. It is variously speculated to be 1629, 1630, 1631 or 1632. Had she deserved a fabulous burial, as is claimed, the date of her death had not been a matter of much speculation. In an harem teeming with 5000 women it was difficult to keep track of dates of death. Apparently the date of Mumtaz's death was so insignificant an event, as not to merit any special notice. Who would then build a Taj for her burial?

The usual explanation that the term Taj Mahal derives from Mumtaz Mahal is illogical in at least two respects. Firstly, her name was never Mumtaz Mahal but Mumtaz-ul-Zamani,' he writes. 'Secondly, one cannot omit the first three letters from a woman's name to derive the remainder as the name for the building.

Oak also points out a number of design and architectural inconsistencies that support the belief that the Taj Mahal is a typical Hindu temple rather than a mausoleum.Many rooms in the Taj Mahal have remained sealed since Shah Jahan's time, and are still inaccessible to the public. Oak asserts they contain a headless statue of Shiva and other objects commonly used for worship rituals in Hindu temples.

Fearing political backlash, Indira Gandhi's government tried to have Oak's book withdrawn from the bookstores, and threatened the Indian publisher of the first edition with dire consequences.

The only way to really validate or discredit Oak's research is to open the sealed rooms of the Taj Mahal, and allow international experts to investigate.

On July 14 2000 the Supreme Court in New Delhi dismissed a petition that sought to force a declaration that a Hindu king built Taj Mahal, as P.N. Oak has claimed. The court reprimanded the petitionersaying he had a "bee in his bonnet" about the Taj.

In 2005 a similar petition was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court. This case was brought by Amar Nath Mishra, a social worker and preacher who says that the Taj Mahal was built by the Hindu King Parmar Dev in 1196.

Recommended Read:
Photographic Evidence

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Aryan Invasion Theory (Myth?)

One of the most interesting puzzles in archaeology, and one that hasn't been completely solved yet, concerns the story of the supposed Aryan invasion of the Indian subcontinent.

The story goes like this:
The Aryans were a tribe of Indo-European-speaking, horse-riding nomads living in the arid steppes of Eurasia. Sometime around 1700 BC, the Aryans invaded the ancient urban civilizations of the Indus Valley, and destroyed that culture. The Indus Valley civilizations were far more civilized than any horse-back nomad, having had a written language, farming capabilities, and led a truly urban existence. Some 1,200 years after the supposed invasion, the descendants of the Aryans, so they say, wrote the classic Indian literature called the Vedic manuscripts.

Adolph Hitler and the Aryan/Dravidian Myth
Adolph Hitler twisted the theories of Gustaf Kossinna (1858-1931), to put forward the Aryans as a master race of Indo-Europeans, who were supposed to be Nordic in appearance and directly ancestral to the Germans.

These Nordic invaders were defined as directly opposite to native south Asian peoples, called Dravidians, who were supposed to have been darker-skinned.

Archeology and the Aryans
During the 19th century, many European missionaries and imperialists traveled the world seeking conquests and converts. One country which saw a great deal of this kind of exploration was India (including what is now Pakistan). Some of the missionaries were also antiquarians by avocation, and one such person was the French missionary Abbé Dubois (1770-1848). His manuscript on Indian culture makes some unusual reading today; Abbé tried to fit in what he understood of Noah and the Great Flood with what he was reading in the great literature of India. It was not a good fit, but he did describe Indian civilization at the time, and provided some pretty bad translations of the literature

It was the Abbé's work, translated into English by the British East India Company in 1897 and with a laudatory preface by German archaeologist Max Muller, that formed the basis of the Aryan invasion story--not the Vedic manuscripts themselves.

Scholars had long noted the similarities between Sanskrit, the ancient language in which the classical Vedic texts are written, and other Latin-based languages such as French and Italian. And when the first excavations at the large Indus Valley site of Mohenjo Daro were completed early in the 20th century, and it was recognized as a truly advanced civilization, a civilization not mentioned in the Vedic manuscripts, among some circles this was considered ample evidence that an invasion of people related to the peoples of Europe had occurred, destroying the earlier civilization and creating the second great civilization of India.

Aryas means Noble
It turns out that there are serious problems with this argument. There are no references to an invasion in the Vedic manuscripts; and the Sanskrit word "Aryas" means "noble", not a superior cultural group. Secondly, recent archaeological evidence suggests that the Indus civilization was shut down by droughts combined with a devasting flood, not a violent confrontation. Recent archaeological evidence also shows that many of the so-called "Indus River" valley peoples lived in the Sarasvati River, which is mentioned in the Vedic manuscripts as a homeland. There is no biological or archaeological evidence of a massive invasion of people of a different race.

The most recent studies concerning the Aryan/Dravidian myth include language studies, which have attempted to decipher and thereby discover the origins of the Indus script, and the Vedic manuscripts, to determine the origins of the Sanskrit in which it was written. Excavations at the site of Gola Dhoro in Gujarat suggest the site was abandoned quite suddenly, although why that may occurred is yet to be determined.

Born from a colonial mentality, corrupted by a Nazi propaganda machine, the Aryan invasion theory is finally undergoing radical reassessment by south Asian archaeologists and their colleagues, using the Vedic documents themselves, additional linguistic studies, and physical evidence revealed through archaeological excavations. The Indus valley cultural history is an ancient and complex one. Only time will teach us what role if any an Indo-European invasion took in the history; but it seems clear that a collapse of the Indus civilization did not occur.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Subhas Chandra Bose considered invading India with the help of Nazi troops.

In 1941,having escaped imprisonment at home,Subhas Chandra Bose reached Afghanistan by assuming the guise of a Pashtun insurance agent ("Ziaudddin"). He then traveled to Moscow on the passport of an Italian nobleman "Count Orlando Mazzotta". From Moscow, he reached Rome, and from there he traveled to Germany, where he instituted the Special Bureau for India under Adam von Trott zu Solz, broadcasting on the German-sponsored Azad Hind Radio. He founded the Free India Centre in Berlin, and created the Indian Legion (consisting of some 4500 soldiers) out of Indian prisoners of war who had previously fought for the British in North Africa prior to their capture by Axis forces. The Indian Legion was attached to the Wehrmacht, and later transferred to the Waffen SS, its members swore their allegiance to both Hitler and Bose to secure India's independence.

He was also, however, prepared to envisage an invasion of India via the U.S.S.R. by Nazi troops, spearheaded by the Azad Hind Legion; many have questioned his judgment here, as it seems unlikely that the Germans could have been easily persuaded to leave after such an invasion, which might also have resulted in an Axis victory in the War.The lack of interest shown by Hitler in the cause of Indian independence eventually caused Bose to become disillusioned with Hitler and he decided to leave Nazi Germany in 1943.

He later established the Indian National Army (INA) or Azad Hind Fauj with Japanese aid.