Taj Mahal (Tejo Mahalay)
Taj Mahal (From Sanskrit: Tejo Mahalay, "The Great Abode of Tej"), Teja (Jats'1 name of Shiva is Tejaji) + Mahalay (mansion) is a Temple Palace of Lord Shiva located in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal is the finest example of Hindu architecture.
During the Mongul rule, this Shiva temple palace had been usurped by Shah Jahan from then Maharaja of Jaipur, Jai Singh. Shah Jahan then remodeled the palace into his wife's memorial. In his own court chronicle, Badshahnama (on page 403, Vol. 1), Shah Jahan states that a grand mansion of unique splendor, capped with a dome, (imaarat-e-alishan wagumbaze) in Agra was taken from the Jaipur Maharaja Jaisingh 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.
Historical AccountThe Agra city, in which the Taj Mahal is located, is an ancient center of Shiva worship. Its orthodox residents have through ages continued the tradition of worshiping at five Shiva shrines before taking the last meal every night especially during the month of Shravan.
During the last few centuries the residents of Agra had to be content with worshiping at only four prominent Shiva temples viz., Balkeshwar, Prithvinath, Manakameshwar and Rajarajeshwar. They had lost track of the fifth Shiva deity which their forefathers worshiped. Apparently the fifth was Agreshwar Mahadev Nagnatheshwar i.e., The Lord Great God of Agra, The Deity of the King of Cobras, consecrated in the Tejo Mahalay (Taj Mahal).
The famous Hindu treatise on architecture titled Vishwakarma Vastushastra mentions the 'Tej-Linga' amongst the Shivalingas i.e., the stone emblems of Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity. Such a Tej Linga was consecrated in the Taj Mahal, hence the term Taj Mahal alias Tejo Mahalay. The other name of the emblem was Agreswar Mahadev and it is important to note that from the word Agreswar, the name of the city of Agra has been derived.
A locality in, nearly 4 km away from Taj Mahal, is called Bateswar and in 1900 A.D., General Cuningham, the then Director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), conducted an excavation at Bateswar and discovered an edict, now known as the Munj Bateswar Edict and kept at the Lucknow Museum. The epigraph contains 34 verses written in Sanskrit, out of which 25th, 26th and 34th verses are important in the present context. An English translation of the above verses reads:
“He built a marble temple which is the abode of Lord Vishnu and the King bows down to touch His feet” (25).
“The King has built another marble temple which has been dedicated to the Lord Who has the moon as His ornament on His forehead” (26).
“Today, the 5th day of the bright half in the month of Ashwin, the Sunday, in the year 1212 of the Vikram Samvat, the edict is being laid” (34).
Mr. D. J. Kale, a well known archaeologist, has mentioned the said Munj Bateswar Edict in his celebrated work Epigraphica India. On page 124 of the said book, Mr. Kale writes,
“The sais Munj Bateswar Edict was laid by King Paramardidev of the Chandratreya dynasty on Sukla Panchami in the month of Ashwin, in the year 1212 Vikram Samvat (or A.D. 1156). … King Paramardidev built two magnificent temples with white marble, one for Lords Vishnu and the other for Lord Shiva and they were desecrated later on by the Muslim invaders. Perhaps a farsighted man took the edict to a safer place at Bateswar abd buries it beneath the ground”.
Perhaps, after the said desecration, the temples were no longer used as religious places and due to this reason Abdul Hamid Lahori mentioned them as palaces, not as temples.
According to the renowned historian Mr. R. C. Majumdar, the other name of the Chandratreya or Chandel King Paramardidev was Paramal and their kingdsom was known as Bundelkhand, a.k.a. Jejakabhukti2.
Today, there are two marble palaces in Agra, one is the Mausoleum of Idmat-ud-Daula, the father of Noorjahan and the other is Taj Mahal, and it is evident from the Munj Bateswar edict that, once upon a time, one of them was the temple of Lord Vishnu and the other was a temple of Lord Shiva. Experts believe that it is the temple of Vishnu that has been made the mausoleum of Idmat-ud-Daula, and the temple of Shiva has been converted into the mausoleum of the queen Arjumand Banu. A few evidences in favour of this conclusion are given below.
The seizure from the Maharaja of JaipurThe Muslims started their rule over India in 712 A.D. with the invasion of Mohammed Qasem. During their rule they looted and destroyed hundreds of thousands of Hindu temples. Aurangzeb himself destroyed 10,000 Hindu temples during his reign! Some of the larger temples were converted into mosques or other Islamic structures. Ram Janmbhoomi (at Ayodhya) and Mathura Krishna Temple (at Mathura) are just two examples. The most evident of such structures is Taj Mahal
Aurangzeb's Letter: Aurangzeb writing to his father Shahjahan within years of completion as to extensive repairs required to the Taj.
“Friday, 15th Jamadiulawal, the sacred dead body of the traveller to the kingdom of holiness Hazrat Mumtazul Zamani, who was temporarily buried, was brought, accompanied by Prince Mohammad Shah, Suja bahadur, Wazir Khan and Satiunnesa Khanam, who knew the pemperament of the deceased intimately and was well versed in view of that Queen of the Queens used to hold, was brought to the capital Akbarabad (Agra) and an order was issued that very day coins be distributed among the beggers and fakirs. The site covered with a majestic garden, to ther south of the great city (of Agra) and amidst which the building known as the palace of Raja Man Singh, at present owned by Raja Jai asingh, grandson of Man Singh, was selected for the burial of the Queen, whose abode is in heaven. Although Raja Jai Singh valued it greatly as his ancestral heritage and property, yet he agreed to part with it gratis for Emperor Shahjahan, still out of sheer scrupulousness and religious sanctity, he (Jai Singh) was granted Sharifabad in exchange of that grand palace (Ali Manzil). After the arrival of the deadbody in that great city (of Agra), next year that illustrious body of the Queen was laid to rest and the officials of the capital, according to royal order, hid the body of that pious lady from the eyes of the world and the palace so majestic (imarat-e-alishan) and capped with a dome (wa gumbaje) was turned into a sky-high lofty mausoleum”.
Aurangzeb's letter to his father, emperor Shah Jahan, is recorded in at least three chronicles titled Aadaab-e-Alamgiri, Yadgarnama, and the Muruqqa-i-Akbarabadi (edited by Said Ahmed, Agra, 1931, page 43, footnote 2). In that letter Aurangzeb records in 1652 A.D itself that the several buildings in the fancied burial place of Mumtaz were seven storeyed and were so old that they were all leaking, while the dome had developed a crack on the northern side. Aurangzeb, therefore, ordered immediate repairs to the buildings at his own expense while recommending to the emperor that more elaborate repairs be carried out later. This is the proof that during Shah Jahan's reign itself that the Taj complex was so old as to need immediate repairs.
Shah Jahan then remodeled the palace into his wife's memorial. 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. Many rooms in the Taj Mahal have remained sealed since Shah Jahan's time, and are still inaccessible to the public.
The Rajasthan State archives at Bikaner preserve three other firmans addressed by Shah Jahan to the Jaipur's ruler Jaising ordering the latter to supply marble (for Mumtaz's grave and koranic grafts) from his Makranna quarris, and stone cutters. Jaisingh was apparently so enraged at the blatant seizure of the Tajmahal that he refused to oblige Shah Jahan by providing marble for grafting koranic engravings and fake centotaphs for further desecration of the Tajmahal. Jaising looked at Shah Jahan's demand for marble and stone cutters, as an insult added to injury. Therefore, he refused to send any marble and instead detained the stone cutters in his protective custody.
The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur retains in his secret personal ‘KapadDwara’ collection two orders from Shahjahan dated Dec 18, 1633 (bearing modern nos. R.176 and 177) requestioning the Taj building complex. That was so blatant a usurpation that the then ruler of Jaipur was ashamed to make the document public.
Bernier, a contemporary French visitor has noted that non-muslim's were barred entry into the basement (at the time when Shah Jahan requisitioned Mansingh's palace) which contained a dazzling light. Obviously, he reffered to the silver doors, gold railing, the gem studded lattice and strings of pearl hanging over Shiva's idol. Shah Jahan comandeered the building to grab all the wealth, making Mumtaz's death a convineant pretext.
Disfiguring and Tampering by Shah JahanFar from the building of the Taj, Shah Jahan disfigured it with black koranic lettering and heavily robbed it of its Sanskrit inscription, several idols and two huge stone elephants extending their trunks in a welcome arch over the gateway where visitors these days buy entry tickets.
Tavernier, a French jeweller has recorded in his travel memoirs that Shah Jahan purposely buried Mumtaz near the Taz-i-Makan (i.e.,"The Taj building") where foreigners used to come as they do even today so that the world may admire. He also adds that the cost of the scaffold-ing was more than that of the entire work. The work that Shah Jahan commissioned in the Tejomahalaya Shiva temple was plundering at the costly fixtures inside it, uprooting the Shiva idols, planting the centotaphs in their place on two stories, inscribing the koran along the arches and walling up six of the seven stories of the Taj. It was this plunder, desecrating and plunderring of the rooms which took 22 years.
A clue to the tampering by Shahjahan is found on pages 216-217, vol. 4, of Archealogiical Survey of India Reports (published 1874) stating that a "great square black balistic pillar which, with the base and capital of another pillar….now in the grounds of Agra,…it is well known, once stood in the garden of Taj Mahal".
An Englishman, Thomas Twinning, records (pg. 191 of his book "Travels in India - A Hundred Years ago") that in November 1794
"I arrived at the high walls which enclose the Taje-Mahal and its circumjacent buildings. I here got out of the palanquine and … mounted a short flight of steps leading to a beautiful portal which formed the centre of this side of the "Court of the Elephants" as the great area was called."
The Taj Mahal is scrawled over with 14 chapters of the Koran but nowhere is there even the slightest or the remotest allusion in that Islamic overwriting to Shah Jahan's authorship of the Taj. Had Shah Jahan been the builder he would have said so in so many words before beginning to quote Koran.
That Shah Jahan, far from building the marble Taj, only disfigured it with black lettering is mentioned by the inscriber Amanat Khan Shirazi himself in an inscription on the building. A close scrutiny of the Koranic lettering reveals that they are grafts patched up with bits of variegated stone on an ancient Shiva temple.
Hindu ArchitectureThe arrangement of the domes, the lotus canopy, the trident pinnacle, the numerous rooms in the building, the direction of the mansion and its triple domes, the "Gow-shala", the "Nagar-khanas," and the surviving Hindu symbolism indicate that it was originally built as a temple complex.
Well known Western authorities on architecture like E. B. Havell, Mrs. Kenoyer and Sir W. W. Hunterhave gone on record to say that the Taj Mahal is built in the Hindu temple style. Havell points out the ground plan of the ancient Hindu Chandi Seva Temple in Java is identical with that of the Taj.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to Brahmasri Sreeman K S Jayaraman and humble gratefulness to Spectrum Sunday for the collection)