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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Temple Desecration and Muslim States in Medieval India (The case of Golconda as an instance)

Temple Desecration and Muslim States in Medieval India 

Book Description: Hope India Publications. Few issues in India?s current public discourse are more controversial than that of the political status of religious monuments. In particular, the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992 raised a number of urgent questions relating to the desecration of temples in India?s medieval period.Some of those questions that are historical in nature are addressed in this monograph: What temples were in fact desecrated in medieval India? When and by whom? How and for what purpose? What role did the desecration of temples play in the legitimization or delegitimization of royal power in medieval India?


1. Introduction
2. Early Instances of Temple Desecration
3. Sufism and State Building
4. Temple Desecration and State Building
5. Temple Protection and State Maintenance
6. Temple Desecration and State Maintenance
7. Temples and Mosques Contrasted
8. Temple Desecration and the Rhetoric of State Building
9. Conclusion

Extract (from frontline.in):

... Similarly, in 1579, when Golconda's army led by Murahari Rao was campaigning south of the Krishna River, Rao annexed the entire region to Qutb Shahi domains and sacked the popular Ahobilam temple, whose ruby-studded image he brought back to Golconda and presented to his sultan as a war trophy (no. 51). Although the Ahobilam temple had only local appeal, it had close associations with prior sovereign authority since it had been patronised and even visited by the powerful and most famous king of Vijayanag ara, Krishnadevaraya. The temple's political significance, and hence the necessity of desecrating it, would have been well understood by Murahari Rao, himself a Marathi Brahmin.22
In each of these instances, the deity's image, taken as war trophy to the capital city of the victorious sultan, became radically detached from its former context and in the process was transformed from a living to a dead image. However, sacked images were not invariably abducted to the victor's capital. In 1556, the Gajapati raja of Orissa had entered into a pact with the Mughal emperor Akbar, the distant adversary of the sultan of Bengal, Sulaiman Karrani. The raja had also given refuge to Sulaiman's more proximate adversary, Ibrahim Sur, and offered to assist the latter in his ambitions to conquer Bengal and overthrow the Karrani dynasty. As Sulaiman could hardly have tolerated such threats to his stability, he sent an army into Orissa which went st raight to the Gajapati kingdom's state temple of Jagannath and looted its images. But here the goal was not annexation but only punishment, which might explain why the Gajapati state images were not carried back to the Bengali capital as trophies of war. 23  
Continue reading: Temple desecration in pre-modern India - Frontline
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