The Taj Mahal controversy resurfaces again. In response to Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s earlier demand of handing over of the Taj Mahal to UP Waqf Board, the state’s BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai sought to drag the famed mausoleum into another row by claiming that it was a part of an ancient temple. Mr Bajpai told reporters in Bahraich that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan “purchased a part of Tejo Mahalaya temple’s land from Raja Jai Singh” and claimed that documents to prove it still exist.
This brings us to the findings of Professor P.N. Oak, author of Taj Mahal: The True Story, who believes that the whole world has been duped. In his book he claims, that the 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.
Here is a short summary of his findings that will startle you in many ways than one:
- In his own court chronicle, Badshahnama, Shah Jahan 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 of 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, Humayun, Akbar, Etmud-ud-Daula and Safdarjung were all buried in such mansions.
- Oak’s inquiries begin with the name Taj Mahal. He says this term does not occur in any Mughal court papers or chronicles, even after Shah Jahan’s time. The term ‘Mahal’ has never been used for a building in any of the Muslim countries, from Afghanistan to Algeria.
- Oak say that 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 and secondly, one cannot omit the first three letters from a woman’s name to derive the remainder as the name for the building.
- Taj Mahal is, as claimed by Oak, a corrupt version of Tejo-mahalaya, or the Shiva’s Palace. Oak also says that the love story of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan is a fairy tale created by court sycophants, blundering historians and sloppy archaeologists. Not a single royal chronicle of Shah Jahan’s time, corroborates the love story.
- Furthermore, Professor Marvin Miller of New York took samples from the riverside doorway of the Taj. Carbon dating tests of these samples revealed that the door was 300 years older than Shah Jahan.
- European traveller Johan Albert Mandelslo, who visited Agra in 1638 (only seven years after Mumtaz’s death), describes the life of the city in his memoirs, but makes no reference to the Taj Mahal being built.
- The writings of Peter Mundy, an English visitor to Agra within a year of Mumtaz’s death, also suggest that the Taj was a noteworthy building long well before Shah Jahan’s time.
- 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.
- The octagonal shape of the Taj Mahal has a special Hindu significance because Hindus alone have special names for the eight directions and celestial guards assigned to them.
- Also, Oak points out that finial of the Taj Mahal, depicts the trident pinnacle over the dome and the central shaft of the trident depicts a Kalash, holding two bent mango leaves and a coconut, which is a sacred Hindu motif
- 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.
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. However, The Indian government has maintained that out of respect for the dead, unnecessary openings of cenotaphs and sealed rooms cannot be allowed. We all love the Taj Mahal as a monument of love and admire its grandeur and beauty. However, we Indians have a right to know about its history and should not be kept in the dark about it. If there is any way to validate it without hurting religious sentiments, it should be done. Only the truth needs to come out and not some politically motivated statements that infuriate religious sentiments of our country.
Featured image source: palacetours