Indian politicians seem to have mastered the art of making illogical comments and sharing unverified, fake news as reality.
Kapil Mishra, the BJP leader who earlier in the year was accused of making inflammatory speeches preceding the sectarian violence in North-East Delhi in February, recently shared an article on Twitter along with a caption that claimed Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple.
"All scientific evidence prove that Taj Mahal is Tejo Mahalaya, ancient Hindu Vedic temple. For 300 years the world was fooled to believe that Taj Mahal was built by the Shahjahan," Mishra wrote.
He further shared a link to a dubious blog that vaguely attempted to substantiate the claim the Taj Mahal was indeed a Hindu temple. Mishra's tweet comes ahead of the grand celebratory "Bhoomi Poojan" of the formerly disputed 'Ram Janmabhoomi' in Ayodhya where a temple is set to be constructed in place of the 16th-century mosque that was demolished in 1992.
Mishra was roundly panned for his tweet on social media. Historian and writer Devdutt Pattnaik who clarified that "Vedic scriptures do NOT mention temples" and that "Arya Samaj founder Dayanand Saraswati was anti-temples and anti-idols which he saw as against Vedic way".
Will get a hissy fit (and send his goons?) if he is told that: 1. Vedic scriptures do NOT mention temples 2. Arya Samaj founder Dayanand Saraswati was anti-temples and anti-idols which he saw as against Vedic way https://t.co/uNUqcA31Ld — Devdutt Pattanaik (@devduttmyth) July 25, 2020
Not just historians, even ordinary Twitter users called out the outrageous lie.
Kapil Mishra took #iknowajoke trend a little too serious 😂 https://t.co/fkFg9zfbyB — Cookie Monsta (@SenseLets) July 25, 2020
Not a good week for treating UNESCO World Heritage sites as symbols of HUMAN achievement. Like Istanbul’s Haghia Sophia, the Taj Mahal turning into an instrument of religious animosity and sectarian competition. https://t.co/RXnmYcdaQP — Timur Kuran (@timurkuran) July 25, 2020
Kapil Mishra is defaming Hindus through his WhatsApp nonsense Real Hindus are not credit chor like him. We only take credit for things we actually did. Politcians like Kapil Mishra cannot even build a decent footpath in their mohalla and they fool people over Taj Mahal. https://t.co/NGBcri1Par — Dhruv Rathee 🇮🇳 (@dhruv_rathee) July 25, 2020
Of course and so is Burj Khalifa ❤️ https://t.co/89777Q3uU0 — Aminahhh 🇮🇳 (@aminah4prez) July 24, 2020
But is the Taj Mahal really a temple?
No, it's really not.
Nevertheless, theories about the celebrated tomb and mosque, built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan in the 17th century (1632-53), being a Shiva temple have done the rounds for years. One of the first such theories came from controversial revisionist historian PN Oak who claimed that not only was Taj Mahal actually a Vedic temple dedicated to Shiva but also believed both Islam and Christianity were derivatives of Hinduism. He had even filed unsuccessful court cases contesting the Mughal origin of the Taj Mahal.
Since then, several court cases have tried to challenge the history of the Taj Mahal. In 2015, six lawyers filed cases claiming that the Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva shrine. In 2017, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar repeated the claim and asked UP CM Yogi Adityanath to travel to the monument to look at the Hindu sings inside. In January 2019, BJP leader Anant Kumar Hegde also claimed that Taj Mahal was not built by Shah Jahan but rather bought by him from King Jayasimha.
Such claims have been put to rest not just by historians but also by the Archeological Survey of India which has time and again refuted such revisionist interpretations of Taj Mahal's history and dismissed claims to ownership.
In February 2018m the ASI filed an affidavit in an Agra court, stating that the Taj Mahal was indeed built as a tomb by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who intended it to be a tomb and shrine for his Mumtaz Mahal.