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Opinions & Histories

Lost Temples Of Bengal (1): Adinath Mandir, Pandua.

Surya Kanta Bose Choudhury, Kolkata: After the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, there have been increasing calls among Hindu Nationalists to reclaim the Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi. While the Sangh Parivar appears non-committal on the issue (in fact, just a few days ago, members of a minor Hindutva organisation called “Hindu Army” were arrested in Mathura simply for planning public protests for reclaiming Krishna Janmasthana), very few Hindus are aware of other ancient temples that were forcibly converted into mosques by Islamic invaders. In Bengal, for example, there are at least three mosques which were built upon pre-existing Hindu structures:

1) Adinath Mandir, Pandua, Malda- Now, Adina Masjid.

2) Pradyumne Shrinkhala Shaktipeetha, Pandua, Hooghly- Now, Pandua Minar

3) Triveni Kumbha Vishnu Mandir- Now, Zafar Gazi Masjid

Unfortunately, very few Bengali Hindus seem to be aware of the existence of these sites and they’re conveniently not discussed in any of our Left-wing edited History textbooks. In this first article of a series as the title will tell the reader, I will be discussing the history behind the Adinath Mandir and the incidents following its conversion into the present day Adina Masjid.

Before we delve into this, I would like to point out to Islamic apologists that even according to the official website of the West Bengal government has confirmed the site to have been built over a pre-existing Hindu structure:

To understand the history behind the Adina Mosque over it, a background into the history of Bengal’s first encounter with Islam is necessary. An archaeological discovery in 2012 in Northern Bangladesh suggests Islam had entered Bengal at least by the 7th Century, through trade and missionary activities. However, it was not until the 13th century, when the religion was introduced in the region, and in many cases, thrust upon Hindus by the application of military or administrative force.

In 1204, the ruthless Bakhtiyar Khalji, a general of the Delhi Sultanate, subdued King Lakshmana Sena and established the first Islamic kingdom in Bengal. Khalji was known to be extremely intolerant towards non-Muslims. Prior to invading Bengal, he had taken part in the massacre of several Buddhist monks during his invasion of Bihar. Following the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, there were many unsuccessful secessionist uprisings.

However, three breakaway states successfully emerged- Sonargaon by Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah, Gauda by Alauddin Ali Shah, and Sargaon by Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah. Eventually, Ilyas Shah brought all three states together and established the Bengali Sultanate with the capital in Pandua. He was also the very man responsible for the destruction of the Adinatha Mandir. He was succeeded by his son Sikandar Shah who built the Adina Masjid.

Leftist historians have a habit of whitewashing the tyranny and bigotry of Islamic rulers. From ambiguous figures like Tipu Sultan to hardliner Islamists like Aurangzeb, Leftists have justified on numerous occasions the brutality perpetrated by Islamic rulers over Hindus. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to readers that Ilyas Shah has been portrayed in our history textbooks as a secular ruler who didn’t differentiate between his Muslim and Hindu subjects. However, the very existence of Adina Mosque over the remains of a pre-existing Hindu structure clearly indicates otherwise. The temple was demolished on his orders in 1345. His son Sikandar commissioned the construction of a mosque over it which concluded in 1374.

The evidence of a pre-existing Hindu structure is clearly visible when one visits the mosque. Before entering the mosque today, one finds the vast dually exterior facade. The upper portions of this wall are made of red bricks while the lower part is made of grey stone. Since the site used to be called the “Adinatha Mandir”, it is believed to be the temple of Shiva as “Adinatha” is commonly known to be another name of Shiva as per different versions of Shiva Sahasranama as well as Sivarchanachandrika, core texts used in the worship of Shiva. There is in fact, an Adinatha temple even now in existence located on the summit of Mainak Hill on Maheshkhali Island off the coast of Cox’s BazarBangladesh which is dedicated to Shiva, who is worshipped as Adinath. This temple was built much later of course. Inside of the Adina Masjid, previously the Adinatha Mandir, one may find images of Vishnu carved vividly on the entrance and on the main gallery of the first floor. The site also contains carvings of Ganesha and Nataraja and explicit Hindu icons and motifs that never have existed on the walls of an Islamic structure, let alone a mosque.

Much of the present day structure was damaged and abandoned by a series of earthquakes in the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century and felt into disrepair. The city of Pandua itself became a shadow of its former glory and fell into oblivion following its replacement with Gaur as the capital of the Bengali Sultanate in 1450. It seemed much of Bengal had forgotten about the place.

However, on 3rd December 1932, the site returned to the spotlight when Jitu Santhal of Kochakandar occupied it and began conducting a non-Vedic form of worship of Hindu deities in order to reconvert the mosque back into a temple. Jitu was a staunch Gandhian and was in his day considered a leader of the Santhal community in North Bengal. This sudden restoration of rituals at this site was a reaction to the Zamindar of Kotwali who had demanded two-third of the crops from Santhals in October that year. A violent clash erupted between Jitu’s supporters and the Zamindar’s men following this diktat issued by the latter.

Occupying the ruins, Jitu declared the end of British Raj and the exploitative Zamindari system. Eventually, Jitu Santhal along with six of his devout followers were shot dead by the police. The Santhal revolt was unsuccessful and thousands of Santhals were brutally suppressed by the Raj. The Vigrahas installed by the Santhals were also destroyed following the insistence of the Muslim landlord there.

Adina Masjid today is considered as a “Monument of National Importance” by the Archaeological Survey of India and the West Bengal government yet it is also a remnant of the cultural memory of Islamic persecution of Bengali Hindus in this region.

Tourists visit the Adina Masjid area, and people write about it, as I am doing right now. But the false narrative of architectural monumentality tries to delude everyone into believing that there was no temple here ever. The true narrative that has escaped, or maybe not, almost the whole of the public gaze is this – that what was once a Hindu temple has now been turned into an Islamic monument of the past. And, believe it or not, nobody even bats an eyelid at this ‘monumental’ lie.

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