Gyanvapi Mosque or Vishweshwar Temple ?
This question is arising in everyone’s mind today after the news of a shivling found in the Gyanvapi Mosque. It was found during the survey of 2022, which was conducted after several Hindu women sought permission by the court to conduct daily prayers.
To understand this issue we first have to know the history of Gyanvapi Mosque :-
The Gyanvapi mosque is believed to be 358 years old and was built by the last effective ruler of the Mughals “Aurangzeb” in 1664.
It is believed that the site had a Vishweshwar Temple, established by Todar Mal in the reign of Akbar around the late sixteenth century. It was demolished by Aurangzeb and at the same place Aurangzeb built Gyanvapi Mosque. The slab of the temple was largely untouched and was used as a courtyard of the mosque. The name “Gyanvapi” means “Well of Knowledge”.
Many people believe that the motive of Aurangzeb regarding the demolition of the Temple was political rather than religious extremism. They believe that he demolished the temple as a sign of warning to the hindu rebellions.
First survey of the Mosque :-
In 1698, Bishan Singh– the ruler of Amber, conducted a survey of the town to find the details about various claims and controversies regarding the demolition of the temple. The result of the survey explained that Gyanvapi Mosque lay at the site of the dismantled Vishweshwar temple.
Around the 1700s, an “Adi Vishweshwar temple” was constructed about 150 yards prior to the mosque.
In the early 18th century, Marathas became very vocal about the injustice of Aurangzeb. So they proposed to demolish the mosque and reconstruct the VIshweshwar temple.
In 1742, Malhar Rao Holkar said the same thing and made many efforts to construct the temple. But the town of Banaras was highly influenced by the “Nawabs of Lucknow”. They were constantly opposing it and the British authorities were also opposing it as they feared the communal tensions.
When the East India Company gained direct control of the Banaras in the late eighteenth century after overthrowing the nawabs, Ahilyabai Holkar-the successor of Malhar Rao, built the present Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The original lingam of the Vishweshwar Temple is supposedly hidden by the priests in the Gyanvapi well during the Aurangzeb raid. The Lingam is considered as more sacred as it is the original Lingam of the Temple.
In 1828, Baiza Bai constructed a gallery to support a roof over the Gyanvapi well.
Gyanvapi survey Of 2022
In 2022, the court ordered a videographic survey of the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque complex. The survey started on 6 May and was planned to continue over the 7 May but the large protests of muslims stopped the survey as they were denied entrance. The court ordered the investigation to continue and also deployed heavy police around the premises. The survey restarted on 14 May and was conducted in the presence of the officials. The survey continued to be peaceful on the next day also. The Hindu petitioners expressed satisfaction after the survey. News of a shivling found in the mosque also spread in the public. Also the subsequent orders were issued to seal the area where shivling was found.