अयोध्या मथुरा माया काशी काञ्ची अवन्तिका ।
पुरी द्वारावती चैव सप्तैते मोक्षदायकाः॥
Kashi, a name that evokes a multitude of emotions ranging from bliss, joy, ecstasy, love and relief is the city that promises liberation. Since the dawn of time, Kashi has been considered to be the centre of learning, knowledge, wisdom and Advaita. Sages, jnānis, jeevanmuktas, yogis and siddha purushas have elucidated the greatness of Kashi and Kashi Vishwanathji.
The earliest settlement discovered in Kashi is dated to 1000 BCE which stands testimony to references in the Hindu scriptures and treatises written by exemplary sages and saints. The arrival of Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya is truly a watershed moment and marked the revival of Advaita and upliftment of society irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
This Advaita renaissance was followed by successive Muslim invasions starting in the early 10th century. Radical Muslim barbarians endorsing the medieval shariat slowly started their mission of Ghazwa–e–Hind with Mahmud of Ghazni leading the way. Mlechchhas who arrived either on the southern or western or eastern shores or from the Khyber Pass plundered the holy cities of Somnath, Mathurapuri, Ayodhya, Thanesar, Pehowa, Kashi, Sarnath, Gaya, Dwaraka, Ujjain, Puri and others.
They further humiliated and hurt the sentiments of Hindus by desecrating temples and building mosques on their sites ensuring that a part of the original structure would be left standing – a constant reminder of what had existed.
Each Muslim invader inched closer to their universal ambition of Ghazwa–e–Hind and it is highly likely that Aurangzeb would have achieved it in his time but for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj possessed all the virtues extolled by Vidura Mahātma in his treatise Vidura Neeti of a king who can oversee the three worlds. His greatest legacy is the example of service and sacrifice which he infused into every Hindu and his indomitable spirit, firm resolve, consummate stratagem and outstanding courage is an inspiration to the downtrodden.
The ascendency of the Marathas by the end of the 17th century effectively reduced the Mughals to a political and administrative nonentity. A Mughal puppet would sit in Delhi indulging in a life of pleasure and debauchery blissfully unaware of the danger that lay ahead in the form of the parasitic British.
The British who had come to Akhanda Bharat on the pretext of building trade relations quickly took note of the changing political scenario with the mighty Marathas on one side determined not to give an inch of land to mlechchhas like the British, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch and French and a rapidly declining Mughal contingent on the other side willing to do anything to earn the favour of the British.
The year of 1818 was momentous for Akhanda Bharat with the British managing to snuff out the Maratha Empire from under the Peshwas. Though the British thought that they had displaced a Muslim invader from the seat of power, the truth is that it was the Maratha Empire whose expanse and influence across Akhanda Bharat that they had displaced.
The British surreptitiously robbed Akhanda Bharat of its treasures, artefacts, rare jewels, gems and crowns, art and sculptures. A sizeable portion made its way back to their country to adorn the lordly estates built with the wealth of Akhanda Bharat while the remaining was placed in the British government treasury.
The British did not just rob Akhanda Bharat of its riches but also efficiently dismantled the religious fervour of Hindus and their beliefs with their intolerance, prejudice, prudish and jaundiced outlook owing to their lack of intellectual acumen, esoteric knowledge and inability to comprehend Advaita.
Throughout their sadistic rule, they imposed English education, draconian rules and regulations that were intended to dilute traditional beliefs, age-old culture, ethical and religious values and overall encouraging moral degeneration of Hindus. They were constantly interfering in religious customs of the Hindus and festivities on auspicious occasions.
The British who displayed remarkable proclivity to guile since their arrival on Indian shores have done an extraordinary job of hiding their unbecoming legacy of condemnable and reprehensible acts of violence, genocide, religious persecution, plunder, desecration and suffocating oppression leading up to India’s independence and after.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)
* Information about History of Banaras is taken from archives