Temple desecration in pre-modern India

Arun Gupta suvidya at OPTONLINE.NET
Fri Dec 15 12:28:02 UTC 2000

Having read the first part of the two-part article on Temple desecration in
pre-modern India, without going into depth into the scholarship, I aver that
it is not going to be the last word on the subject.

The logic is circular.

First the author gives us a carefully constructed set of temple desecrations.
The problems therein are that he does not distinguish between "capturing your
library and moving its books to mine" and "burning down your library".  The
set of events given occur only in the geographic area that is modern India --
as though no temple or stupa destructions took place in what is now Pakistan
or Afghanistan.  He omits cases such as Multan (menioned in Albiruni).

Second, the author argues that the reasons for these temple desecrations was
political, aimed at undermining the authority of the vanquished ruler; and
economic, and not religious.  Leaving aside the first objection, this is the
point that the author wants to prove; and even a few counter-examples, where
such a political motive cannot be demonstrated disproves his case.

Third, the author takes his proposition as proven, and examines, e.g., the
case of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.  Since Babur could not have had the
political or economic motive that underlies all temple desecrations, as the
author proposes, the author argues that Babur could not have demolished a
temple there.  But, actually, if Babur had demolished a temple in Ayodhya, it
undermines the author's proposition completely.

Impeccable scholarship cannot compensate for weak reasoning.

Perhaps Frontline articles are the beginning of a trend, [ a trend welcome to
me, whatever the message of the articles] of an increased engagement of
Western scholars with the Indian English magazine-reading public.  I can only
hope that they will extend this to Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well.

Best regards,
-Arun Gupta

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