Kesava Deo Temple
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Krishna Janmasthan also known as Keshav Deo Temple and Keshav Rai Temple, is an ancient Hindu temple in Mathura, India. It is among the most sacred of Hindu sites, and is revered as the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The Keshav Dev Temple is a Hindu temple situated beside the main Krishnajanmabhoomi complex, the birthplace of Krishna in Mathura, India. Kehsav Dev (Krishna) is the deity of this temple. According to traditions, the original deity was installed by Bajranabh, who was great-grandson of Krishna.
|Keshav Dev Temple|
The temple was attacked and destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1670. The original site of the temple was occupied and a mosque was built atop the ancient temple structure. The original site of the temple is to this day occupied by the illegally constructed mosque. After the 1992 Ayodhya events, when security was enhanced at the main Krishnajanmabhoomi complex, the temple has slowly become the de facto Krishna temple for locals and tourists alike. It still carries the local touch and charm of several other temples in the twin towns of Mathura and Vrindaban - which are similar to the older Dwarikadheesh temple in the old town. This temple holds its own festival calendar, and hosts nearly all of the Hindu functions within its own premises independently. The adjacent residential areas of Mallapura, Govind Nagar, and JagannathPuri are the main feeder for many of the festivals. It holds its own "Lathmar Holi", "Chhappan Bhog", and "Krishna Janmashtami" among other festivals. Most of the festivals here follow the calendar of the temples of Goverdhan, rather than that of the main Krishnajanmabhoomi complex.
The temple stands in the ancient town of Mathura, now in Uttar Pradesh state. The site is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna, and the temple is believed to stand at the location of the prison cell where Lord Krishna was born to his imprisoned parents many ages ago. The existing temple was built by Raja Vir Sinh Bundela of Orchaa during the reign of Jahangir. However, there is a rich and ancient history which precedes the existing structure.
The first temple at the sacred site is believed to have been built over 5000 years ago by King Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna. It is believed to have fallen into dilapidation during the centuries when Buddhism was dominant in the region.
The next big temple was constructed here during the Gupta Empire by Emperor Chandragupta Vikramaditya, known as Chandragupta II, an importnat ruler of the Gupta Empire. Built around 400 AD, this temple was so grand that it was said that neither painting nor description could describe it. This beautiful temple became one of the three great pilgrimage sites of Hinduism and was renowned throughout the land for its grandeur and beauty. It was destroyed in 1017 AD by Mahmud of Ghazni, a barbarious Muslim invader of low birth who is notorious in history for the plunder and rapine that marked his extremely brief tryst with kingly destiny.
After the iconoclastic Muslim invader had departed, the temple was reclaimed by the local population and rebuilt. In Katra Keshavdev, there stands an inscription on a stone slab which speaks of this third temple, built by Jajja, a local landowner, and consecrated in Vikrama Samvat 1207 (1150 AD) during the rule of Vijay Pal Deva, a local ruler. This temple was nowhere near as grand as its predecessor, because its builders and patrons commanded limited resources. Nevertheless, because it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna, its respect and veneration did not decrease and it continued to be a place of pilgrimage for Hindus across India. It was an extremely strong center of Vaishnava tradition. Among those who came to the temple for spiritual sustanance were Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of Bengal and Sri Sankara Deva of Assam. The Vaishnava tradition centered around devotion to Krishna grew particularly strong in Eastern India at this time and Mathura because the primary center of pilgrimage from people from that region. It was also at this time that the custom of elderly people, especially dowager ladies, spending their last days in Mathura became current.
The fame and reverence enjoyed by the temple was a source of annoyance to the Muslim dynasties who ruled India at that time. The Muslims were keen to convert Indians to Islam and the temple was not just a hinderance but actually it was helping the spread of Vaishnavism and of the [Bhakti movement]] to new areas in Eastern India. The temple was destroyed by the forces of Sikandar Lodhi in the 16th Century AD. This barbarious ruler not only demolished the temple but also caused a mosque (now known as the "Shahi Idgah" or "Imperial Festive-Mosque") to be built on the site of the old temple. Sikandar Lodhi's dynasty ended withn a few years after his barbarious act. His son, Ibrahim Lodhi, was the last ruler of his accursed dynasty. The throne of Delhi passed to the Mughals and there was a period of anarchy. During this time, the local Hindu families constructed a small makeshift shrine in a portion of the vast temple complex, in the near vicinity of the "Shahi Idgah," and began holding services of worship there. This was the situation for about 100 years, between the destruction of the third temple by the Muslims and the building of the fourth temple (which now exists).
The makeshift shrine which existed during this time was rebuilt and expanded a few decades later to become the fourth temple. This was built by Maharaja Bir Singh Deo Bundela of Orchha during the reign of the Mughal Enperor Jahangir. The Rajput Maharaja enjoyed special favour with the Mughal ruler on account of his support to Jahangir during his succession struggle. He therefore approached Jehangir (whose mother, Jodhabai, was a Hindu princess) with the request to permit the reconstruction of the ancient temple. The Rajput prince is said to have expended the colossal, almost unbelievable sum of rupees thirty-three lakhs (3.3 million) on constructin the temple.
The Dehra of Keshava Rai was one of the most magnificent Temples ever built in India and enjoyed veneration of the Hindus throughout the land. Prince Dara Shukoh, who was looked upon by the masses as the future Emperor, had presented a carved stone railing to the Temple which was installed in front of the deity at some distance; the devotees stood outside this railing to have ‘darshan’ of Keshava Rai. The railing was removed on Auranzeb’s orders in October 1666.
Destruction of the Temple by AurangzebEdit
The ancient temple was demolished in the month of Ramzan, 1080 A.H. (13th January – 11th February 1670) by Aurangzeb’s order. “In a short time, by the great exertion of the officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum.” To the author of Maasir-i-‘Alamigiri, the accomplishment of this “seemingly impossible work was an “instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith.” Even more disgraceful was transporting the idols to Agra and burying them under the steps of the Jama Masid (Agra) in order to be continually trodden upon.” He even changed the name of the sacred city of Mathura, held in highest respect by the Hindus since time immemorial, to Islamabad, revealing his utter insensitivity towards their feelings
During British rule in India, the area came under direct rule of British India. In 1815, the East India Company auctioned the area of Katra Keshavadeva, which was purchased by the then Raja Patnimal of Banaras. Although, the Raja of Benares wanted to build a temple there his wish remained unfulfilled and the family had fought several legal battles for ownership of land with the Muslim community of Mathura, in which, the court finally ordered that the land belongs to present heirs of the Raja of Benaras. In 1944, Madan Mohan Malviya was distressed at the plight of the site and arranged for the purchase of land from Raja Krishna Das of Benaras, who sold the land only at a cost of Rs. 13,000/- recovering just the cost of fighting court battles. Meanwhile, Malviyaji died without seeing the temple work begin. Then Jugal Kishore Birla of Birla group decided to take the leading role to fulfill the wishes of Malviyaji and formed a private trust in 1951 to which the rights of land were later transferred. Jaidayal Dalmia of Dalmia Group was another leading personality, who took untiring efforts and the temple was finally constructed over the site. The trust which runs the temple has a glorious list of Trustees besides Birla and Dalmia family members like Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, Anantashayanam Iyengar, Swami Akhandananda Saraswati, Swami Ramdev Ji Maharaj. The present head of the temple is Mahant Nrityagopal Das. The construction of the temple was completed in 1965 at a cost Rs 15 million.
Next to the temple, within the complex is a small room that looks like a prison cell, where it is said that Lord Krishna was born. The excavation of this site began in 1953 under the chairmanship of Swami Akhandanada when the volunteers started clearing the debris and work continued for several decades later under supervision of Babulal Bajaj and Phool Chand Khandelwal, till the prison complex was completed in 1982.
- Saiyid Zaheer Husain Jafri (1 January 2009). Transformations in Indian History. Anamika Publishers & Distributors. pp. 299–. ISBN 978-81-7975-261-6. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- D. Anand (1 January 1992). Krishna: The Living God of Braj. Abhinav Publications. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-81-7017-280-2. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "Shri Krishna Janmasthan". Shri Krishna Janmasthan Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2012.