The Taj Mahal has become a hotbed of controversy, with the history wing of Rashtriya SwayAmsevak Sangh (RSS) blowing the embers of the debate surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage site. The history wing of RSS –Akhil Bhartiya Itihaas Sankalan Samiti (ABISS) has demanded that Friday namaz at the Taj Mahal should be banned.
While talking to India Today, the National Organisation Secretary of ABISS, Dr Balmukund Pandey, said, "Taj is a national heritage- why allow Muslims to use it as a religious site? Permission to perform namaz at Agra’s Taj Mahal should be withdrawn." Notably, the Taj Mahal remains closed to visitors on Friday as Muslims offer namaz in the monument’s complex.
Namaz offered in Taj Mahal's mosque.
Dr Pandey went further to claim that if namaz is allowed then Hindus should also be allowed to offer Shiva prayers. "There is ample evidence that Taj Mahal was a Shiva Temple constructed by a Hindu King, Taj is not a symbol of love and emperor Shahjahan married within four months of his queen Mumtaz Mahal's demise. We are collecting evidence and will soon detail every aspect of it.”
Dr Pandey also mentioned that his organization is compiling a list of all such monuments which were demolished to construct mausoleums or other buildings
ABISS is the history wing of RSS and their objective is “the writing, or rewriting of Indian history from a national perspective.”
A couple of days ago, members of a right-wing organisation- Hindu Yuva Vahini were thrown out by security personnel for attempting to recite 'Shiv Chalisaa' (Hymn to Lord Shiva) inside the monument’s premises. The workers were demanding rights to perform prayers claiming Taj was a Shiva Temple before it was converted into a mausoleum.This move shouldn’t come as a surprise as the BJP has been claiming since 2014 that Taj is built over a Shiva temple called Tejo Mahalya. Vinay Katiyar, a BJP leader, had made the same claim earlier this month. This idea stems from the theories written by historian P N Oak in his 1989 book Taj Mahal: The True Story. Oak claimed the Taj was built in 1155 AD, and not in the 17th century, as claimed by the Archeological Survey of Indian (ASI). He also claimed that the monument was built years before the Mughal invaded India and the name ‘Taj Mahal’ is a corrupted form of a Sanskrit term, ‘Tejo Mahalay.’