«ESTHER WAPSTRA Thesis submitted for MA degree Supervisors: Dr. Laurens G. H. Bakker Prof. Paul J. C. L. van der Velde 30 August 2013 COMMUNAL HARMONY ...»
According to a PAC security guard with whom I did an interview about six or seven groups share responsibility for the security of the sacred complex, three of which are most visible: the CRPF, PAC, and Civil Police.43 The CRPF are a national force that is part of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and the PAC are an armed force of the state of Uttar Pradesh (Chande, 1997, pp. 126-128, 172-173). The civil police are a local police force. Besides these three main forces there are bomb disposal squads, dog squads, and RAF (Rapid Action Force), a force established in 1993 and specifically trained to quell riots (Chande, 1997, p. 137). Apparently COBRA Interview with Mr. Sudeep Pandey, Dashashvamedh, 11 December 2012 (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), whose expertise is left extremism from Maoists, is also active during crowded festivals (Times of India, 2009f, 2012e).
Moreover, the PAC security guard pointed out that there is also LIU (Local Intelligence Unit) as well as intelligence of the Uttar Pradesh government and intelligence of the Central Government.44 Local police wear beige trousers, a dark green shirt, and a cap. CRPF and COBRA have green/brown spotted uniforms and RAF wear blue spotted uniforms and helmets. PAC are dressed in beige uniforms;
woollen clothes from 22 October to 22 March and cotton clothes from 23 March to 21 October, although the officer in-charge may change the dates if the weather is longer or shorter cold or hot. They wear helmets and are equipped with bulletproof jackets and guns.45 Figure 7. The fortification of the Gyanvapi mosque. The barricades here are 15 feet high. On the left one of the watch towers and in the middle CCTV and a commando light. Photo taken on 20 January 2012, 13.00 Ibib.
Based on personal observations The PAC security guard estimated that the total amount of security people is about 600; around 2000 per 24 hours. There are three shifts of 8 hours.46 According to the Times of India (2011c) 857 people are needed to per shift fulfil the security requirements.47 Personally, I have not seen any female security guards, apart from those who work at the entrance gates of the sacred complex. Here they are indispensable because, as explained before, men are searched by male security guards and women by female security guards. It costs an estimated 18 crore (180 million) rupees to pay the salaries of security guards annually (Times of India, 2009c).
Like a proper fort, the sacred complex and the surrounding area boost a lot of high tech equipment. All security guards have to pass through a bio-metric-electronic locking gate which is installed in order to detect any destructive elements and which opens upon thumb impression. All visitors of the sacred complex have to pass through multi-zone door-frame metal detectors that detect any metal and its quantity. There are bullet-proof bunkers, watchtowers, 50 commando (dragon) lights, and within the sacred complex there are 20 close circuit television (CCTV) cameras. Security personnel communicate via a public address system (loudspeakers) through which directions and commands are broadcasted, as well as through government mobile phones (see Figure 7; Times of India, 2009e; Times of India, 2009f, 2011b).
4.2 The Vishwanath temple There are many Shiva temples in Varanasi, each emphasizing one of his attributes.
We have already come across the Krittivaseshvara (‘Lord with the elephant hide’) in section 220.127.116.11. As becomes clear from many written sources as well as from most people’s statements, nowadays the Vishwanatha (or Vishveshvara, both meaning ‘Lord of All’) temple is the most important of the city. Vidyarthi, based on his research among a sample of pilgrims, concludes that all pilgrims (100%) visit the Golden Vishwanath temple and all other shrines in its cluster (Vidyarthi, 1979, p.
137).48 It seems the Vishwanath temple has not always been this popular; a twelfth century Purāna that gives praise to other Shiva temples mentions the Vishwanath temple only briefly. While Avimukteshvara (‘Lord of Avimukta’, lord of the never Interview with Mr. Sudeep Pandey, Dashashvamedh, 11 December 2012 “As per the police records, an ASP [assistant superintendent] security is posted here to handle the security related issues while posts of three deputy SP [superintendent], three inspectors, 183 subinspectors, 121 head constables, 408 constables, seven posts of woman head constables and 131 woman constables are sanctioned.” (Times of India, 2011c) Interestingly, Vidyarthi remarks that most locals rather visit the Sankat Mochan temple than the Vishwanath temple because the narrow crowded alleys around the sacred complex are the domain of criminals and greedy pandās (Vidyarthi, 1979, pp. 40-41).
forsaken city) was a famous temple in the Puranas, by this time the Vishwanath temple was a popular temple only locally.
The Vishwanath temple was first built in another place close to the current temple, on the middle of three hills on which Kashi was built, perhaps as early as in 490 CE (Singh, 2011, pp. 82-83). The three hills were compared to the prongs of Shiva’s trident; the assertion that the city stands on Shiva’s trident, which is below the Vishwanath temple, and will be lifted up during pralay (cosmic destruction) (Parry, 1994, p. 16) might originate from the old Vishwanath temple. In 1194 the temple was demolished by Qutb-ud-din Aibak and some years later Sultan Razia erected a mosque on the place.49 The temple was rebuilt adjacent to the Avimukteshvara temple on the place of the sacred complex. The Vishwanath temple became more popular and eventually usurped the Avimukteshvara temple.
After several Islamic rulers (Firuz Shah Tughluq, Mahmud Shah Sharqi, and Sikander Lodi) had sacked the city again, this Vishwanath temple did not survive the sixteenth century. In 1585 Narayana Bhatta rebuilt the temple on great scale on the same spot, but this one was again demolished in 1669, during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb. In the 1770s the present temple was constructed under patronage of the rānī of Indore and two domes were gilded in 1839 by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, hence the second name of the temple, ‘Golden temple’ (see Figure 8; Eck, 1983, pp. 120Nowadays, there are four Vishwanath temples in Varanasi. Beside the current Vishwanath temple, a Vishwanath temple (Adi Vishveshvara) was built in the seventeenth century next to Razia mosque, where the original Vishwanath temple was located. A third was built by conservative Brahmins after the current Vishwanath temple was ‘pulluted’ because ‘untouchables’ has entered the temple. Finally, the BHU campus houses the modern and spacious new Vishwanath Temple which was built in 1966 (Eck, 1983, pp. 133-135; Vidyarthi, 1979, pp. 15-16).
Every day there are five ārtīs during which the Vishwanath temple is closed to the public (see Figure 9).50 From 23.00 Shiva rests and the temple is closed.51 Before the entrance of the sacred complex as well as before the entrance of the temples within the sacred complex there are shops on the left and right selling bilva leaves, flowers It is worth noting that Kumar asserts that the mosque was not built by Sultan Razia. Instead, she argues it was built by Raja Bibi, a poor widowed lady who got married to a sultan (Kumar, 1987, p.
270) This and subsequent paragraphs are based on personal observations Mangala Aarti, 3.00-4.00 (morning); Bhog Aarti, 11.15 to 12.20 (day); Sandhya Aarti, 19.00 to 20.15 (evening); Shringar Aarti, 21.00 to 12.15(night); Shayan Aarti, 22.30-23.00 (night) (http://www.shrikashivishwanath.org/) and flower mālās (garlands), mostly white jasmine, orange marigolds, and pink lotuses.52 Small earthen pots or plastic cups are already filled with milk, sometimes sprinkled with some flower petals or with a datura fruit in it.53 They also sell small packages with tiny white sugar balls which look like small rudrakshas and small packages with sugar coated popped rice, both used to be blessed by Shiva and then consumed as prashād (sacred food), and small boxes with kumkum, red powder which is used to make a red dot (bindu) on the forehead. Some people do not buy milk but take a bottle Ganges water along, but nearly everyone brings milk or water to poor over the linga.
In the temple shoes are forbidden, so people leave their shoes either at the shop where they bought flowers and milk or in a small safe at the entrance of the sacred complex. Besides items for worship it is not allowed to bring any items in the temple, so wallets, phones, cameras, and even pens have to be left in a locker. Because of security reasons it is also prohibited to make photographs in the area around the sacred complex. At the entrance of the Vishwanath temple is a slab which says something like “Gentlemen not belonging to Hindu faith are kindly requested not to enter the temple.” Foreigners who do want to enter the temple have to bring their passport and register first.
Besides the buzz of people the constant ringing of bells can be heard. Among the people waiting in line to get in the sanctum sanctorum, once in a while somebody calls out loud “Har!” and everybody quickly follows “Har! Mahadev!” (“Glory to the Great God!”). The linga is located in a small domed space. It is set in a silver basin of perhaps 1 meter by 1 meter and sits on a golden seat, the female counterpart of the linga. The linga itself is made of a smooth, solid, black stone of about 15 cm wide and 30 cm high. When people they see the linga they first pour milk or water over it.
Then they might one or more times touch the linga and then their forehead, and finally they give flowers or prahād if they have any. The prashād is touched on the linga either by the worshipper or by the priest and sometimes (e.g., when people have sweet laddū balls) they give one to Shiva Vishwanath and take the rest home.
Sometimes they receive a flower garland from the priests. Some worshippers have a tray with several cups; in this case they are usually assisted by a priest who holds the tray and empties the cups one by one in the right hand of the devotee so that he or she can rub it onto the linga. Above the linga is a vessel from which water constantly drips on the linga; some devotees poor water or milk in it. Some Bilva leaves are tri-foliate and are associated with Shiva, perhaps because of its similarity to Shiva’s trident Datura fruits are round thorny fruits and are also associated with Shiva, perhaps because of its toxic hallucinogens Figure 8. The Golden Vishwanath temple from the northern courtyard with Nandi and the pavilion with the Gyanvapi well. Photo taken from ‘Inde, tombeaux et monuments sacrés’, by L. Boulanger, (Paris, 1890)
Figure 10. Map of the Vishwanath temple.
Taken from: Eck (1983, p. 122) reverently touch the water vessel above the linga or the basin in which it stands.
How much time people spent in the sanctorum sanctum depends on the crowdedness of the place. During quite times there are about 7 people per minute and each has the time and space to worship as he or she likes; the milk or water is poured and the linga is touched. As soon as it becomes more crowded (e.g., 20-30 people per minute) a railing is placed around the linga, making it impossible for people to touch it. Now more people are worshipping at the same time and everyone is pushing to find a place. People still have the opportunity to pour water over the linga and throw flowers in its basin. If people do not move aside quick enough to make space for others they are pulled away by guards. During peak times as many as 70 people per minute worship the Shiva linga.
In this case there is no more time than to empty the cup or bottle in the basin while passing and people have to hope it touches the linga. Some people empty the cup and throw it in the basin. There is a constant pushing and pulling and guards are pretty rough on people, pulling them by arms and pushing their heads out. The air is filled with hasty shouts “Hogia?” (“Ready?”), “Ajie!” (“Come!”), “Chalo!” (“Go on!”).
An amount of 70 people per minute in the sanctum sanctorum is the absolute max.
With this speed, especially during holidays, about half the people fail in seeing or touching the linga. To ensure that everyone can pay obeisance to Lord Vishwanath the temple recently started with Jharokhā Darshan, darshan of the Shiva linga outside of the sanctum sanctorum (Times of India, 2013a).54 From its official website devotees can have live darshan of the Shiva linga twenty four hours a day.55 The floor of the temple is wet and slippery and littered with old flowers. In addition to the main linga the Vishwanath temple houses other deities. Each deity is attended to by a priest, who on his behalf accepts flowers, distributes prashād, puts a bindu on the forehead of devotees, and ties red-and-yellow strings around their wrists.
They expect some money for their services.
A little further is the courtyard with the famous Gyanvapi well. It is a well with a diameter of about 2 meters and with iron bars about 1.5 meters below the rim. A cloth on top prevents the water from becoming littered by coins and flowers. It is located in a colonnaded pavilion which was gift from Sri Maut Baija Bai of Gwalior and built in 1828 (Sherring, 1868, pp. 53-54). The well might have been dug by Shiva in order to cool the linga light of light that emerged here ‘in the beginning’ (Eck, 1983, p. 126), by Shiva to offer water to Avimukteshvara (Singh, 2011, pp.
119-120); or by a rishi (sage) because there was a great draught (Sherring, 1868, pp. 53-54). In any case is the water highly valued, it is said to be liquid wisdom (‘jnāna’). According to Sherring, Nandi the bull just outside the pavilion was a gift from the Raja of Nepal (see Figure 8 and Figure 10; Sherring, 1868, p. 54).
The term Jharokhā Darshan originates from a ritual of Mughal rulers; every morning before sunrise they would appear on the balcony for public audience This is quite exciting, because is for the first time in many decades that people can attended the aarti ceremony, be it digitally
4.3 The Gyanvapi mosque The mosque is a white plastered building with tall, lean minarets and three domes.