Learning from the desecration of Somnath Temple

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In an act of psychological warfare, Anas Haqqani, a member of Taliban, visited the tomb of Mahmud of Ghaznavi and praised him for a ghastly act. The Turkic ruler attacked India 17 times and desecrated the Somnath Temple. No second guess that the former was playing Psy-war with Indians, who are sworn enemies of his masters across the Durand line. Read more about this here.

Let’s take a moment until that pain to simmer.  Now, how should we react to this painful civilizational memory? What should be our response to this mean Psy-ops? Should it be rage? Or victimhood? Rage will propel us, but it will make us rudderless. On the other hand, victimhood will weaken us. Hence, in my humble opinion, an objective analysis of the past should help.

Somnath Temple : A look at the past

As per history, Mahmud of Ghaznavi attacked India 17 times from 1000 AD to 1027 AD. The Somnath temple was desecrated between 1025 -1027 AD. Now, let’s recall that the great emperor Rajendra Chola ruled large parts of Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia, around the same time. It is important to note the Rajendra Chola,like his ancestors, was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. His father, Raja Raja Chola built the iconic Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavur.

Yet, what did this great emperor do to prevent this tragedy? He had all the time to raid the Sri Vijaya in Malaysia. But not an iota of concern for his homeland? Not even for his venerated deity? A timely and punitive action would have dissuaded future invasions and desecrations. But, because of apathy and dissensions, our civilization paid a price. And today, any rogue terrorist can rub our wounds.

Fast forward to Independent India, in 1947, the reconstruction of Somnath Temple was proposed by Sardar Patel and KM Munshi and Mahatma Gandhi blessed it. Unfortunately, by 1950, both Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel passed away. With his closest men gone, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru should have completed their dream. Instead, he created unnecessary problems in its reconstruction, fearing that it was ‘Hindu Revivalism’, and will make Muslims in the country ‘insecure’.

However, K.M. Munshi persisted and the re-construction of the temple was completed. But Nehru was not done. He resisted Rajendra Prasad’s – the then President of India – decision to visit its opening ceremony. Nonetheless, the President went to the ceremony and gave a historical speech. Rajendra Prasad did not emulate Rajendra Chola’s historical.

The present day

As Mark Twain said, history does not repeat itself, but rhymes. Apathy amongst Indians towards its own culture and heritage hasn’t changed significantly. If that was not the case, how is it that certain intellectuals in India do not miss a single chance to correlate every extremism around the world with Hindutva?

How is it possible that a few Indians, along with certain westerners, held a conference called, ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’, while a colossal tragedy was unfolding in Afghanistan. Did they have any guts and spine to say a word about the extremism that caused such a humanitarian crisis? And wait for the worst part. Do we know who arranged for that pre-posterous conference? The ‘great’ Dr Audrey Truschke who is the greatest apologist to Aurangzeb, the man who order the fifth destruction of Somnath temple. Is there a more shameful example of Stockholm syndrome?

The way ahead

As aforementioned, let’s not give in to either rage or victimhood. This is time for cold calculation and strategy. We are surrounded by enemies. Moreover, we have enemies within. It’s time to bring external enemies to their knees, while internal enemies are brought to book. We know we are strong enough. What’s needed is a change of mentality. We may be inheritors of Mahatma Gandhi’s peace, but our political and military legacy descends from Chanakya. If we can build roads, schools and dams for Afghan people, our air bases in Tajikistan can bomb Kabul within minutes.

It’s time to bow down to Lord Somnath, buckle up and work, instead of falling for  psychological war. That way, India will gain strength. May Lord Somnath bless us.

Also read: Revisiting India’s maritime history and strategy


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Prasad Kulkarni is a Data and Analytics professional. At work, he analyses historical data and ponders over historical events otherwise.


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