‘Actual ‘Shivlings’ destroyed for construction of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor’
Mahant Rajendra Tiwari and Mahant Ganesh Shankar of Kashi Vishwanath say that they have seen the Wazu tank (Wazu Khana or ablution tank) since childhood and that the stone structure in it cannot be called a ‘Shivling’.
Mahant Rajendra Tiwari of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, that is located adjacent to the Gyanvapi Masjid, has revealed that the structure is indeed a fountain, and not a ‘Shivling’ as claimed by lawyers representing the Hindu petitioners.
In an interview to Aaj Tak and also to The Wire [www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmsqdDZmCo8] Tiwari said, “I have been seeing that talab (Wazu tank) since I was a child and used to go play there.” He added, “It is not right to call just any stone structure a ‘Shivling’.”
He also said, “I still have a document from the time of Dara Shikoh that was given to my ancestors who were caretakers of the temple permitting them to relocate the actual Shivling. My ancestors removed the Shivling and established it inside the temple where it remains intact and can be seen even today.”
In fact, Tiwari was more concerned about the destruction of actual ‘Shivlings’ for construction of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor. He asked, “When the corridor expansion was taking place they demolished Shivlings – Karuneshwar Mahadev, Amriteshwar Mahadev, Abhimukteshwar Mahadev, and Chandi-Chandeshwar Mahadev. These are the presiding deities of Kashi. They also demolished statues of the Panch Vinayaks – Durmukh Vinayak, Sumuk Vinayak, Mukh Vinayak, Jau Vinayak and Siddi Vinayak – and removed them from their mool sthan. But no one will speak about this.”
Then, in another interview to Aaj Tak, Mahant Ganesh Shankar, another ascetic involved in prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple, revealed that to the best of his knowledge the structure found is a fountain. He said, “We have been seeing it since childhood. Fountains come in various designs and are located in the middle of water bodies. Sometimes they have a stone base. To the best of my knowledge, it is a fountain, and not a ‘Shivling’ as claimed by the Hindu petitioners. Though I have never seen the fountain running in all my life.”
After a video survey was conducted at the Gyanvapi Masjid, lawyers representing the Hindu women who had originally moved the petition to offer prayers at the Maa Shringar Gauri temple that is located at the site of the Gyanvapi Masjid, had claimed that a ‘Shivling’, a stone structure of religious significance to Hindus, was found at the site. Following this, a lower court had directed that the area be sealed, a decision also upheld by the Supreme Court, albeit with the caveat that this should not restrict Muslims from accessing and praying at the mosque.
In fact, the priest also dispelled rumours about Muslims allegedly desecrating the ‘Shivling’ by doing kulla i.e. spitting backwash into the tank. “Nobody does kulla in the tank. They just use the water to wash their hands for Wazu.”