Heritage is the key
By pointing fingers at traditions and heritage that have been part of our inherent culture and value systems, the atmospherics in the country today are being manipulated to decimate historical as well as modern narratives that do not suit the ideology of the ruling dispensation and foist on the people an alternative made-to-order culture.
Coming to Yogi Adityanathâ€™s jibe at the Taj Mahal, it is unfortunate that his and his partyâ€™s well-known animosity for a particular religion is being used to downplay the value of historical monuments. The Mughal Dynasty is a part of our history and we cannot disregard it. A lot of Hindu right-wing ideologists believe that the Mughals were only plunderers who did no benefit to India. Not going into complete merits of this argument, even if we assume that most Mughal rulers were indeed tyrants we can still not belittle what their rule bequest us with.
For instance, even though Qutb-ud-din Aibak of the Delhi Sultanate vandalised the Khajuraho Temples after annexation of the Chandala kingdom in the thirteenth century, we cannot trivialise the Qutub Minar built by him in the twelfth century in Delhi. Similarly, Mughal cuisine is a part of north Indian gustatory delights and we take immense pride in it. The Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel, a UNESCO world heritage site and a wonder of the world according to some lists and Indians should be proud of it.
Itâ€™s quite a coincidence that while fingers are being pointed by the right-wing in India at our ancient cultural heritage, in Iraq some deplorable maniacs from the Islamic State (IS) have blown up the historic Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its iconic leaning minaret in the Old City of Mosul. Former residents and natives of the war-torn region lamented as the monument that had been part of their culture since the twelfth century was reduced to rubble within minutes. This mosque is the latest among the troves of precious heritage ruined by Islamic radicals who consider it to be idolatrous. The Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, the historic town of Palmyra in Syria, the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, are just a few other examples.
Destruction of such precious heritage is part of an effort to establish supremacy of the propagators of a stifling Islamic caliphate who want to erase all history and culture that do not align with their hateful ideology. Islamic radicals such as the IS and Taliban believe that traditions and lifestyles alternative to the ones propagated by them are wrong and illegitimate. For them itâ€™s not enough to forcefully decimate the existing so-called un-Islamic visceral cultures; they want to eradicate the minutest remnant of anything from the past or present that would remind the masses of the prevalence or possibility of anything apart from strict Sharia laws. Throughout history, there have been efforts towards erasing heritage with the aim of replacing inherent cultural values with new ones considered more appropriate by the new rulers. Such destruction of cultural ethos and physical heritage has mostly stemmed from efforts at gaining territorial and political advantage. What is being propagated by the ruling dispensation in our own country today may not be equivalent to the despotism of the historic past but is parallel to attempts made throughout history to impose on the people customs preferred by the rulers by obliterating value systems that have thrived for years. We must be careful as it is not always good for history to repeat itself.