Lalji’s book opens debate on Lucknow’s Laxman connect
Even as a debate over Taj Mahal’s Hindu origin is yet to be settled, a largely muted right-wing claim linking Lucknow to Laxman is set to gain fresh currency.lucknow Updated: Feb 07, 2018 17:01 IST
Is Lucknow linked to Laxman?
Even as a debate over Taj Mahal’s Hindu origin is yet to be settled, a largely muted right-wing claim linking Lucknow to Laxman is set to gain fresh currency.
That’s because BJP veteran Lalji Tandon has flagged a controversy by penning ‘Ankaha Lucknow’ – a book in which he goes on to accuse Muslims – from the time of Khilji dynasty’s Alauddin Khilji to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb – of systematically disconnecting the city’s connect with the younger brother of Lord Ram.
Accusing modern day political parties of feigning ignorance to this distortion, Tandon, a close aide of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, plans to follow up the book’s formal launch, possibly in March, with a series of public discussions featuring historians to piece together an “authenticated version of Lucknow’s culture and history.”
As if on cue, a city-based archaeologist DP Tiwari has said that if fresh digging was to be carried out in city’s ‘Laxman Teela’ - where Tandon claims Aurangzeb built a mosque - it could indeed throw up archaeological evidence to substantiate the city’s ‘Laxman connect’.
Tiwari in fact, refers to Uttar Kand – a portion of Valmiki’s Ramayana to indicate that the religious scripture too bears testimony of Laxman having travelled down to the ‘Teela’ after crossing the Gomti.
“Religious texts bear association of Laxmanji with the Teela where digging in the past had revealed painted greyware pottery that dates its origin to the Mahabharata era. I would suggest that after Tandonji’s book fresh digging could be carried out to check for ochre colored pottery which relate to the Ramayana period,” Tiwari said.
But Professor Makhan Lal, who is director of Delhi’s Institute of Heritage Management, was guarded in his take on Laxman Teela.
“All that I can say is that there is a place called Laxman Teela that could have come into existence around 3600 years ago, even earlier and yes, there is a mosque built on it, supposedly by Aurangzeb,” he said without getting into Tandon’s claim that have angered the Samajwadi Party.
That’s because the BJP veteran has gone on to claim that between SP’s rule from 2012 to 2017 the city’s alienation with Laxman Teela was complete.
He also refers to the existence of the now-demolished ‘Shesh Gufa’ that he claims existed on the Laxman Teela.
As per a Hindu belief, while Ram was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Laxman was the incarnation of Shesh Naag, the serpent king who guards Lord Vishnu – reason Tandon offers to support Gufa’s existence and subsequent demolition during Alauddin Khilji’s reign.
“The place is now known as Teele Wali Masjid and the manner in which Laxman Teela, our great cultural heritage of which Gufa was a part, was either demolished or allowed to rust is an unpardonable sin,” said Tandon, who cited Lucknow-based historian Abdul Haleem Sharar to support his claim.
Angered by his accusation, the SP shot back. “The Teele Wali Masjid has been in existence for years. In fact instead of writing about it now, he should have done something when he was the urban development minister in the Kalyan Singh government in 1990s,” said former UP minister and SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary.