India – Cultural Heritage

May 11, 2022

India – Cultural Heritage

Padmini Arhant

India’s cultural religious diversity and dynamism sparks controversy and interest in abundance.

The religion drawn into political angle is the real problem. The society represented by multi-dimensional aspects considering India’s ancient civilization neither understood well nor interpreted properly especially in terms of India’s rich advanced and far sighted contributions in human modern development in math, science, medicine, language, literature, arts, humanities studies, urban civilization, with well structured town planning… going back to at least 5000 years and even earlier.

These are the reasons that attracted positive and negative causes towards Indus valley civilization. India as the birth place of many religions is also the land of spiritual inspiration for many genuine enlightened souls like Lord Gautama Buddha, Saint Guru Nanak, Saint Guru Gobind Singh, Saint Tirthankar of Jainism followed by Mahavira and more in the positive trend unlike the fake and fraudulent Godmen, Godwomen and the so-called Sat Gurus staged and paraded with domestic and massive foreign publicity promoting unscrupulous agenda discarding the entities consistent human rights and environment violations. 

Negative aspect is related to relentless invasion, occupation and colonization of the country since time immemorial prevalent until now.

No invasion of a country worldwide is possible without internal collusion, complicity, capitulation and treason from insiders aiding and abetting invaders for personal and fiduciary interests. India is no exception in this regard.

The invasion and occupation by external forces from anywhere facilitated and tolerated by those in position of power and authority often lead to subjugation of nation and hegemony. India is experienced in colonization by foreign power near and far and continues to face challenges in the modern time.

In the national front, the nation witnessed and encountered religious melt down over Babri Masjid ( Mosque) dispute in Ayodhya acknowledged as Hindu religion Lord Ram’s nativity. The contentious issue might have been settled with Indian Supreme Court decision though not necessarily to all sides’ satisfaction which is an expected situation.

Similar dissension has risen with world renowned Taj Mahal raising a question on the mausoleum though suspected to be a cenotaph (possibly without the remains of the deceased) from Mughal King Shah Jahan for his queen Mumtaz.

Taj Mahal cited as world heritage site by UNESCO and noted as one of the seven human made wonders of the world is confronted with Ayodhya like contention.

The locals in Agra, Uttar Pradesh and many Hindus nationwide as well as overseas reportedly believe that Taj Mahal is a refurbished palace housing a Hindu God Shiva Temple known as Tejo Mahalya on the premise dating at least 250 years back prior to the construction of official date of Taj Mahal in 1653 i.e. 17th century.

The reference Taj Mahal is claimed to have been derived from the God Shiva temple Tejo (Taj) and Mahalaya (Mahal) meaning palace notably built and owned by then Indian Hindu Maharaja and later Hindu King Man Singh and grandson King Jai Singh referenced in inheritance. The leading argument is the 22 rooms at seven story Taj Mahal remain closed for decades barring public view or maintenance of the integral part of the prominent architectural edifice. The 22 rooms apparently hold Hindu idols and artifacts. 

On a personal level unbeknown to me, I had to deal with a very awkward moment during my latest visit to Taj Mahal with my sons in 2016.

Although I have been to Taj Mahal many times before at least five times having grown up in New Delhi, India, I wanted to share the pleasure of seeing the extraordinary architecture marvel with my sons in 2016. In all those years I visited Taj Mahal since teen years with my parents and early adulthood with relatives and family friends, there were never any hassles or obstacles in entry to Taj Mahal until 2016. The time with BJP government in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh proudly embarked as Hindu religion stalwarts and authority. 

In 2016, despite our early arrival at 5.30 a.m. to capture the glimpse of Taj Mahal at sunrise, the crowd gathering was least surprising. The security protocol had to be complied with which in India like elsewhere was intense. Not to mention the body search exceeded into groping by female security guards was yet another dilemma. The male and female security in police uniform at Taj Mahal entry rummaged my hand bag and having found nothing of any concern were about to hand over my purse to me. Then suddenly an over enthusiast female security personnel grabbed my hand bag from the colleague and then pulled a Shiva image that is part of me.

The female security guard authoritatively confiscated the holy figurine and my bag stating my personal belongings had to be left in their custody. Then as usual the security team comprising male and female staff  gathered and told me that I could not have the Shiva image in my bag and took the item away from me. They also withheld my hand bag regardless of security clearance. They categorically stated that Shiva image and any symbols in semblance with Shiva is prohibited in the Taj Mahal periphery and premise.

I patiently tried to explain to them that the image is placed deep inside the hand bag with no exposure of any kind whatsoever and there wasn’t going to be any issue with a personal guarantee in that regard.

What baffled me the most was the Supreme entity behind creation of all beings including the Mughal King Shah Jahan and Queen Mumtaz is barred from entry to Taj Mahal. I conveyed the message to the deniers to this effect. Obviously, politics is the fundamental reason behind the restriction.

Since I was completely unaware of the Taj controversy at that time and having visited the monument several times in my lifetime earlier with no such fuss or farcical, I was taken aback at the startling restraint on the most revered God Shiva. Our tour guide then briefed me on the brewing Taj Mahal and God Shiva Temple claims with media hosted heated debates and discussions on the matter.

On my part, I let the security team know that I understand their obligation to perform the duty in accordance with official guidelines that are never without political motives and social discord.  I also expressed my disappointment in religious freedom and spiritualism held hostage in the otherwise peaceful resolutions available on any issue.

I decided not to enter Taj Mahal without Shiva’s image being allowed in my personal belonging and requested them to return my personal item.  I relayed the uninhibited message to them that God in mage or thoughts refused access in the world created by the Supernatural force is the ultimate straw in the dark age – Kaliyug.  More so for a nation declared the world’s largest democracy.

Then there was a change of heart and mind among senior decision makers involved in the rather prolonged entry approval process. They let me have the image and returned by bag. I was able to visit the Taj Mahal or Tejo  Mahalaya in God Shiva’s esteemed company.

Interestingly, yet another architecture symbol and historic wonder Qutab Minar in the capital Delhi has surfaced with contradictory facts and findings from many different sources in the social media.

God, religion and spiritualism persist in the politically charged social discourse that are best spared with exclusive relevance to archeology, architecture and historic timeline premised on logic and verifiable document evidence.

Padmini Arhant 

Author & Presenter


Greetings from Asia

April 30, 2022

Greetings from Asia

Padmini Arhant

The social greetings in Asia connects the people and nations with love and humility. The commonality is expressed in the culture.

Here are few examples of Hello in similar manner. The nations represented here are Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal and Tibet in cultural variety. 

Myanmar (Burma) – Min-ga-la-ba shin (Greeting)

Singapore  – Tamil Greeting – Vanakkam – வணக்கம் !

Thailand – sawadee kah

Malaysia Tamil – Vanakkam – வணக்கம் !

Malaysia – Malay – ucapan itu

Cambodia Greetings and Etiquettes – Choum reap sor

Indonesia – Javanese – Greeting

Vietnam – lời chào

Laos – Saibaidee –  ສະບາຍດີ

Philippines – Kumusta ka

Tibet – Tashi deleg (བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས)

Nepal, Kathmandu – Namaste / Namaskar – नमस्ते / नमस्कार 


Padmini Arhant

Author & Presenter