Ask any child – who built Taj Mahal? The answer would be Shah Jahan. We all have grown up studying Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal and Mughal history in school. But PN Oak begs to differ on this. He has a different take on the history of Taj Mahal. According to him it is not the real truth. He backs his statement with a set of proofs that tell a different story. No one has challenged this except Prof PN Oak, who believes the whole world has been duped. Using captured temples and mansions, as burial place for dead courtiers and royalty was a common practice among then moghul rulers. For example – Humayun, Akbar, Etnud-ud-Daula and Safdarjung are all buried in such mansions.
PN Oak is a well-known historian who has published a book, Taj Mahal: The True Story which touches on all these facts according to years of his study on Taj Mahal. As per his theory, Taj Mahal is not an Islamic mausoleum but an ancient Shiva temple known as Tejo Mahalaya which the fifth generation moghul emperor Shah Jahan took over from the then Maharaja of Jaipur. Hence Taj Mahal is a temple and not a tomb. As per PN Oak this makes a big difference; you miss the details of its size, grandeur, majesty and beauty when you think it as a mere tomb. But when told you are visiting a temple place you wont fail to notice its annexes, ruined defensive walls, hillocks, moats, cascades, fountains, majestic garden, hundreds of rooms, arcaded verandas, terraces, multi-storied towers, secret sealed chambers, guest rooms, stables, Trishul (Trident) on the dome and the sacred symbol of ‘om’ carved on the exterior of the wall of the sanctum sanctorum now occupied by the cenotaphs. Oak’s inquiries began with the name of Taj Mahal. He also says the love story of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan is a fairy tale created by court sycophants, blundering historians and sloppy archaeologists. Not a single royal chronicle of Shah Jahan’s time corroborates the love story.
PN Oak argues, the name Taj Mahal never occurs in any moghul court documents or chronicle even in Aurangazeb’s time. The attempt to explain it away as Taj-i-mahal is therefore ridiculous. Mahal is not muslim vocabulary because in none of the muslim countries around the world from Afghanistan to Algeria, is any building or structure known as ‘Mahal.’ The unusual explanation of the name Taj Mahal derives from Mumtaz Mahal who is buried there is illogical as firstly her name was never Mumtaz Mahal, but Mumtaz-ul-Zamani and secondly, one can not delete the first three alphabets ‘Mum’ from a woman’s name to derive at a name of a structure. As the woman’s name was Mumtaz (ending with ‘z’) the name of the structure derived from her should have read as Taz Mahal and not Taj (ending with j). Several European visitors during Shah Jahan’s era mention it as Taj-e-Mahal as per the times and tradition; a Sanskrit name Tej-o-Mahalaya, signifying a Shiva temple. Conveniently Shah Jahan and Aurangazeb avoided the Sanskrit term and called it a tomb. The tomb should be understood to signify not a structure but the grave or cenotaph inside it. More over if Taj is believed to be a burial place, how can the term Mahal, a mansion be associated with it. As the term Taj Mahal does not appear in moghul courts, it is not logical to search for any moghul explanation of the name. The name Taj and Mahal are of Sanskrit origin.
Actually the name Taj Mahal is a corrupt form of the Sanskrit term Tejo Mahalay signifying a Shiva temple – Agreshwar Mahadev, deity of Agra. The tradition of removing the footwear before climbing the marble platform existed even before Shah Jahan’s era, as it was a Siva temple. Had the Taj originated as a tomb, footwear need not be removed and are worn at a tomb. People visiting the structure may notice that the slab of the cenotaph is a marble basement in plain while its superstructure and the other three cenotaphs on the two floors are covered with inlaid creeper designs. This indicates that the marble pedestal of the Shiva idol is still in place and Mumtaz’s cenotaph are not original. Besides the pictures carved inside the upper border of the marble lattice plus those mounted on it, number 108, a number sacred in Hindu temple tradition. There are workmen connected with the repair and restoration of the Taj who claim to have seen the ancient sacred Shiv linga and other idols sealed in the thick walls and in chambers sealed within below the marble basement. He accuses The Archaeological Survey of India maintaining a discreet silence and avoiding the probe to the hidden historical evidence.
There are twelve Jyotirlingas spread all over India. The Tejo Mahalaya ie Taj Mahal appears to be one of them, know as the Nagnatheshwar since its parapet is abound with Naga ie Cobra snake worshipped by the Hindus. Ever since Shah Jahan’s take over of the structure, all evidence of Hinduism was suppressed. The famous Hindu treatise on architecture, ‘Vishwakarma Vastushastra’ mentions Tej Linga amongst the Shiv lingas. Such a Tej Linga was consecrated in the Taj Mahal, hence it was known as Tejo Mahalaya. Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, is an ancient centre of Shiva worship. Many of its orthodox residents have through ages continued the tradition of worshipping at the five Shiva shrines before taking their last meal every night, especially during the month of ‘Shravan.’ During the last few centuries, the residents had to be content with worshipping at only four Shiva shrines – Balkeshwar, Prithvinath, Manakameshwar and Rajarajeshwar. They lost track of the fifth Shiva shrine which their forefathers had worshipped. The fifth was Agreshwar Mahadev Nagnatheshwar, the diety of Agra, the diety of king Cobra consecrated in the Tejo Mahalay which is the Taj Mahal. Also the local population who dominate in Agra and surroundings are Jats. Their name of Shiva is Tejaji. PN Oak adds, the Jat special issue brought out by respected Illustrated Weekly of India (June 28, 1971) states that the Jats have built Teja Mandirs. Teja Linga is among the several names of the Shiva Lingas. From this it is apparent that the Taj Mahal is Tejo Mahalay, the abode of Tej.
PN Oak cites some documentary evidence to prove his point. Shah Jahan’ own court chronicle, the Badshanama admits (page 403 vol 1) that a grand mansion of unique splendour with a dome (Imaarat-a-alishan-wa-gumbaze) was taken from the Jaipur Maharaja Jaisingh for Mumtaz’s burial and the structure was known as Raja Mansingh’s palace. The plaque put by the authorities outside Taj Mahal described the edifice as a mausoleum built by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It took over 22 years from 1631 to 165to build it. Oak accuses the plaque of historical bungling. Firstly, the plaque cites no authority for this claim. Secondly, the woman’s name was Mumtaz-ul-Zamani and not Mumtaz Mahal as we are made to believe.
Prince Aurangazeb’s letter to his father emperor Shah Jahan is recorded in at least three chronicles titled – Aadaab-Alamgiri, Yadgarnama and the Muruqqa-i-Akbarabadi (edited by Syed Ahmed, Agra, 1931. Page 43. Footnote2). In that letter Aurangazeb records in 1652 AD that the several buildings in the fancied burial place of Mumtaz were seen storeyed and were so old that they were all leaking, while the dome had developed a crack on the northern side. Aurangzeb, therefore ordered immediate repairs to the buildings at his own expense while recommending to the emperor that more elaborate repairs be carried out later. This is proof that the Taj complex was old as to need immediate repairs. And the ex-Maharaja of Jaipur retains in his secret personal ‘Kapad Dwara’ collection two orders from Shah Jahan dated December 18, 1633 (bearing modern nos R176 & 177) requisitioning the Taj structure complex. That was so blatant usurpation that the then ruler of Jaipur was ashamed to make the document public.
The Rajasthan State archives at Bikaner have preserved three of the ‘firmans’ addressed by Shah Jahan to the Jaipur ruler Jaisingh, ordering the latter to supply marble (for Mumtaz’s grave with Koranic grafts) from the Makranna quarries and stone cutters and carvers. Jaisingh was enraged at the blatant seizure of Taj Mahal that he refused to oblige Shah Jahan marble for grating Koranic engraving or cenotaphs for further desecration of Taj Mahal. He refused to send any marble and detained the stone cutters and engravers in his protective custody. The three ‘firmans’ were sent to Jaisingh within about two years of Mumtaz’s death. Had Shah Jahan really built the Taj Mahal over a period of 22 years, the marble would have been needed only after 15 to 20 years not immediately after Mumta’s death. Moreover, the three ‘firmans’ do not mention the Taj Mahal, nor Mumtaz, nor the burial. Even the cost and the quantity of the marble are not mentioned which proves that an insignificant quantity of marble was need for some superficial work or minor alterations to the Taj Mahal. Otherwise Shah Jahan could never hope to build a fabulous structure like Taj Mahal by fully depending on marble from a non-co-operative ruler Jaisingh.
Prof Marvin Miller of New York who had taken samples from the riverside doorway of the Taj had interesting results. Carbon dating tests revealed that the door was 300 years older than Shah Jahan. European traveler Johan Albert Mandelslo, who visited Agra in 1638 (only seven years after Mumtaz’s death), describes the life of the city in his memoirs. But he makes no reference to the Taj Mahal being built. The writings of Peter Mundy, an English visitor to Agra within a year of Mumtaz’s death, also suggest the Taj was a noteworthy building well before Shah Jahan’s time. Fearing political backlash, earlier government tried to have Prof Oak’s book withdrawn from the bookstores. There is only one way to discredit or validate Oak’s research is open the sealed rooms of the Taj Mahal under authorized supervision, and let international experts investigate the truth.