Libmonster ID: UK-1231
Author(s) of the publication: V. P. KASHIN


Candidate of Historical Sciences

KeywordsIndiaHinduismMathuraKrishnaBhagavat BhavanIdga

One of India's seven holy cities, Mathura, is known as the birthplace of Krishna, the most popular and beloved Hindu god. Every day the city is visited by tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world, including our compatriots. However, where they hope to see a temple, a mosque stands tall.

I was going to Mathura as if for a holiday. It was December 21, 2010 on the calendar, but the morning sun shone like spring and gave a generous warmth. On both sides of the highway was a vast sea of emerald green. Cornfields and mustard fields interspersed with towns and villages where steep-horned cows roamed the streets.

Mathura appeared unexpectedly and resembled a fancy cake decorated with turrets of temples and colorful flags. The car made its way through the narrow streets for a short time and parked five hundred meters from the entrance to the Sri Krishna Janmasthan complex.

Everything was ringing, humming, singing. The riot of colors and scents was dizzying. But the bustle receded before the feeling of an almost tangible grace filling the surrounding space to the very edges.


By Indian standards, the birthplace of Krishna is a small city with a population of 350 thousand people. It is located on the right bank of the river Jamna (Yamuna), 150 km south of Delhi and 56 km from Agra in Uttar Pradesh.

83% of the population profess Hinduism, 16% - Islam. There are over 200 Hindu temples and 54 large and small mosques.

The founder of Mathura is considered to be Shatrughna, the younger brother of Prince Rama. He fought bravely, defeated the demon Labana, and laid the foundation of a city in the Madhuvana jungle. The ancient Greeks called it Madura.

Mathura reached its heyday under the Kushans (1st century BC, AD) and Guptas (IV-VI centuries BC, AD). Visiting it in the seventh century, a Buddhist monk from China, Xuan Tsang, reported 20 Buddhist monasteries, where 2,000 monks lived. Jain saints Mallinath and Neminath also preached there. The inhabitants were of a gentle disposition, and the seeds of various creeds fell on fertile ground. "They love to collect secret stores of religious merit. They respect virtue and honor the teachings, " wrote Xuanzang2.

The city became a center of artistic craft. Stone sculpture brought him wide fame. The Mathura school is characterized by: individualization of characters, spirituality of images, multi-figure compositions and high technique of performance. Its best examples are displayed in the local Museum of archeology. The main attractions are the image of the Kushan king Kanishka in a tunic and boots of a foreign cut and a statue of the Buddha of the Gupta period. The sculptures are made of mottled red sandstone, later used by Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) in the construction of the new capital Fatehpur Sikri.

In Mathura, fine cotton fabrics were made and gold was mined. The surrounding fields were fertile and convenient for grain production. The city lay at the intersection of important trade routes linking North and South India, China and the countries of Central Asia and the Middle East. It is in Mathura that 5 thous.

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Years ago, the divine Krishna ("Black"), the eighth earthly incarnation of the guardian god Vishnu, was born. The eyes of the amazing baby resembled lotus petals, the color of the body-a thundercloud. He wore a jeweled necklace around his neck, beautiful bracelets on his arms and legs, and a golden glow all over him. That night the stars shone brightly in the sky, and the land with its mountains and forests, rivers and lakes, arable land and orchards was quiet and beautiful.


It is said that in the old days the evil and cruel king Kansa ruled in Mathura. He was predicted to die at the hands of his cousin's eighth son. Fear gripped the tyrant's soul, and he threw Devaka and her consort Vasudeva into prison. And when Devaka conceived her eighth child, Kansa lost all peace.

The gods helped the unfortunate captives. They put the guards to sleep, opened the prison doors, and Vasudeva was released without hindrance. With his infant son in his arms, he reached the city gate and descended to the bank of the fast-flowing and eddying Yamuna, and the waters of the river parted before him. Vasudeva reached the village of Gokul by land, found the house of the shepherd Nanda, whose wife Yasoda had given birth to a daughter that night, changed the child, and returned by the same route.

In the morning, the king and guards were woken up by a loud baby crying. Even though it was a girl, Kansa wanted to destroy the child. He forcibly tore the child away from Devaki's chest, grabbed the baby's legs, and swung to smash its head on a rock. But the child suddenly slipped out of his hands, rose high into the sky, turned into a goddess, and reminded the villain of retribution.

And Krsna grew up among the cowherd men of Gokula and Vrndavana, tending cows, playing pranks with boys, and easily dealing with the demons sent by Kansa. Over time, he turned into a beautiful dark-faced young man. Walking by the river or in the forest, he entertained the girls with charming tunes of a reed pipe. Krsna danced with each cowherd girl in turn, hugging her slender figure or rounded shoulders tightly, smiling tenderly at them, looking into their shining eyes, saying words full of love, joking and laughing merrily. And each cowherd girl, intoxicated with love, felt that it was only to her that Krishna was giving his tenderness, only with her that he danced, and only to her that he sang his songs.3 His chosen one was the beautiful cowherd girl Radha.

Soon our hero went to Mathura for the festive competitions. There he defeated the best fighters of Kansa and killed the bloodthirsty tyrant. He stayed in his native city and saved it 18 times from the attacks of the ruler of Magadha. Meanwhile, Mathura could not withstand a long siege, and the wise Krishna decided to take the people to a safe place. As such, he chose the coast of the Arabian Sea, where he built an impregnable fortress and built a new beautiful city of Dvaraka.

As the charioteer of Arjuna, one of the heroes of the epic poem "Mahabharata", Krishna took part in the great battle of the Pandavas and Kauravas on the field of Kuruksetra. He appeared to Arjuna in a divine form and delivered a sermon that included the basic tenets of modern Hinduism and the path of salvation (Bhagavad-gita).

After losing many relatives and friends in battle, he turned the spirit away from the world and retired to the forest. Once upon a time a hunter called Jarah passed through that forest. He mistook Vasudeva's yellow-robed son for a deer and shot an arrow at it. Krsna's body was enchanted, and from head to toe he was invulnerable to any weapon; only the heel of his foot was vulnerable. An arrow pierced his heel. Before he died, he generously forgave Jara. Thus ended the earthly career of the divine Krishna, and his soul ascended to heaven.

Krishna is a much-loved and most popular Hindu god. His name is associated with a large number of legends, legends and other literary and artistic works. His memory is immortalized in many thousands of temples. Even today, the mother wakes the child up in the morning with the words of a song that Yasoda once sang to her son, and the newlyweds are often compared to Krsna and Radha.

Krsna came to the world of mere mortals to deal with evil and destroy evil-doers. But in the public consciousness, the image of the hero-warrior was replaced by a lovely plump baby and a romantic young shepherd boy with a pipe in his hands. So it remains to this day, inspiring love, tenderness and tenderness. According to researchers, a crucial role in this was played by the medieval religious reform movement bhakti (lit. "ownership")4. The bhaktas taught that God responds only to the call of the loving heart, and therefore the principle of love should be the basis of the relationship between man and God.


For centuries, the riches of Mathura and the Krishna temple have attracted the covetous eyes of foreign conquerors. The temple was repeatedly looted and three times was completely destroyed by the Muslim rulers of India.

page 58

Legends say that the first temple at the birthplace of Krishna was built by his grandson Vajranabha. The next temple was built during the early Gupta period by Emperor Chandragupta II (376-414). In the neighborhood of Hindu religious buildings were Buddhist and Jain. In 1017, the city was captured by the Sultan of Ghazni (Khorasan) Mahmud of Ghaznevi and razed the shrines of the gentiles to the ground. His main trophy was a 4.5-meter-high statue of Krishna. It was cast in pure gold and set with 5 precious stones.

The third temple was built by Maharaja Vijayapaldeva of Mathura in the middle of the 12th century, but in the beginning of the 16th century. It was destroyed by the Delhi Sultan Sikandar Lodi. Stone statues of Hindu gods were given to butchers for butchering decks.6 Hindus were not allowed to perform ritual ablutions, and barbers were not allowed to shave Hindu pilgrims.

During the reign of Akbar's son Emperor Jahangir (1605 - 1627), Raja Orchha Vir Singh Bundela erected a 75-meter-high temple. Its gilded spire shone so brightly in the sun that it was visible in Agra. The facade was decorated with sculptures of gods, heroes and sacred animals. The French traveler J. B. Tavernier, who visited the area in the mid-17th century, called the Krishna Temple "one of the most magnificent structures in India" .7

The situation changed again with the accession of the fanatical and suspicious Emperor Aurang-zeb (1658-1707). In 1669. he ordered the destruction of all Hindu temples and the construction of mosques from their stone blocks. Statues of Hindu gods were buried at the gate so that the faithful who went to prayer could trample them under their feet. Hindus were forbidden to celebrate Diwali (the main Hindu festival-the festival of lights) and holi (the Spring festival) and wear insignia, ride elephants and in palanquins.

All this was intended to symbolize the victory of Islam over Hinduism.

One of the first to be demolished was the temple of Krishna, and in its place there was a three - domed mosque-Idga. And now from the former grandiose temple there are only fragments of the foundation, scattered here and there on the territory of the complex.

In 1803, the Mathura area came under the control of the British East India Company. In 1815, the company put up the land where the Krishna temple used to stand for auction, and the land was purchased by the Raja of Benares Patnimal. Subsequently, all rights to the land passed to the Raja's heirs, one of whom was R. K. Das. The Mathura Muslim community twice challenged Das ' claim to the land in the Allahabad Supreme Court, but both times lost the suit.

In 1944, the land was bought from R. K. Das for 13.4 thousand rupees by a prominent public and political figure of colonial India, M. M. Malavia. The symbolic fee did not reflect the real value of the land, but only covered the legal costs incurred by Das in trying to repel the unfounded claims of the Muslims of Mathura. 8 Malawiya intended to start building the temple immediately, but his demise ended those plans.

Later, the famous Indian industrialist D. K. Birla took up the task. In 1951, he established the Sri Krishna Janmabhumi Foundation. Its first president was former Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament G. V. Malavankar.

page 59

The Foundation did not set itself the super-task of restoring the temple from archaeological dust and rubble, but focused on turning the birthplace of Krishna into a religious and cultural center. The Foundation's long-term activities resulted in the creation of a temple complex that includes the Keshavdev Temple (1958), the Bhagavat Bhavan Temple (1982), a marble pavilion, an Ayurveda center, a library, a publishing house, a hotel and other buildings of religious, cultural and economic significance.


My journey through the Sri Krishna Janmasthan complex started at the triumphal arch gate. They are decorated with Arjuna's war chariot, which is driven by Krsna himself. Above the chariot flies a saffron flag with the image of Hanuman, the companion of Rama and the leader of the monkey army. On both sides of the gate, three-meter-tall warriors with heavy spears in their hands froze. The guards stare menacingly at the newcomers, as if to remind them that the temple is still in a specially protected area.

There are significantly more people in military uniforms here than in other temples in India. The soldiers are ready not only to repel terrorist attacks, but also to prevent mass clashes on religious and communal grounds.

After entering the gate, I found myself in the square in front of the Bhagavat Bhavan Temple. It impresses the imagination with its monumentality, solemnity and strict beauty. This is the true palace of God. To the left of it is the Keshavdeva temple with a white marble statue of Krishna, behind it is the Giriraja temple with a black marble head of Krishna and a pavilion that looks like a royal throne.

When I went down, I found myself in the former prison where, according to legend, Krishna was born. It contains a stone slab with the footprints of the baby god. Paintings depicting various episodes of Krishna's early childhood are displayed on the slab. Nearby, a group of musicians were playing folk songs. Especially the drummer tried.

The dungeon is located under the pavilion at a distance of only five meters from the mosque. Aurangzeb originally intended to build a mosque over the prison, but his advisers dissuaded him, saying that the room where the idols of Hindu gods used to stand might desecrate the mosque.9

On the wall of the Idgi, adjacent to the pavilion, 12 patterned spots left by the calcareous coating of ground water are clearly visible. Pilgrims claim that these are images of Krishna. The men prostrate themselves before them, and the women dance in imitation of the cowherd girls of Vrndavana. At the same time, no one but Muslims is confused by the place of worship.

A steep staircase of 53 steps leads to Bhagavat Bhavan. The temple's inner sanctum, garbhagriha, contains images of Krishna and Radha made of white marble. They wear rich brocade robes and gold tiaras trimmed with pearls. The faithful greet the gods with cheers and a show of hands. In the corridor behind the altar, you can see paintings depicting all the incarnations of the supreme god Vishnu, Sikh gurus and Bharat Mata (Mother India), as well as copper plates engraved with the full text of the Bhagavad-gita.

Small altars of Shiva, Durga, Jagannath, Rama and Hanuman are placed along the temple walls. The idols of Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are made from the same wood and by the same craftsman as their idols in the famous Puri temple. Symbol of Shiva, the lingam is made of mercury amalgam with the addition of herbal extracts. As a precaution, it is placed in a frame made of steel rods. At each altar, water is poured into the outstretched hands of the faithful from a silver vessel. A Hindu should drink some of the water and pour the rest on the back of his head.

The ceiling is decorated with frescoes dedicated to the exploits of Krishna. In the largest and most colorful mural, hundreds of shepherdesses circle in a magical dance with hundreds of Krishnas. A carpet is spread on the floor for darshan, the ritual of seeing the images of the gods.

The church was built at the expense of the Dalmia monopoly group.

Bhagavat Bhavan and Idgu are separated by four meters of free space. The wall of the mosque is wrapped with barbed wire. On both sides there are metal shields-pillboxes with slits for firing. Indian soldiers look through the windows. Duty is conducted around the clock.

Fasts are reinforced during Friday prayers. It gathers between 800 and 1,000 Muslims. The call of the muezzin sounds. At this moment, the sound of drums is heard in the temple opposite...

* * *

Mathura was behind me, but the conflicting images still haunted me for a long time. The majestic temple looking up at the sky, the young, benevolent Krishna, the enthusiastic and spiritual faces of people at the altars of the gods, the foreign body of Idgi entangled in barbed wire,and the stern eyes of soldiers in the slots of pillboxes. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Council of Hindus)is an influential Hindu organization. She suggested that the Muslim community of Mathura use Hindu money to move the mosque to another location, but received no response. And who can say how long Indian soldiers will continue to divide the Indians in an ancient Indian city?

1 India in literary monuments of the III-VII centuries, Moscow, 1984, p. 102.

2 Ibid.

3 Three Great Tales of ancient India, Moscow, 1978, p. 336.

4 Bhakti is the religion of love. Moscow, 1995.

Krishna Prasad D. 5 A Journey through the Lands and Legends of Krishna. Mumbai, 2010, p. 19.

6 History of India in the Middle Ages, Moscow, 1968, p. 274.

7 The Times of India. 25.12.1982.

8 Birth-Place of Lord Shri Krishna. Brief History and Development. Mathura, 2000, p. 7.

9 Ibid., p. 9.


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