Taj Mahal Monument – Vanity or Love

During the 16th century, the Mughals united India by conquering it. Mughal is a Persian word meaning the descendants of Genghis Khan. The first Mughal ruler, Babur, came from Persia and was related to the Mughal emperors. His successor Akbar (the Great) understood that religious tolerance was necessary in a country of contrasts like India. After Hinduism, Islam is the second dominant religion in the country. Islam reached from the slopes of Himalayas to the plateau Deccan when the Delhi Sultanate was established in 1206. The oldest monuments of Hindu culture were ravaged or transformed into the glory of Islam. Hindu civilization retreated deep into the mountains of the Himalayas. Mughal tolerance toward other religions decreased, and Shah Jahan (reign: 1627–1658), and his son from his marriage to Mumtaz Mahal Aurangzeb, are known for it. Their capital was in Agra, fortified in the famous for the Red Fortress located on the banks of the Jamun River. At the time of Shan Jahan’s rule, the population was estimated at around 700,000. It was the first time all India had been united.

It is thought the Mughal Empire during Shah Jahan’s reign reached its peak, reflected in many ways: economic well-being, trade links on the Silk Road passing through neighboring Rajasthan, the arrival of scholars and artists from the Islamic world, and magnificent architectural buildings. The Moguls loved precious metals and precious stones. As hedonists, they also enjoyed expensive silk vestments, wine and opium. There remains in India forever a puzzle as to what is truly a Hindu monument and what the Mughals drastically abused to build their temple. There are disputes that the Taj Mahal temple itself, was the Hindu temple of Vishnu and Shiva. Many historians dispute it, while Hindus believe it.

Today, the greatest achievement of Mughal rule is considered the Taj Mahal, built between 2632 and 1653. It was built by Shan Jahan to honor Mumtaz Mahal, his favorite wife. The Taj Mahal was dedicated to her as a final resting place.  It is widely believed to be the largest pearl of Indian cultural heritage and is under the protection of UNESCO; it also belongs to the Seven Wonders of the World. With this comes a romantic love story, that of Shah Jahan’s eternal love for Mumtaz Mahal, which is full of historical or legendary twists. It is said she was the love of Shah Jahan’s childhood. She was his second or third wife whom he took by killing her husband and taking her to his harem of 5,000 wives.

This was not a political marriage nor the embodiment of marriage for the sake of having children. It was a deeply intimate relationship, based on emotions. Mumtaz Mahal was the most powerful woman in his harem and she became the emperor’s advisor. Wealth was poured into her hands. She followed him tirelessly everywhere, even in the campaigns of war. In one such campaign during the pregnancy of her 14th child, Mumtaz became terminally ill. Legend says that her last wish was for her spouse to build her a mausoleum that would be an eternanument to their love. History tells that he grieved for two years. His focus was only construction of the temple. (Opponents as well as historians will say that immediately after the death of Mumtaz Mahal, Shan Jahan married her sister.) The construction of the temple began six months after her death 1671 and it took 12 to complete.

It is believed about 20,000 people participated in the construction. When it was completed, the Mughal Empire was on its last breath from extreme economic exhaustion. Son Aurangzeb, deposed his father and imprisoned him in the tower in the Red Fortress. Only through a system of mirrors could Shan Jahan see the Taj Mahal. The whole complex is a sublimated metaphor of Sufi philosophy reflected in the contrasting white marble of the mausoleum itself and two symmetrical buildings of reddish sandstone. The buildings walled in the red sandstone are a mosque — in the northwest while in the southeast it is a holiday home.

Whiteness of Taj symbolizes celestial kingdom and the red sandstone symbolizes the building – the earthly empire. The immaculately cold whiteness of the “Tears of Heaven” mausoleum – is heaven on earth (Taj); a building that was first erected in red stone and then coated with white marble from Rajasthan. The crown is a dome that is bowed in a marble whose height is around 75 meters. This octagonal structure is surrounded by four minarets that are not real in themselves (because the architects factored in the risk of earthquakes). In the eyes of the viewer, they create an optical illusion. These eight niches or rooms in the mausoleum itself symbolize the eight gates that lead to heaven, according to the Koran. These niches surround the central circle where Mumtaz Mahal is buried. The coffin formally lies in the center but the tomb itself is hidden deep in an underground room. What is an integral part of the mausoleum and completes the story is the garden (Janet – paradise), which is divided into four quadrants separated by canals that symbolize the paradise river sits with the Koran river. Water flowing through the canals, which is collected in a pool that represents a metaphorical heavenly – angelic place where the souls of the deceased arrive. The Garden and the Pool are intrinsically associated with the White Tear because they personify the timeless and transcendent. The inscriptions and calligraphy are written in Arabic and are carefully written in selected places.

There are many mystics, legends and many contradictory historical details. The sources are controversial and lead to different interpretations and understandings of the Taj (Taj). The guide will not be able to tell you that the architect of this building was of Persian origin Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, but he will kindly warn you to prepare for a search before entering the complex itself and repeat that 60% of the complex was seized by the Indian Army for terrorism. Secondly, you will be obliged to wear special covers while gliding on the miraculous marble because you are in Islamic temples where visitors enter either barefoot or with loafers. Inside the tomb, all photography is prohibited to preserve the perfect whiteness of marble and the beauty of engraved precious stones.

What was strange for the travel writer of this story was the stunning flash of coldness of the Taj Mahal in which millions of pilgrims from all over the world come, admiring the beauty of the “tears of heaven” and the love story that transcends time through this building! One of my first observations was the commercialization of this national “sanctuary” while the essential “Dedication to Love” – as if it remains hidden in some shadow. Thus, after passing through the main gate, a glaring whiteness that testifies to the vanity and power of Shah Jahan, who, by building the Taj as the main creator of this mausoleum, brought his empire to ruin. Jahan was a powerful ruler who created his own so-called Peacock Throne, which weighed one ton and contained 230 kg. precious stones.

It would seem that in the mausoleum there is an obvious desire to show the Sufi Ideal of Islam, personified in the concept of construction. Mysticism and consistent spirituality do not mirror human love. In this defective cold, neither love nor positive emotion survives. We see an infinite aesthetic beauty that, seen from some angle, does not even have its originality because, sources say, Shah Jahan had good role models in the buildings of his Mughal predecessors. Not to mention the syncretism of different art schools. Historians deny the legend that artisans and artists had their hands cut off after completing the work. It would be a little harsh. But the people of India suffered greatly for this temple – a mausoleum dedicated to love or vanity.

We remain with questions before the beauty of Taj, which is world-renowned and which the entire Indian nation is identified by comparing it with other cultural and civilizational monuments dedicated to Beauty and Wisdom. These are monumental works also under the protection of UNESCO such as Ajanta  and Ellora caves; 2nd to 3rd century BC; in India, which, according to the writer of this essay, is perhaps the most original thing that India possesses in its cultural and civilizational treasures. If it is a valid saying that beauty will save the world, then we doubt that a monument to love, the Taj Mahal, will do it. Because India has so many spiritual, historical, cultural treasures that you simply need to see and experience them. The comparisons may be inappropriate and subjective, but it is not enough just one century or more for the “Discovery of India” in search of the beauty and wisdom of civilizations and cultures that have flourished and built the history of humankind. India, which historians and archaeologists say is one of oldest civilizations, and every trace or lump of earth hides several layers of factual truth discovered in artifacts. Let’s not forget that the Taj was built in the 16th century following the period of the Delhi Sultanate.  India’s history is much deeper. Recall the mature civilization and sophisticated urban culture of the Harappan period, which occurred between circa 3000 and 1900 BC. That was followed by the Veda period, etc. Therefore, the writer of this essay considers the Taj Mahal artistically “Perfect” because, as Nietzsche said, “I am a nihilist, but I love beauty.” However, for many reasons and perhaps even unspoken ones, this monument is not a unique symbol of India, which is permeated structurally and understood best as the branched “Tree of Life”.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: