Arnold Toynbee, the distinguished British historian, associated a place of worship with national honour when in 1960 he had come to Delhi to deliver the Maulana Azad Memorial Lecture. He expressed great surprise that Aurangzeb’s mosque in Varanasi was still there. He felt that it should have been removed and illustrated the issue with a Polish example. In 1817, when the Russians conquered Warsaw, they converted the city’s main church from a Catholic to an Orthodox place of worship, merely to humiliate the Poles. When in 1918 Russia had lost in World War I and Poland became independent, the Poles retaliated by demolishing the Orthodox church and replacing it with a Roman Catholic one. That was for national honour, said Toynbee.
We need to treat reclaiming temples as a national pride and not religious issue. Although Ram Janmabhumi temple reclamation is now happening through Supreme Court judgement from a title suit approach, this is not the right way. The government of India need to take steps to take control and reclaim temples of most if not all the forty thousand temples currently under the term “Hindu Masjids”.
Some of the major such Hindu masjids that need to be converted back to temples are:
Gyanvapi Mosque over Old Kashi Viswanath Temple (Varanasi)
Shahi Eidgah over Keshavdev Temple (Mathura)
Bhojshala (Dhar, MP)
Juma Masjid over Rudra Mahalaya Temple (Patan, Gujarat)
Adina Mosque over Adinath Temple (Pandua, West Bengal)