Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the redeveloped Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi. (PTI Photo)
Eastern Eye Staff
INDIA’S prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday (13) inaugurated the renovated Kashi Vishwanath Dham, which has expanded the temple’s premises in Varanasi, the constituency he represents.
Following his arrival in the holy city from Delhi, Modi paid obeisance at the Kaal Bhairav Temple and then took a dip in the Ganga, from where he collected holy water for worship at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The new Kashi corridor will give a decisive direction to the country and lead it to a bright future, Modi said.
A new history is being created, he said in the speech, which mentioned Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Muslim invader Salar Masud and British governor-general Warren Hastings.
Modi said, “Tyrants attacked this city, tried to destroy it. History is witness to Aurangzeb’s atrocities, his terror. He tried to change civilisation with the sword. He tried to crush culture with fanaticism.
“But the soil of this country is different from the rest of the world. Here, if an Aurangzeb (a Mughal ruler) comes, a Shivaji also rises,” Modi said. He raised the chant of “Har Har Mahadev”, associated with Lord Shiva, several times.
Kingdoms rose and fell, but Benaras (the old name for Varanasi) remained, the prime minister said.
“If a Salar Masud marches on, warriors like Raja Suheldev make him realise the power of our unity,” he said. The people of Varanasi forced Hastings to escape on an elephant’s back, he added.
“See how the times change. Today, those synonymous with terror have been consigned to the black pages of history while my Kashi marches ahead and is writing a new chapter of its glory.”
Whenever the city has taken a turn, the country’s fate has also changed, he added.
Some historians believe that Aurangzeb had ordered pulling down the temple to build a mosque.
Modi praised Rani Ahilyabai for rebuilding the temple and Sikh king Ranjit Singh for gold-plating its domes.
He said the new complex of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham is not just a grand building, but a symbol of the “Sanatan culture” of India, its spiritual soul antiquity and traditions.
In his speech at the temple complex, the prime minister said if India is building a Ram temple and the Kashi Vishwanath Dham, it is also laying down thousands of kilometres of optical fibre in sea, building millions of houses for the poor and working to send people to space.
He also recalled the work done on Buddhist and Sikh pilgrimage centres.
“The new India has heritage as well as development. It is not only proud of its culture but has equal belief in its capabilities,” he said.
The premises, he said, is a confluence of the ancient and new. It is a testimony to “our capabilities and nothing is impossible if there is a firm resolve”.
“The strength of destroyers can never be bigger than India’s ‘shakti’ and ‘bhakti’. The world will look at us in the same way we look at ourselves,” he said.
The prime minister also urged people to commit themselves to ‘swachhta’ (cleanliness), ‘srijan’ (creation and innovation) and continuous effort towards an ‘aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) India.
“In this ‘Amrit Kaal’ in the 75th year of independence, we will have to work for what India will be like when India celebrates a hundred years of independence,” he said.
The Kashi Vishwanath temple, previously spread over an area of 3,000 square feet, has now been renovated to occupy 500,000 square feet.