On 22nd January, members of the Hindutva group, Rashtriya Anhad Mahayog Peeth, entered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected Martand Sun Temple in southern Kashmir’s Anantnag. Their actions coincided with the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
- The local ASI staff tried to prevent the entry but failed, as the group squatted within the protected ruins of the eighth-century temple.
- After completing a circumambulation, the group unfurled a saffron flag and chanted the Hanuman Chalisa.
- This marked the third consecutive year the group attempted prayers in the historic temple complex.
- Maharaj Rudranath Mahakal, the group’s leader, justified the visit, stating it was aligned with Prime Minister Modi’s call for prayers and Diwali observance in all temples.
- In 2022, the same group held prayers at the temple to commemorate Adi Shankaracharya’s arrival.
- In 2023, the group was prevented from entering the temple complex during an attempted puja.
- In May 2022, J&K lieutenant-governor Manoj Sinha chaired a religious event at the temple without ASI permission.
- ASI guidelines prohibit religious events at protected monuments unless these were functioning places of worship before ASI’s takeover.
- Temples, mosques, or other religious sites protected by ASI are not open for prayers unless they were functioning places of worship when under ASI protection.
- The ASI does not allow religious events at protected monuments, except for customary prayers held before the ASI’s takeover.
- The Martand Sun Temple, built in the eighth century, is protected by ASI as a “monument of national importance.”
- The site, attracting tourists of all faiths, gained prominence after featuring in the 2014 Hindi film Haider.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):
- What group attempted to hold prayers at the Martand Sun Temple in southern Kashmir?
a) Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
b) Rashtriya Anhad Mahayog Peeth
c) Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)
d) Shiv Sena
Answer: b) Rashtriya Anhad Mahayog Peeth
- What significant event in Ayodhya coincided with the group’s entry into the Martand Sun Temple?
a) Kumbh Mela
b) Ram Navami
c) Consecration of the Ram Temple
Answer: c) Consecration of the Ram Temple
- Who is the leader of the Rashtriya Anhad Mahayog Peeth?
a) Maharaj Rudranath Mahakal
b) Swami Vivekananda
c) Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
d) Baba Ramdev
Answer: a) Maharaj Rudranath Mahakal
- What was the reason cited by the group leader for their visit to the Martand Sun Temple?
a) Commemoration of Adi Shankaracharya
b) Inauguration of a cultural festival
c) Prime Minister Modi’s call for prayers in all temples
d) Celebrating a historical victory
Answer: c) Prime Minister Modi’s call for prayers in all temples
- What is the ASI’s stance on religious events at protected monuments?
a) Encourages religious events
b) Allows only ASI-approved events
c) Prohibits religious events
d) Requires special permission for religious events
Answer: c) Prohibits religious events