Frederic Growse

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Frederic Salmon Growse C.I.E. (1836 – 19 May 1893) was a British civil servant of the Indian Civil Service (ICS), Hindi scholar, archaeologist and collector, who served in Mathura and Bulandshahr in the North-Western Provinces during British rule in India.


"Mathura A District Memoir"[edit]

  • The four temples, commenced in honour of this event,, still remain, though in a ruinous and hitherto sadly neglected condition. They hear the titles of GoLind Deva, Gopi-nath, Jngal-Hishor and Madan Mohan. The first named is not only the finest of this particular series, hut is the most impressive religions edifice that Hindu art has ever produced, at least in Upper India.
  • ...The sacrarium has been utterly razed to the ground,t the chapel toners were never completed, and that over the choir, though the most perfect, has still lost several of its upper stages. This last was of slighter elevation than the others, occupying the same relative position as the spirelet over the sanetus bell in western ecclesiology., The loss of the towers and of the lofty arcaded parapet that surmounted the walls has terribly marred the effect of the exterior and given it a heavy stunted appearance ; while, as a further disfigurement, a plain masonry wall had been run along the top of the centre dome. It is generally believed that this was built by Aorangzeb for the purpose of desecrating the temple, though it is also said to have been put up by the Hindus themselves to assist in some grand ill ami- nation. It either case it was an ugly modern excrescence, and its removal was the very first step taken at the commencement of the recent repairs.
  • A British civil servant had a great deal to say about Mathura in the 1870s. F.S. Growse belonged to the Bengal Civil Service and was the Collector of Mathura district. I quote from his 'Mathura: A District Memoir,' Bulands hahr 1882: The neighbourhood is crowded with sacred sites, which for many generations have been reverenced as the traditionary scenes of Krishna's adventures; but thanks to Muhammedan intolerance, there is not a single building of any antiquity either in the city itself or its environs. Its most famous temple - that dedicated to Kesava Deva- was destroyed, as already mentioned, in 1669, the eleventh year of the reign of the iconoclastic Aurangzeb. The mosque erected on its ruins is a building of little architectural value, but the natural advantages of its lofty and isolated position render it a striking feature in the landscape.
    • quoted from Goradia, P. (2002). Hindu masjids.
  • In his Mathura: A District Memoir, Growse has recorded his exhaustive survey and research about Brajbhoomi. He was so overhelmed by the vandalism that visited the area repeatedly, that he wrote feelingly, although his home was in far away England. To quote: thanks to Muhammadan intolerance, there is not a single building of any antiquity either in the city itself or its environs.Its most famous temple - that dedicated to Kesava Deva (Krishna) - was destroyed in 1669, the eleventh year of the reign of the iconoclast Aurangzeb (Alamgir was also his name). The mosque (idgah) erected on its ruins is a building of little architectural value. Mahmud Ghazni was however the first iconoclast to vandalise Mathura. That was in 1017 AD about which Growse wrote: If any one wished to construct a building equal to it, he would not be able to do so without expending a hundred million dinars, and the work would occupy two hundred years, even though the most able and experienced workmen were employed. Orders were given that all the temples should be burnt with naphtha and fire and levelled with the ground. The city was given up to plunder for twenty days. Among the spoils are said to have been five great idols of pure gold with eyes of rubies and adornments of other precious stones, together with a vast number of smaller silver images, which, when broken up, formed a load for more than a hundred camels. The total value of the spoils has been estimated at three millions of rupees; while the number of Hindus carried away into captivity exceeded 5,000....
    To go back to Aurangzeb, over two centuries after the desecration, Growse felt that: of all the sacred places in India, none enjoys a greater popularity than the capital of Bra}, the holy city of Mathura. For nine months in the year, festival follows upon festival in rapid succession and the ghats and temples are daily thronged with new troops of way-worn pilgrims. So great is the sanctity of the spot that its panegyrists do not hesitate to declare that a single day spent at Mathura is more meritorious than a lifetime passed at Benares. All this celebrity is due to the fact of it being the birthplace of the demi-god Krishna. In his chapter entitled The Bra} Mandai, the Ban Yatra and the Holi as Growse puts it: Not only the city of Mathura, but with it, the whole of the western half of the district has a special interest of its own as the birthplace and abiding home of Vaishnava Hinduism. It is about 42 miles in length with an average breadth of 30 miles and is intersected throughout by the river Jamuna. In the neighbourhood is Gokul and Brindaban, where the divine brothers Krishna and Balaram grazed their herds. He continues: Almost every spot is traditionally connected with some event in the life of Krishna or of his mythical mistress Radha.
    • Growse, F. S. Mathura: A District Memoir, 1870, quoted from Goradia, P. (2002). Hindu masjids.

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