Shantidas Jhaveri

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Shantidas Jhaveri

Shantidas Jhaveri (c. 1580s–1659) was an influential Indian jeweller, bullion trader (sarraf) and moneylender (sahukar) during the Mughal era. He was the wealthiest merchant in the Ahmedabad city during the 17th century. He was also a philanthropist, who made donations to temples and schools.

Quotes[edit]

  • The next monument visited was the great Jain temple built only a few years before by Shantidas Jhaveri, one of the wealthiest men of Gujarat in his day and high in favour both with Shah Jahan and after him with Aurangzeb. ...In 1638, however, when Mandelslo visited the place, this temple which he calls ‘ the principal mosque of the Banyas ’ was in all its pristine splendour and ‘ without dispute one of the noblest structures that could be seen’. ‘It was then new,’ he adds, ‘ for the Founder, who was a rich Banya merchant, named Shantidas, was living in my time.
    As Mandelslo’s description is the earliest account we have of this famous monument, which was desecrated only seven years after visit by the Orders of Aurangzeb, then viceroy of Gujarat (1645), we shall reproduce it at some length. It stood in the middle of a great court which was enclosed by a high wall of freestone. All about this wall on the inner side was a gallery, similar to the cloisters of the monasteries in Europe, with a large number of cells, in each of which was placed a statue in white or black marble. These figures no doubt represented the Jain Tirthankars, but Mandelslo may be forgiven when he speaks of each of them as ‘ representing a woman naked, sitting, and having her legs lying cross under her, according to the mode of the country. Some of the cells had three statues in them, namely, a large one between two smaller ones.’ At the entrance to the temple stood two elephants of black marble in life- size and on one of them was seated an effigy of the builder. The walls of the temple were adorned with figures of men and animals. At the further end of the building were the shrines consisting of three chapels divided from each other by wooden rails. In these were placed marble statues of the Tirthankars with a lighted lamp before that which stood in the central shrine. One of the priests attending the temple was busy receiving from the votaries flowers which were placed round the images, as also oil for the lamps that hung before the rails, and wheat and salt as a sacrifice. The priest had covered his mouth and nose with a piece of linen cloth so that the impurity of his breath should not profane the images.
    • Description of the temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri. Mandelslo’s Travels In Western India (a.d.1638-9) [1] p. 23-25
  • Amedahad being inhabited also by a great number of heathens, there are Pagods, or Idol-Temples it it. That which was called the Pagod of Santidas was the chief, before King Auranzeb converted it into a Mosque. When he performed that ceremony, he caused a cow to be killed in the place, knowing very well, that after such an action, the Gentiles according to their Law, could worship no more therein. All round the temple there is a cloyster furnished with lovely Cells, beautified with Figures of Marble in relief, representing naked Women sitting after the Oriental fashion. The inside Roof of the Mosque is pretty enough, and the Walls are full of the Figures of Men and Beasts ; but Auranzeb, who hath always made a show of an affected Devotion, which at length raised him to the Throne, caused the Noses of all these Figures which added a great deal of Magnificence to that Mosque, to be beat off.
    • Description of the temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri. Indian Records Series Indian Travels Of Thevenot And Careri [2] Cited in Harsh Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, Appendix VI
  • Ahmadabad is one of the largest towns in India, and there is a considerable trade in silken stuffs, gold and silver tapestries, and others mixed with silk ; saltpetre, sugar, ginger, both candied and plain, tamarinds, mirabolans, and indigo cakes, which are made at three leagues from Ahmadabad, at a large town called Suarkei.There was formerly a pagoda in this place, which the Musalinans seized and converted into a mosque. Before entering it you traverse three great courts paved with marble, and surrounded by galleries, but you are not allowed to place foot in the third without removing your shoes. The exterior of the mosque is ornamented with mosaic, the greater part of which consists of agates of different colours, obtained from the mountains of Cambay, only two days’ journey thence.
    • Description of the temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri. Travels In India Vol.-i by Tavernier Jean-baptiste [3] Cited in Harsh Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, Appendix VI
  • The Mirat-i-Ahmadi briefly noted that when Aurangzeb arrived as Subadar in Ahmadabad in 1645,
    --vestiges of the Temple of Chintaman situated on the side of Saraspur built by Satidas jeweller, were removed under the Prince’s order and a Masjid was erected on its remains. It was named Quwwat-ul-Islam.
    • (Mirat-i-Ahmadi 1965: 194).in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 182-7
  • Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who visited Ahmadabad numerous times, wrote a short account of the incident,
    There was a Pagoda in this place, which the Muhammadans took possession of in order to turn it into a mosque. Before entering it you traverse three great courts paved with marble, and surrounded by galleries, and you are not allowed to place foot in the third without removing your shoes. The exterior of the mosque is ornamented with mosaic, the greater part of which consists of agates of different colours, Obtained from the mountains of Cambay, only two days’ journey from thence .
    • (Tavernier Vol. I 1889: 72).in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 182-7
  • Another French traveller, Jean de Thevenot, who visited Ahmadabad in 1666, wrote a detailed report on the event,
    Amedabad being inhabited also by a great number of Heathens, there are Pagods, or Idol-Temples it. That which was called the Pagod of Santidas [temple of Chintaman built by Shantidas, a Jain merchant, in 1638 at a cost of nine lakh rupees] was the chief, before Auranzeb converted it into a Mosque. When he performed that Ceremonie, he caused a Cow to be killed in the place, knowing very well, that after such an Action, the Gentiles according to their Law, could worship no more therein. All round the Temple there is a Cloyster furnished with lovely Cells, beautified with Figures of Marble in relief, representing naked Women sitting after the Oriental fashion. The inside Roof of the Mosque is pretty enough, and the Walls are full of the Figures of Men and Beasts; but Auranzeb, who hath always made a shew of an affected Devotion, which at length raised him to the Throne, caused the Noses of all these Figures which added a great deal of Magnificence to that Mosque, to be beat off [broken]
    • (Thevenot 1949: 13-14).in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 182-7
  • Being a man of considerable repute, Shantidas was unwilling to accept the wrongdoing to his religion, and personally presented the case to Shah Jahan.’ Though the lmperor had himself ordered that all newly built temples in Nanaras be pulled down,’ Shantidas’s position compelled him lo intercede. He consulted Mulla Abdul Hakim, who stated that since the structure was the property of another person, it vould not be regarded a mosque according to the Shariat (Virmizi 1995: 11). The Mirat-i-Ahmadi recorded that the !:mperor recalled Aurangzeb, and in his place appointed Dara the Governor of Gujarat. Shah Jahan issued a farman (dated ‘rd July 1648) to Ghairat Khan and other officials of the suba,
    Be it known to the governors, subadars and mutsaddis [officials], present and future, of the province of Gujarat, especially the one who has been worthy of various favours [here follow various honorific prefixes], viz. Ghairat Khan, who has been reliant on and gladdened by royal favours, that formerly, in respect of the temple of the leading person of the time (zubdat-al-akran), Satidas Jawahari, an exalted and blessed order had been issued to Umdat-ul-Mulk [pillar of the state] Shayista Khan to this effect: Shahzada [prince] Sultan Aurangzeb Bahadur had constructed in that place some mihrabs [prayer arches] and had given it the name of a mosque; and after that Mulla Abdal Hakim had represented to His Majesty that this building, by reason of its being the property of another person, could not be considered a mosque according to the inviolable Islamic law; a world-obeyed order, therefore obtained the honour of being issued that this building is the property of Satidas, and that because of the mihrab which the famous Prince had made in that place the above mentioned person should not be harassed and that the arch should be removed and the aforesaid building should be handed over to him.
    Now at this time, the world-obeyed and illustrious order has been issued that the mihrab which the victorious and illustrious Prince has consecrated may be retained and a wall be built near the same as a screen between the temple and the mihrab. Hence it is ordained that, since his exalted Majesty has, as an act of favour, granted the aforesaid temple to Santidas, he should be in possession of it as before and he may worship there according to his creed in any way he likes, and no one should obstruct or trouble him; also that some of the Faqirs (beggars) who have made their abode in that place should be turned out, and Santidas should be relieved form the troubles and quarrels on this account.
    And since it has been represented to His Majesty that some of the Bohras [a community of merchants who had been converted to Islam] have removed and carried away the materials of that temple, in the event of this being so, those materials should be got back from them and should be restored to the person referred to above [Santidas], and if the aforesaid materials have been used up, their price should be paid to Santidas.
    In this matter this order should be considered extremely urgent and there should be no deviation from or disobedience to it. Written on the twenty-first of the month of Jumad-as-Sani in the year 1058 H. [3rd July 1648]
    • (Commissariat 1940: 40-41).in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 182-7
  • The Mirat-i-Ahmadi commented that the open worship of the Jain murtis, “... mark(ed) the weakness of Islam and the decline of religious zeal.” Shantidas’s descendants obtained permission to bring those images on carts into the city, and installed them in an underground temple. The temple had long existed, and Jains used to worship there “secretly for fear of the Musalmans”.
    • Mirat-i-Ahmadi in Commissariat 1987: 60 quoted from Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 182-7

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