Sikandar Butshikan

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Martand Sun Temple

Sikandar Shah Miri better known as Sikandar Butshikan ("Sikandar the Iconoclast"), was the sixth sultan of the Shah Miri dynasty of Kashmir. He ruled the kingdom from 1389 to 1413 and is remembered for his strenuous efforts to convert the Hindus of Kashmir to Islam. These efforts included destruction of numerous old temples, prohibition of Hindu rites, rituals and festivals and even the wearing of clothes in the Hindu style. He is the well known king Of Kashmir.

Quotes[edit]

  • In these days he promoted a bramin, by name Seeva Dew Bhut, to the office of prime minister, who embracing the Mahometan faith, became such a persecutor of Hindoos that he induced Sikandar to issue orders proscribing the residence of any other than Mahometans in Kashmir; and he required that no man should wear the mark on his forehead, or any woman be permitted to burn with her husband's corpse. Lastly, he insisted on all golden and silver images being broken and melted down, and the metal coined into money. Many of the bramins, rather than abandon their religion or their country, poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Mahometans. After the emigration of the bramins, Sikandar ordered all the temples in Kashmir to be thrown down; among which was one dedicated to Maha Dew, in the district of Punjhuzara, which they were unable to destroy, in consequence of its foundation being below the surface of the neighbouring water. But the temple dedicated to Jug Dew was levelled with the ground; and on digging into its foundation the earth emitted volumes of fire and smoke which the infidels declared to be the emblem of the wrath of the Deity; but Sikandar, who witnessed the phenomenon, did not desist till the building was entirely razed to the ground, and its foundations dug up....
    • Tarikh-i-firishta, translated by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahometan Power in India, first published in 1829, New Delhi Reprint 1981, Vol. III p.268-69
  • In another place in Kashmir was a temple built by Raja Bulnat, the destruction of which was attended with a remarkable incident. After it had been levelled, and the people were employed in digging the foundation, a copper-plate was discovered, on which was the following inscription : —
    “ Raja Bulnat, having built this temple, was
    “ desirous of ascertaining from his astrologers
    “ how long it would last, and was informed by
    “ them, that after eleven hundred years, a king
    “ named Sikundur would destroy it, as well as the
    “ other temples in Kaslimeer.”
    The King was surprised, though vexed, that the Hindoo prophet should have predicted the truth, and declared, if they had placed the plate against the wall, he would have preserved the temple to belie the prophet. Having broken all the images in Kashmeer, he acquired the title of the Iconoclast, “Destroyer of Idols.”
    • Tarikh-i-Firishta, translated by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, first published in 1829, New Delhi Reprint 1981, Vol. III p.268-69
  • Firishta' attributes to Sikandar the demolition of all the Kashmirian temples save one, which was dedicated to Mahadeva, and which only escaped ' in consequence of its foundation being below the surface of the neighbouring water.'. (...) He most likely gave orders that they should all be overturned ; and I have no doubt that many of the principal temples were thrown down during his reign. For instance, the tomb of his own Queen in Srinagur is built upon the foundation, and with the materials of a Hindu temple ; likewise the wall which surrounds the tomb of his son Zeinu-1 Abidin was once the inclosure of a Hindu temple ; and lastly the entrance of a masjid in Nowa-Shehra of Srinagur, which, according to its inscription, was built during the reign of his son Zeinu-1 Abidin, is formed of two fluted pillars of a Hindu peristyle. These instances prove that at least three different temples in the capital alone must have been overthrown either by Sikandar or by one of his predecessors. But as the demolition of idol-temples is not attributed to any one of the earlier kings, we may safely ascribe the destruction of the three above mentioned to Sikandar himself."
    • Elliot, H. M. (Henry Miers), Sir; Ed. John Dowson (1871). The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period. London : Trübner & Co. Vol VI. Appendix, Note A. ON THE EARLY USE OF GUNPOWDER IN INDIA.
  • "He [Sikander] prohibited all types of frugal games. Nobody dared commit acts which were prohibited by the Sharia. The Sultan was constantly busy in annihilating Hindus and destroyed most of the temples.
    • Haidar Malik Chadurah: Tarikh-i-Kashmir; edited and translated into English by Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55.)
  • "Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam and were massacred in case they refused to be converted'," (...)"And Sikandarpora (a city laid out by Sultan Sikandar) was laid out on the debris of the destroyed temples of the Hindus. In the neighbourhood of the royal palaces in Sikandarpora, the Sultan destroyed the temples of Maha-Shri built by Praversena and another by Tarapida. The material from these was used for constructing a 'Jami' mosque in the middle of the city."
    • Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir
  • During the reign of Sultan Sikandar, Mir Sayyid Muhammad, son of Mir Sayyid Hamadani came here, and removed the rust of ignorance and infidelity and the evils, by his preaching and guidance. He wrote an epistle for Sultan Sikandar on tasawwuf Sultan Sikandar became his follower. He prohibited all types of frugal games. Nobody dared commit acts which were prohibited by the Shariat The Sultan was constantly busy in annihilating the infidels and destroyed most of the temples.
    • Tarikh-Kashmir, edited and translated into English by Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55.
  • He strived to destroy the idols of the infidels. He demolished the famous temple of Mahadeva at Bahrare. The temple was dug out from its foundations and the hole (that remained) reached the water level. Another temple at Jagdar was also demolish. Raja Alamadat had got a big temple constructed at Sinpur. (...) The temple was destroyed [by Sikander].
    • Khwajah Nizamu'd-Din Ahmad bin Muhammad Muqim al-Harbi: Tabqat-i-Akbari translated by B. De, Calcutta, 1973
  • On account of his extensive charities, scholars from Iraq, Khorasan and Mawaraun-Nahar started presenting themselves in his court and Islam was spread. He held in great regard Sayyid Muhammad who was a very great scholar of the time, and strived to destroy the idols and temples of the infidels. He got demolished the famous temple of Mahadeva at Bahrare. The temple was dug out from its foundations and the hole (that remained) reached the water level. Another temple at Jagdar was also demolished' Raja Alamadat had got a big temple constructed at Sinpur. He had come to know from astrologers that after 11 hundred years a king by the name of Sikandar would get the temple destroyed and the idol of Utarid, which was in it, broken. He got this [forecast] inscribed on a copper plate which was kept in a box and buried under the temple. The inscription came up when the temple was destroyed [by Sikandar]'.....The value of currency had come down, because Sultan Sikandar had got idols of gold, silver and copper broken and turned into coins.
    • Tabqat-i-Akhari, (also known as Tabqat-i-Akbar Shahi, Tabqat-i-Akbari, Tarikh-i-Nizami) by Khwajah Nizamud-Din Ahmad bin Muhammad Muqim al-Harbi, Translated from the Hindi version by S.A.A. Rizvi included in Uttar Taimur Kalina Bharata, Aligarh 1959, Vol. II. p. 515-17, In Goel, S.R. Hindu Temples - What happened to them
  • Sikander burnt all books the same wise as fire burns hay. All the scintillating works faced destruction in the same manner that lotus flowers face with the onset of frosty winter."
    • Srivara, Zaina Rajtarangini
  • He burned six mounds (1 mound is 37 kilos) of sacred threads worn by Hindus after massacring them (Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir). He killed the Hindus who put a tilak-mark on their forehead ( Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir). He burnt many of the books of the Hindus. Srivara wrote: "Sikander burnt all books the same wise as fire burns hay". Srivara also recorded: "All the scintillating works faced destruction in the same manner that lotus flowers face with the onset of frosty winter." (Srivara, Zaina Rajtarangini). Sikandar drowned many Hindus in the Dal Lake (Jonraj, Kings of Kashmir). According to some sources only eleven families of Brahmins were left in Kashmir due to Sikandar's policies.
    • Cambridge History of India, III, p.281
  • "Towards the fag end of his life, he (Sultan Sikandar) was infused with a zeal for demolishing idol-houses, destroying the temples and idols of the infidels. He destroyed the massive temple at Beejbehara. He had designs to destroy all the temples and put an end to the entire community of infidels,"
    • Bharistan-i-Shahi
  • "There was no city, no town, no village, no wood, where the temples of the gods were unbroken. When Sureshavari, varaha and others were broken, the world trembled, but not so the mind of the wicked king. He forgot his kingly duties and took delight day and night in breaking images."
    • Jonraj: Rajtarangini
  • Or take the case of Suhabhatta, the chief minister of Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (1389-1413 AD). Suhabhatta who had renounced his ancestral faith for Islam is known as Suha in the Rajataringini of Jonaraja. This historian of Kashmir records: “Instructed by mlechhas, (Suha) instigated the king to break down the images of Gods. The king forgot his kingly duties and took a delight day and night in breaking images… He broke the images of Martanda, Vishaya, Isana, Chakravarati and Tripuresvara… There was no city, no town, no village, no wood where Suha and the Turushka left the temples of Gods unbroken.
    • Jonraja, quoted in Sita Ram Goel: The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India.
  • Kashmir's conversion to Islam on a large scale also dates from the beginning of the fifteenth century....However, it was during the reign of Sikandar Butshikan (1394-1417), that the wind of Muslim proselytization blew the strongest. He invited from Persia, Arabia and Mesopotamia learned men of his own faith; his bigotry prompted him to destroy all the most famous temples in Kashmir - Martand, Vishya, Isna, Chakrabhrit, Tripeshwar, etc. Sikandar offered the Kashmiris the choice between Islam and death. Some Kashmiri Brahmans committed suicide, many left the land, many others embraced Islam, and a few began to live under Taqiya, that is, they professed Islam only outwardly. It is said that the fierce intolerance of Sikandar had left in Kashmir no more than eleven families of Brahmans. ...By the time of Akbar’s annexation of Kashmir (C.E. 1586) the valley had turned mainly Mohammadan. When Father Xavier and Brother Benedict went to Kashmir with Akbar this is what they learnt: “In antiquity this land was inhabited by the Moors, possibly a reference to Timur (contemporary of Sikandar the Iconoclast), and since then the majority of the people accept Islam.” When Kashmir was under Muslim rule for 500 years (1319-1819) Hindus were constantly tortured and forcibly converted.
    • K. S. Lal (1993). Indian Muslims: Who are they. New Delhi: Voice of India.
  • Mir Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani (1314-1385) began to get Hindu temples demolished and the Hindus converted by reckless use of force throughout his sojourn in Kashmir... Thanks to the influence of Hamadani’s Sufi son Mir Muhammad (b. 1372), who stepped into his father’s shoes after the latter had left Kashmir after failing to pull on well with Qutb ad-Din, Sikandar (1389-1413), a liberal Sultan of Kashmir, turned into a ferocious Sultan for the Hindus and began to be known as Sikandar Butshikan (iconoclast), and his powerful Brahmana noble Suhabhatta embraced Islam under the name Sayf ad-Din and became a terror for the Brahmanas. Guided by the teachings of Mir Muhammad, Sikandar played havoc with the Hindus through Sayf ad-Din, destroyed their temples, undertook forcible conversions, and imposed Jizyah on them for the first time in Kashmir. Indeed, he out-Aurangzebed Aurangzeb in his Hindu-persecution-mania.
    • Harsh Narain, Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions (1990)
  • Alexander Cunningham observed that the tomb of his own queen in Srinagar was built on the foundation, and with the material, of a Hindu temple. The wall that surrounded the tomb of his son, Zain-ul-Abidin, was once the enclosure of a Hindu temple, and the entrance of a masjid in Nowa-Shehra (Srinagar), was formed of two fluted pillars of a Hindu peristyle. These examples showed that at least three different temples in the capital alone “must have been overthrown either by Sikandar or by one of his predecessors”.
    • (Cunningham 1848: 5). quoted from Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history.
  • Among the many temples devastated by Sikandar was the Martanda temple. The final destruction of the temples of Parihasapura was also attributed by chroniclers to him. Sikandar was likewise credited with the devastation of Hindu and Buddhist shrines at Pandrethan.... It was said that on learning of the fanatical zeal of Sikandar, seven hundred Sayyids led by Muhammad Hamadani had migrated from Persia to Kashmir. Sikandar became a disciple of Muhammad Hamadani, whose arrival probably “led to the religious persecution which immediately ensued”
    • Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 51-55
  • The process of destruction and denudation started in the later part of the reign of Sultan Sikandar (1389-1413) who earned the epithet Butshikan (idol breaker) by virtue of his breaking the images and demolishing the temples. Almost all the temples of the country are stated to have been desecrated and pulled down (or badly shattered) and the images were broken, mutilated, or thrown away from the temples. The destruction of the temples is believed to have been effected by piling heaps of timber in the temples and setting fire to these heaps
    • (Annual Report, ASI, 1915-16, 1918: 56). The Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India, in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 53
  • The kingdom of Kashmira was polluted by the evil practices of the mlechchhas, and the Brahmanas, the mantras, and the gods relinquished their power. The gods who used to make the glory of their prowess manifest, even as fire-flies manifest their light, now hid their glory on account of the county’s sin. When the gods withdrew their glory, their images became mere stones, and the mantras, mere letters... Suhabhatta who disregarded the acts enjoined by the Vedas, was instructed by the mlechchhas, instigated the king to break down the images of the gods... the king forgot his kingly duties and took a delight, day and night, in breaking images... He broke the images of Marttanda, Vishaya, Ishana, Chakrabhrit, and Tripureshvara; but what can be said of the evil that came on him by the breaking of the Shesha? ... There was no city, no town, no village, no wood, where Suha the Turushka left the temples of gods unbroken. Of the images which once had existed, the name alone was left, and Suhabhatta then felt the satisfaction which one feels on recovering from illness.
    • (Jonaraja 1986: 59-60). in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 51-55
  • It is a generally accepted fact that up to about the beginning of the fourteenth century the population of the valley was Hindu, and that about the middle and the end of the century the mass of the people was converted to Islam, through the efforts of Shah-i-Hamadam and his followers, and the violent bigotry and persecution of King Sikandar, the Iconoclast. Tradition affirms that the persecution of the Hindus was so keen that only eleven families of Hindus remained in the valley.
    • Sir Walter R. Lawrence (Lawrence 1895: 302).in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 51-55 [1]
  • There was a certain method in the mad zeal of Sikandar, for he used the plinths and friezes of the old temples for the embankments of the city and for the foundation of the Jama Masjid. Having glutted his vengeance on Hindu temples, Sikandar turned his attention to the people who had worshipped in them, and he offered them three choices, death, conversion or exile. Many fled, many were converted, and many were killed, and it is said that this thorough monarch burnt seven mounds of sacred thread of the murdered Brahmans. All the books of Hindu learning which he could lay his hands on were sunk in the Dal Lake and Sikandar flattered himself that he had extirpated Hinduism from the Valley
    • Sir Walter R. Lawrence (Lawrence 1895: 191). in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 51-55 [2]
  • Close to the foot of the southern extremity of the hill is a rock which has from ancient times received worship as an embodiment of Ganesa... From regard for the pious king the god is said to have then turned his face from west to east so as to behold the new city. ... In fact, if we are to believe Jonariija, the rock-image has changed its position yet a second time. This Chronicler relates that Bhimasvamin from disgust at the iconoclasm of Sikandar Butshikast has finally turned his back on the city.[3]
    • Kalhana's Rajatarangini Vol 2 , by Marc Aurel Stein
  • The ancient temple of Varaha which seems to have been one of the most famous shrines of Kasmlr, is repeatedly mentioned by Kalhana. According to the tradition of the local Purohitas it stood near the site of the present Kotitirtha, at the western extremity of the town and close to the river-bank. Some ancient Lirigas and sculptures found at the Kotitirtha may have originally belonged to the temple. The destruction of its sacred image is noted by Jonaraja in the reign of Sikandar Butshikast.
    • Kalhana's Rajatarangini Vol 2 , by Marc Aurel Stein

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