Surajkund Rauins in Multan, Pakistan
Post no 869 Dated 26th February 2014
Before the Balaji temple at Tirupati and Anantha Padmanabha temple at Tiruvananthapuram became richest temples of India there was one temple at Multan, Punjab, now Pakistan, 2000 years ago which had 6000 staff and a very big income. I am reproducing some interesting but sad facts from the following book written by a Muslim historian: swami.
By Dr. MUMTAZ HUSSAIN PATHAN
( History of Sind Series, Vol.2, Sindhi Adabi Board, Hyderabad, Sind, Pakistan, 1978)
“The term Multan is derived from Sanskrit Malisthana (Maali- Asthan) which means the seat of Maalee, a people who are reported to have been dominant in West Pakistan in the ancient times. The Mali might have been the Maloi of the Greek writers who along with the Shibi (Sibi) were the two great people or tribes which inhabited a greater portion of Indo- Pakistan subcontinent. Many names are still connected with these tribes both in India and Pakistan which show the importance in which these peoples were held in ancient times. Malwa in central India and Sibi in Baluchistan, Siwistan in Sind and Shivi Kot (Shorkot) in Punjab perpetuate the name of these tribes and the extent of their cultural influence on the sub continent.
(Please see my earlier post Sibi in Tamil Literature:swami)
The ancient name of Multan is reported to have been Kasyapa – pura, placed on it after Rishi Kashyapa, who was one of the sons of Manu, the direct descendent of God Brahma. Manu had seven sons and these are represented in the heavens by the seven stars of the Great bear. It also seems to have derived its name from “Mul”, the sun god, whose statue adored the temple of Multan. This is attested to from the accounts of Arabs who speak of Multan as the chief centre of Sun worship in the northern part of the Indus valley.
The term “Mul” in Sanskrit means the root or origin; it also means heaven, ether, atmosphere, space or god. Any one of these names can be made applicable to sun, the lord of ethereal space. It is related that the temple of Multan was the first ever built in the sub continent for the worship of sun god, by Samba, the son of lord Krishna.
It was named Adiyasthana or the first shrine. Aditiya is the corruption of Aditiyah (or the sun) which is usually shortened to Adit and even Ayt as in the case of Aditwara (or Aytwar) for Sunday. The sun worship in Multan may be very ancient. According to one tradition it was instituted by the famous Prahlada, the son of Daitya (or Hiranyakasipu), the son of Manu. The famous Sanskrit scholar AL-Beruni relates that the idol of Multan which was named after sun, was built in the Karta-Jug (Krta Yuga), which according to his calculations was 216432 years old.
Alexander and Multan temple
Multan and its temple claim remote antiquity. It has been mentioned in the accounts of the Greek admiral Sky lax, who is reported to have explored the regions of Punjab and Sind during the reign of Darius I (550—486 BC), the third Achaemenian ruler of Iran. The description of the city of Kasyapapura given by Herodotus and Ptolemy and the account of its situation bring it to the site of Multan.
Alexander the great who visited the temple of Multan was wonder struck at the excellence of the human art with which the idol was built and suspended in the air by the pull of magnet. Multan is also spoken by the Chinese pilgrim Huen –Tsang, as flourishing city with the temple of sun, which he falls U-fa-Tsun (Aditya) the sun god.
The name of Multan appears as Mulo—san –pu-la (i.e.Mulasthanapura) and he further adds that the image of sun god was carved out of pure gold and was adorned with every kind of precious stones. During the period of his visit, Multan was situated on the eastern bank of the river Ravi but the river had long ago abandoned its course and it now more than thirty miles distant.
Arabs who became masters of the Indus valley identified the idol with that of job (Ayub) the Hebrew prophet.
Multan was the capital of one of the provinces of the Hindu kingdom of Sind, before the invasion of the Arabs. It is reported to have been captured by chach, the Brahmin ruler Alor, who usurped the power after the death of Rai Sehasi 2, the last Buddhist ruler of Sind. At the time of Arab attack Multan was held by Raja Kanda who offered stiff resistance to the invading army and cut off the provisions from the south. The army, therefore, killed asses and used them as food.
According to the version of chachnamah the head of the animal cost five hundred dirhams, which may be an exaggeration. The priests of Multan who were tired of the prolonged misery entered into negotiations with the Arab army and surrendered the fort to them. Large quantities of gold were obtained by the Arabs from the temple of Multan and as such it became known as Farj bayt al-Dahab .
Surya, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England
Rulers of Multan
The names of rulers of Multan who succeeded during a long period of nearly two centuries do not appear systematically in historical sources.
It has been reported the Quarmathian missionary work was in full swing during the later period of the Arab rule in Sind on account of the propaganda machinery handled by men like al-Haytham and Jalan ibn Shayban. The latter who was a great Ismaili fanatic broke the idol of Multan into pieces and ordered the closure of Umayyad mosque built earlier by Muhammad ibn al-Qasim, the Arab conqueror of Sind.
The idol of Multan
The idol of Multan identified with job, the Hebrew prophet by the Arab historians, was one of the few idols to which the people flocked in large numbers from various regions of the sub continent. During the period of Arab rule, the temple was the main source of revenue to the state and the rulers defrayed most of their needs from the income of the temple.
The idol of Multan is reported to have resembled a man, seated on a chair. Its body was covered with red skin in such a manner that nothing of it could be seen, excepting the eyes which are reported to have been two gems of great value. The jewels were fixed in the sockets with such a great skill that they looked real. Ibn Nadim reports that these gems were bigger than eggs of the sparrow and shone with brilliance in the temple. A crown of gold also adored the head of the idol, whose hands were placed on knees and the fingers of one of his hands show as if he was counting four. (My comments: It must be Chin Mudra of Hindu Gods: swami).
There were two other idols in Multan known as JUNBUKAT and ZUNBUKAT (My comments: Dwara palakas?). Both were carved out of stone and were placed at an elevation of eighty yards on both sides of the valley. Since these idols were seen from a great distance, the pilgrim would alight at the first sight and proceeded to the temple bare footed as a sign of reverence.
(We see such things even today in Hindu pilgrimage centres).
Gifts and presents were brought to the idol of Multan from a greater distance; in some cases from places more than one thousand miles away. Sacrifices are offered to the idol after shaving the heads and also circumambulation of the temple ( my comments: This is done by Hindu on a large scale even today at Tirupati Balaji temple and Palani Murugan temple: swami). The sacrifices at Multan had various modes, some of which were horrible to the extreme. Some pilgrims would take out their eyes with the knife and place it before the idol. Others would select a long stick of bamboo and after making one of its ends sharp, would place the navel of their stomach over it. The pilgrim would then press against it in such a manner that it passed through his belly and caused his death.
(My comments: the eye episode reminds us of Kannappa Nayanar, Vishnu and Sibi in Buddha Jataka. For more organ donation stories read my post: Miracles by the Blind and Oldest Organ donation posted on 25 February 2013)
Surya Deva in Konark, Orissa, India
Ibn Rustah who wrote in 903 AD gives a descriptive account from the narratives of the eye witnesses who visited the temple of Multan. He relates:-
“ the idol of Multan was twenty yards in length and was of human shape the Hindus believe that it has come down to them from the heavens and have asked them to worship and adore him. The idol and the temple of Multan were a great source of to the Arab rulers of Multan and also the priests who look after the temple of Multan. The rich people dedicate half of their properties to the idol, although there are cases in which the whole is given to the idol with intent to please him. The priests refrain from taking meat and observe strict rules of discipline, by remaining neat and clean. The idol is served with food which comprises of rice, fish, vegetable accompanied with music and dance. The food is then distributed to the animals, bird, insects, who assemble there as usual. The idol is made up of iron and suspended in the middle of the temple by the pull of magnet.
Ibn Nadim, another writer of the same period, reports that: The idol of Multan was seven yards in length and the total height of the temple was 180 yards. He further adds that the idol of the temple had four faces, each one stood in front of the four entrances the pilgrim would select for visiting the idol.
Al – Beruni on the other hand reports that the idol of Multan was made of wood and covered with the cordovan leather. This suggests that the original idol which was made up of gold must have been removed by the Arabs on account of its value and replaced by a new one made up of wood. The wooden image of Multan was ultimately broken to pieces by the Quarmathian usurper Jamam bin Shayban who also exterminated its priests.
Hindu Temple in Today’s Multan
The idol of Multan was of great value to the Arabs. Apart from being the principal source of revenue to the state, it was also valuable for defence purposes. Whenever an attack was made on Multan by non- Muslims, the Arab rulers would take out the idol from the temple and by exhibiting it on the fort wall threatened to break it. This obliged the enemy to withdraw and in this manner the kingdom of Multan was saved from early extinction.
When Muhammad bin Qasim was told about the revenue the temple generates, he spared the idol of Multan, but he hung a piece of cow’s flesh on its neck by way of mockery”.
By Dr Mumtaz Husain Pathan in her book Sind published in 1978 in Pakistan.
My comments: I have not changed anything other than what I have given within brackets. Heading and pictures are selected by me.
Dilapidated Hindu Temple in Multan