Unraveling the Controversy: Somnath Temple’s History and Nehru’s Opposition

Home   »  Unraveling the Controversy: Somnath Temple’s History and Nehru’s Opposition

January 19, 2024

Unraveling the Controversy: Somnath Temple’s History and Nehru’s Opposition

• The inauguration of the Somnath temple in 1951 by President Rajendra Prasad sparked a contentious episode in Indian history. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s opposition to the secular government’s close association with the temple function and the underlying historical context raises intriguing questions. This article delves into the temple’s history, the British influence in portraying it as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim conflict, and Nehru’s reservations.
Somnath: Historical Significance:
• Situated in Prabhas Patan, Veraval, Gujarat, Somnath is revered as the holy place of the First Aadi Jyotirling Shree Somnath Mahadev. The temple faced numerous attacks throughout history, notably by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026 CE. Despite periods of Muslim rulers allowing worship, Aurangzeb ordered its destruction in the seventeenth century. After falling into disrepair, Maratha queen Ahalyabai Holkar built a small temple in 1782.
British Influence on Somnath’s Perception:
• The British played a pivotal role in framing Somnath as a symbol of Hindu victimization. Governor General Lord Ellenborough, in 1842, claimed to bring back the “gates of Somnath” from Afghanistan as a triumph, attempting to legitimize British authority and create division among Indian communities. This narrative gained traction, fostering communal tensions as Independence approached.
Post-Independence Initiatives:
• After Independence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel announced the reconstruction of Somnath in 1947. Congress leader K M Munshi and others advocated for its restoration as a matter of Hindu pride. Despite initial government support, Mahatma Gandhi suggested funding from the public, leading to the establishment of a Trust under Munshi.
Nehru’s Opposition and Concerns:
• As the temple neared completion, Nehru expressed clear opposition to the state’s involvement in the inauguration. In letters to President Rajendra Prasad, he voiced concerns about the event’s political implications and its revivalist nature. Nehru emphasized the need for a secular government to stay detached from politico-religious ceremonies, especially during the delicate post-Partition period.
• The controversy surrounding the inauguration of the Somnath temple reflects the complex interplay of history, politics, and religion in India. Nehru’s cautious approach, driven by the commitment to a secular state emerging from the trauma of Partition, highlights the challenges of balancing diverse religious sentiments within the fabric of a nascent democracy. Understanding this historical episode provides insights into the nuanced dynamics that shaped India’s early years post-Independence.

Get In Touch

B-36, Sector-C, Aliganj – Near Aliganj, Post Office Lucknow – 226024 (U.P.) India


+91 8858209990, +91 9415011892


Subscribe now for latest updates.

Follow Us

© www.vaidicslucknow.com. All Rights Reserved.

Unraveling the Controversy: Somnath Temple’s History and Nehru’s Opposition | Vaid ICS Institute