(A). Projects which could not be done
(B). A Major Project which could not be done without Institutional Support
(C). Two Grand Projects which were sabotaged:
I. Directory of Hindu Temples
II. Mughal Temple Architecture
(D). Hurdles and Obstacles
(E). How has R.Nath tried to cover the Subject:
I. Works which have been published
II. Works to be published
(A). PROJECTS WHICH COULD NOT BE DONE
Life is short, too short in fact, and resources are meagre, too meagre in fact, to sustain the aspirations of a workaholic, in this field. Several projects were planned, and notes and synopses thereof were also prepared, but they could not be undertaken, or completed, owing to lack of time or resources, e.g.
(1). Mandu and Its Monuments
(Its notes, bibliography and other material are preserved in R.Nath’s Archives).
(2). Stylistic Study of the Jat Architecture
(Palaces, Chhatris etc. of Dig, Bharatpur and Goverdhan)
(Its notes and other data are preserved in R.Nath’s Archives)
(3). Palaces and Chhatris of Orchha and Datia
(Its notes and other data are preserved in R.Nath’s Archives)
(4). Architectural Projects of Raja Mansingh Kachhwaha of Amer (1550-1614 A.D.)
(Its record is preserved in R.Nath’s Archives and also referred to in Chapter-3 of R.Nath’s website: www.rnath.in).
(Complete Notes and Synopsis are preserved in Box A-2; also see Box A-6. In fact, the ICHR sanctioned a grant for working on this important Research-Project, but owing to Islamic Terrorism menacing the sites dangerously, it could not be undertaken, large-scale outdoor-work being involved. Perhaps, some native scholar of Kashmir may take up to do this work.
(6). Architectural Works of Maharana Kumbha’s Reign (1433-68 A.D.)
The following multi-volume series was originally planned:
Vol. I. : Temples of Kumbha’s Reign
II. : Water-Structures of Kumbha’s Reign
III. : Forts & Palaces of Kumbha’s Reign (Chittorgadh, Kumbhalgadh & Achalgadh)
IV. : Chittorgadh Kirttistambha of Maharana Kumbha (the Idea & the Form) (1440-60 A.D.)
V. : Adinath (Chaumukha) Jaina Temple of Ranakpur
only vol. IV on ‘Chittorgadh Kirttistambha’ and two other works:
(1). Antiquities of Chittorgadh and
(2). Jaina Kirttistambha of Chittorgadh (the Form & the Idea)
were prepared (under an ICHR grant) and published. Other four volumes still remain to be done. It is hoped that some native scholar of Rajasthan will take up and do full justice to these pending works.
(7). Āthār’al-Hind: An Annotated Bibliography of Indo-Muslim Architecture (Site-Wise entries from A.S.I. Publications, Epigraphic Data, Travel-Accounts, Paintings, Śilpa– texts, gazetteers and modern critical works, with six indices)
Complete File is preserved in Box A-2 and The U.G.C. Project in Box A-3: R.Nath worked for about two years on this Project and prepared about 1500 Index cards. But owing to paucity of time, and absence of any institutional support, it remained incomplete: 1500 Index-cards are carefully preserved in a separate box in R.Nath’s Archives.
(8). Cultural Notice-Boards (CNBs): On the ASI protected National monuments of Delhi and other historical sites. R.Nath prepared 54 CNBs of Agra and 53 of Fatehpur Sikri: Agra CNBs were mostly installed, respectively, but of the 53 CNBs of Fatehpur Sikri only 2 main CNBs were installed and all others were thrown into lumber-store, for unknown reasons. These CNBs are greatly useful to the visitors and are also placed on the Internet. Similar CNBs for the monuments of Delhi were proposed but all in vain. More regrettable is the fact that Agra CNBs are not being maintained and are in an extremely dismal condition. Mediocre Careerists occupying positions of authority cannot understood its use, value or efficacy, and the opportunity is lost for ever: who will write archaeology, history, architecture, art and aesthetics together, in one piece? These are compiled in R.Nath’s work: ‘As Stones Speak’, Srl No. 42 of his List of Books (and in Box C-31) of his Archives, and also referred to on his website: www.rnath.in Chapter-2. Box A-5 of his Archives contains CNBs.
(9). Jehangir’s Picture-Wall of the Lahore Fort: R.Nath was fascinated to be at Lahore (Pakistan) (11-21 June 1988) and look at its monuments. Perhaps, in no other medieval city of this sub-continent, the scheme of ‘Colour and Design’ has been used in Architecture so judiciously, on such a large scale, with such exquisite effect. There is no doubt that if thoughtfully worked out, this can very well make a series of wonderful world classics on Art-History.
Coincidentally, he had an opportunity there to meet Janab Najam Sethi, Managing Director of M/s. Vanguard, the front-ranking publishers of Pakistan. They discussed this subject at length and he showed an extra-ordinary interest in this series. Subsequently, therefore, R.Nath prepared a synopsis of the subject entitled: PICTURE WALL OF THE LAHORE FORT and sent it to him. But, somehow or the other, the proposal did not mature. R.Nath may not get occasion to go to Lahore again. It is an extremely important research subject and the Synopsis has been given here in Chapter-3/Link-3 from R.Nath’s Colour Decoration in Mughal Architecture (India and Pakistan) (2nd ed. Jaipur 1990) pp. 47-48 so that it may be useful to any body, in India or Pakistan, who could be interested to take up and do this great work.
(B). A MAJOR PROJECT WHICH COULD NOT BE DONE WITHOUT INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT
(1). R.Nath sent his Research Proposal:
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan (1628-58 A.D.)
as described by the Contemporary Persian Historian
in the Badshah-Namah
along with his letter of 2 May 2014 (7/2) to the ICHR requesting to consider it for the award of ICHR’s National Fellowship to be able to take us this stupendous work. There was no acknowledgement. When R.Nath did not receive any reply, inspite of his reminders d. 20 June 2014, I August 2014 and 1 September 2014, he sent his letter d. 19 December 2014. (7/3) The ICHR’semail reply d. 22 Dec 2014 (7/4) was encouraging. The Chairman also talked to R.Nath on phone in this connection and assured that it shall be considered in the next meeting. But when, again, there was a long gap, R.Nath reminded by his letter d. 7 April 2015 ( 7/5 ). This was duly acknowledged by the ICHR. ( 7/6 ).
(3). On 29 May 2015, R.Nath sent a copy of his work.History of Mughal Architecture vol.IV Part-1 (The Age of Architectural Aestheticism, Shah Jehan 1628-58 A.D.) (Abhinav, New Delhi 2005, pp. 782, 86 colour and 380 b&w plates and 160 text figures/drawings, Priced @ Rs. 4000/-), in support of his research-proposal and in support of what he had said in his letter of 2 May 2014 (7/7)
(4). But there was no acknowledgement or reply. R.Nath sent a detailed reminder again on 21 September 2015 (7/8/span>) but all in vain. He did not receive any reply from the ICHR whereupon he closed this matter, finally, by his letter d. 11 January 2016 (7/9)
(5). All this shows that R.Nath’s proposal was considered but whether it was rejected or not, and if rejected, why the decision was not communicated to him is a mystery. What prevented the ICHR from communicating a negative reply, if it was so? ‘No Reply’ is no decision. Be it as it may, the occasion to do this fundamental research has been lost forever. R.Nath has already explained it in his letters d. 19 Dec 2014 (7/3), 21 Sept 2015 (7/8) and 11 Jan 2016 ( 7/9 )
(6). How the ICHR is functioning ormal-functioning is very well shown by the Press-statement of the Chairman of the ICHR himself (d. 13 Feb 2016) ( 7/10 ). R.Nath’s rejoinder to this statement d. 15 Feb 2016 ( 7/11 ) is also extremely important. Its copies were sent to all concerned.
(C). TWO GRAND PROJECTS WHICH WERE SABOTAGED
(1). R.Nath worked out a proposal to prepare a State-wiseDirectory of Hindu Temples, demolished during the medieval period (from Maḥmūd Ghaznawī to Ahmed Shah Abdālī-Durrānī, c. 1000 to 1761 A.D.), under a comprehensive Research-Project, documenting complete data of :
I. those temples which were demolished and are still lying in ruins, e.g. at Delmal, Patan and Siddhpur (in Gujarat); Chandrawati (in Rajasthan); Bachchhvan-Sei in U.P.; Songadh-Mandu (in M.P.) and other places;
II. those temples which were demolished and mosques were raised upon their land with the same temple material, e.g.Quwwat’ul-Islam Masjid Mehrauli Delhi, Adhai-Din-ka-Jhompra Masjid Ajmer (Rajasthan), Firuz Shah’s Masjid in Hisar-Firoza (Haryana), Kamal Maulā’s Masjid Dhar and Malik Mugith’s Masjid Mandu (M.P.) and other places; and
III. those temples which were demolished and mosques were raised upon their land with old and new material, e.g. at Ayodhya, Mathura-Vrindaban and Varanasi (U.P.) and other places, which have created most dangerous disputes in modern times.
(2). It was a major project, roughly covering 300 temples-sites in the whole of India, which called for extensive travelling and field-work, study in-situ and collection of data: field notes, drawings, photographs and stampages of inscriptions. Knowledge of Sanskrit and Persian both, as also the knowledge of Hinduism and Temple Architecture, on the one hand, and knowledge of Islam and Mosque Architecture, on the other, was essentially needed. To be written in several State-Wise volumes, it was, tentatively, a 5-year project. Some institutions and large business-houses came forward to provide funds for this massive project.
(3). But a great scholar who thought he was not only the greatest museologist and archaeologist of India, but also the greatest historian, stood in the way. Otherwise an amazing organizer of conferences, projects, publication of journals and books, and other institutional activities,VANITY had gone into his head (Vanity = ‘Ahankāra’: which blocks reason, then blocks intelligence and, finally, blocks the head), and he did not know that ‘Historical Architecture’ is a different discipline, particularly this project related to ‘Temple’ and ‘Mosque’ both, was altogether a new venture. He wanted to appropriate the whole credit for doing such an important work, and he thought, he would be ‘THE DIRECTOR’ of this project and R.Nath would simply collect data for him to write it in whatever poor English he could ! In other words, the former would be the ‘Thekedār’ and the latter only a ‘Beldār’, as the Great Scholar had been doing in several other cases.
(4). But he did not know R.Nath who would not be even the last man to be so intellectually exploited. It was plainly told to him that if R.Nath would work and collect data, R.Nath, and none else, would write it under his own name! And theego-maniac promptly sabotaged it !!
(5). The Project details are safely preserved in R.Nath’s Archives: BoxA-3; Box R-3 and Box R-14. A glimpse of what a wonderful work it could have been, may be had from R.Nath’s paper: The Aḍhāī-Din-kā-Jhomprā Ajmer (from Temple to Mosque) (1151-1167 A.D. ; 1195-1230 A.D. published in the Sthāpatyaṃ Delhi, vol.3 No.4 (August 2016) pages 8 to 40, 2 figures and 58 plates. However, the opportunity to do this great work has been lost forever !
II. Mughal Temple Architecture
(1). BRAJA, the land ofKṛṣṇaBhakti was the playground of the Imperial Mughals of India, with their capital at Agra. There, in this region, is a series of grand red-stone Kṛṣṇa Temples built in the typical Mughal idioms of Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, by the Rajput manṣabdārs (nobles) of the Mughal court during the Mughal period from c. 1570 to
1627 A.D. contemporarily. R.Nath proposed to study this : ‘MUGHAL TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE’ (Medieval Renaissance & the North Indian Temple Architecture) project under the simple title:
Stylistic Study of the Krishna Temples
of the Braja Region
(of the Mughal Period, 1556-1627 A.D.),
and sent his application d. 20 December 1989 (along with curriculum-vitae, Synopsis and other annexures) to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) for award of a Research Project.
(2). Originally, the Project was proposed for a period of 2½ years (vide Para-14 of the application d. 20 Dec 1989, Link 7/12), to be based at St. John’s College Agra (vide Para-15 of the application d. 20 Dec 1989, Link 7/12) and the illustrative data (drawings and photographs etc) to be prepared by R.Nath himself (as, hitherto, he has been doing) (vide Para-16/II of the application d. 20 Dec 1989, Link 7/12). The Project was, originally, proposed to cover the whole of the Braja region (including some 30 temples and temple-sites (vide Chapter-III of the Synopsis, Link 7/12).
(3). But after hectic correspondence and repeated meetings, the following course was finally decided (as indicated in R.Nath’s letter d. 8 July 1990):
I. the project was to be based at a religious ‘Sansthan’ at Vrindaban which was already associated with IGNCA under some ‘Prakalpa’;
II. The Project period was curtailed from 2½ years as proposed by R.Nath, to 1½ years only;
III. its scope was curtailed and it was now to study only the temples of Mathura-Vrindaban, Goverdhan, Barsana and Amer (Jaipur); of course, these were major temples of the series;
IV. while on Study-Leave from the University of Rajasthan Jaipur, R.Nath’s actual salary was to be protected, and paid by the Vrindaban ‘Sansthan’ (on behalf of the IGNCA), on a monthly basis; and
V. all illustrative data (drawings, photographs etc) was to be prepared by the ‘Sansthan’, on behalf of the IGNCA, under R.Nath’s guidance, at the IGNCA’s expense. In other words, to provide the illustrative data of the Project was entirely and exclusively the liability of the Vrindaban ‘Sansthan’.
(4). The Project was, thus, caught, from the very beginning, in a maze of some ‘Prakalpa’ and ‘modules’ and such other fearful terms, financed by a Govt. Department ! R.Nath was, thus, attached to a religious ‘Sansthan’ for all practical purposes: he accepted to work just for the lure of the importance of the subject, viz. ‘Mughal Temple Architecture’ which was as novel and wonderful a subject as was his ‘Mughal Sculpture’ (Study of Stone Sculptures of Birds, Beasts, Mythical Animals, Human Beings and Deities in Mughal Architecture) (published by APH New Delhi 1997, out of print). Study leave had already been granted to him, and he joined the Project, w.e.f. 1st April 1991. The Sansthan’s letter d. 30 March 1991 was, in fact, an assignment letter. There was no formal Assignment letter from the IGNCA, the funding agency.
(5). It was much later, on 23 June 1991, that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between R.Nath and the Sansthan. It was not a commercial deal and no MOU or Agreement was needed. The U.G.C, the ICHR and other academic funding agencies do not practice it. Even if it was needed, it should have been signed between R.Nath and the IGNCA which was the funding agency. The Sansthan had no status in this aspect of the matter, and it was engaged just to
I. provide facilities of Research on the Site and to
II. prepare the illustrative data, both at the IGNCA expense. That the Sansthan relegated the IGNCA to a subordinate and subsidiary position was not a bonafide exercise, from the very beginning.
(6). The MOU was flawed and violative of the principle of equity, and unfairly favoured the ‘Sansthan’. R.Nath filed objections to its provisions, the same day, by his letter d. 23.6.1991 and by subsequent letters, which are all on record.
(7). The most important provision in this MOU was related to the preparation of the illustrative data of the Project. Its Para-2 sub-para (ii) laid down:
“2.(ii). Collection of data in the form of measured drawings, photographs, stampages from these temples
with the specific provision that :
“Data under No.2 (ii) shall be provided by the ‘Sansthan’.”
(8). Though payment of the monthly Fellowship amount (which was R.Nath’s subsistence) was erratic, sometimes inordinately delayed, and reminders had to be served, R.Nath worked as hard and sincerely as he usually does, and Quarterly Progress Reports, for the periods ending. 30 June 1991, 30 Sept 1991, 31 Dec 1991, 31 March 1992 30 June 1992 and 30 Sept 1992 were submitted, both to the ‘Sansthan’ and the IGNCA, All these Reports are on record, and contain account of the work which was done during each period. As preparation of the illustrative data was not his share of work he was able to survey, study and prepare his own notes, and completed his share of work within the stipulated time.
(9). Drawings were being prepared by professional architects from the School of Planning & Architecture (SPA) New Delhi and photographs by an English Lady Photographer. But, amazingly, drawings and photographs were never shown to R.Nath. Though such sites as Goverdhan, Bachhvan-Sei, Barsana and Mathura (including the remains of the Birsingh Deva Bundela’s original Kesho Rai’s Temple in the Mathura Museum) were photographed in R.Nath’ presence, the ‘Sansthan’ feigned to say that they were all spoiled! These too were never shown to R.Nath.
(10). The Project lasted only for 18 months, within which period, R.Nath completed his work: monuments were surveyed, studied and detailed notes were prepared. But the basic illustrative data was not made available to him even at this stage! Hitherto, the Sansthan’s stock reply was : ‘under preparation’ and now, at the end, the ‘Sansthan’flatly refused to give any drawings or photographs to R.Nath, to enable him to write down the work, and, instead, the ‘Sansthan’demanded R.Nath’s notes ! It was astounding!
(11). Nath had been constantly pointing out, through-out, specifically in his 5th Progress Report ending 30 June 1992 and last Progress Report ending 30 Sept 1992, which are on record, that the work cannot be written without illustrations (drawings and photographs) which constitute the basic data, and which was the Sansthan’s liability to provide. But this was not done. If this was not done, whose responsibility was it: the IGNCA’s or the Sansthan’s ? The former was the funding agency and it was the former’s Project !
(12). It is pertinent to mention that the ‘Sansthan’ was concentrating ONLY on Śrī-Govinda-Deva’s (SGD’s) temple, from the very beginning. A Grand Seminar was held at the Sansthan on the SGD temple alone, in early April 1991. The English lady photographer photographed the SGD temple extensively and more than a thousand photographs were exposed : 30 sheets each of 36 contact prints of 35 mm size were shown to R.Nath for selection, but, thereafter, the photographs were never given to him. The Sansthan was constantly engaged in the preparation of a large book entitled:
‘Govindadeva: A Dialogue in Stone’
which was later published.
(13). Surprisingly, R.Nath was not given to write on the architecture of this temple, for this work, and instead, he was asked to prepare an article on ‘Śrī-Govinda-Devaji’s Itinerary’ (from Vrindaban to Jaipur) (c. 1534-1727 A.D.). R.Nath travelled from Vrindaban to Rādhā-Kund, to Kāmān, to Govindgadh, to Rajgadh, to Khawā (Jamwā-Ramgaḍh) to Govindpurā (Rūpaheḍā) to Jaipur, by road, exactly following the deity’s itinerary, studied SGD’s temples situated on these sites, prepared their plans, and collected the Archival documents related to this A work of more than a 100 pages, with a map of the itinerary, 6 plans, and 9 Archival documents (Paṭṭā-Parwānās), bound in book-form, was submitted to the Sansthan with a copy to the IGNCA (Link 7/13 for its Synopsis and Link 7/14 for the Map showing SGD’s itinerary). This was a full monograph and it was prepared during the project period. It was published in the book in a very truncated, mutilated and distorted form, without Sanskrit quotations, Archival documents, and important sub-heads, owing to the editor’s total ignorance of the subject ! Its purpose was completely defeated. This monograph was later published, correctly and in full form, in R.Nath’s Glories of Medieval Indian Architecture (BR, New Delhi 2010) pp. 193-299, with 1 map and 9 plans, 46 b&w & colour plates and 9 Archival documents. It is very necessary that the two publications are compared to assess the intellectual worth of each one of them !
(14). There was nobody in India who knew Sanskrit or Braja-Bhasha, who knew ‘Bhakti’ and who knew ‘Temple-Architecture’, to be able to edit this work on the SGD’s Temple. Therefore, an English lady was requisitioned to edit it, at what expense only the Sansthan and the IGNCA know. The vast illustrative data on the temple of SGD which was prepared under R.Nath’s Project, but which was not even shown to him, was placed at the Learned Editor’s disposal to make an elephant but what she ultimately made was a ‘mouse’! Intellectualism was treated as garbage and ‘ideas’ were thrown into the dust-bin. The Project material was wasted, e.g. 71 photographs were used in it without any reference in the text “like ticketless travellers on an Indian train” as noted by R.Nath in his Review of this book, published in the Indian Museum Bulletin Calcutta, vol.XXXV (2000) 192-200; Indologica-Brajensia Agra vol.III (2004) 236-246; and placed on R.Nath website, rnath.in, chapter-2 Link-4. It is absolutely necessary to read this Review to know what a woeful mess the learned editor and the Sansthan, together, made of such a fine subject, with such a marvellous data ! It was only an exercise in the Sansthan’s self-glorification and self-exaltation !!
(15). As a matter of fact, the Sansthan never realized the historical importance of R.Nath’s Project. All this was done, perhaps ritualistically, to impress its rich devotees and white clientele; to propitiate the publicity gods; and to keep the government funding agency in good humour! New discoveries, contained in R.Nath’s Quarterly Progress Reports were sometimes pirated and squandered in press, and R.Nath had to complain in writing. Most unfortunate was the way the data of the Project was misused in this publication. It is very important to know:
I. how much money was spent on the preparation of its drawings and photographs?
II. is a complete record/inventory of the drawings and photographs prepared by this expenditure available? Where?
III. where this material is now preserved and who is now its owner ?
(16). It is important to record that R.Nath donated sextant and other survey instruments; files of some research-journals, indices, bibliographies and catalogues; and some classical works on History, Archaeology, Epigraphy and Literature, to the Sansthan which he wished to be a veritable centre of historical research in this discipline. But all in vain; it was an affluent religious Sansthan, as much devoted to the Goddess Laḳsmī as to Kṛṣṇa-Bhakti, without any space for the Goddess Saraswatī, and it was not possible to convert it into an Academic Institute !
(17). For three years thereafter (i.e. after termination of the Project on 30th Sept 1992) from 1992 to 1995, R.Nath tried his best to convince the IGNCA and the Sansthan that the work cannot be written without illustrations (drawings and photographs) which must be made available to him to enable him to write the monograph and repeatedly assured them of his firm resolve to complete the work. The whole correspondence is on record; the following letters may be, specifically, referred to :
- R.Nath’s Regd letter d. 6 Jan 1993 to the IGNCA (Link 7/15): In its Para-4, the following statement was quoted from R.Nath’s last Progress Report (ending 30 Sept 1992) d. 1 Oct 1992:
“Drawings and photographs of some temples have yet to be made. This data is basic to the work and these are not merely illustrations of the text, which can be written only after these are made …. It is only after the collection of this basic data that the writing work can begin.”
- IGNCA’s letter d. 14 Sept 1993 in which an absolutely false and wrong accusation was made that photographs had been made available to R.Nath (Link 7/16).
- Nath rejected this false and wrong accusation by his Regd letter d. 27.9.1993 to the IGNCA (copy to the Sansthan). Some eye-opening facts were also revealed in this letter (Link 7/17).
- Nath asserted his bona-fides by his letter d. 19.3.1994 written to the Sansthan:
लिखियेगा fक क्या सभी मंदिरों के फोटोग्राफ्स और ड्रॉइंग्स तैयार हो गए हैं। अगर सभी बन गए हों गए हो तो आगे चले और बैठकर इस पुण्य कार्य को संपन्न करने की व्यवस्था करें। काम तो करना ही है, अधूरा थोड़े ही छोड़ना है। जीवन में न कोई कार्य अधूरा छोड़ा है, न छोड़ेंगे। जैसा हो कृपया उत्तर दीजियेगा। समय बहुत तेज़ भाग रहा है और मेरे हाथ से निकलता जा रहा है।
This he affirmed after he had retired, and after the Project had been terminated!
- When there was no reply, either from the IGNCA or the Sansthan, for more than a year, R.Nath reminded by his Regd Letter d. 19 October 1994 addressed to the IGNCA and copy to the Sansthan (Link 7/18) and asserted once again:
“I must reiterate that so far I have not left any work incomplete and unfinished and, while I stand towards the end of my life’s journey, I must do it, before it is too late. This is my firm resolve.
“Hence, I request you please to inform me if it is not possible to do it on the institutional level so that I may, myself, do its photographs and drawings, and finish this work which being of great historical importance in view of the position these temples (built in less than half-a-century’s time, between 1576 and 1627 A.D.) occupy in the evolutionary process of Medieval Indian Architecture, cannot be left incomplete. I do not think, medieval Indian Renaissance and Reformation can be properly and correctly understood and appreciated without a study of these temples.”
- The IGNCA’s letter d. 5 Dec 1994 (Link 7/19) was duly replied by R.Nath Regd. letter d. 22.12.1994 (Link 7/20). It became quite clear that the IGNCA had no guts to ask the Sansthan why it (the Sansthan) refused to give to R.Nath whatever drawings and photographs had been prepared and instead, demanded his notes ? and why the remaining drawings and photographs were not prepared by the Sansthan in accordance with the MOU ? and why, in spite of R.Nath’s constant entreaties for four years, drawings and photographs were not supplied to R.Nath. All persuasion had failed : There was no feeling of grace or guilt ! And, ultimately, R.Nath had no alternative except to write his Regd. Letter d. 30.8.1995 both to the IGNCA and the Sansthan (Link 7/21), and close this matter finally, once and for ever ! All relevant files and other material are safely preserved in R.Nath’s Archives in Box-A-2 and R-6.
(18). It is a matter of great regret that such a wonderful project was so foolishly sabotaged! The occasion to do it has been lost for ever !!!
(D). HURDLES AND OBSTACLES
This website gives a brief account of R.Nath’s books, research-papers, monographs, popular articles (in Hindi and English) and Cultural Notice Boards (CNBs), which R.Nath has authored on MUGHAL ARCHITECTURE, mostly on the Mughal monuments of Agra (including the Taj Mahal) and Fatehpur Sikri, during the last fifty year’s time (from 1965 onwards). It has been an extremely arduous journey, through strifes and struggles against ignorance; arrogance and treachery; selfish motives and machinations; son-of-the-soil syndrome and ‘in’ and ‘out’ candidatures; tricks and trickeries; and, above all, hurdles and obstacles, surprisingly, all in the academic domain ! It shall be enlightening and useful to all new-corners in this field, to recall the PAST, a bit.
(1). R.Nath submitted a dissertation entitled: ‘Agra and Its Monuments’ in his M.A. (Final) (1964-65) in lieu of a paper. This initiated him in the strict discipline of Historical Architecture. Having passed his M.A. (History) in FIRST division, with FIRST position in Agra University (1965), he began systematic study of, and research in Architectural Heritage of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, and duly applied for Ph.D. registration.
(2). AGRA was the capital of the Grand Mughal Empire for more than a century (practically, from 1526 to 1658 A.D.) and, naturally, it had innumerable monuments in the form of historical houses, havelis and palaces; mosques and temples; tombs and gardens; wells, bāolīs, tanks and ghāṭs; and other buildings. By a rough estimate, there were nearly 270 monuments at Agra, towards the end of the 18th More than 200 of them were systematically demolished and destroyed under the British East India Company’s regime (1803-1857) (for full details whereof reference may be made to R.Nath’s HistoriographicalStudy of Indo-Muslim Architecture, Jaipur 1991, Chapter-II: ‘Devastating Policy of the East India Co,’ 1803-57, pp. 8-20 and references 13 to 19). Still some 60 major monuments had survived. These monuments were noticed in War-Memoirs, Diaries and Travel-Accounts and in Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I.) Reports. Some art historians also studied them, of course summarily, e.g. James Fergusson and Percy Brown (see ibid, Chapter-I: ‘Published Material’ (1803-1947), pp. 1-7).
(3). Then, there lived at Agra a Great Historian of medieval (specifically Mughal) India. He had written some 20 books for his educational publishers which were ALL prescribed in various boards and universities of U.P., M.P. and Rajasthan for High School, Intermediate, B.A. and M.A. courses. He was also very fond of examining answer-books of High School, Intermediate, B.A. and M.A. examinations. He had written an article on the major monuments of Agra, drawing almost entirely, and ad-verbatim, on Percy Brown. This was the only work he had done on this subject and, for souvenirs of conferences held at Agra, magazines and other publications, he sent the same article over and over again. By his position, he dominated the Research Degree Committee of Agra University and controlled research activities of its affiliated colleges, by his wills and whims.
(4). He was very susceptible to flattery and very much liked to hear in admiration of his greatness. When one said: “Oh Sir ! You are the greatest historian of India”, and the other rejoined: “of India? Sir ! you are the greatest historian under the Sun !!”, he was pleased, laughed heartily and approved the plain flattery that he was the greatest historian under the Sun (because he had written 20 and odd course books) !!!
(5). He had supervised Ph.D. research of a large number of candidates on such repetitive and redundant subjects as ‘DalhausieandAnnexation of Awadh’, and ‘History of Sultanpur(?), filling old wine in new bottles, with new labels, but none on the Monuments of Agra, or on Mughal Architecture. In fact, ‘Research’ as much as writing a book was, to him, a laborious clerical exercise and there is no doubt that he worked very hard. It is quite different that people generally accused his research scholars as third class bogies of a local shuttle train running between Wazirpura and Tundla (a surburban region situated at a distance of 25 kms from Agra and an important Railway Junction). Truly, he was fond of awarding such silly subjects as : “Condition of Muslim Society, during the first half of the 19th century, as depicted in Urdu Literature”! (at Delhi, Agra or Lucknow?).
(6). This Great Historian ruled the roost when, in 1965, R.Nath proposed to work on ‘Mughal Architecture’ with reference to the Monuments of Agra for his Ph.D. The Great Historian of Agra had the subject REJECTED on the following ground:
“Work has already been done on the subject by competent authorities. There is little scope for originality.”
copy of the Agra University Letter No. 1431/6718 d. 18.3.1966 is given below:
meaning thereby that the last word had been said on Mughal Architecture of Agra (including the Taj Mahal) and it was a closed subject! R.Nath took Percy Brown, Fergusson and other works with him and went to meet the Great Historian of Agra. What followed gives a very interesting reading and makes a very useful history of the condition of research in such north Indian states as U.P., Rajasthan, M.P. and Bihar, in this subject.
(7). “Do you think the last word on this subject had been said and it is closed for research?” R.Nath asked, adding that the study of Mughal Architecture has yet to begin.
“There are two forms of decoration in Mughal Architecture: carvo-relievo and pietra-dura, but you do not even mention them…”
he said with emphasis on these words. In fact, he had been quoting these foreign terms (Italian-French) very often, just to parade his knowledge of Mughal Architecture, with pride.
(8). But R.Nath did not let him proceed, interrupted and commented firmly:
“Carvo-relievo’ is relief carving which we have been practising for more than two millennia, STONE being the chief building material in India. We have been using it in five types: full or round sculpture, high relief, medium relief, low relief and incised carving which is called ‘carvo-intaglio’ in Italian. But why to use Italian or French terms (perpetrated by British colonial historians) for an art which we had been practising indigenously and natively for such a long time ???”
The Great Historian did not know this and his pride was shattered. He was dumbfounded!
(9). And, R.Nath continued:
‘And, Sir, Mughals used several types of stone-carving:
- Sādahkārī – plain stone-carving,
- Gulkārī or Būṭedārī – floral designing in stone carving,
- Mumbatkārī – bold embossed designs in stone-relief, and
- Shigrafgārī – Jali-art in stone which is a unique feature in Mughal Architecture.
These Persians terms have been used by contemporary historians, as you know because you have been using Persian sources. I have proposed to study them.”
Neither did he agree, nor disagree; he was just looking into the void.
(10). R.Nath continued to hammer:
“And Sir, ‘Pietre-dure’ and ‘Pietra-dura’ in Italian and French, was a Picture-Art which they used on cabinets and furniture. It was NOT architectural. Our art of INLAY is different: it is architectural. It is called ‘Parchīnkārī’ in Persian and ‘Pachchīkārī’ in local dialect. We did not borrow it from Italy or France, we developed this art indigenously. Austin or Augustine of Bordeaux who is credited to have introduced it in India was a jeweller and not an architectural decorator, and we have earlier examples of the times of Humayaun and Akbar, at Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri: Pietra–dura and such other terms used by Percy Brown and colonial historians are absolutely wrong and misnomer.”
R.Nath asserted strongly and the Great Historian was aghast! He did not know this !!
(11). R.Nath continued, a little more forcefully:
“And Sir! not only these two forms of ornamentation which you mention, the Mughals used many others, e.g.
- Kāshīkārī – glazed-tiling,
- Parchīnkārī or Pachchīkārī – inlay by rare and semi-precious stones and mosaic thereof,
- Gachkārī or Gajgārī – stucco or lime plaster work,
- Shīshākārī – glass – mosaic work with stucco,
- Naqqāshī – drawing, painting or engraving in exquisite designs in different colour combinations,
- Mīnākārī – incised polychrome ornamentation with gold; gilding,
- ‘Ainah–bandī – mirror–work, and
- Girābandī – mosaic work on floor etc etc.
These terms have been used by Abd’ul-Ḥamīd Lāhaurī in the Bādshāh-Nāmah which you must have read. I wanted to study them in the proposed subject. Please show me who has done this work before?”
R.Nath put forward Percy Brown’s book. But he did not even look at it !
(12). R.Nath switched on to another aspect of the matter:
“And Sir! So many romatic tales, anecdotes, legends and gossips have been planted on this subject by the colonial historians, e.g. The Taj Mahal was designed by Gironimo Veroneo who was, in fact, a freelance Italian goldsmith. A second Taj of black marble was planned to be built opposite the Taj Mahal, on the other bank. It is a guides’-gupp (gossip). Originally, there was Babur’s Bāgh-i-Hasht-Bihisht and Shah Jehan founded his garden name Mahtab-Bagh on this part of Babur’s garden. Picture of a second Taj drawn by Percy Brown in his book is all imaginary. There is no historical substance in this story”.
R.Nath showed him the drawing from Percy Brown’s book and the poor fellow was
(13). Nath continued :
“And Sir! Torso of that stone horse near the Amar Singh Gate of Agra Fort – do you believe this story?”
“It is said …..” he wanted to narrate the story but R.Nath cut him short:
“It is a popular gossip and an entirely false story planted by the British to tarmish the image of the Mughals. Lahauri has narrated it in his Bādshāh-Nāmah, you must have read it, no ?”
He had been claiming, all along, to have read all Persian histories of the Mughals, but he did not know about this episode at all ! In complete dilemma, he cut a sorry figure, silently. R.Nath said:
“The British planted the story and planted the stone torso and also renamed this gate ‘Amar Singh Gate’. I hope, you know what was its original name ?”
R.Nath asked but the Great Historian of Agra was not in a position to say yes or no!
“And the chhatrī known as Raja Jaswantsingh-kī-chhatrī is not his; his magnificent chhatrī is at Mandor near Jodhpur. Whose chhatrī is it I hope, you know ?”
R.Nath said. But he was dead silent and was looking the other way.
(14). Nath would have continued to trounce him but to avoid his total massacre, he got up and feebly uttered:
“Apply again and it shall be approved”
and went inside the house. Yes, R.Nath applied again and it was approved. He had to work, extremely hard, for four years as it involved large scale field-work but, ultimately it was completed, and a voluminous thesis was submitted, with 454 photographs. R.Nath got his Ph.D in 1969.
(15). It is pertinent to note that, since then, R.Nath has authored and published more than 50 books, including the massive 5-vol series: History of Mughal Architecture, on this subject which was rejected by the Great Historian of Agra with the remark that “work has already been done on the subject” in 1965 when, in fact, no research work had been done. R.Nath started its study in the right earnest and, as detailed in the following sub-head E, he made it a perfect discipline, covering almost all its aspects.
(16). It is a pity that such pseudo-historians are ruling the roost and, masquerading as scholars of International fame, they are ruining the research-careers of young students, because the universities are harbouring them, because the politicians are patronizing them, because the people are tolerating them! They are, essentially, careerists, doing this work clerically, without creativity or ‘ideas’. These academic-alligators are doing the greatest damage to Indian intellectualism. Had R.Nath not stood upright and faced them boldly, they would have killed him too, and aborted 50 and odd books on Mughal Architecture, including the 5-volume series: ‘History of Mughal Architecture’, which R.Nath salvaged from their deep sea of ignorance, during the last-half-a-century’s time !!!
(E). HOW HAS R.NATH TRIED TO COVER THE SUBJECT
(1). Nath has authored more than 50 books on Mughal Architecture, besides nearly 150 research-papers, 200 popular articles (in Hindi and English), and also 107 CNBs for the Mughal monuments of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri (for which please see sub-head (g) of Chapter-2 of the website, above), and a sound beginning has NOW been made (for full details, please see R.Nath’s website, chapter-1/Link-3, chapter -2 / (a) I to III and (b) to (d).
(2). In order to make it a perfect discipline, R.Nath has prepared it basic tools, for the first time, (see 1/7) such as :
- Its standard terminology (Glossary),
- Its theory, style, nomenclature and techniques,
- Its historiography and methodology,
- Its bibliographies,
- Its motifs and designs,
- Its ornamentation and aesthetics, and
- Its prototypes.
(3). Nath has been delivering lectures, on this subject, at Harvard University (U.S.A.), and at universities and other institutions in India, e.g. at Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ujjain, Cochin, Lucknow, Delhi, Jaipur and other cities (please see 1/5), during the last half-a-century’s time. This, and R.Nath’s research-papers and popular articles have created awareness and admiration of this subject, in the scholarly world.
(4). Nath has emancipated the architectural heritage of Agra and Fatehpur from fanciful anecdotes and tales, coined by guides and guide-book writers, foreign travellers, reporters and film-makers, with a free dose of hearsays, gossips and wonderful surmises, and his half-a-century’s efforts in this field have popularized this subject and, besides promoting ‘Mughal Tourism’, it is now being taught in several western universities. It is no longer a subsidiary or annexure of the (so-called) ‘Saracenic’ or Islamic Architecture, but a full-fledged discipline with its own norms, techniques and concepts, and with its own evolutionary process, essentially a STONE ART as it is. It has grown, in the Braja (Jamuna-Chambal) region as indigenously as were the Gupta, the Pratihāra and the Chauhān arts, respectively, with firm roots in the soil.
(5). Nath’s voluminous writings have, perhaps, helped the UNESCO a lot to grant:
UNESCO World Heritage Site
status to :
(1). The Taj Mahal
(2). Fatehpur Sikri and
(3). Agra Fort :
THREE UNESCO sites at a city is a unique phenomenon. Two other wonderful monuments of Agra, viz.
(4). Tomb of Akbar at Sikandara (1605-12) and
(5). Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah (1622-28)
which fully deserve to be marked as ‘UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites’ are still waiting to be recognized as such.
(6). Given below is a list of R.Nath’s books on the Mughal monuments of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri (including the Taj Mahal):