Mathura’s Daoji temple, where Aurangzeb donated revenues of 5 villages

Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, known for destroying temples, also donated to some. Dao ji Maharaj temple near Mathura, to which Aurangzeb donated revenue of 5 villages, is one such temple

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NH Photo
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Aas Mohd Kaif

The Mughal emperors are often targeted by radical Hindutva activists and Aurangzeb, in particular, is often the focus of their ire. His reign was the longest, and it is often said that he destroyed many temples. History tells us some other stories too, which are contradictory to this image of Aurangzeb. Nadeem Razavi, head of the History Department of Aligarh Muslim University, says “Aurangzeb was an emperor to the core, his sole intent was to rule. Whatever was required to serve this purpose, he did that. He razed some temples to the ground and donated huge amount of money at other temples.”

Dao ji Maharaj temple in Baldev town, situated 20 km north of Mathura in Mahavan tehsil, is one such temple to which Aurangzeb had donated the revenues of five villages.

Brajesh Kumar Pandey, associated with the management of the temple, tells us the story known to all Brajvasis (people living in the Braj region around Mathura-Vrindavan in western Uttar Pradesh) know. “Once Aurangzeb was heading towards Mathura destroying all the temples that came in the way. He knew about the Baldev temple but whenever he asked his companions how far the temple is, they replied, ‘just four miles away.” After travelling for hours he again asked how far the temple is. The answer remained the same. Finally, Aurangzeb realised the power and greatness of Dao ji and gave up the idea of destroying the temple. He instead fixed the pension from five villages to this temple.” The temple's caretaker Anil Kumar Pandey, also confirms that, about 500 years ago, Aurangzeb had donated revenue of five villages to this temple.

This meant that the ownership of 580 acres of land was given to Dao Ji Maharaj so that some part of the money deposited in the official treasury could be spent on the maintenance of the temple. The government treasury of these five villages still makes donations to this temple.

In the battle of justice against injustice, Krishna was significantly supported by his elder brother, Balram. Balram is also called by the name Baldev and Krishna used to call him ‘Dao ji’ with affection. Hence this temple is devoted to ‘Baldev Daoji’

Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. After Kashi, the highest number of temples are located here. The religious centres of Vrindavan and Govardhan are also nearby. According to Hindu religious beliefs, Lord Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is worshipped widely. Lord Krishna was born in a prison in Mathura where his maternal uncle Kansa tried to kill him, but his father, Vasudev took him across the river late at night thus saving his life.

In the battle of justice against injustice, Krishna was significantly supported by his elder brother, Balram. Balram is also called by the name Baldev and Krishna used to call him ‘Dao ji’ with affection. Hence this temple is devoted to ‘Baldev Daoji’.

Baldev is also known for the famous Hooranga Holi of Brij. A resident of the area, Vipin Garg explains that the Holi is played within the premises of the temple and hundreds of devar-bhabhi (sister-in-law and brother-in-law) attend this Holi. Outside the main hall of the temple, there is an inscription which mentions the donation of five villages by Aurangzeb to this temple. Aurangzeb had also built the main hall of the temple. It is written here: "The Mughal king Aurangzeb had built the main hall (naqqarkhana) of the temple in 1672 and donated five villages to this temple for the functioning of this hall…”

Historian Razavi points out that besides this temple, Aurangzeb donated to some other temples of Kashi and Mathura also. Apart from this, he continued with the tradition of giving charity to some other temples which was initiated by previous Mughal kings. Razavi says, “Aurangzeb was just an emperor who had his own way of managing his empire. At places, he pacified Muslims and at other, he tried to please the Hindus.”

The famous historian of Mathura, Ghanshyam Pandey also confirms that Aurangzeb had donated five villages to this temple and there is evidence to prove this. At present, the inscription mentioning Aurangzeb has been removed. The receiver of the temple RK Pandey confirms this and says that it is kept safely. There is some construction work going on in the hall of the temple and after the completion of the work, the inscription will be placed again.

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