THE REAL TAJ MAHAL
- Not So Much
The Taj Mahal is known the world over as a white, marble monument to love, a tomb built approximately between 1632-1653 by Shah Jahan.
He apparently built this mausoleum for his beloved 3rd wife, Mumtaz Mahal when she inconveniently dropped heavily from her perch before he did, directly after bearing her 14th child.
This must have been a great relief for her, but it left him grief-stricken and heart-broken.
Accounts of his behaviour depict him as a broken man, supposedly quite dramatically emotive in his portrayal of desolation and existential loneliness.
Most school children know this, and every adult with a television does as well. Furthermore, almost every school book, documentary, history book and tourist guide will tell you this. It's a state fact.
Indeed, there is information extant about the thousands of fine craftsmen, the entire board of well-known architects and the principal designer, all of this enormous project being under imperial supervision.
So, it must be true, mustn't it? Mustn't it?
It is in fact not even remotely true. And this is only one instance out of many thousands where mistakes and even outright lies are recorded for posterity as being the literal historical 'truth'.
There is overwhelming evidence that The Taj Mahal was not built in the 17th century as an Islamic monument, but rather in the 4th century as a Rajput Hindu temple palace, and which was very much later commandeered and done-over for use as a tomb for Mumtaz by Shah Jahan.
It was actually more like taking an exquisite pleasure palace of breathtaking beauty and converting it into a memorial that also doubled quite well as a wayside attraction for tourists.
In fact, the good Shah went so far as to put it about in a poetic sort of way that those who visited the Taj would become free of sin, penning the following:
guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory.'
Several learned people have realised the truth about this structure, and at least one of them ended up deceased in the middle of his work (Professor Bhatnagar), perhaps yet another unfortunate victim of someone else's idea of the way things should be.
The roots of this fraud go back quite far and later also involved the British Imperialist rule in India, and so they are naturally partly political in nature.
The Taj Mahal was utterly romanticized as the 8th wonder of the world, a stunning testament to love.
Of course, if a ruler really gave up as soon as his favourite wife died, quitting his kingdom and squandering its wealth on a mausoleum while sitting each day stock-still, displaying his prematurely white and grizzled beard at a window, gazing with sunken eyes towards the fabled - well, later on - spot where his deceased darling's remains lay, people around him might have begun to get jolly irritated, which they later did, but not for that reason.
That's not to say that the Shah Jahan didn't grieve for and miss Mumtaz, or that he didn't spend money indiscriminately. He did. But basically, he merely gave the entire building complex what he considered to be a pretty tasteful and nifty upgrade, which may well have ruined it, and dedicated it all to her and the Creator.
Most of the written and inaccurate accounts of Shah Jahan and his behaviour reflect the heavily elaborated Persian style as well as the propaganda of the time. Add to this the drivel written later on by awe-struck poets, invading foreigners and the many dignitaries who visited the Taj Mahal and had to write something very nice about it for the sake of diplomacy.
Noting how the average modern person now reacts to 'stars' of various varieties, as well as the superficial Hollywood and Bollywood scenes, one can see how for 300 years people have been completely carried away by the vision of a very, very large and sparkling white building and its sad associations.
It's a bit like Graceland, and slightly tacky
A living legend grew up around the tomb, Shah Jahan and his devoted over-the-top love for his deceased wife. It became associated with tourism and romance of the purest and most expensive kind.
One is supposed to imagine the Shah as an altruistic celibate, his beard turned white overnight with grief and dedicated entirely to his lost wife's memory, rather than the extremely egotistical and vain tyrant who with beard still dark had 6 male relatives murdered lest his position be threatened, all while having sex with the wives of his officials. So much for having a harem.
Three of the people who have researched and written about this astonishing conspiracy are Professor P. N. Oak, Dr. V. S. Godbole and Wayne E. Begley.
A rudimentary search of the internet should supply anyone interested with hours of reading on this very subject, including downloadable PDF files, allowing the reader to research further and become convinced, at least in their own mind, of the veracity of Wotta Tripp's seemingly outlandish statements.
But if such widely 'known' facts are, in fact, wrong, then we must wonder how much of our reality has been engineered for us, and the answer is, unfortunately, rather a lot.
So if the best known monument to love is, well, not so much, what about our other misconceptions, perhaps about love itself?
Could our ideas about love be as skewed as our understanding of history?
What is real love? How does it work, and do we expect too much or too little from our lovers and partners? Surely Shah Jahan was not really demonstrating real love with his exaggerated and possibly compulsive behaviour?
One thing that a lot of people would agree upon: we don't seem to have got it quite right yet, just as we know much, much less about the real history of Earth than we think we do.
If we had got it right in the love department, the work of Dame Wotta Tripp would be at least halved, enabling her to take up bee-keeping much more enthusiastically and continue her less well-known work of ridding the world of the joint-scourges of both mimes and clowns.
What Is Love?
For some people, love is a bloody nuisance, and they pay it little mind, but most people take this strange and precarious state of mind extremely seriously at least once in their lives, and frequently more than once.
No matter how much someone has been humiliated or scorned, at some point they are usually ready to risk it all one more time.
Throwing caution to the winds and baring their souls - and bodies - again, they pursue the perfect relationship as though they were fishing for the big one, looking for that perfect catch, the fabric from which legends are made, the one that took a lot to land, something that you can stuff and mount with pride and finally show to all your friends.
Of course, it never works out quite that way.
Sooner or later Real Life pokes its unsavoury little head around your door to remind you about, well, real life.
He eats like a pig, she leaves her underwear hanging all over the bathroom, he never turns the lights off, she takes the last beer, he tells progressively larger lies, she whispers on the phone.
Pretty soon, someone is sleeping with someone's sister or best friend and someone else is packing, seeking sympathy all over the place and wildly plotting revenge.
Real Life needs its nasty arse kicking, but the human spirit, bowed down with sorrow a goodly portion of the time, rises buoyantly, bravely and proudly, ready to try again and again and again...
True love means different things to different people, but nearly everyone believes that they want to find it. And yet when it's within their grasp it often slips right through their too-eager fingers, because in order to receive real love, we have to be able to give real love as well.
A foreign concept for many people, loving people unconditionally means accepting and loving them exactly as they truly are.
Most people learn about conditional love very early. Who has not experienced 'love' being withdrawn when people are angry at us and disapprove of our choices?
Some poor souls have to live perpetually as outcasts to love. Their differences become their downfall as far as human relationships are concerned, and the bigoted, prejudiced folk around them ensure that their lives are made miserable as punishment for being different in some way to the herd.
Genuine love gives people permission to be authentically who they really are and in fact encourages and supports it, allowing individuals to feel good about themselves and their loved ones.
It isn't right to try and change a person at a basic core level.
It's one thing to ask someone to try and work on healing a destructive habit that impacts everyone around them negatively. It's an entirely different thing to expect people to ignore their interests and passions, change their personality and become someone that they are not to fit in with your plans for them.
You shouldn't really have plans for anybody else, not even as a parent. A parent's sacred task is to watch closely to learn who their child really is at a deeply authentic level.
They must then encourage this person, helping them to grow into their true self.
There is little that is more selfish than a parent who maps out their child's life into adulthood, believing a child to be a blank mould for them to shape entirely at their whim. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have the idea that you can take a man or woman you are attracted to and change them to fit in with your expectations and lifestyle, then you will not be able to love or be loved properly.
Far better to wait until the right person enters your life, however long that seems to be taking.
Loving people is something we are all created to do, it's part of our grand destiny, and it plays a vital role in the evolution of human beings (and also animals) as a species.
There are many different kinds of love of which the romantic kind is just one. It is no more nor less important than any other kind of love. They are all necessary for our mutual growth and well-being.
But for any kind of love to work, it must be basically unselfish. This means caring about another person and their well-being by putting them first.
Conditional love withdraws when it cannot get its own way. It has to be paid for in some way, perhaps with our compliance or obedience and sometimes with real money and gifts.
Genuine love supports, cherishes, accepts and ultimately heals. That's the kind of love that everybody secretly longs, hopes and prays for. It's the only love that counts.
Lovely though it is, the Taj Mahal is not conclusive proof of the love held in the heart of Shah Jahan. It is merely an edifice, a building, a construction project ordered by somebody. It was built with money, of which he had plenty. It's a bit of a sham.
Do you give real love? Do you receive real love? Do you have real love in your life?
If you don't, there is no need to despair.
Make your body a temple of love. Be a conduit for love. Give people real, genuine, caring love. The quantum universe has certain working parts and widgets which control and monitor the flow of energy down to an infinitesimal level.
The law of cause and effect will make sure that when the love you give changes to a substance of superior quality, so will the love you receive.
If you don't believe Dame Wotta Tripp, she challenges you to experiment with unconditional love for yourself and help to spread a little joy, as well as relief, in today's harsh world.