Home > History, India, India-Pakistan Relations, Religion, Social Trends > Multan’s 2000-year Sun Temple

Multan’s 2000-year Sun Temple


Multan was home to a 2000 year old Sun Temple, which seems to now live only in some forgotten corner of dusty books. One intrepid soul in Pakistan …

Narasimha Kills Hiranyakshipu  |  Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com  |  Click for source image.

Narasimha Kills Hiranyakshipu | Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com | Click for source image.

I found Pound weaving arcane elements like “sun worshipping” from Vedic mythology into his Cantos. But I didn’t yet know that he had summarised the golden saga of our glorious heritage in a couple of lines. Then I heard his poetic voice reciting this:

A thousand years before T’ang,
gothic arch out of India,
from Multan 700 li,
torchlight, at Multan, offer perfume,
Son of Herakles, Napat son of Waters,
Panch, that is Phoenician, Tyanu

Now earlier readings of Pound’s poetry had informed me that the “Son of Herakles, Napat son of Waters, Panch” were all versions of Assias – a famous ancient Aryan Vedic fire priest. But what was this “torchlight, at Multan”?

A quick look at the extant multi-volume literary reference works only revealed the following: ‘Multan is a place of worship mentioned in Waddell’s Indo-European Seals, which quotes a Buddhist pilgrim on “a temple dedicated to the Sun, very magnificent and profusely decorated,” which is also a ‘house of mercy’.”

I immediately decided to travel to Multan to find whatever it was that had been envisioned by our poet.

But days of wandering in the dusty and sultry town could offer no glimpse of anything close to “a temple dedicated to the Sun, very magnificent and profusely decorated”.

That was when a native student of Multan who was studying in my hometown gave me Ibn-e Haneef’s postal address, and suggested that I write him a letter. (via Welcome to The Friday Times – The holi temple by Sohaib Arshad – Pakistan’s First Independent Weekly Paper:www.thefridaytimes.com).

After nearly 2,000 years, Multan's Sun-Temple goes under - after its destruction in the 1990s  |  Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com  |  Click for larger source image.

After nearly 2,000 years, Multan's Sun-Temple goes under - after its destruction in the 1990s | Image source & courtesy - thefridaytimes.com | Click for larger source image.

Each time a door closes, another window opens

For every Hafiz Saeed, there is also a Sohaib Arshad.

A mind with thirst, in a parched land. Searching for answers. In a history, clouded in dirt, grime, dust of hate, greed, war – and peace.

Interesting story. Of the flame and the keeper of the flame.

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  1. February 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm | #1
  2. February 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm | #2
    If you believe Chachnama, you will believe anything.

    Considered to be a historical romance, Mountstuart Elphinstone, a British colonial official ‘confirmed its historical veracity’. British colonial rulers had a vested interest in promoting the India-Invaded-and-Defeated story. A fabrication like Chachnama, became history, in colonial times. Elphinstone was a pioneer in ‘education’, a policy that Bentinck was to later expand to the entire British territories in India.

    Some 400-600 years after Mohammed Bin Qasim, Genghis Khan, a far greater conqueror, and military mind, with a far bigger military force, did not attempt to invade India. And you want to believe that Mohammed Bin Qasim conquered India?

    Conquering India (for loot and enslavment) was every bandit’s dream – and it was Mohammed Bin Qasim’s dream also. Hence, Chachnama was a work commissioned by a bandit, to impress his overlord. Full of exaggerations.

    Even if Chachnama was half true, there would have no Pakistan. There would have been no one left except Muslim conquerors and their submissive subjects.

    You know that has not happened. Sometimes, you must also disbelieve.

    And take a 2ndlook.

  3. February 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm | #3

    From my understanding and reading Genghis Khan had 2 draw backs while attacking India. One, Mongols main weapon the recurve bow made of animal sinew, glue made from animal hooves, bone structure got damp in humid conditions loosing its effectiveness, he in fact lost a battle to the son of Khwarzim Jalal Udin who was holed up in present day Pak Punjab.

    Secondly, Mongol army battle strategy was deploying hordes of horsemen across a vast battle fields this was not possible in India owing to heavily wooded areas. Mind you Punjab and surrounding area were dense forest and swamps. In fact the forest were home to Rhinos and Tigers and even as late as 17th century there have been records of Rhino hunting. The forests were cut down by the British to grow wheat.

    My point being Genghis Khans may not be the right example in this case.

    I am not saying Chachnama is completely trust worthy, all I am saying is there is an account of how Arabs destroyed the Sun temple with help of Buddhist monks in context with the above article. Chachnama BTW also briefly mentions the previous 15 odd failed attempts to take Sindh but yes gloats over the conquest. Mohmd Bin Qasim’s never went beyond Multan and died within a year of taking Multan, in 25 years there was no Arab left in India only a few local converts. It took another 300 years before the central Asian Turks arrived.

    Over all I agree Elphinstone was following Macaulay’s formula of portraying India as a land of the conquered especially when Hindus rarely kept records while the Muslims mostly did.

  4. February 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm | #4
    So, what is it that Mohammed Bin Qasim had, which Genghis Khan did not, that enabled Bin Qasim to defeat India’s

    - Crack cavalry (the inventors of stirrup)
    - Feared elephant corps
    - Vast armies, at the disposal of kingdom
    - After kingdom, after kingdom, after kingdom, after kingdom …

    till looters could only raid and run.

    Like you correctly point out …

    Mohmd Bin Qasim’s never went beyond Multan and died within a year of taking Multan, in 25 years there was no Arab left in India only a few local converts. It took another 300 years before the central Asian Turks arrived.

    I do hope you have read the Indian account of the two captured princesses, who conspired to bring about Bin Qasim’s downfall.

    If Mohammed Bin Qasim did indeed succeed in destroying this Sun Temple, what did the vandals protected by Pakistani Government destroy in the 1990s?

    You do know that Ranjit Singh captured Multan in 1818.

    These silly Islamic accounts, which British historians promoted, of capturing ‘Hindus’ are wild exaggerations of hashish-fed mercenaries, who frustrated, had only one option. Inflate claims and make wild accounts of their successes in India.

    Entirely fictitious, unless corroborated by Indian sources – like some Sikh texts do!

  5. February 19, 2012 at 10:16 am | #5

    What I am failing to understand is your POV and the reason for this debate. I am agreeing with you about the British created Indian history.

    Are you saying Bin Qasim did not destroy the Sun Temple? Yes I know how the daughters of Raja Dhaeer conspired to kill Bin Qasim.

  6. February 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm | #6
    Do you think that a raider /bandit would focus on raid and loot – or attack a temple? Unless, the temple was rich.

    If Mohammed Bin Qasim destroyed the temple, what was destroyed in 1990s.

    Religion is a red herring – that and such texts like the Chachnama are cooked in the broth of propaganda.

    A simple wikipedia reading on Chahcnama will give you good bearing on how Chachnama was ‘composed’ – and transmitted to India – through the British.

    Everything about the Chachnama types of texts distort history.

  7. February 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm | #7

    I do not understand, what should we be proud of here? Muslims and Christians both have physically and mentally tortured us, and made some of our population believe in Allah and Jesus…………so now we have to respect Allah and Jesus, while they cont. destroy our temples and verbally insult our gods?? (Just recently, dead cow was put in front of a temple in kerala, buffalo’s head was thrown at temple site)——–while Christians are cont. using their money that was looted from us, to convert us and insult our faiths. What did kerala’s hindus get from letting Arab mopalas and syrian christians stay in their land??

    Anuraag, you are very critical of Israel, but at least Israel has protected its 7 million population from Crazy mullahs………what the hell, we did to save 5 lakh kashmiri pandits from those mullahs……….we made our own people refugees in our country.

    Let’s get clear, Christianity and Islam do not belong in India, if we let them thrive here, they will destroy us, just like they have done in Afghanistan, Pakistan, kashmir valley, kerala..etc.

    [I know, this comment does not belong here: but I have written this, after reading many of your posts, where you are very sympathetic toward Muslims and your critical attitude toward RSS and Israel. ]

    I feel outrage and sad, of seeing condition of Hindus. On one side, we have muslims who uses violence to destroy us And cont. insult our faith (ex. Zakir naik) …………and other side, we have Christians who with their money power — convert and distort minds of poor….And also influence academics (ex. doniger) so we can be embarrassed of our faith.

  8. February 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm | #8
    Pinky –

    Show me one post, where I have criticized the RSS – or praised them. I simply do not know enough about the RSS to praise or criticize them.

    Christians are cont. using their money that was looted from us, to convert us and insult our faiths

    For the last few years this subversive funding of NGOs has been a topic that I have researched and compiled extensive data. So, therefore, you statement is based in incomplete reading of my position.

    I completely agree with you on this point – extracted above.

    The loot by the Christian West is another chapter in Desert Bloc history – and over the last 4 years, I have built an extensive body of knowledge which outlines a clear pattern of Desert Bloc behaviour.

    Where have I soft-peddled Desert Bloc misdeeds?

    But remember that by the end of Mughal rule, India was still a military, cultural and economic super-power. 100 years later, after Bahadur Shah Zafar, we were poorest nation on Earth.

    Which faction of Desert Bloc do you think was worse for India.

    we have to respect Allah and Jesus

    The problem is not with the worship of Allah or Jesus – but the killing, loot, and plunder in the name of Allah and Jesus. And it is not worship that we need to worry about – but the killing, loot and plunder.

    Is there a linkage? At times, yes.

    But especially in India, no.

    Anuraag, you are very critical of Israel, but at least Israel has protected its 7 million population from Crazy mullahs

    After nearly 70 years of war, Israel is exactly where it was in 1945 – at the mercy of the West; and enemies in the neighbourhood.

    Without American arms and aid, where is Israel?

    For the time being,

    1. The Jewish lobby in US is strong
    2. The US economy is able to fund and support Israel
    3. Middle East Oil is critical to the USA.

    What happens to Israel if any one of these conditions change?

    American support will change or evaporate.

    What will happen to Israel then?

    My feeling is that there is a general misunderstanding about t he relationship between ruling elites and the masses.

    If the Indian Government is trampling on tribal rights, am I guilty? Only if I support the actions of the Government.

    Similarly, if Christian or Islamic leadership (of the West, by using Pakistan) is behind many problems that the world faces, we cannot hold the 3000 million Desert Bloc followers as guilty.

    Can we?

  9. February 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm | #9

    I have problem with worship of Allah and Jesus. 1. Do you not consider them as desert bloc leaders, whose teaching is the reason for all the violence. Do you think with their concept of Infidel and Kafirs, they will let us live..

    2. Our population is made into believing them, not out of willingness, but by force and intimidation. Are poor Indians converting to Christianity, from love of lord or need of money? Then why should we not reverse this?? Why can not we tell ppl the truth that Christianity and Islam has gotten foothold into India by these mischief tactics?? 3. Don’t you think Afghanistan would have been better with Buddhism, instead of Islam?? Is it not possible, to bring back the past?

    4. With religions, like Islam and Christianity, they also bring in their respective cultures of origins. Why do indian muslim women need to wear burqa?? Burqa was wore by Arab women from protection against hot wind and sand storms in the desert.

  10. February 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm | #10

    Whatever is conditions of Israel, at least, they are able to live in that danger zone. Tell me, what did we do for Kashmiri pandits? Their condition is far worse than jews living in Israel.

    2. On one of the post, you said Israel was created because of oil. Can you explain this more? I also thought same, but I am not able to full narrative out of this. As far as I know, most of the oil is in Saudi arabia and Iran, how does Israel have any impact of oil there??

  11. February 21, 2012 at 2:50 am | #11
    PP – You are answering your own question.

    1/3 of this country admires Judaic Israel. Another 1/3 admires the Christian West. The remaining 1/3 are impressed by Islamic Middle East.

    Indians, of course, cant find anything good with India itself.

    And if the perception about India is close to reality – good riddance to India.

  12. February 21, 2012 at 4:06 am | #12

    I do not like the Post-colonial India. Otherwise India was great country …but its body has been destroyed……but as we know, its soul is still alive, I am just waiting for this soul to awaken.

    I am great admire of your blog. But I have certain confusions, your answers would help clear up the gaps,

    “””
    I have problem with worship of Allah and Jesus. 1. Do you not consider them as desert bloc leaders, whose teaching is the reason for all the violence. Do you think with their concept of Infidel and Kafirs, they will let us live..
    2. Our population is made into believing them, not out of willingness, but by force and intimidation. Are poor Indians converting to Christianity, from love of lord or need of money? Then why should we not reverse this?? Why can not we tell ppl the truth that Christianity and Islam has gotten foothold into India by these mischief tactics?? 3. Don’t you think Afghanistan would have been better with Buddhism, instead of Islam?? Is it not possible, to bring back the past?
    4. With religions, like Islam and Christianity, they also bring in their respective cultures of origins. Why do indian muslim women need to wear burqa?? Burqa was wore by Arab women from protection against hot wind and sand storms in the desert.
    “””””

    Thanks.

  13. February 21, 2012 at 8:11 am | #13
    I have problem with worship of Allah and Jesus. 1. Do you not consider them as desert bloc leaders

    Any religious text can be used to justify anything. It is actions by the ruling elites that we must look at. The record by the ruling elites of the Desert Bloc speaks volumes.

    The ‘teachings’ of Jesus and Prophet Mohammed are controlled by the elites – and these ‘teachings’ are used to justify whatever is in the interest of the ruling elites.

    Remember, how Indian classical texts always portrayed Asuras doing घोर तपस्या – ‘ghor tapasya’. Always.

    That is true even today.

    Our population is made into believing them, not out of willingness, but by force and intimidation.

    You have not been forced into admiring Israel – a part of the Desert Bloc. Most converts to Christianity in India have not been forced into Christianity. This is also true of many conversions to Islam today.

    The evidence of forced conversions in India is thin – and unreliable.

    Probably, this is related to what Parag Tope, an author on this website, describes as alien awe.

    Afghanistan would have been better with Buddhism, instead of Islam?? Why do indian muslim women need to wear burqa?? Burqa was wore by Arab women from protection against hot wind and sand storms in the desert.

    Better for whom – the Afghans? If better, let them do become Buddhists. Why are you bothered by the burqa. Their clothes, their body, their business. If there is persistent, long-term imposition of the burqa, against the will of Muslim women, there is cause for intervention.

    Why are you worrying your head about it.

    Is it not possible, to bring back the past?

    Why are you so afraid of the future? Why cant you believe that we can make a better future than our creditable past.

  14. February 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm | #14

    “Any religious text can be used to justify anything. ”

    According to your definition, only Islam, Christianity and Judaism are religions…….so I do not understand when you say “any religious”………..

    You are implying, teaching of those 3 desert blocs are great, but just some are misusing it….Really?

    “You have not been forced into admiring Israel – a part of the Desert Bloc. Most converts to Christianity in India have not been forced into Christianity. This is also true of many conversions to Islam today.”

    Since I admire Israel, does not mean I will convert to Judaism. Most admire good things of west, but that does not mean they will convert.

    Really converts have not been forced? Goa inquistion, looting our money and brinking us to poverty and then offering money for conversion is not forced at all??

    Destroying our temples, insulting our faiths, using academics to misinterpret our scriptures, using government to get religion based reservation, making government nationalize temples so hindu money can be used to build more churches and maddaraas while Poor Pujari is forced to steal gold for his daughter’s wedding??

    Of course, all of these are not forced at all. Right??

    “Better for whom – the Afghans? If better, let them do become Buddhists. ”

    How the hell, they will become Buddhists while Muslim Fanatics destroy Buddha statues?

    “why are you bothered by the burqa. Their clothes, their body, their business. If there is persistent, long-term imposition of the burqa, against the will of Muslim women, there is cause for intervention.”

    I am bothered by barbaric culture of Arab (aka, desert bloc) entering into India’s dharmic land.

    “Why are you so afraid of the future? Why cant you believe that we can make a better future than our creditable past.”

    How will we make good future, when desert bloc is growing faster than ever and India’s dharmic values declining?

  15. February 22, 2012 at 3:03 am | #15

    Anuraag, I am waiting for your reply.

  16. February 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm | #16
  17. February 24, 2012 at 5:18 am | #17

    Why was my comment that I posted today deleted?

  18. February 24, 2012 at 5:45 am | #18
    Pinky – There is a line between offensive ‘hate’ comments – and critique.

    At 2ndlook, critique is accepted.

    Comments are deleted rarely – if deleted it is because they may be offensive, ‘hate’ comments; prejudice, personal attacks, abusive, etc. Pls review your comment.

  19. February 24, 2012 at 6:31 am | #19

    Why don’t you specify which statement you found hateful?

  20. February 24, 2012 at 6:37 am | #20

    This is complete hypocrisy, you make criticism of freedom in west……And on your blog, any comment you personally do not like is deleted, what would you classify yourself as: God, State or Dictator?

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