An image showing Shivling discovered at an excavation site is in circulation on social media platforms with the claim that the Shivling was found inside the Gyanvapi Mosque complex in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
The image is in circulation on the backdrop of a three-day video graphic survey conducted on the order of the Varanasi court between 14 to 16 May. The counsel representing the Hindu side petitioner has claimed that the Shivling has been found in the wazukhana or reservoir inside the mosque complex.
However, the claim relating to the viral image is misleading. We have found that the viral Shivling image is an old one from 2020 and was discovered in Quảng Nam province in central Vietnam during the conservation project at Mỹ Sơn.
The viral image is being shared with the misleading caption that reads: “Shivling in Gyanvapi Prepare for Rudrabhishek, Bhole Bhandari is coming. Dum Dum Dum Dumroo is playing, the temple is being decorated in Kashi.. The same voice echoed, Har Har Mahadev. #ज्ञानवापी_मंदिर Shivling #BabaMilGaye Har Har Mahadev”
On conducting the reverse search of the viral image we found the Shivling image along with other images of a conservation site posted by the Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel in May 2020 on Twitter. Patel informs through the tweets that the Archaeological Survey of India at the My Son site in Vietnam is preserving three temples out of a total of seven big temples.
In the second tweet, he wrote that a 9th-century Shivling, whose height is 80 cm and length is 2.31 mm was found during the conservation and claimed it to be evidence of Rudrabhaga and Yoni Peeth sculpture which shows the cultural ties of India and Vietnam.
राजा इंद्रवर्मन द्वारा स्थापित मंदिर के गर्भगृह में 9वीं शताब्दी का शिवलिंग संरक्षण कार्य में @ASIGoI के अधिकारियों को मिला, जिसकी ऊँचाई 80 से.मि और लंबाई 2.31 मि. हैं।
यह शिवलिंग रुद्रभागा और योनि पीठ शिल्पकला का उदाहरण है जो भारत और वियतनाम के सांस्कृतिक संबंधों को दर्शाता है। pic.twitter.com/QkHD3Y19oc
— Office of Shri Prahlad Singh Patel (@pspoffice) May 29, 2020
External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar in a tweet on 27 May 2020 had posted the viral Shivling image. He wrote that the Monolithic sandstone Shiv Ling of the 9th century CE was found in a conservation project in My Son, Vietnam by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Reaffirming a civilisational connect.
Monolithic sandstone Shiv Linga of 9th c CE is latest find in ongoing conservation project. Applaud @ASIGoI team for their work at Cham Temple Complex, My Son, #Vietnam. Warmly recall my visit there in 2011. pic.twitter.com/7FHDB6NAxz
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) May 27, 2020
Using the keywords, we also found several news reports of Shiv Lingam discovered in Vietnam in 2020. According to Indian Express, the Shiv Lingam was found in the complex of My Son Temple. The newspaper also says the temple is “one among the many archaeological remnants in Southeast Asia that are testimony to the strong cultural, linguistic, and religious links that have existed with India since the beginning of the Christian era”.
Therefore, it is evident from the above findings that the viral image is not from Gyanvapi Mosque.