Taj Mahal Tax

    A rich man builds a marble palace for himself. Why should people scold him saying too much money and energy? Being envious is understood. But I do not think people have any business scolding him for squandering away his money. He earns money from honest work and labor. He should have his full right on how he spends his money. It is his luxury and he has full right to enjoy it until that does not interfere in the way of others. So what if he spends millions on his construction, he is not obliged to share his wealth with others or give it away in alms and charity against his own will!

    People argue if I do not oppose his way. They have their points of argument: “Does he think he will live for two hundred years? Then why should he spend so much and build such a big, strong and durable palace-like house?” Now the second argument, “Even if it is his gift to the posterity and even if his subsequent generations stay here, will the house stand forever?”

    No, he will never live that long but his house will remain. Again, true that the house will not stand for eternity but nothing on earth is eternal. And nothing on this earth still stops. And why should it not? What he is constructing is a magnificent work of art and every piece of art deserves its share of labor, material and time. People will argue, ‘any art which does not benefit the society has little value’. Well, that is their personal view. But I do not subscribe to it and I am not obliged to even. I do not believe that art exists for the sake of the society alone. It might be only one aspect of art but not the essence of art. The highest order of art is the art for art’s sake. That art is divine and pure.

    I say if Shah Jahan can build a Taj Mahal, why cannot my neighbour build a marble palace for himself? People fire at me saying it is stupid to compare him with Emperor Shah Jahan. But then let me remind you, the emperor did not build the seventh wonder of the world with his own money. It was state money; the tax paid by the people as duty and forced labor of slavery and torture which went into building the legendary monument which has remained for centuries as an uncontested symbol of love, beauty and remembrance. And above everything, he built it for whom? He built it for one who was neither the first love nor the last, neither the first wife nor the last.

    Bharadwaj Mishra
    Bharadwaj Mishra
    Bharadwaj Mishra, 1975 Odisha born, a Delhi University Post Graduate in Social Sciences, with a professional career in banking for around two decades, is engaged in creative writing and with film society. As on date he has two English poetry collections published, “Farewell To Kalpana Saikia” (Author’s Press, New Delhi) and “Bathing Ghat At Kotipalli” (Athena Books, Bhubaneswar). He has published English Essays, Poetry and Short Stories with English language magazine of Kendriya Sahitya Academy, Indian Literature and few others. He also does English subtitling for Odia language films. He is single and lives with his parents in Bhubaneswar.
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