Tag Archives: Rajasthan

अजमेर-Ceremonies from The Holy Shrines of Ajmer-اجمير

Naubat_ Khana Gate, Fatehpur Sikri



Ancient  naubat is basically a music played over a gateway to mark the hours and is sysnonymous with playing pairs of naqqāra, kettle-drums struck with sticks—the tablā, struck with the fingers, is the naqqāra’s smaller brother. Other percussion, double-reed and brass instruments are usually added, and since the melody in that case is played on the shahnā’ī, the North Indian oboe, the combination is known as naubat shahnā’ī. The full band with brass and cymbals is seldom heard today, but the basic band survives. Naubat shahnā’ī is also played over the gateways to princely palaces and to Hindu temples, but in no case can the tradition last much longer.

Suleiman Jumma & Sumar Jumani, Abdullah Ramatulla

Few of the best gateway musicians are less than 60 years of age, and they virtually have no successors—money is very short nowadays in these establishments. The popular naubat is more likely to survive, being played by independent groups who are in constant demand for weddings and other auspicious occasions; popular naubat has nothing to to with the formal marking of hours.


Naqqara & Shahnai


Mashak  players – bagpipers from  Thikarda village

Mashak  players – bagpipers from  Thikarda village


From dawn to dusk, the Dargah remains alive and radiant by the passionate involvement and devotional fervour of the devotees. They feel pride, gratitude and graced in participating in the various ceremonies which take place at the Dargah, daily and on special days and dates, throughout the year, going on with unbroken continuity for centuries.

Every day about two hours before the morning prayers (Namaz-e-Fajr), devotees respectfully congregate at the eastern gate near Begumi Dalan, when the doors of the Tomb are opened. One of the khadims calls the Azan in front of the Tomb and Holder of the Key unlocks the doors. Khadims then, sweep the Mazar with a Morchhal, replace the night-old flowers by fresh ones and burn Lauban embers.

After the noon prayers (Namaj-e-Zohr) the khadims offer flowers and sandal. At 3.00 p.m. naubat is played at the Naqqarkhana and qawwalis held near the left gate.

About 15 minutes before the evening prayers (Namaj-e-Maghrib) a huge drum (danka) is beaten. The devotees, in response to it, flock to the Mazar where the Khadims light up specially prepared candles. The devotees have these candles put on their heads, believing their hearts too would thus be enlightened. Verses of Khwaja Husain are also recited.

After the night prayers (Namaj-e-lsha), qawwalis are held at the left gate and Begumi Dalan. Khadims then come out of the Mazar and the traditional verses, the Karhka, are recited with the accompaniment of the dholak. Naubat is played at the Nizam gate between 11.30 p.m. till midnight hour.


Ajmer Sharif Dargah***

Rituals and Customary Practices at the Holy Shrine of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (R.A.)

Undoubtedly, the Khadims, who have been attached to the Shrine since its inception, played a key role in the smooth functioning and in keeping strict discipline in the performances of these rituals and ceremonies. As a result, they often invited the ill-will and wrath of pilgrims and other officials. But their genuine concern and enforcement of established customs and rituals, showing strict adherence to the humanitarian approach of the Saint, was always upheld by the authorities.

Daily Rituals
Three important rites are regularly performed every day per schedule: (i) Khidmat (service routine), twice a day; (ii) Roshni (lighting ceremony); (iii)Karka/Kadka (closing of the main doors of the Shrine)
Khidmat literally means service, which is the exclusive privilege of the Khadims.

First, in the morning before dawn, the Baridar (who happens to be Khadim) of the day unlocks the silver plated main gate of the main Shrine. One of the elderly Khadims recites Azan (call for prayer), performs Taslim and Salam, and followed by some of the Khadims, enters the Shrine and closes the doors from inside. Some more candles are lit within the dome, and then again one of the pious and elderly Khadims moves closer to the inner circle of the Shrine, delicately removes the well-knitted floral garland called Sej from the Mazar (Shrine), and puts it in a large basket covered with cloth. Then they start sweeping flowers from both sides towards the foot end of the grave, where some of the waiting Khadims collect these flowers in huge Jhabs, and carry them out into a courtyard to be collected there.

From there other Khadims take these flowers and distribute them among pilgrims and devotees. In between the sweeping of flowers from the Shrine, some of the Khadims standing outside the inner railings, assisted by long handle Chanwar and Farrashas, thoroughly clean the Shrine from all sides, leaving nothing on the lower circle. Then, led again by the same elderly Khadim, they all recite the Fatiha, thus invoking the blessings of the Almighty in the name of the great Saint, and place the cloth sheet in the usual manner. Then they put upon it a fresh floral Sej and sprinkle Attar. At the same time, one of the Khadims cleans the Shrine when the service of cleaning the Shrine over the doors are opened. Except Khadims of the Shrine no one is allowed to enter inside the Shrine precincts.

At about 3:00 P.M. the doors of the Shrine are again closed for the afternoon Khidmat and almost the whole process described above is repeated. On this occasion the upper part of the Mazar is pasted with Sandal, the Ghilaf is changed. The duty of Baridar Changes (every Khadim turn comes after 24 hours). This process lasts for about an hour.

In the period between the two services, pilgrims gather inside the Shrine to pay homage to the Saint, pray and recite the Fatiha, offer flowers and cloth sheets (Chadar) and invoke the blessings of the Almighty through Wasila of Khwaja Sahib.

Roshni literally means light, and refers to the ceremony of illuminating the Shrine at dusk with elaborate arrangements and a well-defined procedure. It is held daily in the evening, just before the maghrib prayer. The rituals followed in this ceremony may be summarized as follows: first, a plate/censer (agardani) containing aloe-scented sticks and small round pieces of aloe-wood (‘ud) is brought and placed by a Khadim in the middle of the (Western) outer railings of the Shrine. At the same time, four large candle-holders (shama dans) are also kept in a corner, nearly facing the agardani.

Soon, four Khadims, one by one occupy the vacant place near these shama dans, facing the Shrine indicating that they have reserved the right to lift these shama dans on their heads for the coming ceremony. Outside the Shrine three other Khadims with candles in their hands, start walking one after another from a place near the langar khana where specially prepared candles are kept. As they start walking from this place, on their way to the shrine the drum beating begins at naubat khana. Slowly moving they pass by the pilgrims, standing in two rows, expecting to have these candles moved-and touched over their heads. Passing through the sandal khana mosque, these Khadims enter the shrine from its eastern door, and from the doorstep of the shrine they start reciting Persian verses in praise of Khwaja Sahib. In the shrine a huge crowd gathers, all male pilgrims being allowed to attend it.

Then the first Khadim who holds a single lit candle in his hand, lights the four candles of the shamadan, which are raised above their heads by the waiting Khadims. The first Khadim from the left then starts reciting Persian verses in praise of Gharib Nawaz after which the whole Shrine is illuminated.

Persian verses are recited daily at dusk by a Khadim when the Roshni ceremony (candle lighting) is performed within the sanctum-sanctorum.



Master (Khwaja) of Masters (Khwajgan) Moinuddin (is);
Noblest (ashraf) of all saints (auliya) of the world,.
Sun of sphere that Lords the Universe (kon-o makan).
Emperor who graces the throne of the dominion of faith and certitude (yaqin),
What can be uttered about your beauty (jamal) and perfection (kamal);
For, it is evident from the impregnable(Spiritual) fortification (hasn-o-hasin).
An opening verse (matla) in praise of your attributes I offer;
which in purity is like a precious pearl (durr-i samin).
Oh ye, whose threshold is an altar (qiblah) for the faithful; (ahl-i-yaqin).
Where the sun and the moon rub their forehead.
It is thy royal threshold that faces are in reverence rubbed;
By hundreds of Kings (maliks) of the stature of the Emperors (khusro) of China.
The attendants (Khadiman) at thy shrine are all like the keeper of Paradise (Ridwan);
As is your mausoleum (roza) in sanctity certainly a sublime Paradise.
(where) A particle of dust is ambergies (abir) in nature;
And a drop of water transparent and pure (maen)
Oh, Almighty as the Sun and the Moon endure;
May the Chishti lamp resplendently sparkle.

Karka is the term for the ceremony which is connected with the closing of the doors of the shrine for the night. It takes place generally between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. Except the inner part of the first railings, the whole Shrine is cleansed by three Khadims. Pilgrims are not permitted to enter the shrine but are allowed to stand in the corridor of Beghmi Dalan (built by Princess Jehan Ara) in two rows, giving way to the Khadim who come out from the Shrine, one by one, at short intervals. They carry farrashas in their hands and touch them over the heads of the devotees while moving towards the sandal Khana mosque, where in a permanently fixed small dustbin they put all the flowers, dust etc. gathered from the shrine in a duster. When the Khadims are engaged in cleaning the floor of the shrine, outside in the courtyard, the groups (chauki) of musicians (qawwals) performqawwalis.

As soon as the third and last Khadim comes out with the Farrasha (broom made up of peacock feathers) in his hand, the ghariyali (time keeper) loudly announces that six gharis (each ghari of a duration of 24 minutes in the medieval days) have passed.

The qawwals and all the people within the campus at once get up, and the qawwals start reciting karka verses in Bhojpuri and local dialect, composed by Roora Mithu, who was a musician during the reign of Jahangir. After that the doors of the shrine are closed, people perform taslim, and the ceremony comes to an end.

Karka is sung by the Hereditary qawwals of the shrine daily at night at the time of closing of the doors of Khwaja’s mazar (Shrine).
Karka means folklore (lokdhwani) or verse (pad) or cantos (charan). Its ragni (musical mode) is Gidara/Kidara and tal (musical measure) isjhap, in musical terminology, which is generally sung during moonlit nights.

It is called Karka and is sung, to motivate the devotees always to keep on the path of Truth. It is also the final or last ceremony of the day at the Shrine.

However, in one of the verses of Karka, Khwaja Moinuddin has been referred to as Khwaja Hassan Dan. Hassan being Khwaja’s real name, whileDan most probably appears to be his title (abbreviation of Dana i.e. ariff Gnostic or Dani/generous or indicates the abbreviated form of Danani, (person possessing divine wisdom) or of his full name Moinuddin, and also seems his nom-de-plum


Oh ye Moinuddin, truly Lord Protector who graces fortunes.
You have lit the Chishti lamp (of spirituality) the world over,
Oh ye Moinuddin, truly Lord Protector who graces fortunes.
The cunning (Jogi Ajaipal) tried many a magician’s trick;
52 practices in all, but failed and was himself ultimately vanquished! As at the orders of Pir (Khwaja} flew his wooden sandals in the air;
(and forced Jogi’s) throne to land on earth head bowed with shame.
Oh ye, Moinuddin truly Lord Protector who graces fortunes.
You, the strong pillar for both here and the hereafter (duniya-o din).
The saint (wali) of India, the light (noor) and beloved of Allah (huda), door to Him (Hardawara).
When Ajmer was besieged by the Raja (who also harassed you)
You spread Islam and ended polytheism;
Oh ye, Moinuddin truly Lord Protector who graces fortunes.
Polytheism was ended and Islam spread;
Such a Master of masters (Jagat Guru) whose shrine (darhar) his unique splendor and fame.
Reaches the four corners – North, South, East as well as the West.
Whose Pir’s prayer was accepted at Makkah.
Moinuddin Khwaja, the pillar of din (righteousness).
Cast but a glance and bestow gnosis at me! Oh! Pillar of din, Moinuddin Khwaja!
Khwaja Hassan Dan i.e. Khwaja Moinuddin became bridegroom, (chatar-dulah).
Performing only a single miracle (defeated Ajaipal) and established himself (great);
Oh! Khwaja the pillar of din, Moinuddin Khwaja;
The Great Emperor (Sultan) Oh! Hazrat-i Chishti.
A throne and dominion befit only you;
Mercy on Roora Mithu. Relieve him of all pain of life and heart!
Oh Moinuddin Khwaja, the pillar of din.
Besides these rituals, naubat is played twice a day, i.e. in the morning, and at sunset. Langar (a free meal consisting of soup of barley) is also prepared daily at the langar-khana and distributed twice (after Fajr and after Asr prayers) among the general public including pilgrims and the poor.

All the mundane rituals at the Mazar-e-Aqdas (Holy Shrine) are performed by Khadims alone

Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (R.A.)’s Urs is celebrated every year in the first week of Rajab, on seeing the moon of Rajab, the seventh month of the Islamic calendar, drums are beaten to herald the commencement of the annual ceremony. The permanent Chauki (troupe) of qawwals arrive, and after Maghrib (sunset prayers) sit infront of the Shrine and sing the following verses:

“Bartui mehfil-shahana-mubarak-bashad
Saqia-badao-paimana mubarak bashad”
(Felicitation to thee for this blessed and majestic assembly; salutation, ‘Oh Saqi for your bountiful goblet of sacred wine).
“Ilahi ta-abd-astana-i-yar-rahe
Yeh-asra-hai-gharibon-ka-barqarar rahe”

(Oh God, may this Shrine of the beloved exist till the last day, may this refuge of the poor remain forever!)

The word Urs has been derived from “UROOS” which means “ultimate meeting of an individual with God” it is said that Huzoor Gharib Nawaz (R.A.) spent last six days of his life in Seclusion in a cell and the 6th day of Rajab, his noble soul left the corporeal body. Every year Urs fair is celebrated on his death anniversary.

Although Urs held for the first six days of Rajab. Yet the 6th day is regarded to be the most special and auspicious. It is called “Chhati Sharif”. It is celebrated on the 6th Rajab between 10:00 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. Inside the Mazar Sharif Shijra is read by Khadims then Fariyad (Prayers) start for people present at the Dargah and for the country and its people for the peace and prosperity and also those who are not present but have sent Nazar-o-Niyaz to the Khadims to mark their presence for their welfare and for the promotion of brotherhood amongst them. Khadims tie small turbans on each others head and present Nazar (offerings in cash).

Just before the Qul (conclusion of 6th Rajab Chhati Sharif) Bhadawa is sung at the main entrance of the Shrine by Qwwals which literally means a poem or verses in praise of Allah, His Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) or famous Sufis (Auliyas).

Bhadawa is the only recitation which is accompanied by talis (clapping) only, and no other instrument is played. It was composed by Behlol Chishti, one of the ancestor of Khadims who again refers to Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty as Khwaja Hasan Dan. After its recitation, the ceremony of the Qul comes to an end and Fatiha is recited. The ceremony is marked closed by firing a cannon at 1:30 P.M. in afternoon.

Both Universes (din-o duniya) be sacrificed,
At your Behest O! Khwajal
With Divine Attributes, O! Ye Pir Moinuddin
Lord of all Created beings : ajapati. gajpati, narpati, bhupati
(all earth, all animals and all mankind)
The sole Emir controlling the four corners (chowk) of the Universe.
I do rounds of thy four-walled (doored) dome in profound affection.
Oh! What ethereal splendour cascades from the balcony (jhajha)of thy abode
Poor petitioner Behlol Chishti pleads to Khwaja Hassan Dan
To protect and preserve his honour in this world as well as hereafter.
After this Khadim Hazrat distribute Tabarruk (Prasad) amongst the people present and post them for those who are not present, but have sent Nazar-o-Niyaz to the Khadims. The Mazar Sharif is washed by rose water by Khadims at night for six day from 1st Rajab to 6th Rajab during Urs period. On 9th Rajab at 9:00 A.M. the Mazar Sharif is washed with rose water by Khadims. Finally the Urs is marked closed.

These ceremonies are attended by members of all creeds, communities without the distinction of rank, region or religion and thereby subscribe to the ideals of universal love the Khwaja had preached and practised in his life time. This creates a sense of unity in that thinking which tends to break social and religious barriers and paves the way for emotional integration.

This system of Baridari/Kalidbardari settled the issue that only Khadims are the real custodians of the Mazar-e-Aqdas (Shrine) as they perform all rituals, and do Khidmat, kept the keys of the Shrine, open and close the Mazar, receive pilgrims and guide them in performance of Ziyarat as their Vakil and thus have sole right to collect all Nazar offered by them. It appears that the system of Haft Baridar is based on the Haft Chowki pattern of the Mughals, by which every important noble was given a day of the week to look after the place and patrol around it at night. Moreover, Baridari (Rota) system has also been prevalent in many famous Hindu temples of India, and is still in practice at the famous Vishnu Devi temple at Katra. It should also be kept in view that the Prophet of Islam, after the occupation of Makkah, did not disturb the prevailing practice of the key keeping (Baridari) and custodianship of Kaba which was held by a particular tribe (clan) of Quraish since time immemorial and was known as Hijaba or Sidana. The times of India dt. Wednesday 15, January 1997, Asanid-us-Sanadid, pp. 210-4, M.H. Haykal: The life of Muhammad: (tr Reprint, Delhi, 1976), pp. 407, 413. A short history of Aurangzeb’s Reign, op. cit; Mughal administration, op. cit.

Certainly it was due to the extra ordinary grass root work of our ancestors (Hereditary Khadims) who carried the mission of Khwaja Sahib at his Shrine, vigorously, against all odds, that we are still attached to the Shrine and are held in high esteem by pilgrims, duly respected and offered Nazar (offering).
People all over the world respect us (Khadims) because of our Nizbat to Huzoor Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (R.A.). Whatever we eat & wear whatsoever privilege we enjoy is a Sadqa of our Aaqa (master) Huzoor Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (R.A.)
‘Agar har-mui-tan gardad zubanam’
Adai shukr-i-o-ke-me-tavanam.
If every hair of my body were given voice, yet I won’t be able to express my thanks for my Khwaja.




Heliocentrism of The Spiritual World


With every breath, my restlessness increases; Why does the bud of my heart not blossom? Grant you my wishes, for the sake of Ali (radiallahu anhu). Salutations to you, O Khwaja, the saint of Hind! May this devotee’s aspirations be fulfilled.

The small town of Ajmer, 400 kilometres south and west of Delhi, is unremarkable to the eye at first glance. However, on closer inspection, one beholds the reason that it stands out; pilgrims. In thousands upon thousands they come, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, of all nationalities; raising their voices in celebration and prayer, in praise and remembrance of one of the greatest saints ever produced in the long and illustrious history of Islam. The deservedly titled Sultan of India, the Qutb or spiritual axis of the eastern Islamic world; he is the fountain from whose spiritual light have sprung all the beautiful, mighty saints of the Chishtiyya silsila: Hazrat Khwaja Moinudeen Hassan Chishti Gharibun-Nawaaz Ajmeri (rahmtullahi alaihi).

The chieftain and founder of the Chishtiyya silsila, one of the four great orders that radiate throughout the world, Khwaja Gharibun-Nawaaz (radiallahu anhu) is one of the most respected and universally recognised figures in Sufism and Islam. He stands tall as a great spiritual leader; a reformer and purifier of hearts at the most turbulent of times. Most of the saints before his time had been concentrated around the lands of the Middle East, but he was a pioneer, a missionary who was responsible for spreading the Sufi and Islamic sphere of influence to the remotest regions of polytheistic India. His pious character was a true picture of Islam; his practice exactly in accordance with the dictates of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, and his teachings beautiful lessons in godliness, truthfulness, and equality which enlightened the hearts of multitudes. Authentic estimates place the number of people he guided to the path of Islam at nine million. It is a historical fact that his Chishtiyya silsila wielded a direct and crucial influence on the course of Indian history, the development of the embryonic Bhakti Consciousness Movement of Hinduism, and modern (pantheistic) Buddhism.

Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) was born in the year 536 AH in Sijistan, the son of Khwaja Ghyasuddin Chishti, a pious and influential man of what is now Iran. He was a direct descendant through both his parents of Hazrat Ali (radiallahu anhu). It was a time of chaos and great upheavals in both India and the Muslim Empire as a whole. In the year of his birth, Sultan Sanjari was finally defeated before the implacable advance of the Mughals, spelling the beginning of the end of the Sultanate; and in Khurasan, where he was brought up, religious sects and barbarism had lain waste a once civilised country. He was orphaned at the tender age of fourteen, and was thus raised in the same condition as Rasulallah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam).

But social evils, moral degradations and personal tragedy stirred something deep within the young man, and he began to turn towards the spiritual life. Once when watering his father’s garden, he came across a dervish, Hazrat Ibrahim Qanduzi (radiallahu anhu). He was deeply affected by the saint’s holy manner, and Hazrat Ibrahim (radiallahu anhu) for his part transformed Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu)’s inner being. His eyes became opened to the ultimate realities of the spiritual world. Renouncing all material things, he sold his father’s garden, all his possessions and distributed the money among the poor.

Still at a young age, he arrived at the great centres of learning in Samarkand and Bokhara, where he swiftly became a hafiz and distinguished alim, fully conversant in all aspects of Islamic thought. Unsatisfied with this, he began a strict regime of prayers, meditations, fasting and self-renunciation which continued for years and grew more intense and vigorous until Allah granted him the exalted rank of sainthood. He used to fast for seven days and nights, breaking fast on the eighth with a small crust of bread soaked in water. At this point, he felt the need for a shaykh, or spiritual guide, feeling the truth of the Qur’anic injunction,

O ye who believe! Be mindful of your duty towards Allah, and seek a means of approach unto Him, and strive in his way in order that ye may succeed. (5:35)

He himself used to state, “success is not possible without a guide.” He travelled extensively throughout the near East, finally finding a spiritual guide in Hazrat Khwaja Uthman Haruni (radiallahu anhu). In twenty years he spent under his murshid’s guidance, he attained perfection in tasawwuf and was awarded the khilafat-e-azam by Khwaja Uthman (radiallahu anhu). He offered many pilgrimages both with his murshid and alone. It was during one of these, while in Madinah Sharif, that he was directed spiritually by Rasulallah (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) to go to India and spread Islam there. He left immediately with 40 of his disciples, on the long and arduous journey.

Along the way, he stopped in several places including Baghdad, Isfahan and Balkh. In Baghdad Sharif, he was the guest of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani (radiallahu anhu), the greatest of saints and founder of the Qadriyya silsila. Hazrat Ghaus-ul Azam (radiallahu anhu) organised a qawwali in his own house for the visitors, and he himself stood outside that night, with eyes closed and his staff tightly held against the ground. When asked the reason for his actions, he replied, “I needed to stop the ground shaking, such was the power of Khawja’s wajd.”

In Sabzwar, he came across a ruler of such corruption that he would not even hesitate to denigrate the holy sahaabi of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam). Yet one glance from the great saint sufficed to render the man unconscious. When he awoke, his personality had changed completely; he gave up his kingdom, renounced all his possessions and became a mureed of Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu).

Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) and his disciples were in a cave in the mountains of the Hindu Kush when one of the most famous events in sufi history occurred. Hundreds of miles away, in Baghdad Sharif, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani (radiallahu anhu) pronounced his chieftainship of all auliya-allah by saying, “My foot is on the neck of all walis.” Spiritually hearing the great saint’s statement, Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) immediately threw himself down and stretched his neck against the floor, signifying his submission to that truth.

It was because of this type of humble obedience that Allah granted him the title, “Sultan-e-Hind”, for he is the leader and spiritual head to all the hundreds of walis that have blessed India in after-times. So it was that Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) arrived in India at a time of tremendous upheaval and moral decay. The Ghaznavi dynasty was in its death throes, and the Rajput kings were gaining power. Tyrannical rulers were making life unbearable for common people, especially the muslims whose numbers were diminishing day by day.

Yet India is not named for no reason, “the land of saints and sufis”; its people had inherited a wealth of spirituality that yearned for expression. It was into such an arena that Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) stepped, a torch to India’s tinder. First he went to Lahore, a centre of learning where resided a great number of Muslim theologians, philosophers and sufis. Yet he soon left this place, for his divinely guided mission was not to men such as these, but rather to those who were deprived of the light of Islam.

Thus he arrived in Delhi, which was to become the seat of his most famous successors. At the time, the city was a place of much fear and mutual hatred between Hindus and Muslims, but Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) began delivering his sermons in a soft tongue, dipped in honey. As a result of this kindness and forbearance, both Hindus and Muslims were turned towards the path of truth. The great wali was revered and loved by those of both religions, a trend which, was to be the hallmark of Sufism in India.

Soon, however, he left Delhi too, heading instead for the remote city of Ajmer, deep within the kingdom of the most powerful Rajput prince in Northern India, Raj Prithviraj.

This city was completely alien to Islam; no muslims at all lived within its bounds. It was in this hostile environment that Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) and his forty disciples settled and began the bulk of his teaching. Very soon, however, he changed the entire civic atmosphere, gathering people of all races, castes and stations to the shining truth of Islam. His high morals and frugal lifestyle deeply impressed the Hindus and all the while, the beautiful messages of the Qur’an and Sunnah entered deep into their hearts. Soon they started to convert, in multitudes upon multitudes, and the raja became alarmed as even his courtiers and high-ranking servants took up Islam.

It is interesting here to note that the raja’s mother had predicted the arrival of Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu), and had warned her son not to interfere with him lest he suffer total destruction. Whether Raj Prithviraj forgot this prophecy or ignored it is unknown, but he began to harass the shaykh and trouble his followers. But Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu), holding firm to the Islamic doctrine that, “Allah is with those who patiently persevere,” steadfastly carried on his peaceful mission. One day, however, he said, “The raja will be captured alive, and his kingdom snatched away.” This prophecy was proven true not months later. The raja, was defeated by Sultan Shahabuddin, was captured alive and brought into the presence of the sultan, who ordered him executed. The power of the Rajputs was thus broken for more than three hundred years.

Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti (radiallahu anhu) carried on his work in Ajmer for 45 years, and millions entered Islam through his spiritual light and endeavours. Besides this great service, he also established permanent sufi centres which were run by such mighty disciples as Khwaja Qutbudeen Khaki, Hazrat Nizamudeen Auliya, Hazrat Baba Farid Ganj Shakar and Khwaja Nasiruddeen Chiragh Delhawi (rahmatullahi ta’aala ajmaeen).

On the 29th Jamaad-us-Saani, before entering his bare cell for his usual meditations, he advised his attendants that he should not be disturbed until his khalifa-e-azam, Khwaja Qutbuddeen Khaki (radiallahu anhu), arrived from Delhi. On the 6th Rajab, 633 AH, his khalifa arrived and, receiving no answer to his polite knocking, the mureeds broke down the door. There they found that their beloved murshid had already left the world, at the ripe old age of ninety-six. To the wonder and amazement of all, upon his forehead was inscribed in letters of light: He was a lover of Allah, and he died in the love of Allah.

Such was the passing of one of the greatest saints in Islamic history. Undoubtedly, if not for him and his enormous sacrifices, many of those who read this would not have been born into the mercy of this beautiful religion. One can only imagine the hardship he endured in his early years in Ajmer, in the kingdom of a hostile king, surrounded by a nation of polytheists, a people even whose native tongue – Sanskrit – was foreign to him.

How similar was his situation, and his conduct under adversity, to the Holy Prophet (saw) himself! How he managed to convert so many Hindus to Islam, working from the heart of their own kingdom, at a time when the only words that the two religions could address each other with were hatred and war, is a miracle in itself. He not only moulded the character of a people, but also led them to a more prosperous, nobler way of living, and cultivated in them the qualities of humanity and truth. Through him and his immediate successors, the entire culture and civilisation of India underwent a profound change.

As alluded to before, apart from the millions of converts to Islam, the Bhakti Consciousness movement, modern Buddhism and Sikhism, all monotheistic or pantheistic in outlook emerged from the ancient religions of Hinduism and Buddhism due in great part to the Chishtiyya silsila’s efforts in the path of Islam. As is stated in Sura al-Nasr, When Allah’s succour and triumph cometh, and thou seest mankind entering the religion of Allah in troops, then hymn the praises of thy Lord, and seek. forgiveness of Him Lo! He is ever ready to show mercy.

(Courtesy of Chishti-Habibi Tariqa )


Dargah Shariff of Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti is indeed an ornament to the city of Ajmer. It is one of the holiest places of worship in India not only for the Muslims but also for the people of other faiths who hold the saint the high esteem and reverence. As mentioned previously. The Khwaja Saheb, as a ‘living spirit’ of peace and harmony, enjoys universal respect and devotion ever since he set his holy feet on the soil of Hindustan.

He has unquestionably been one of the greatest spiritual redeemers of human sufferings. To the faithful and afflicted souls invoking his blessing, he has ever been a never-failing source of moral strength and spiritual enlightenment. Apart from the common people, even the mighty kings of India, both Hindu and Muslim, have paid submissive homage to the great saint and have sought his miraculous aid to solve their problems. The precious buildings and various rich endowments dedicated to the Dargah of Khwaja Saheb are living memorials to and reminders of his continued patronage enjoyed by the people of India throughout the past 750 years.

The Dargah lies at the foot of the northern extremity of Taragarh hill. Its main attraction is the mausoleum containing the tomb of the saint which is the sanctum of the Dargah. Among its other prominent attractions which catch the eye of a visitor immediately he enters the Dargah, are the two mighty Buland Darwaza, which were built with the donations of Sultan Ghyasuddin Khilji of Mandoo who ruled Malwa from 1469 to 1500 A.D. The other Buland Darwaza in the north, which is now the main entrance of the Dargah, was built by H.E.H. Nisam Usman Ali Khan of Hyderabad Deccan in 1915 A.D. at a cost of Rs. 55,857/-. On the top of this gateway, there is the main Naqqar Khana (drum house) containing two pairs of huge naqqars (beating drums) which were presented by Emperor Akbar after his successful victory in a campaign of Bengal. They are sounded to the accompaniment of music played on Nafeeries and Shahnias at certain fixed hours of every day and night of the year by musicians permanently employed on the staff of the Dargah.

The Dargah includes many other attractive buildings, tombs, courtyards and Daalaans, some of which are exquisite specimens of the Moghul architecture and were erected during the Moghul period. Akbar was the first Moghul Emperor to visit the Dargah on foot when Ajmer came under his possession. He built the Akbari Masjid in the Dargah in 1571 A.d. which is a spacious mosque (140×140) feet. It was repaired by Nawab Ghafoor Ali of Danapur in 1901 A.D. One of its wings now accommodates the Moiniua Usmania Darul-Uloom, an Arabic and Persain School, for religious education which is run under the management of the Dargah.

Sultan-ul-Hind, Moinuddin Chishti (Urdu/Persian: معین الدین چشتی‎) (Persian: چشتی‎,Urdu: چشتی‎ – بiڑtī) (Arabic: ششتى‎ – Shishti) was born in 1141 and died in 1236 CE. Also known as Gharīb Nawāz “Benefactor of the Poor” (غریب نواز), he is the most famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order of the Indian Subcontinent. Moinuddin Chishti introduced and established the order in the subcontinent. The initial spiritual chain or silsila  of the Chishti order in India, comprising Moinuddin Chishti, Bakhtiyar Kaki, Baba Farid, Nizamuddin Auliya, Ashraf Jahangir Semnani (each successive person being the disciple of the previous one), constitutes the great Sufi saints of Indian history.

Moinuddin Chishtī is said to have been born in 536 A.H./1141 CE, in Chishti in Sistan  region of East Persia.[2]  He was a student of Imam Ja’far aṣ-Ṣādiq. He grew up in Persia. His parents died when he was fifteen years old. He inherited a windmill  and an orchard  from his father. During his childhood, young Moinuddin was different from others[vague]  and kept himself busy in prayers and meditation. Legend has it that once when he was watering his plants, a revered Sufi, Shaikh Ibrāhim Qundūzī (or Kunduzi) — the name deriving from his birthplace, Kunduz in Afghanistan—came to his orchard. Young Moinuddin approached him and offered him some fruits. In return, Sheikh Ibrāhīm Qundūzī gave him a piece of bread and asked him to eat it. The Khwāja got enlightened and found himself in a strange world after eating the bread. After this he disposed of his property and other belongings and distributed the money to the poor. He renounced the world and left for Bukhara in search of knowledge and higher education.

Moinuddin Chishtī visited the seminaries of Samarkand  and Bukhara  and acquired religious learning from the eminent scholars of his age. He visited nearly all the great centers of Muslim culture, and acquainted himself with almost every important trend in Muslim religious life in the Middle Ages. He became a disciple of the Chishtī saint ‘Uthmān Hārūnī. They travelled the Middle East extensively together, including visits to Mecca and Medina.

Moinuddin Chishtī turned towards India, reputedly after a dream in which Prophet Muhammad blessed him to do so. After a brief stay at Lahore, he reached Ajmer  along with Sultan Shahāb-ud-Din Muhammad Ghori, and settled down there.[4]  In Ajmer, he attracted a substantial following, acquiring a great deal of respect amongst the residents of the city. Moinuddin Chishtī practiced the Sufi Sulh-e-Kul (peace to all) concept to promote understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Chishtī order was founded by Abu Ishaq Shami (“the Syrian”) in Chisht, some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day western Afghanistan.[5]  Moinuddin Chishti established the order in India, in the city of Ajmer in North India.

Moinuddin Chishti apparently never wrote down his teachings in the form of a book, nor did his immediate disciples, but the central principles that became characteristics of the Chishtī order in India are based on his teachings and practices. They lay stress on renunciation of material goods; strict regime of self-discipline and personal prayer; participation in Samā’ as a legitimate means to spiritual transformation; reliance on either cultivation or unsolicited offerings as means of basic subsistence; independence from rulers and the state, including rejection of monetary and land grants; generosity to others, particularly, through sharing of food and wealth, and tolerance and respect for religious differences.

He, in other words, interpreted religion in terms of human service and exhorted his disciples “to develop river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality.” The highest form of devotion, according to him, was “to redress the misery of those in distress – to fulfill the needs of the helpless and to feed the hungry.”

It was during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1556–1605) that Ajmer emerged as one of the most important centers of pilgrimage in India. The Mughal Emperor undertook an unceremonial journey on foot to accomplish his wish to reach Ajmer. The Akbarnāmah records that the Emperor’s interest first sparked when he heard some minstrels singing songs about the virtues of the Walī (Friend of God) who lay asleep in Ajmer.

Moinuddin Chishtī authored several books including Anīs al-Arwāḥ and Dalīl al-‘Ārifīn, both of which deal with the Islamic code of living.

Quṭbuddīn Baktiyār Kākī (d. 1235) and Ḥamīduddīn Nagorī (d. 1276) were Moinuddin Chishtī’s celebrated Khalīfas or successors who continued to transmit the teachings of their master through their disciples, leading to the widespread proliferation of the Chishtī Order in India.

Among Quṭbuddīn Baktiyār’s prominent disciples was Farīduddīn Ganj-i-Shakar (d. 1265), whose dargāh is at Pakpattan, Pakistan. Farīduddīn’s most famous disciple was Nizāmuddīn Auliyā’ (d. 1325) popularly referred to as Mahbūb-e-Ilāhī (God’s beloved), whose dargāh is located in South Delhi.

From Delhi, disciples branched out to establish dargāhs in several regions of South Asia, from Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east, and the Deccan in the south. But from all the network of Chishtī dargāhs the Ajmer dargāh took on the special distinction of being the ‘mother’ dargah of them all.

The dargah  (shrine) of Chisti, known as Dargah Sharif or Ajmer Sharif is an international wakf (endowment), managed under the ‘Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955’ of Government of India. The Dargah Committee, appointed by the Government, manages donations, takes care of the maintenance of the shrine, and runs charitable institutions like dispensaries, and guest houses for the devotees.[6]  The dargah, which is visited by Muslim pilgrims as well as Hindus and Sikhs as a symbol of intercommunal harmony.

Shah Ast Hussein Badshah Ast Hussein

Ruler is Hussain, Emperor is Hussain

Deen Ast Hussein Deen Panah Ast Hussein

Faith is Hussain , guardian of faith is Hussain

Sar dad na daad dast dar dast e yazeed

Offered his head and not the hand to Yazid

Haqaaq e Binaa e Laa iLaha Ast Hussein

When Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin was born (536AD) at Chishty in Sistan, which is also known as Sajistan, East Persia. The peace of the Muslim world was horribly disturbed. Sistan and its surrounding lands were experiencing unprecedented bloodshed and plunder at the hands of barbarous Tartars and other rebels. These intruders had taken advantage of the weak government of Sultan Sanjar. The life and honour of the people were in constant danger. The wild Tartars had completely destroyed the follower of the Muslim nation. They outraged humanity practically in all the centers of the 600-year old Muslim civilisation and culture.

Due to these intermittent political disturbances in sistan, khawaja Ghiyasuddin Hasan, father of khawaja Muinuddin, one day decided to pack up and leave Sistan for a safer place. He migrated with his family to Neshapur the Capital city, which was one of the most flourishing cities in those days. It was a great centre of intellectual and economic activities and possessed the famous “Nizamia” university with a precious library that contained rare collection of Original literature. There lived learned Ulama and reputed Sufis who imparted knowledge in moral and spiritual enlightenment to scholars drawn from far and near. There lived physicians and artists of rare qualifications. There were rich gardens and canals with flourishing agricultural fields. One of the suburbs was called Rewand which was famous for its grape orchards. It is recorded that khawaja Ghiyasuddin Hasan bought an orchard with a windmill in this vicinity to settle down for a peaceful life.

“Man proposes but God disposes” is an old saying. The peace in search of which Khawaja Ghiyasuddin Hasan had migrated to Neshapur was not to be had even in this great city. Here too the people were hanging in a terrible suspense between life and death. The brave Sultan Sanjar had been fighting the Tartars at the border to check them for a long time without success. Due to his prolonged absence from the capital, his administrative machinery was showing signs of disintegration. Internally, the Fidayees of the ‘Qarmti’ and ‘Baatini’ sects (one of whose members had already murdered the able Wazeer Nizamul Mulk) had also come out of their hideouts and were roaming about the country unabated, spreading wild fire of rebellion all round. These armed hordes were busy in wholesale plunder and massacre of the innocent people.

These awe-inspiring events had a very deep impression on the mind of the young Khawaja Muinuddin who was watching the whole barbarous drama objectively at his impressionable young age.

The ‘Qarmti’ and Baatani’ intriguers had carried centuries old grudge against the Hanafi Muslims who held both temporal and spiritual powers in succession for more than 500 years after the death of the Holy Prophet (May peace of God be on him). Although it was an age-old grudge but. As Islamic history shows they utterly failed in all their designs to destroy their rivals. Islam has survived many vicissitudes of history and Quran has promised its survival up to the last Day-of-Judgment.

In spite of all his best efforts to turn out the invaders from his country and to control the internal rebels, Sultan Sanjar unfortunately could not succeed. He was engulfed in mutual wars between himself and his unfaithful brothers on the one hand, and the Fidayees and barbarous Tartars on the other. It was indeed a terrible situation for him, yet they fought the forces of evil to the bitter end though he was ultimately defeated and had to run for his life.

After the defeat of Sultan Sanjar, the invaders had a free hand to plunder every town in Khorasan. Flourishing fields were destroyed, cities were razed to the ground, inhabitants, Ulama and Sufis were mercilessly murdered honour of the woman was brutally outraged, girls and boys were taken as salves mosques, hospitals and the historic educational institutions were destroyed

Destruction Of Neshapur

When the news of this terrible destruction reached the defeated sultan, he once more summed up his courage and collected his shattered army to save his country. But Sultan Sanjar was born under most unlucky stars and his luck once more betrayed him. He failed to check the invaders and this time he was arrested. When this bad news reached Neshapur, the capital was plunged into indescribable grief. It was now at the mercy of the enemy. The invaders entered Khorasan and destroyed the cities of Tus and Mashhed, reaching Neshapur like a sweeping storm. Everything was destroyed leaving this once flourishing city of Islamic culture and learning into a heap of rubble and ruin.

Khawaja Muinuddin again saw all this ghastly drama at his early age. But this was not all for him. Just at this time he lost his dear father (551 AD) and the worst part of it was that he had already lost his dear mother too. The young orphan was now left all alone to take care of himself in a world full of hate, murder and greed. Although by virtue of legacy he had enough material resources to sustain himself in his traditional standard of life but the sack of Neshapur coupled with the death of his dear parents plunged him into deep thinking. At times he was over whelmed with grief and saw a very vague picture of this terrible world though he bore it out with courage and exemplary forbearance. He was a hard working youth and looked after his orchard, personally trimming and watering the plants with his own hands.

Hardly a year had passed after the death of Khawaja Muinuddin’s father, when the mischievous Tartars once more ransacked Khorasan and repeated the same bloody drama of murder arson and loot. This time Sultan Mahmood, one of the brothers of Sultan Sanjar, came forward to check the invaders but he too failed to rout them. Neshapur was again the scene of the same ghastly tragedies. And once more Khawaja Muinuddin was overwhelmingly dismayed to see these scenes of terrible devastation. He often plunged himself into deeper thoughts about these ugly events in order to try to come to some definite conclusion about his own future course of life. The thought of helping the helpless humanity against all such persistent pillage always tormented his tender heart. Yet they could not come to any definite conclusion

As helpless human beings, we can never understand the will of the Almighty God. Should we surmise that by exhibiting these tragedies perhaps God Almighty meant to show Khawaja Muinuddin the sins of this wretched world in order to prepare him for a mighty divine mission of reform and peace for the mankind? As it will be seen later on that Heavenly Father did mean this for which He enlightened the mind of the young Khawaja quite unexpectedly. Whenever injustice, oppression and greed reigned supreme in this world, God has always been merciful to mankind by sending His saviours to fight the satanic forces and put the people on the path of righteousness and mutual love.

Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty was one of the descendants of the illustrious family of Hazrat Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (May peace of God be on him). His father Syed Ghiyasuddin Hasan was a very pious personality and a well to do and influential gentleman. His mother, Syeda Bibi Ummul-wara alias Babi Mah-e-Noor was the daughter of Syed Daud. While Khawaja Muinuddin’s paternal genealogy is traced from Hazrat Imam Husain, the younger son of Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajahu, his maternal genealogy is traced from Hazrat Imam Hasan, the elder son of Hazrat Ali.

According to historians, Khwaja Muinuddin Chishty even during his childhood gave early promise of his rare piety and sacrifice for others. Whenever any woman with a baby came to see his mother and if the baby cried for feeding,”the infant saint of the future” used to make a sign to his mother to feed the crying baby from her own breast. When his mother did this, the spectacle pleased the little Muinuddin very much. At the age of 3 or 4 he used to share his own food with his playmates.

Once he was going to Idgah for the Id prayers in rich clothes. On the way he saw a blind boy in rags. He pitied the boy so much that he at once gave him some of his own clothes and led him to Idgah with all due affection.

Khawaja Muinuddin Hasan Chishty, son of Khawaja Syed Ghyasuddin Hasan, son of Syed Ahmed Muddin Tahir, son of Syed Khawaja Abdul Aziz Husain, son of Syed Imam Mohammed Mehdi, son of Syed Imam Hasan Askari, son of Imam Ali Naqi, son of Syed Imam Mohammed Taqi, son of Imam Ali Musi Raza, son of Imam Musi Kazim Raza, son of Imam Mohammed Jafar Sadiq, son of Imam Mohammed Baqar, son of Hazrat Syed Imam Zain-ul-Abideen, son of Syed-ul-Shohoda Syed Imam Husain, son of Amir-ul-Momineen Hazrat Ali, son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Mohammed.

Maternal Genealogy

Syeda Bidi Mah-e-Noor, daughter of Syed Daud, son of Hazrat Abdulla, son of Syed Zahid, son of Syed Mooris, son of Syed Daud I, son of Syedna Moosa, son of Syedna Abdulla Mahaz, son of Syedna Hasan Musa, son of Syedna Hazrat Imam Hasan, son of Syedna Hazrat Ali Karam Allah Wajahu.

He became the Murid (disciple) of Usman Harooni.


Devotees at the Ajmer Dargah.

The aesthetic and stunning white dome that crowns the main tomb of the historic dargah of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer stands out as an illustrious embodiment of Islamic mysticism of the Chishtiya order founded in India after the arrival of one of the most outstanding figures in the annals of Sufism from West Asia.

The dargah at Ajmer Sharif today attracts lakhs of people — Muslims, Hindus, Christians and others — from the Indian sub-continent and from other parts of the world, depicting a rare blend of religions. People assemble at the shrine during the week-long Urs every year to beseech for fulfilment of their prayers.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, popularly known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (protector of the poor), was born in 1141 A.D. at Sanjar in the Sistan province of Iran. He was a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. His parents died when he was only 15 years old and he used to look after the orchard and windmill that he inherited from his father.

During his childhood, young Moinuddin was different from others and kept himself busy in prayers and meditation. He was sober, silent and serene.

Legend has it that once when he was watering his plants, a revered monk, Sheikh Ibrahim Qandozi, came to his orchard. Young Moinuddin approached him with all humility and offered him some fruits. In return, the monk gave him a piece of bread and asked him to eat it.
Turning point

The Khwaja got enlightened and found himself in a strange world after eating the bread. This was a turning point in his life. He disposed of his property and other belongings and distributed the money thus received among the poor and the needy. He renounced the world and left for Bukhara in search of knowledge and higher education.

In those days, Samarkand and Bukhara were great seats of Islamic learning. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti visited the seminaries of the two cities and acquired religious learning at the feet of eminent scholars of his age. He visited nearly all the great centres of Muslim culture and acquainted himself with almost every important trend in the Muslim religious life.

He became the disciple of the famous Dervish, Khwaja Usman Harooni, and remained under his guidance for nearly 20 years. They travelled in West Asia extensively together and also went to Mecca and Medina.

Khwaja Gharib Nawaz turned towards India reputedly after a dream in Medina in which he received the directions to go to Hindustan. After a brief stay in Lahore, he reached Ajmer along with his 40 followers and camped near Ana Sagar lake.

The place from where the Khwaja’s extensive missionary work was taken up is now known as Chillah of Khwaja Saheb. The residents of the city admired the wisdom, purity and grace of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz and people from various walks of life cherished to be his disciples. The vast number of his followers, both Hindus and Muslims, emulated him and symbolised his dictum of “Sulh-i-Kul” (peace with all).
Mystic mission

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s firm faith in “Wahdat-al-Wujud” (unity of being) provided the necessary ideological support to his mystic mission to bring about the emotional integration of the people among whom he lived. His teaching lay stress on renunciation of material goods and tolerance and respect for religious differences.

He interpreted religion in terms of human service and exhorted his disciples to develop a “river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality”. The highest form of devotion, according to him, was to redress the misery of those in distress and fulfil the needs of the helpless and feed the hungry.

Sufism in Islam is akin to Vedanta in Hinduism. It believes in non-dual Absolute and looks upon the world as the reflection of God, who is conceived as Light. Sufism is claimed to be a way of life born of the human heart against the cold formalism and ritualism.

Ajmer Sharif emerged as one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in India during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605). Akbar undertook a journey on foot to accomplish his humble wish to reach the place and presented a big cauldron for cooking food after his conquest of Chittorgarh. A small cauldron was later presented by Emperor Jehangir in 1646.

Some of the books authored by Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti are Anis-al-Arwah and Daleel-al-Arefeen, dealing with the Islamic code of living. His most famous disciples were Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and Hamiduddin Nagori.

The week-long Urs, observed every year in the dargah, commemorates the event in 1236 when Khwaja Gharib Nawaz entered his cell to pray in seclusion for six days, at the end of which he died. When his devotees opened the door, the Khwaja was found dead, and on his forehead were written these words: “He was a beloved of God and he died in the love of God.”

He was buried, according to the traditions of the prophets, in the same tenement which he occupied in his life and in which he breathed his last. During the Urs, attended by people from far and wide, devotional music and recitings from the Khwaja’s own works and other Sufi saints are presented in the traditional Qawwali style and in chorus.

The Urs — observed between the first and sixth days of the Hijri month of Rajab — is also the much sought-after occasion when “Jannati Darwaza” (door to heaven) is opened for the devotees. People from all religions offer chadar and floral tributes at the grave of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
Several monuments

Besides the mausoleum, there are several other monuments of historical interest located within the premises of the Sufi shrine. They include the tenement of Bibi Hafiz Mahal, Begami Dalan constructed in memory of Begum Jehanara, Mehfil Khana, Ahata-e-Noor, Aulia mosque and the Chillah of Baba Farid.

The dargah has recovered from the obnoxious shadow of an unfortunate incident involving a bomb explosion on October 11 last year that killed three persons in its compound. It is now on the way to restoration of its past glory. Several projects have been launched for beautification of the 13th-century shrine and attempts made to improve its management.

The new dargah committee, which took over six months ago after dissolution of the previous panel, has chalked out a plan to ensure free movement of pilgrims, stop commercial activities on the dargah premises and renovate various buildings, besides stepping up security to prevent terror attacks.

As part of its efforts to step up security for pilgrims, the dargah committee has sanctioned a special budget of Rs. 26 lakh for the upkeep of sensitive high beam cameras, closed circuit televisions, X-ray machines and metal detectors installed on the premises recently. Security guards have also been deployed at sensitive locations inside the shrine.

Says Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, president of the nine-member dargah committee: “The dargah is a fine embodiment of syncretic traditions of our country. Its beautification will protect a rich legacy for generations to come and apprise them of the noble values of Sufism, promoting tolerance, charity and universal brotherhood.”

Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali — the first person from South India to be appointed the dargah committee chief — has instructed the administration of the shrine to make “value addition” to the dargah endowment and properties and put them to a productive use for philanthropic activities, such as education, grants to the destitute and welfare of orphans.

The dargah committee, established under the provisions of the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955, administers and controls the affairs of the shrine as well as its endowments. It also organises the annual Urs and regulates the presence of Khadims (workers) on the premises, besides determining their privileges and giving them licences.
Generous outlay

An annual budget of Rs. 3.09 crore was approved at a dargah committee meeting recently, with the endorsement of proposals for eviction of unauthorised possessions on the dargah premises, extension of amenities for pilgrims, establishment of a university named after Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, expansion of the Khwaja Model School building and enhancement of grants to widows and orphans.

Besides, restoration of the heritage of two Chillahs of the Sufi saint, renovation of Eidgah and three mosques and expansion of the guest house are among the projects cleared by the committee.

Significantly, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has incorporated the renovation of the exterior of the dargah in its project for Ajmer. The renovation of various structures on the premises of the shrine, on the other hand, has been taken up by the dargah committee in its capacity as the custodian of the historic monument.

Dargah Nazim Ahmed Raza — functioning as Chief Executive Officer of the dargah committee — undertook visits to several places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh during the last 11 months to find out the present status of the dargah’s agricultural lands worth about Rs.1.5 crore and succeeded in getting possession of 20 properties previously encroached upon.

The plaster of Sandal Khana and Akbari mosques in the dargah complex was replaced with marble to give them an elegant look. As part of efforts to improve amenities for pilgrims, round-the-clock supply of water for ablution was arranged and a project for stay arrangements at Vishram Sthali, especially during the Urs, was launched.

Pilgrims visiting the shrine in large numbers every year can look forward to finding themselves in spruced up surroundings with an ambience promoting spiritual contentment and fulfilling the mystical yearning to find the true purpose of life. Evidently, the message of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz does not admit of time. It is as true today, as it was when delivered centuries ago.


Soniji Ki Nasiyan

see also :

Ghulam Mohammad Mir narrates….

Ghulam Mohammad_Mir



Lakka Khan Sahib  a native musician from  Rajasthan  plays
         Rag Sindhu Bhairavi and  Bhimpalasi on Sarangi


Ghulam Mohammad Mir is from Pugal in Bikaner, who has learnt classical music as well for eight years in Bahawalpur, proudly says :

“…this is the area of Sufiyayna qalam…this region has been blessed by one of the mort important Sufis, Khwaja Ghulam Farid who has spent considerable time of his life here and composed in the praise of the desert…our singing is different from the Sindh region…it has similarities with the Patiala and Sham Chaurasi Gharana of Punjab, exponents of which have sung immortal sufi qalam. In our tradition the most common ragas are Bhimpalasi, Kouns and Multani Kafi…”

Expounding further on the tradition the regal old man tells that Ishq (love) was the first thing to be made by Allah when he created Muhammad. He then sang in his sonorous voice the ibtadayi baat (tale of the beginning) as is expressed in a qalam by Ali Haider. It talks of the primordial relationship between Ishq and gana (song) at a time when there was nothing else:

“Jadon Ishq wali bang mele saiya puchan laga kaun imam ha

Na nau kalam na kurshi arash

na zamin te na asmana

na macca mojij te na ganga tirath

na kufr te na Islam ha

Ali Haider mian

Jadon Ishq de hath wich gana jad Ishq he Ishq da Imam ha”

“when I heard the call of love

the beloved asked: what sort of Imam are you!

I said: neither of the earth nor the sky

nor from miraculous places like macca or sacred pilgrimages like ganga

Neither the Kafir, nor the Islam

Ali haider, Oh dear when love sings

I am the Imam of love and love alone”


Ghulam Mohammad_Mir_02

The Mirs

Mirs have been known for their passionate and intimate renderings of the sufiyana qalam of Sufi mystics of the north-west Indian subcontinent. The qalam of Baba Sheikh Farid, Sain Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Shah Hussain, Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Ali Haider and Khwaja Ghulam Farid are intrinsic part of the repertoire of this musical tradition. In particular compositions of Khwaja Ghulam Farid form the kernel of this tradition of the Mirs. These are mostly sung in Siriaki, a dialect of West Punjab having strong affinity with Sindhi and Punjabi.


In addition to this soul stirring singing, the Mirs are deft players of been (a kind of bagpipe) and algoza (a double barrel wind instrument) whose reverberating and lilting melodies form part of the ethereal music of the Mirs, setting the mood for mehfis that steadily unfold in the majestic serenity of vast horizons and star lit desert nights. In addition to this, the Mirs have been musicians of the common people par excellence, serving as a medium of devotion, harbinger of peace, hope, love through their ecstatic performances of bhajans and vanis of Meera, Kabir, Gorakhnath, Baba Ramdev, Achalram and others that form part of the versatile repertoire of many among the Mirs.


The Thar Desert

Also known as the Great Indian Desert, encompasses 77,000 square miles of rolling sand dunes in eastern Pakistan and the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. Small portions of the desert also extend into the Indian states of Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat, but these states do not exercise extensive control over the region.

The Thar Desert’s name derives from the word t’hul, the general term for the region’s sand ridges. It is defined by a series of natural borders, including the Aravalli Mountain Range to the southeast and the Punjab plain in the north and northeast. To the west, lies the Indus plain, and to the south, the Rann of Kutch.

The geographic isolation of the Thar Desert by mountain ranges and plains contributes significantly to the weather patterns that shape its distinctive, hot, dry environment. The environment around the Thar effectively absorbs all the rain that is carried in the monsoon clouds before the clouds can reach the desert. The resulting monsoon winds in the desert are hot and dry, and the desert does not share in the wet season experienced in surrounding terrains.

Contributing to the beauty of the Thar is the desert’s perpetual motion. While sand dunes are a common occurrence in deserts across the world, the dunes of the Thar are remarkable for their continual motion. The sandy desert floor is always moving.

The origin of the Thar Desert is a controversial subject. Some experts consider it to be 4,000 to 10,000 years old, while others maintain that aridity started in this region much earlier.

Another theory states that the area turned to desert relatively recently: Perhaps around 2,000-1,500 B.C.E. Around this time, the Ghaggar River ceased to be a major river. It now terminates in the desert.

It has been observed through remote sensing techniques that Late Quaternary climatic changes and neotectonics have played a significant role in modifying the drainage courses, and a large number of palaeochannels exist.

Most of the studies share the opinion that the palaeochannels of the Sarasvati coincide with the bed of present day Ghaggar and believe that the Sutlej along with the Yamuna once flowed into the present Ghaggar riverbed. It has been postulated that the Sutlej was the main tributary of the Ghaggar and that subsequently the tectonic movements might have forced the Sutlej westward and the Yamuna eastward, causing the Ghaggar to dry up.
Natural features

There are three principal landforms in the desert region:

* The predominantly sand covered Thar
* Plains with hills including the central dune free country
* Hills

The Thar Desert is distinguished by a series of rolling sand dunes that vary in height across the desert. While sand dunes are a common occurrence in deserts across the world, the dunes of the Thar are remarkable for their continual motion. In sharp contrast to the mountain ranges that ring the desert, the sandy desert floor is always in motion. The perpetual movement of the desert, while contributing the the desert’s beauty, has had a prohibitive effect for permanent human settlement, as the sands can easily be blown over structures. The sands are particularly mobile due to severe winds in the region, which sweep the sands over areas of fertile soil. The layer of sand over much of the available farming land hinders agricultural development in the region. Some of the sand dunes of the Thar have become semi stabilized over time, and while not completely sedentary, these older dunes move only very small degrees. Older sand dunes can reach a height of 500 feet.

Dotted among the sands of the Thar, several salt water lakes provide a unique and welcome environment for desert dwelling creatures. While the water of the lakes cannot be consumed by humans, they support much needed shelter and viable farmland. The abundance of salt water, however, also serves to highlight the extreme lack of drinkable water in the Thar Desert. Annual rainfall in the region is particularly low, measuring from 4-20 inches, most of which falls during the monsoon season. It is difficult to estimate annual precipitation for the Thar Desert however, as rainfall often varies widely from year to year.


The harsh natural environment and extreme temperature variations found in the Thar Desert have combined to severely inhibit the growth of vegetation. Most of the native plants grow in small clumps, without a system of order regulating where the clumps grow or any standard number of plants in a vegetation grouping. The plants which have been most successful in the difficult environment have adapted to the conditions of the desert. It is important, in particular for plants, to have developed water storage systems to be able to provide much needed water to themselves during the dry season. Significant plants of the desert include gum, Arabic acacia, and euphorbia. However, these plants are only found on the rocky slopes of the hills.

Stretches of sand in the desert are interspersed by hillocks and sandy and gravel plains. Due to the diversity of ecosystems that exist within the Thar, a varied and thriving wildlife population calls the desert their home. Both vegetation and animal life in this arid region are very rich. About 23 species of lizard and 25 species of snakes are found here; several of them are endemic to the region.

The most notable example of a preserved ecosystem is the Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, which provides an excellent example of the natural wildlife of the region. In this park, Great Indian Bustards, Blackbucks, Chinkaras, the Indian Gazelle, the Indian Wild Ass, and Desert Foxes are common. These are species which are fast vanishing in other parts of India. Despite the apparent difficulty of life in the desert, the animals in the Desert National Park have found ways to adapt and thrive. The park supports these wild and naturally occurring populations of species that are threatened with existence elsewhere. It is also noted for rich seashell and petrified wood deposits.

The animals which are found in the Desert National Park exhibit many of the adaptations that are necessary for survival in the desert. These animals, along with those animals found outside the reserve, often exhibit a smaller body size, one example of biological adaptation to the region. In addition, many of the desert animals are nocturnal, a trait which allows them to avoid the sweltering heat of the day.

There are certain other factors responsible for the survival of these animals in the desert. Due to the lack of water in this region, transformation of the grasslands into cropland has been very slow. The protection provided to them by a local community, the Bishnois, is also a factor.

The Thar Desert faces a distinct environmental threat from the loss of land through wind erosion. The harsh winds of the Thar sweep the sands across the plains and into its awe–inspiring sand dune formations. However, the winds also erode valuable farming land and threaten livestock grazing areas. In an attempt to hinder the wind erosion, plants species and trees have been planted in many areas to help keep the sands attached to the ground. The new windbreaks also provide much needed shelter.

In order to plant the necessary windbreaks, it has become necessary to import exotic plants into the region. The native plants are noted for their slow growth patterns, and windbreaks must mature quickly to be fully effective. The Acacia tortillis has proven most adaptable to the Thar. While the induction of foreign plants is helping the wind erosion issues, the introduction of exotic plants into any environment threatens to overthrow the preexisting environmental balance


People of the desert

Religiously, the population of the Thar Desert is divided between among Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. The variety of religions in the region has resulted in an extremely intricate system of political and economic ties, which often follow religious lines. Tensions have become more marked in the area, as the population of the region has grown exponentially in recent years. With more people in the desert, agricultural development and extensive animal husbandry have also resulted. Grazing and farming, however, are beginning to take a toll on the desert, and the fertility of the soil is declining as a result.

Overall, the living standard of the Thar is low, as traditional exports have difficulty finding a place in modern markets. One new development that has emerged on the scene to replace traditional methods is the rise of Agro-forestry. Under this new system, many crops and fruit–bearing trees have been adapted to provide a steady export to global markets. The use of adapted fruit trees also helps to eradicate the propensity of failure in the region. It is estimated that the use of adapted crop bearing trees can provide up to the triple the traditional profit of a farmer.[1] Significant Agro-forestry species include: Prosopis cineraria, used for animal feed, Tecomella undulata, a valuable source of timber, and Tecomella undulata, used to provide shelter and prevent erosion.


The Thar provides recreational value in terms of desert festivals organized every year. Rajasthan desert festivals, held annually each winter, are celebrated with great zest and zeal. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. The fair has snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival, where the rich and colorful folk culture of Rajasthan can be seen.

Camels are an integral part of the desert life and the camel events during the Desert Festival confirm this fact. Special efforts go into dressing the animal for entering the spectacular competition of the best-dressed camel. Other interesting competitions on the fringes are the mustache and turban tying competitions, which not only demonstrate a glorious tradition but also inspire its preservation. Both the turban and the mustache have been centuries old symbols of honor in Rajasthan.

Evenings are meant for the main shows of music and dance. Continuing until late into the night, the number of spectators swells up each night and the grand finale, on the full moon night, takes place by silvery sand dunes.


* Bakliwal, P.C. and A.K. Grover. 1988. Signature and Migration of Sarasvati River in Thar Desert, Western India. Record of the Geological Survey of India. V 116, Pts. 3-8, pp. 77-86.
* Burdak, L.R. 1982. Recent Advances in Desert Afforestation—Dissertation submitted to Shri R.N. Kaul, Director, Forestry Research, F.R.I., Dehra dun.
* Geological Society of India. 1959. Journal of the Geological Society of India. Bangalore: Geological Society of India. Vol. 21, pp. 461-463.
* Govt. of India. 1965. Ministry of Food & Agriculture booklet. Desert Afforestation Research station.
* Gupta, Raj Kumar and Ishwar Prakash. 1975. Environmental Analysis of the Thar Desert. Dehra Dun: English Book Depot.
* Indian Academy of Sciences. 1934. Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Bangalore City: Indian Academy of Sciences. V. 89, No. 3, pp. 317-331.
* Kaul, R.N. 1967. Trees or Grass Lands in the Rajasthan—Old Problems and New Approaches. Indian Forester, 93: 434-435.
* Kaul, R. N. 1970. Afforestation in Arid Zones. The Hague: Junk.
* Lewis, Brenda Ralph. 1999. Great Civilizations. Paragon, Bath. ISBN 0-75256-141-3
* Radhakrishna, B.P. and S.S. Merh. 1999. Vedic Sarasvati: Evolutionary History of a Lost River of Northwestern India. Bangalore: Geological Society of India. ISBN 8185867356
* Rajesh Kumar, M., A.S. Rajawat, and T.N. Singh. 2005. Applications of Remote Sensing for Educidate the Palaeochannels in an Extended Thar Desert, Western Rajasthan, 8th annual International Conference, Map India 2005, New Delhi.

Courtesy New World Encyclopedia



The Bishnoi Tribe

of the western Indian state of Rajasthan have, over centuries, made a unique blend of ecological sense and religious sensibility their faith’s cornerstone
Unique customs
Though worshipping the Hindu diety Vishnu, the Bishnois bury their dead. The idea is to give the body back to the elements.

Bishnoi carpenters never cut trees. They wait for trees to die

The Thar desert in India is full of ironies—one of them being the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan. Here, peace is maintained with aggression and robust health rubs shoulders with regular famine. Here penniless women flaunt heavy gold jewelery and wild animals leave the supposed security of jungles to stroll around village huts and farmlands.

Not to mention the fact that the Bishnois worship nature in all its manifestations. Not the ripe, yielding nature of ancient pagan societies, but the ruthless and demanding desert where a desolate horizon meets a blazing sky. Here, women suckle motherless deer, die to save trees, go hungry to provide food for animals and live a strictly sattvic (simple) life advocated by their guru Jambaji.

Jambaji, or Jambeshwar Bhagavan, born in 1451 in one of the warrior sects of Rajasthan, was soon disillusioned by communal riots between Muslim invaders and the native Hindus. However, instead of wallowing in despair, he went ahead to form a religion of peace based on 29 (bish: twenty, noi: nine) principles that included compassion for all living beings, cleanliness, devotion, vegetarian diet and truthfulness. Thus, the Bishnois came into being.

“It was actually a clever ploy,” says Maharaja Swaroop Singh, vice-president of the Heritage Hotels, India, and former MLA of the Looni (Bishnoi) constituency in Rajasthan (where the Bishnoi population is concentrated). He has worked closely with the tribe for the last 36 years.

“Jambaji knew that to form a successful religion, he had to put in both Hindu and Muslim elements. So he asked the Bishnois to worship Vishnu and bury their dead. The idea, of course, is to give the dead back to the elements. We Hindus use the fire element, the Muslims use the earth element.”

The Bishnois, however, have a different explanation. Says Dev Ram of Guda, one of the largest Bishnoi villages in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan: “Cremating the dead requires wood. But Jambaji said that killing a live tree to get rid of a dead body is ridiculous.” So the Bishnois bury their dead without so much as a memorial. “We let the earth take back what it gave to us,” adds Dev Ram. What surprises you as you approach a Bishnoi village is the sheer freedom with which spotted deer, blue bulls, and black bucks race along the roadside or frolic in the open fields. In fact, during our approximately 50 minutes drive from Jodhpur to Guda, we must have seen hundreds of deer and antelopes, some actually crossing the road ahead of us.

“Animals are sacred,” says Bana Ram of Guda. “Before he passed away, Jambaji told us that in his absence, the black buck should be revered as his manifestation. That belief continues. Hunting black buck for us is like killing our guru. One call of ‘Shikar! (the hunt)’ and 500 villagers will assemble here this moment to teach the offenders a lesson. We’ll kill our own children before we let these animals be killed.”

Which is why the worst thing to happen to a hunter is being caught by the Bishnois. “Once, an Indian Air Force captain was caught hunting. We stripped him and forced him to lie down on the hot sand in the middle of summer. He’d never dream of hunting again,” adds Bana Ram.

This ruthless protection of animals is part of the Bishnoi culture. An extremely aggressive race, they fight for wildlife and environment with a vengeance. In fact, we were warned against going to the villages by the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Division, M.L. Sonal. “The contribution of Bishnois to wildlife protection is almost 100 per cent. But they can be dangerous if angered,” says he.

But our reception in the Bishnoi villages, though initially suspicious, was soon friendly and warm. “You must tell others how fragile these animals are,” said a village elder, holding the picture of a black buck. “They are so delicate that most often they die of fright. We try our best to save these gentle creatures but what can we do against so many hunters? They are lured by the people of Jodhpur who don’t hesitate to get these animals killed for easy money.”

As we take a tour around the village, we come across giggling women in colorful clothes, sturdy men in their traditional white dhoti-kurtas zooming around on their motorbikes, sparkling clean mud houses and an occasional carpenter carving wood with intense concentration. “Most of us here are either farmers or wood/stone carvers, goldsmiths and milkmen,” says Maunlal Suta, a carpenter from Guda. “This art runs in the family. We have been carving wood for generations. Now I’m training my son to do the same.”

Wood carving? But isn’t it against Jambaji’s 29 principles to cut trees?

“We never cut trees,” explains Suta. “We wait till a tree dies on its own or falls down during a storm. This work that you see here,” he points at a pile of carved wood for doors, windows and bedposts, “has been done over many years, waiting patiently for wood.”

Patience, actually, is the catchword in this simple and dedicated community. “We have only four months of farming,” says Johra Ram, community head of a Bishnoi village. “The rest of the year we just sit around and hope the food will last.” To add to that, herds of deer end up eating much of the standing crop. “Earlier, almost 30 to 50 per cent of the crop was destroyed by animals. Now it has decreased to about 15 per cent,” informs H.L. Meena, Conservator Forest, Jodhpur.

But not a stick is raised to chase away the animals. “We would willingly go hungry to feed the animals,” says Bana Ram. “We believe in the co-existence of life. Our guru said that those who die saving innocent animals or trees will go to heaven. For us, animals are the avatars of divinity.” Which is why, in the water-starved desert, each Bishnoi family creates a tank in their field to provide water for deer in the arid summer months.

Much of the lifestyle of the community has its basis in the 29 principles of Jambaji. “Our guru forbade us to get addicted, be it smoking, tobacco chewing, drugs or alcohol. Even tea is considered a vice,” says Teja Ram. “He also asked us to consume plenty of milk and milk products and home grown cereals. We never eat outside. Even when going on long trips, we either cook or pack food from home.”

Tribal Faith Which explains the robust health of this community in spite of recurring famines. Here, though women are traditionally limited to household chores, they play a dominant role. “Women are the symbol of creation. Which is why guruji asked them to wear vibrant colors such as red and orange,” explains Bhanu Ram. “Men wear white because it is symbolic of cleanliness and austerity.”

Bishnois also have a strange interconnection between death and festivity. Whenever the head of a family dies, all unmarried girls, irrespective of their age, are married off on the 12th day. “On the face of it,” says Teja Ram, “guruji started this custom to limit expenses during weddings. But it also has deeper implications. For us, death is a way of life. One person dies, the next generation takes his place and the cycle continues. We believe that whatever you do in this life, you pay for it in the next birth.” The marriage of minors, however, as Teja Ram is quick to point out, “is not practiced anymore since we understand that it is detrimental to their development”.

Living amidst the barren wastelands interspersed with khejri and babool trees, the Bishnois are a proud race. “We don’t get any help from the government and don’t want any,” says Johra Ram. “Any change in the world has to begin within the society. All this talk about nature and wildlife protection would be more effective if each individual was to believe in the earth as a living, breathing entity and fight for its survival the way we do.” He narrates the story of Amrita Devi, a Bishnoi woman who, along with more than 366 other Bishnois, died saving trees. “About 200 years back, Maharaja Abhay Singh of Jodhpur required wood for his palace. So he sent his soldiers to cut trees. Amrita Devi and other villagers hugged the branches while the soldiers chopped them down with the trees. This is still remembered as the great Khejarli sacrifice.”

Such stories abound in the Bishnoi community. In fact, the Bishnoi pantheon has more martyrs who died for the sake of nature than gods. And the trend shows no signs of diminishing with time. “What makes me proud,” says Bana Ram, “is that the next generation is even more committed to nature than we are.” As if on cue, a little boy who can hardly keep pace as we walk around the village, tugs at my sleeve and says: “I’ll never let anybody kill these animals.”

Strange dedication, this. A small community spread over the northwestern states of India, including Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh besides Rajasthan, the Bishnois have contributed more to nature and wildlife protection than the entire country put together. They have learnt, with time and hardships, how to nurture nature and grow with it instead of exploiting it.

As we turn back from the village, we come across a Bishnoi woman quietly nursing a fawn that was wounded by a dog. Nearby, her little daughter plays. Outside, herds of deer saunter in the fields or take a nap in the mellow afternoon sun. Can this be for real, you wonder? Perhaps not, at least not in a world where, in the manner of King Lear’s gods, we kill animals for our sport. But reality, as the scriptures say, is relative. So, amidst the reality of corruption and crime, a community dedicated to nature struggles to survive, teaching, along the way, a few lessons in harmonious co-existence.

by Anupama Bhattacharya