Listening to the stories and anectodes of Mehboob-e-Ilahi( Beloved of God) was a norm as kids. A Mamoo, an ardent follower of Sufism, who lived in Jaipur was the source. If he ever happened to pass by Delhi, visit to the ‘Dargah’ was a mandatory. And when in Delhi, he had to visit his sister too i.e. my mother.
He brought meethi kheels (sugar coated puffballs) every time he came from Dargah, and was ever willing to narrate to us the stories of love between Mehbub-e-Ilahi and his favourite disciple.
On the other hand I saw my not so religious father’s( who also hailed from a Maulvi family) love for Amir Khusrau’s Persian poetry, and a tall tower of audio cassettes he had piled up next to his music system.
Honestly for years until early teens I did not know who Mehboob-e-Ilahi or that disciple were and where the Dargah was. We never visited. All I knew, Ammi went with Mamoojan a few times.
Once , when during a story time, Mamoojan was corrected by my father, about a Persian verse by Amir Khusro, did I realise that there was a correlation.
“Such a great poet had a Pir?” was my instant jerky reaction. Pirs in my mental dictionary had a negative meaning and image.
Equally instant was my father’s reaction: “ Hazrat Nizamuddin was a great scholar, it’s the people later who made him a Pir, and now have opened a whole business in his name.”
Mamoojan just gave a slight smile, and as always drowned again in his love for Mehboob-e-Ilahi, continued the story.
It was then to reinforce the great bond that existed between Hazrat Nizamuddin and Amir Khusrau, did he tell of these incidents, which now I can quote with the Persian verses he might have mentioned.
Just to make it clear, most of the stories have been passed on as word of mouth, and hence I call them anectodes.
When Hazrat Nizamuddin passed away Amir Khusrau was away, in some other city, attending to the orders of a King. As he learnt of the sad news he rushed back and went straight to the fresh grave of his master.There he rolled in the mud and tore off his clothes in agony. Then came these words:
Gori sove sej par
mukh per dale kes
Chal Khusro ghar aapne,
rain (not saanjh) bhaee chahu des.
The lovely maiden lies finally on a wreath of flowers,
her tresses covering her face,
O Khusro, turn back home now,
dusk has set in all over.”
Amir Khusrau was never the same after his Pir’s death. And it was only in six months that Amir Khusrau also passed away.
He was, as per the desire of the disciple and Pir both, buried close by. This is now known as a “chabootra-e-yaar’ ( the pedestal of friend).
The Pir also reciprocated his disciple’s love and affection, and is believed to have remarked: “If shariyat would allow me, I would want Khusrau and I to be buried in the same grave.”
His followers believe that Hz Nizamuddin instructed that “Those who visit my grave should first pay respect at Khusrau’s .”
Amir Khusrau was away for a royal trip. A disciple of Hz Nizamuddin came to him asking for some souvenir from his Pir. Since the Pir had nothing to offer, he asked the disciple to take away his slippers.
Incidentally, on the way the disciple and Amir Khusrau’s paths crossed each other. And Khusrau remarked:
Shaikh mi aayad, Bu-e Shaikh mi aayad”.
(I smell my master, I smell my master).
On knowing that the man had in possession the slippers of his Pir, Khusrau gave away all his wealth that he had on him and bought back those slippers.
The two were sitting at the bank of river Yamuna in Delhi when Hz Nizamuddin (wearing a cap crooked way), saw some men taking a dip in the river with a reverence as a worship. He remarked:
Har qaum raast raahay, deenay wa qibla gaahay
(Every sect has a faith, a qibla which they turn to.)
Pat came the reply from Khusrau:
Men qibla raast kardam, ber terf-e kajkulaahay.
(I have straightened my qibla in the direction of this crooked cap)
It is the most interesting of all anectodes, and if true (I do not doubt, but these stories have been passed through word of mouth), then it is remarkable to have this quality of Persian and Brij Bhasha poetry from an eight year old.
It is said that Khusrau’s mother brought her eight year old son to the place where Hazrat Nizamuddin ( a renowned scholar and respectable man) resided.
Instead of entering the premises Khusrau sat outside and narrated:
Tu aan shahi ke ber aiwan-e qasrat
Kabutar gar nasheenad, baaz gardad
Ghareeb-e mustamand-e ber der aamed
Be-yaayad andaroon, ya baaz gardad
You are a king at the gate of whose palace,
even a pigeon becomes a hawk.
A poor traveller has come to your gate,
should he enter, or should he return?
And that Hazrat Nizamuddin who himself was 23 then, came out (some say he sent out servants) and replied:
Be-yaayad andaroon mard-e haqeeqat
Ke ba ma yek nafas hamraaz gardad
Agar abla buvad aan mard-e naadan
Azaan raah-e ke aamad baaz gardad
Oh you the man of reality, come inside,
so you become for a while my confidant,
but if the one who enters is foolish ,
then he should return the way he came.
Hearing this Khusrau knew that he has come to the right place and hence entered into his guidance.
Having reread Khusrau, several times over since then, I have came across some of the records, which go further to say that- telling his mother of his excitement to have found the Pir, Khusrau composed these beautiful verses:
Aaj rung hai hey maa rung hai ri
Moray mehboob kay ghar rang hai ri
Sajan milaavra, sajan milaavra,
Sajan milaavra moray aangan ko
Aaj rung hai……..
Mohay pir paayo Nijamudin aulia
Nijamudin aulia mohay pir payoo
Des bades mein dhoondh phiree hoon
Toraa rung man bhayo ri……,
Jag ujiyaaro, jagat ujiyaaro,
Main to aiso rang aur nahin dekhi ray
Main to jab dekhun moray sung hai,
Aaj rung hai hey maan rung hai ri.
What a glow everywhere I see, Oh mother, what a glow;
I’ve found the beloved, yes I found him,
In my courtyard;
I have found my pir Nizamuddin Aulia.
I roamed around the entire world,
looking for an ideal beloved;
And finally this face has enchanted my heart.
The whole world has been opened for me,
Never seen a glow like this before.
Whenever I see now, he is with me,
Oh beloved, please dye me in yourself;
Dye me in the colour of the spring, beloved;
What a glow, Oh, what a glow.
In my ignorance, I bluntly asked Mamoojan,”What was so great in Hazrat Nizamuddin that even an accomplished man like Amir Khurau revered him so much?”
I remember Mamoojan reply, “He was a great pious man, a Wali. That is why he was called Mehboob-e-Ilahi ( the beloved of Allah)”.
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t entirely convinced then, but then years later, while getting into the colors of Amir Khusrau’s poetry, I did my own research.
I found that Hazrat Nizamuddin was a great scholar of Quran. He was truly a very pious man, who prayed a lot and fasted each day of the week.
There were free meals ( langar) at his residence, each day, in which Amir Khusrau actively took part.
He led a very simple, austere life, wore at times torn clothes, and ate extremely simple food.
But what really convinced me of why Amir Khusrau revered him so much was this incident of Hazrat Nizamuddin , which so speaks volumes of the greatness of this Pir of Amir Khusrau:
Once some of the staunchest of enemies of Hazrat Nizamuddin, threw thorn on the way he was to pass. He walked over them, bare feet, without any complaint. And with his sole bleeding, he prayed that every thorn that had pierced him become a red rose( like the color of his oozing blood) in the grave of the thrower.
Mehboob-e-Ilahi that he was, he is said to have remarked: “If a man places a thorn in your way, and you place a thorn in his way, soon there will be thorns everywhere.”
With all this in the background, now this poetry by Amir Khusrau sounds even more melodious…