Sunday, March 24, 2024

Sacred Shores: The Dual Pilgrimage of Rohri’s Isle

An elderly man with a long white beard, dressed in traditional green Islamic attire, stands majestically atop a large river fish. He appears to be a Sufi sage, serenely walking on the waters of the Indus River. The scene is bathed in sunlight filtering through sparse clouds, creating a tranquil and almost mystical atmosphere. In the distance, one or two birds can be seen gliding in the sky, adding to the serene ambiance. The image is rendered in high-resolution 2K quality, capturing the realistic details of this inspiring moment.

In the shadow of Rohri lies a diminutive isle, a mere half-acre in size, that resists the flood's peak, remaining unsubmerged. Encircled by a protective barrier, this island is home to a sacred shrine, a place of convergence for thousands of devotees both Muslims and Hindus from every corner of Sindh during the spring months of March and April. For Muslims, it's a pilgrimage to pay homage to Khwaja Khizr, while Hindus revere Jind Pir (a derivative of 'Zinda', meaning 'Living', thus 'Living Saint').

In the heart of Sindh’s riverine landscape, there exists a figure steeped in the lore of both Islam and Hinduism. He is known by many names: Khawaja Khizr, Jind Pir, and Zinda Pir, each a testament to his enduring presence. Envision an aged man, his white beard flowing like the river itself, garbed in the verdant hues of traditional Islamic dress. He stands, a picture of tranquility, upon a grand fish that glides across the Indus River’s surface. This Sufi elder, a sage of profound wisdom, seems to traverse the waters with a grace that belies his years. His journey across the Indus is not merely physical but symbolic, bridging the spiritual divide between cultures and beliefs. He is a living embodiment of the river’s life-giving force, revered by many as a guardian of the faithful and a beacon of unity.

Over time, the shrine's ownership sparked a dispute between the two faiths. Resolution came when Hindus relinquished their claim, establishing a separate shrine for Jind Pir along the riverbank in Sukkur. In a historic decree, the Public Works Department, via resolution No. 55-W-1 650 dated 10 April 1894, allocated approximately 16.50 ghuntas of land to the Sukkur Council for the Jind Pir Fakirs' trust, post a trust deed in favor of the then-leader, Bhai Balo. The trust ensured that he and his successors were entrusted with Rs 15000 to fulfill specific responsibilities linked to the shrine and its monuments.

A Muslim narrative recounts the tale of Shah Hussain (Saiful Muluk), a merchant from Delhi, who, along with his daughter, Badu-i-Jamal, journeyed down the Indus towards Mecca. Upon reaching Alore, they encountered Daluraj, the Hindu King, who, smitten by the daughter's beauty, sought her hand in marriage. His proposal was declined on the grounds of religious incompatibility. Undeterred, the king attempted to abduct her. However, during her prayers to Khwaja Khizr, her father was divinely instructed to release their boat. Miraculously, the river's course altered, flowing towards Rohri and ensuring their escape. In gratitude, Shah Hussain vowed to erect a shrine in honor of the saint who had safeguarded them. Guided by divine intervention, he chose a small island north of Bukkur for a mosque and mausoleum dedicated to Khwaja Khizr. Over time, devotees enriched the site, with some adorning the original tomb's door in silver. Regrettably, no remnants of these structures survive today.

Hindus associate Khawaja with Jind Pir, seen as the living embodiment of the Indus River, also known as Uderolal or Darya Shah. They honor him with the ritual lighting of lamps. The central edifice, whether tomb, temple, or cenotaph, features a niche representing the saint's seat, crowned by a stone slab with a Persian inscription, eloquently stating:

"When this court was raised, the waters of Khizr embraced it; penned by Khizr himself in delightful verse." 

The inscription's date, deciphered from 'Dargah-i-Ali', points to the year AD 952. Nearby, a dilapidated brick mosque bears another inscription dating back to AH 1011 (AD 1602). Before British rule, the guardians of Satyan-jo-Asthan and Khwaja Khizr's shrine held lands as charitable grants, performing sacred duties around the monuments. This tradition was upheld by Sir Charles Napier. 

If the minor disputes at the site of Khawaja Khizr Rohri in 1880 had been avoided, we might not be facing the current circumstances.

No comments:

Post a Comment