It was this last week, taking a long stroll across Delhi, lamenting for the short time I’m left with that I’ll get to spend in this very fine city, that I finally visited Nizamuddin Auliya’s Dargah or Mausoleum. It was an accident of chance. I found a friend willing to go there with me and thus we ended up at the antique milestone in Indian history, where the greatest of the Sufi saints of the Chisti wilayat was laid to rest under waves and waves of timeless prayer offerings and ‘duwa’s.
I wrote earlier about Hazrat Nizamuddin’s curse on the abandoned city of Tughlaqabad, and it only seems justified to write about the Saint’s lifetime that steeped in love for the Creator and Humanity.
The saint was born in Barayun now a part of Uttar Pradesh in the early 13th century. He came to live in Delhi, still a child, with his mother Zulekha Bibi after the death of his father Ahmad Barayuni. His life is chronicled by the Royal Mughal scribe of the court of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar in his most famous 16th century literary work, The Ain-i-Akbari.
At the age of twenty, Nizāmuddīn went to Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganjshakar, commonly known as Baba Farid. Nizāmuddīn did not take up residence in Ajodhan but continued with his theological studies in Delhi while simultaneously starting the Sufi devotional practices and the prescribed litanies. He visited Ajodhan each year to spend the month of Ramadan in the presence of Baba Farid. It was on his third visit to Ajodhan that Baba Farid made him his successor. Shortly after that, when Nizāmuddīn returned to Delhi, he received news that Baba Farid had died.
Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, residence of Nizamuddin Auliya, towards the north-east from Humayun’s tomb, Delhi. Nizāmuddīn lived at various places in Delhi, before finally settling down in Ghiyaspur, a neighbourhood in Delhi undisturbed by the noise and hustle of city life. He built his Khanqah here, a place where people from all walks of life were fed, where he imparted spiritual education to others and he had his own quarters. Before long, the Khanqah became a place thronged with all kinds of people, rich and poor alike.
Many of his disciples achieved spiritual height, including Shaikh Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Delhi, and Amir Khusro, noted scholar/musician, and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate.
He died on the morning of 3 April 1325. His shrine, the Nizamuddin Dargah, is located in Delhi and the present structure was built in 1562. The shrine is visited by people of all faiths, through the year, though it becomes a place for special congregation during the death anniversaries, or Urs, of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amīr Khusro, who is also buried at the Nizāmuddīn Dargāh.
The tomb of the Mughal Shahzadi, Jahan Ara Begum, the eldest daughter of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz also lies next to the Dargah. It is only justifiable for anyone to lie down to rest, for it is the only place in Delhi where one can find a spiritual wholeness with the centuries of love and peace hanging in its air.