Hazrat Baba Zainuddin Rishi (rehmatullahe alayh)

Posted: November 21, 2014 by kashmirsufis in AWLIYAE KASHMIR

Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani’s(rematullahe alayh) secondkhalifa, Hazrat Baba Zainuddin Rishi, lies buried in a cave in a picturesque valley at thevillageofAishmuqamin the Anantnag (Islamabad) district of southernKashmir. Little is known about the details of his life. As Majeed points out, despite being a ‘highly revered folk hero’, there is ‘no factual account of his biography available’. According to local lore, Baba Zainuddin Rishi was the son of Jan Singh, the Hindu Rajput ruler of Rukan, a principality near Bandarkot in Kishtwar, and was given the name of Zia Singh or Zaina Singh at birth. His father died when he was still a child in a skirmish with some enemies, and so he was brought up by his mother.
It is said that Zia Singh once fell grievously ill, and no doctor could cure him. His mother was greatly distraught and she cried out to God for help. Soon after, Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani, who was then travelling through Kishtwar, met her. When she told him about her son’s condition, he told her that he would be cured soon, but that after that she should bring him along with her to Chrar-e-Sharif. Zia’s mother agreed, and the son soon recovered. His mother, in her joy at her son’s recovery, however, forgot her promise to Hazrat Nuruddin, because of which Zia fell ill once again. At last his mother realised her mistake, and so travelled to Chrar-e-Sharif with her son.
Meanwhile, Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani had come to know that the two had enteredKashmir. He instructed Baba Bamuddin that he should welcome them and keep them at hiskhanqahat Bamzu for a few days. Shortly after, Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani visited Bamzu and met Zia and his mother. On seeing Zia playing with a bow and arrow, he remarked, “This child is truly blessed. God will raise him to a high station. His arrow will travel very far and he shall be the leader of the Rishis” Zia’s mother left the child in Hazrat Nurani’s care and returned to Kishtwar. Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani renamed the young lad as Zainuddin, who now formally took the oath of allegiance to him in the Rishi order, and was left in the care of Baba Bamuddin Rishi in Bamzu for spiritual instruction. Soon, Baba Zainuddin Rishi acquired such an exalted spiritual status that once Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani was moved to remark, ” My Zaina is a stream of the water of life (ab-e-hayat). He served God so much that he has gone even ahead of his teacher. Oh God! Grant me such blessings, too!”.
After having spent many years in the company of Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani and Hazrat Bamuddin Rishi, Baba Zainuddin Rishi was instructed to settle at a cave in a mountain near thevillageofAishmuqam. This cave is said to have been inhabited by a cannibaldev, which Baba Zainuddin Rishi is believed to have killed. Cleansing the cave of a large number of serpents and scorpions which lived inside the cave, he spent many years here in stern meditation, surviving only on dry walnut kernels, so strict was he in avoiding eating any living thing, animal or plant. He is said to have tied a stick around his stomach for thirteen years to control his hunger and reduce his diet. When asked why he had subjected himself to such stern austerities he answered that he was simply following in the path of the Prophet Muhammad , who, during theBattleof the Ditch (jang-e-khadaq) had tied two large stones on his stomach to bear the pangs of hunger and to serve as an example for his followers. The story is told of how one day Baba Zainuddin Rishi asked a disciple of his to give him something bitter to eat. The disciple handed him some pepper. The Baba asked him what the price of the pepper was, and the disciple told him that it was very expensive. Thereupon, the Baba spat out the pepper, and picked up a walnut shell. He asked the disciple how much the shell cost, and was told it was free. From then onwards, Baba Zainuddin survived only on walnut shells, grinding them into a fine powder.
Baba Zainuddin Rishi’s great spiritual stature can be gauged from the fact that when Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani breathed his last at Chrar-e-Sharif, Hazrat Baba Nasibuddin Rishi announced that his funeral prayers could be led only by one who had never missed even a single congregationalasar(afternoon) prayer, and the only one to qualify for this was Baba Zainuddin Rishi. Hence, he had the honour of leading the funeral prayers of his master.
Like the other Muslim Rishis, Baba Zainuddin Rishi led a life of great simplicity, which brought upon him the wrath of those who felt the message of radical social equality that the Rishis preached a threat to their own interests. The story is thus told of how once, when Sultan Zain-ul ‘Abidin came to Aishmuqam, Baba Zainuddin Rishi treated him just as he treated all other visitors to hiskhanqah, not showing him any special respect. When Zain-ul ‘Abidin entered thekhanqah, the Baba was engrossed in meditation. The king sat on the Baba’s prayer-mat and waited for him, but the Baba did not appear. Disappointed, the king left thekhanqah.When Baba Zainuddin Rishi later learnt that the king had sat on his prayer-mat, he said that it had been polluted by the touch of a worldly ruler, and so asked his disciples to wash it. This news reached Zain-ul ‘Abidin, who, enraged by what he took to be an insult and a defiance of his authority, issued an edict ordering that Baba Zainuddin Rishi should be sent into exile to the icy wastes of Tibet. Accordingly, the Baba left forTibet, along with his disciples, and is said to have made numerous converts to Islam there. Meanwhile, Zain-ul ‘Abdin developed a serious illness, which none of his royal doctors could cure. Realising that this was a punishment for the disrespect that he had shown the Baba, he sent his son Haider Khan toTibetto beg him for mercy and to bring him back toKashmir. Baba Zainuddin Rishi relented, came back toKashmir, and forgave the king, who soon recovered.
Like most other Rishis, Baba Zainuddin Rishi did not have a formal education, but yet he had been bestowed with what the Sufis call ‘divine knowledge’ (‘ilm-e-luddni). It is said that one of the Baba’s disciples, Maulana Shamsuddin, was a great scholar of the Qur’an, its commentaries (tafasir), Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and the Traditions of the Prophet (hadith). He took great pride in his knowledge and desired to have a spiritual master who was at least his equivalent. The Maulana travelled toMeccaon the Haj, hoping to find a suitable master there. InMeccahe met with a famous Sufi and scholar (‘alim), Shaikh Khurram Shah, and, finding that he was an accomplished scholar, he asked him if he could take him as his disciple. The Shaikh asked him if he had already become a disciple of a pir inKashmir. The Maulana replied that he had, but that although his pir had attained a high spiritual status, he lacked ‘external knowledge’ (zahiri ‘ilm). The Shaikh answered that those who take pride in their worldly knowledge are actually blind, and that Baba Zainuddin was actually a great Sufi and that the Maulana should go back toKashmirand remain in his service. Accordingly, the Maulana returned toKashmir, begged Baba Zainuddin for his forgiveness, and remained in his service till the Baba’s death.
Baba Zainuddin Rishi spent most of his life at Aishmuqam, which, under him, had emerged as the major centre for the propagation of Islam and the teachings of the Rishis in the area. At hiskhanqahhe maintained a free kitchen for the poor, which earned him the title of ‘Sakhi’ or ‘the generous one’. Forty days before his death in 1440/41 C.E., he ordered his disciples to go out of the cave in Aishmuqam in which he used to meditate. The cave, it is said, closed up on its own. Some days later, the wall at the entrance of the cave gave way, and the Baba’s disciples discovered that he had breathed his last. He was buried deep inside this cave, and in the vicinity are the graves of twenty-four of his closestkhulafa. His impressive shrine complex was built in traditional Kashmiri style by Sultan Zain-ul ‘Abidin, who held the Baba in great respect.


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