Posts Tagged ‘zainud din reshi ashmuqam’

It is a rare spectacle of faith and fire that lit the hillock leading to the shrine of 15th century Kashmiri Sufi saint Zainuddin Wali, in this otherwise sleepy hamlet of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.


Every year on the Urs (death anniversary) of Zainuddin, whose following cuts across religious and sectoral denominations, dozens of devotees carrying ‘mashals’ (fire torches) line up the zig-zag hilly track leading to his Shrine.


Villagers light earthen oil-lamps at their doorsteps to commemorate the Urs. Faith and fire rarely make a spectacle like the one seen here on Thursday night.


People from dozens of neighbouring villages and other places of the valley travelled to seek the saint’s blessings.


Many devotees had come to untie the votive knots tied at the shrine to seek fulfillment of prayers.


Each thread tied on the wooden windows or iron grill or railing of the shrine is for seeking blessings for the fulfillment of a desire.


Once a wish is fulfilled, a devotee returns to the shrine to untie the knots and offer obeisance at the shrine.


Zainuddin Wali was one of the principal disciples of Kashmir’s patron saint, Sheikh Nuruddin Wali, whose shrine is located in Charar-e-Sharief town of central Kashmir’s Badgam district.


Son of a Hindu ruler of the Kishtwar area in the Chenab Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, Zainuddin’s Hindu name was Zia Singh.


Historical records indicate the boy was constantly unwell, causing huge worries to his parents. One day, Sheikh Nuruddin Wali, during his travels through the length and breadth of Kashmir, came to Kishtwar.


The parents sought his blessings for the good health of their ailing son. Nurruddin Wali took a pledge from the parents that once fully cured, they would devote their son to the path of righteousness and piety.



A view from the annual urs.

In fulfillment of her pledge, the mother carried Zia Singh to Aishmuqam, where Nurruddin Wali was staying that time. It was here that Zia Singh embraced Islam and accepted the Sufi way of tolerance, love and compassion for every human being.


Folklore has it that under directions from his mentor, Zainuddin Wali retired to a cave in this village for prayer and meditation.


Finding the cave full of poisonous snakes, he carried them on a club gifted to him by his master, to a place far away from the cave so that they did not harm the devotees in future.


The saint is believed to have passed away inside the cave where his mortal remains are laid to rest.


Violence during the last 25 years has destroyed many institutions and turned beliefs and ideas upside down in trouble-torn Kashmir.


The mighty winds of violence, though, have not succeeded in eroding or shaking the basic edifice of Sufist Islam as it came to Kashmir 600 years ago.


I still remember those youthful days of my life when I, along with other village lads, would participate in the torch light processions at the shrine of Hazrat Zain-ud-din Wali. Usually held during the early spring season, in the evenings, these processions were then called as“Phruw’. The torches would usually be made of the rice straw or of small wooden pieces tied together.
We were young and naïve to understand the basic message of the whole activity while lighting up the torches was something that excited us the most. It actually took me years to know that the very aim of the festival was to celebrate victory of light over darkness, good over evil.
This was a symbolic gesture of the people to indicate the quality of the saint who had fought against darkness. To pay obeisance and respect to this great saint, people, mostly village children of south Kashmir, used to hold the torch processions in their respective village lanes. The largest among the gatherings would be witnessed at the shrine of the saint at Ashmuqam.
While during my childhood this festival was a delight and an occasion to celebrate, I than grew up with an interest in the‘Reshi movement’ of Kashmir. I came to know about the saint and his victory over the evil spirits. Numerous stories, both from the folklore, as well as some olden records conveyed the charismatic character of this saint whose strong belief in Almighty lead him to success over the evil spirits.
The tradition has survived the political, social, cultural and technological onslaughts as thousands of devotees visit the shrine, light up the torches, even today, and celebrate the occasion with great religious fervor.
Baba Zain Ud din Reshi was born at Bounderkote Kishtwar. He belonged to a Rajput Hindu family and was earlier named as Zai Singh. He entered into Reshi fold at the hands of Nund Reshi, the patron saint of the valley, and later came to be known as Shakhi Zain Ud din Reshi and became the leading member of the famous Reshi movement.
Noornama, the authentic source of Reshi movement records that Zai Singh, as a child, suffered from a life threatening disease. His mother left no stone unturned in search of some way, some remedy that could heal her ailing son. One day she heard about Nundreshi, a famous Kashmiri saint who had arrived in the village. She brought her ailing son before this saint and requested for his healing.
The saint, it is written, told her that he would treat her son but once he recovers, she would bring him to Kashmir valley. The mother who had lost all her hopes did not hesitate to enter into the promise and readily said yes to the offer. Nundreshi, with his spiritual power, healed the child and within a few weeks gradual improvement was observed by his family.
Now was the time when the mother had to keep her promise and she did that. She, along with her brother started the journey towards the valley of Kashmir. They were first received, in the valley, by another saint Baba Bamu Ud Din at Bamzu. Zai Singh alongwith his mother and uncle later on embraced Islam at the hands of Nudreshi when they reached him. The patron saint also gave him a new name-Baba Zain-ud-Din.
Noornama records that while narrating the first Reshi lesson to his disciple, Nundreshi revealed upon him the basic philosophy of life and told him,
Nafas mali ditikh auri meanith
Ghazakh chienth Karikh na fouth’
(Life of individuals is already calculated, understand it and never cry)
Now he was left into the guidance of Baba Bamu Din for learning the Reshi doctrine and was later advised to report to the village of Ashmuqam where he could meditate. When Zain ud din reached the cave of the village, he saw, the entire space filled with snakes. The saint told them that the cave had now been allotted to the saints and they should check out of it immidiately. Snakes while obeying the dictate left the cave and he began his meditated for years together and attained enlightenment. He also adopted the glorious profession of driving the sheep of the village (shepherd)
Nundreshi was very much impressed by the Reshi practices and zeal of Zain Ud din, and while appreciating his efforts and dedication, he declared him the source of‘Abihayat’-the water of life. “Zain Ud din pleased Almighty and dedicated his entire life to meditation and good deeds. So far as practice of good deeds is concerned, he succeeds his teacher. I vow and pray to Almighty for such a position which was granted in favor of Zain Ud Din Reshi” This, it is recorded has been said by the patron saint of Kashmir about his disciple. Baba Zain-ud-Din became famous for his‘Sakhawat’ -benevolent. His devotees believe that no one leaves the shrine without the blessings.
Baba Zain-ud-DinWali’s shrine has got a wonderful location in the lap of the rising Ashmuqam plateau. The saint lived in the cave and is said to have left for heavenly abode at the same site, while his funeral rites are shadowed with mystery as historian have written that when his corpus was put into the coffin, the body disappeared.
It is said that later he appeared in the dream of one of his friend and instructed him that his grave should be made exactly at the spot where the coffin was left. Besides his coffin, eighteen graves of his companions are also seen inside the shrine.
The structure of the shrine of the Reshi symbolizes the grace of the wooden architectural style of the valley. It is a masterpiece in wood works across the south Kashmir while the shrine serves as the most significant Spiritual site thronged by devotees. A big congregation is held during theUrs days of the saint when the devotees gather at the shrine and hold torches in their hands and prayers on their lips.
The Relics of the saint
There is a small but significant and rare collection of sacred relics housed in an open gallery to the right of the main shrine. The main shrine is raised on a plateau which internally has a cave which stands carved of a massive rock of local granite. It is known as the cave ofZain-ud-DinReshi. TheReshi is learnt to have meditated here. The saint’s mortal remains are also buried inside the cave.
There are few traditions preserved in the folklore of the site. Legend has it that this was basically the cave of some holy man, few identify with Prophet Moses. They believe that he arrived here and spent some time inside the cave. One relic, called“Aasa Sharief” the stick ofZain-ud-Din Reshi, is also attributed to Prophet Moses. While other some believe that some Buddhist monk had actually carved it for meditation, most of the people attribute this cave to this Reshi saint.
The mysteries still revolve round the“Aasa Sharief”. People claim that this is hardly shown to anybody, and at very rare occasions, not even during the Urs days. There are some who say that they had seen the“Aasa Sharief” some thirty years ago. Many believe that it appears something like a magical stick which, when you hold it, it pulls you upwards.
When it was exhibited, thirty years ago, the area was experiencing a major draught, said the local resident. At that occasion a big congregation was held at the shrine and during special prayers, this rod was exhibited to get rid of that natural calamity. Besides this, the shrine also houses several other relics ofZain-ud-Din Rishi, which areshowcased in a relic gallery of the shrine and comprise of bow and arrow, wooden bread, coffin and skull of the lamb. Surprisingly the“Aasa Sharief” of the Reshi is not showcased anywhere at this site.
The Spiritual deeds
‘Tareekhi Awliya-e- Kashmir’ states that during his stay in Ashmuqam, the saint used to drive the sheep of the village and severed as the best shepherd. Once a miscreant who vowed to bring a bad name to him stole a baby sheep and after killing the lamb buried it nearby the village. He then made a hue and cry accusing the Reshi of killing the lamb.
The Shepherd was summoned and asked to explain his position before the village jury. The Reshi told the jury that since he himself was accused of the theft, the better way was to let the lamb reveal the facts. He asked the jury to bring the body of the lamb which they did and people saw the dead body of the lamp with one leg missing.
It is said that the lamp came alive and revealed the facts. This spiritual miracle astonished the people and at the same time exposed the spiritual powers of this Reshi. He than left the profession and decided to live in utter solitude meditating in the historic cave.
Since Kashmir served as a great learning place for varied cultural traditions and Sufi practices shown and cultivated by great Reshis, the place also impressed travelers and external scholars reaching here.Abul Fazal the most famous Mughal traveler writes that,“The most respectable people of Kashmir are theRishis who although they do not suffer themselves to be fettered by traditions are doubtless true worshippers of God. They revile not any other sect and ask nothing of anyone, they plant the roads with fruit trees to furnish the traveler with refreshments. They abstain from flesh and have no intercourse with the other sex. There are two thousand of theseRishis in Kashmir.
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