Friday, July 1st, 2022 15:38:15

Sufiana Beat

Updated: September 3, 2011 5:39 pm

Mann tu shudam, tu man shudi, man tan Shudam tu jaan shudi Takas nagoyad ba Azeem man deegaram tu deegari.

Once flung in a trance to experience the feel of sufi music transcending all boundaries of man made religions and languages takes you far away from yourself where you’re not you, there is something enveloping you. More on a divine note is wafting an awesome aura of sufiana effect in the precincts of the Dargah of this great sufi dervish, Nizamuddin Aulia, the most evolved, illuminated and enchanting outcome of the interface between Hinduism and Islam in sub-continent. Sufi music is all about a string of piety between the moods of the lover (Poet) and the saint, the beloved. This format of composition contains effusive verses with an esoteric dimension in the simplest of language.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aaulia 14th century shrine

Gori soye sej par mukh pe dare kes, chal khusro ghar apne sanjh bhayee chahun des

                Basti, cheek by jowl with myriads cluster of houses, shops and restaurants, wears an authentic and traditional tinge of yesteryears. Dargah is also known as Mehboob-e-Ilahi. I heard of the dargah a great deal, one fine thursday evening, I made my way to the shrine it was the last gleam of the sun for the day. I first went to Amir Khusrau’s dargah, at the entrance there are many pakki (concrete) graves around and then I proceeded to the Auliya’s mazaar (mausoleum) as the custom demands, after paying obeisance I crouched down in silence to join the trip of musical nirvana, radiated rendition which was brimming with sanctity and serenity that for a moment gripped me. Some devotees were thoroughly drenched in a sufi sonata, some were swaying and even crooning to catch the chorus whereas some were in Hal or an extreme trance and some eyes could be seen welled up and some with few drops trickling down the cheeks.

                Inside the precincts are the streaks of smoke, the cloud formed of joss sticks scudded across, amidst a great rush in sort of a commotion, the devotees of all faiths and cultures from other states and nations throng around to visit the place. Some devotees come with cooked food to give out within the walls of the shrine, believed to be a job dedicated to please the saint who will answer the prayer and make their wish come true. Many cauldrons (deighs) empty there in no time which is regarded as sanctified food, tabbarrukh or parshaad.

                After a little more than an hour, I quit the place, elbowed out through the labyrinths with a feel of spirituality that was still lulling me and the verse of the poem Khusrau toh se naiyna milyeke was sort of ringing into my ears. I soon melted into the thick hoi polloi of ziyareen (pilgrims), hullabaloo of honking vehicles and the shouts of the restaurant wallahs snatching attention to feed the hungry and beggars sitting huddled and waiting by turn for food in front of these dhabas.

What’s a qawwali recitation?

Particularly on Thursdays, the entire court of the dargah is awash with spiritual hues. Qawwalis, a raga based composition; take on with the combo of harmonium and tabla followed by the ecstatic impact of vigorous clap which tends to produce in the listener, a high. Some famous and prominent qawwals like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Chand Nizami, Ghulam and Sultan Hussain Niyazi, recite the holy singing here after sunset. The verses beautifully penned by Amir Khusrau, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Niyaz-be-Niyaz, Kabir and Baba Bulleshah add a dash of lustre to the divine beauty of the sama (music concert). Most of them are sung in Persian, Awadhi, Braj, Hindi and Punjabi. The sufi rendition has some popular sufi tracks like qual, chhaap tilak, tanam, khabram raseeda, zihale miskin, mast qalandar etc., these free performances here electrify the atmosphere and enthrall the exuberant devotees. Even cam-flashes of shutter bugs and the hysterical commotion of the possessed (brought here for spiritual remedy, kept in separate place behind the wall) cannot distract the hardcore devotees who once submerged in this musical trance.

                “It is a divine feel linking you with supreme power, which you can only feel, above all materialistic worlds. It assuages many hungry hearts and souls seeking solace. Sufi qawwali recitation is absolutely different, meant for your God, this is the medium through which you relate your soul to Him, Fareed Nizami spoke.

How to go inside the Dargah

This one of the oldest sufi shrines has two ways east and west leading inside, one opposite Nizamuddin Railway station and the other opens to the west towards the Hotel Oberoi, either side has unending lines of florists, they sweet-talk you into buying petals and chadar to offer on the tombs. The cassette and CD wallahs are busy selling traditional and religious music.


For the grub, many good eateries including Karim’s, will tempt your most jaded palate, you can even relish kebab steaks and shwarma that tickle your taste buds. Besides grill nosh, you can freak on steaming hot chai, adrakwali topped with malai. “To me, it’s holy connectivity between God and you, once you are into it you are above worldly materialistism. It’s too divine!” asserts Sadia Dehlvi, a Delhi based writer who also authored a book ‘Sufism, The Heart of Islam’.

                “Music is a divine union between the supreme power and the soul of a human being, you can feel the trance when sunk into it. Many devotees of all castes and religions and from all over the world come here. Students studying mass com and journalism also come to study the architecture of the premises,” Syed Afsar Nizami, one of the descendants of the Nizami order, asseverated.


Delhi itself speaks volumes about a history unraveling various layers of myriads of histories. This exudes a deep serenity of a plethora of antiquities of different eras; the city of Mughals has preserved them intact. The ruins, monuments and mausoleums are the testimony to this very fact. Not just the gates the emperors took as their routes to Delhi but the roads, streets and alleys all unfold a saga of a new history. I actually made a trip to the dargah of Bibi Zulaikha Sahiba or Mai Saheb, mother of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, located inside the Adhchini village off Aurobindo Marg near IIT. It’s Wednesday, the day chosen to visit his mother every week. It’s a tradition that’s followed even today and so, the place is full of devotees mostly women. Unlike the dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya, here there are no peerzadas, khadims and no shops selling pictures. The shrine shares its walls with the houses of the local residents. The dargah itself was originally the house of two sisters, Noor Bibi and Hoor Bibi, with whom Bibi Zulaikha Sahiba stayed. As a mark of their devotion to Mai Saheb, the two sisters lay buried near her tomb. According to some, the complex dates back to AD 1250. Later, in the Lodhi era, a mosque was added north of the dargah complex.

                Inside, as women and men touch the hem of the chaadar of Mai Saheb’s tomb to pray and convey their wishes, troubles and grievances, it’s an atmosphere of calm and submission. Outside in the open area overlooking an arched colonnade, rows of candles add sparkle to the spirit of devotion and the qawwals get ready for an evening of soulful music on a sufi beat.

                The scene is different at Bibi Fatima’s dargah at Kaka Nagar. Whitewashed and without many devotees, it almost blends with the houses of this government colony. The near-anonymity perhaps denotes the fact that Delhi boasts of only a couple of dargahs dedicated to women Sufis. A contemporary of Nizamuddin Auliya, Bibi Fatima is supposed to have been praised by the saint himself for the spiritual heights she had attained during her lifetime. Today, of course, a few come to the tomb of this mystic woman.

                A few metres away, next to the Oberoi Hotel stands another medieval structure that claims to be the tomb of another woman Sufi, Fatma Bibi. Painted with hand-painted flowers and creepers trying to make up for the lapis lazuli work that are associated with Mughal structures, the dargah is open from daybreak till night. The local owners of the adjacent paan-shop and tyre-shop claim that they maintain the dargah on their own. They are not aware of the historic facts associated with the shrine.

                “I believe sufism is pure love between God and you, it’s is no way related to a religion, it’s rather spirituality that connects you to the almighty. Sufi music is the food of soul,” Muzaffar Ali, a film maker and artist shares. Sumit a hotel chef likes this format of music, nowhere else in Delhi particularly sufi qawwali “I love going to places like dargahs when I’m stressed. It gives me strength to introspect so as to analyse life,” Umesh Pandey a student of NIIT speaks. Geeta Singh television anchor feels that she loves qawwali at the dargah as she comes almost every month, sits and enjoys sufi music.

By Syed Wazid Ali

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