CHUGHTAI MUSEUM UNDER SIEGE FROM MALIGNANT FORCES – SAVING THE LEGACY OF CHUGHTAI ART NOT A SIMPLE JOB AT ALL.
A fifty-year record memorable book is being written and we hope to issue it on 17th January, 2025. When M.A. Rahman Chughtai died on 17th January, 1975, he was torn about by conspiracies. I used to pat him on the back, when he used to panic about his legacy. Assuring him that his work will not be lost, but preserved forever. Not an easy promise to make, when both the Federal and Provincial governments were bent upon doing us wrong. Details will come but who can understand the anguish we went through, trying to do a job for the national good of Pakistan. There are too many details, which we need not go in here, but suffice to say, a national icon, who took the name of Pakistan all around the world. The father of Pakistani Art. Modern Master of Muslim civilization. And what not? Whose death was condoled by many foreign Heads of State, which included the Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, Queen Elisabeth of England, Vice President Nelson A Rockefeller of USA, President Walter Scheel of Germany, President of Azad Kashmeer, and even Dr Kurt Waldheim of U.N.O. And sorry to say that Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was at Chughtai’s house many times, could not condole the death of the National Hero of Pakistan. And his Cultural advisers started a tirade against us. Ms Marjorie Hussain often asks me, who saved me from the wrath of the politicians at that time? Allah! We are in siege right now. Conniving politicians turned new pages of tyranny. If Allah does not save us again, the museum will be history again. All that we can say is pray for us. Do whatever you can. We are good for our country. We are good for Pakistani art. And all those morons who take money from abroad to cast doubts on Pakistan and its legacies, to present foreign agendas of anarchy. Pakistan forever!
THE MOST AMAZING PHOTOGRAPH IN OUR ARCHIVES OF A RELIGIOUS GROUP – INAUGURAL PRAYERS AT SIRIYAN WALI MASJID LAHORE, LOCAL AND MIANWALI.
The complexity of Lahore is not understood by pseudo historians of Lahore. Everybody wants to jump in this terrain with superlatives, while not having any feelings for the philosophy of the city. Egalitarianism is one thing. A city in which Governor and beggar could be having adjacent houses is another. This capitalistic attitude of separating housing schemes due to materialism is not in inherent to old Lahore. Here we enter Lahore through the Phandaian (utensils) wala bazaar, in Rang Mahal, and some steps away, there are two lanes. The right one goes to Kocha Chabuk Sawaran, and the straight one goes to Siriyan wala bazaar. Nobody really can prove what this bazaar meant in ancient times, but the name is still there, even after ages. For some this small limited lane is a place where lambs used to be slaughtered and the Siri Pavay (heads and ankles) used to be sold here (no butcher shop here ever, and why only lamb heads). Others feel this place relates to the slaughter of people (or army), perhaps even by the Mongols, or even by the Sikhs, mainly the three chieftains of Lahore, who were responsible for the carnage in the city many times. Or perhaps it was a hanging place, where prisoners were beheaded. Even a long-lost cemetery of beheaded army people. All that is possible. In any case, there is not much of interest in this small lane, except that in this lane was the house of Muhammed Chittu Patoli (son of Sheikh Elahi Baksh), a leather merchant and maker of shoes, or more specifically ‘Patolis’, portion of shoes making. This havelli was once the havelli of Meraz Khan. Meraz is an Islamic word, and means ‘Gift of Allah’. It is even possible that this havelli belonged to Ifraz Khan, maker of Chinay wali masjid, and Meraz may be the son of Ifraz Khan. And in this way both havelli and masjid came into possession of Muhammed Chittu. Perhaps bought or inherited by him. A relation can be established. And his phenomenal love for the holy book of Quran, is proven by his sacrifice of expensive property, where even his own children were unhappy with Muhammed Chittu’s decision.
Ghulam Nabi was originally from a small village, namely Chakra, near Mianwali. He was a relatively young man, when he became custodian of the Chinay wali Masjid in Lahore, in Kocha Chabuk Sawaran. His date of birth is given as 1860 AD. He was given charge of this mosque somewhere around an age of 38, or perhaps 40 years. In the hujra of the ancient Aurangzebi mosque of Ifraz Khan, revelations struck him, and his study of the Quran, became intense. He hero worshiped Hazrat Umar, Peace be upon him, and his statement that the “Quran is enough”. To those who believed that Quran was not sufficient, he came up with the idea of Ijtihad, which was a Quranic term itself. For his views, he was kicked out of the Chinay wali masjid. Muhammed Chittu, a keen observer, and contrary to portrayal by some bigoted historians, was educated enough (perhaps highly educated) to understand all this. He offered his own house in Siriyan wala Bazaar to his iconic leader. Ghulam Nabi found fault with his name, and took the name of Abdullah Chakravali. A request was made to the Municipal administrator Mr. Tapp for permission to convert the house into a mosque, and it was accepted that this was a new sect in the Muslim fold, and it was named as Ahl-Quran movement in Lahore. The permission was initially refused but as more people joined the group (from initial 62 to hundreds later on), it is probably that the permission was granted for the same. Otherwise the house was just used as a prayer house. The Waqf-nama of Muhammed Chittu dated 10th March, 1905, clears many things. An invitation was extended by Abdullah Chakravali to his home town in Chakra, and delegations came from there for the inauguration prayers at the Mosque of Siriyan wali Bazaar. And the most amazing thing is that a group photograph was taken with the inauguration of the prayers at the Siriyan wali mosque. And even more amazing that a faded copy was there in the collection of M. A. Rahman Chughtai artist. From 1905 to 2020, a journey of 115 years. Its colour was restored, but full restoration still far away.
There are many clues in the photograph. The building in front of which the group is standing, even today somewhat like that after 115 years. Plain wall with doors. There is a dari (carpeting) on the floor, for prayers. The main person Abdullah is sitting in front, and looks around 45 (or plus) years old. Behind him is his cute grandson Ismael, and on the other end is his son Ibraheem. Fancy jackets most of them from Mianwali, but the local people can be recognized as plain and simple and poor. Two old men sitting in front. One is obviously Muhammed Chittu, the other not known, but can be Munshi Umar Din, the designated Mutawalli of the new mosque. A historical epic left as a record. The photographer is not a very professional one, as people have been cut in the process of photography. And due to movement of some people, an old wooden box camera could not catch much in detail. But it has expressions of various people. All serious and anxious faces (no smiles at all), except the relaxed face of Muhammed Chittu himself. We have tried scientific approach to our analysis, but we may be wrong in our attribution. If so, everybody is welcome to correct us. The present generation of Abdullah Chakravali is even allergic to his name and memory. I remember a famous American song, “Ghost riders in the sky”, and know that the ghost of the hero, Abdullah Chakravali will not go sway in wishful thinking. A popular scholar, he risked his already made reputation for his views, which looked outlandish at that moment in life. But only time reveals the truth. A seed is planted, and a full grown fruit tree takes it time. Abdullah Chakravali’s views became the first step in establishing Islam as a Deen, and indeed for later scholars, a challenge to religion itself. May his soul rest in peace! POST SCRIPTPhotograph can be used only with quoting source of Chughtai Museum.
A SOCIAL DILEMMA OF HISTORICAL DISTORTION IN WHICH MASSIVE DECEPTION – SEES MANDIRS IN ICONS OF OTHER CIVILIZATIONS, FOOLHARDINESS NO REASON
I lived in Lahore all my life. We used to see Mandirs all around the city, deserted yes, but never brought down. Even the gold pinnacles were intact in most of them. But most of them were not old at all. Yes nineteenth century, some eighteenth century, not older than that. The reputed mandirs of Icchra were not that old at all, or perhaps remade over time. People stayed away from them. Then the Babari Masjid was brought down by a segment of Hindus, and in reciprocation, we saw massive destruction of many mandirs. But the mandir fixation did not stop. Just check your internet, you-tubes and other internet places, and you will find a bombardment of such silly statements. You will actually see some Hindus calling the Khana Kaaba as a Shiv Mandir and the Haj aswat as a Shiv lingam; others see a Mandir when they see the Taj Mahal. Conspiratorial minds keep on spinning ridiculous tales with proofs which archaeologists could laugh or people libel them out of pocket. And no one checks them. In fact paid writers from all sides support their preposterous innuendoes. Same is with the Loh Mandir in Lahore. Has anyone even tried to look at it, see the bricks, see the design, see the round holes on sides as well as the bottom, see the architecture, even see the size, but the virtue is not seeing anything at all. No mention in any history, no inscriptions, no references. A 20th century fancy creation. Is there any Mandir like that in the history of Hinduism. If so, please share it with me.
A reference supposed to be by Sujan Rai in 1691 (not proven at all in any way), ascribes Lahore and Kasur to Loh and Kasu, sons of Ram Chandar. Ram Chandar with links to Shri Lanka, has no links to Lahore and Kasur in any way., This is recognized by eminent historians like Ahmad Dani Khan as well as Anjum Rahmani. The names are not LOH and KASU, but LAVA and KUSHA. Where did the legend of same came to the city of Lahore and Kasur. For the first time, it was ascribed to the work KHULASAT AL-TAWARIKH by MUNSHI SUJAN RAY BHANDARI of Patiala. If we study STOREY work on Persian Literature, we find very few copies written in 18th century, and many of them are not complete. The work was written in 1695-96, but no one has researched on same. In the 19th century various translations were made and many manuscripts were found. It would be valid to see the reference of Lava and Kusa starts from where and ends where? Suffice it is a premise not mentioned before in history but later British writers and writers in British period were quick to adopt same. Information is tested not taken point blank without research. If it was said, Sujan Ray has quoted no authority for his statement. It is forgotten that Lava and Kusa fought against their own father Ram Chandar for doubting the purity of their mother. Who knows that? In our view Emperor Jahangeer would have enjoyed the enigma of LOH and would have instructed his architects to make a marvellous memorial to him. In fact the Mughal Minister for Architecture, Ishwar Dass, was in charge of renovation of all the Mughal monuments in Lahore under Shah Jahan, and would have done a wonderful job. But for 3000 years no knowledge or mention of same. But Hinduism speaks of their religion being two million years old and the Story of Ram Chandar perhaps 5000 years old.
In a book written by British writers, illusion is given at the end of 19th century, but the break through is with Judge Muhammed Latif, a British representative by any standards. On page one of his book, he writes:” A mandir, dedicated to Loh, may be still seen in the north western corner of the fort. The descent is by a wooden staircase”. In the same book, we find mention of DEVA DHARMA SABHA, and its headquarters in Lahore, in Anarkali bazaar, which was founded years before. Its motto is given as:”Deva Dharma ki jai- Sakal pap ki chhai; Devattwa ka prachar- Bharat ka Uddhar.”Besides that a 12 point agenda is given, related to promotion of Hinduism. Some years back the place was ransacked in Anarkali, and various artifacts were found there. A person brought a statue of a cow with a Cobra on its head in black stone. It was so fearful chilling that I could not sleep that night. And these are the same people who wrote to the Superintendent of Archaeology, for research in the Mandir of Loh in the Lahore Fort. Communication through letters were going on for a long time. On 11th December, 1923, delegation from both sides visited the site, and started cleaning and digging the hollow in the corner of the Lahore fort. It seems that the whole structure was under debris. On 13th December, 1923, it was cleared and found that in the hollow were discovered bones of a GIANT of a person. The hands were of exceptional size and the teeth were still as sharp as ever. The whole skeleton was not there. Archaeology Superintendent felt that the bones were of Pre Buddhist times. This burial in no way matched with the cremation rites of Buddhism and Sikhism. Sanatan Dharma Sabha proclaimed that the bones were of Loh, son of Ram Chandar. Nobody investigated things properly. Who took the bones, no one knows? Is there a report, no one asks! But there must be mention in the Archaeological report of that year. In our view very near to this place is the Chowk of Nau-guzza, famous to this day. Elders of the area talk of the grave of Nau-guzza being long and obstructing the path, and as such it was shortened to bearable length. Is it possible that some of the bones unearthed were transferred to this location by superstitious people, but that is another story, for another time. And we are investigating properly with documentation.