LITTLE KNOWN REFERENCE OF ALI HUJWIRI’S TOMB IN LAHORE
FROM CHANDAR BHAN BRAHMAN, MUNSHI OF DARA SHIKOH
Chandar Bhan Brahman, Munshi of Prince Dara Shikoh visited Lahore on leave of absence from the Emperor and mentioned various things. Originally from Lahore himself, he even had his own house here. The first thing he did here was to visit the Mausoleum of Ali Hujwiri for spiritual blessings. And about the Mausoleum complex of Hazrat Ali Hujwiri in Lahore, he says:
“Even though there are yearly and monthly impromptu performances throughout the city’s precincts, especially at the tombs and shrines of the giants along the path of esoteric Truth (buzurgan i rah i haqiqat), the Thursday gatherings at the blessed tomb of that knower of mystical stages, Pir Ali Hujwiri, creates an especially remarkable commotion. Darwishes and other free spirits, literati, poets, and all manner of people gather there to observe the spectacle of Divine Creation.”
No mention of general public, but Chandar Bhan Brahman goes on to say another remarkable thing. He reports that one Ishwar Dass, the Minister of Architecture “had demonstrated his great competence and excellent taste with respect to every heavenly building”. An Hindu administrator for upkeep of every Mughal monument in Lahore, and as a consequence not only the upkeep but the making of these complexes with excellent taste, including the Tomb complex of Pir Ali Hujwiri. In other words Prince Dara Shikoh had Ishwar Dass make the entire Tomb complex of Pir Ali Hujwiri and overhauled it, and as Dara Shikoh himself says, that he gave it a chaste white marble sarcophagus for same. In other words we can think of that white marble sarcophagus in line of tombs like Emperor Jahangeer as well as that of Tomb of Sahib Jamal (Anarkali). But for a Prince to change a sarcophagus only, was obviously not enough. Surely he had the building of the Mazar made again, or even relocated at some place.
Unfortunately the place for all this is not specified in any way. If a Mughal Tomb complex was designed in the 17th century, where is it now? Where is the grave stone of same? Disappeared in thin air. Although according to Mufti Ghulam Sarwar 2000 buildings in Lahore disappeared under the Sikh rule here, and a number of Mazars are recorded as having suffered the same. But Ranjit Singh was enamoured with Pir Ali Hujwiri. In fact three visits (1833, 1837, 1838) are on record, and he presented Rs 125 as ardas for the beggars and friars of the complex, along with amounts for Chajju Bhagat complex, and Mastan Shah. He is recorded as having prostrated at the grave at one time. One of his wife had even repaired the complex on her own.
But things get more interesting in the next year 1839. There was a need to rebuild the Gates and for added protection trenches outside the gates were to be made. A need was felt to clear the Bhatti Gate area. Outside Bhatti Gate was the area and mohalla of another famous Sufi of Lahore, that is Syed Shah Sharaf, on which was the mausoleum and mosque of that saint too. The mohalla was not that populated in Sikh times, and it was decided to clear the Bhatti Gate area, so both the mausoleum and Mosque of Syed Shah Sharaf were demolished under the orders of Ranjit Singh himself. Faqeer Aziz uddin was given the task of taking the body out of the learned Syed and then reburying it in the Hata of Haji Muhammed Saeed in Dulla Wari area, where the body is still there under a small construction.
In same year (after death of Ranjit Singh) orders were given by Kharrack Singh to vacate all areas within half a mile distance from the Gates and Wall of Lahore (one does not know how many came under the demolition drive, probably many), and as a result orders were also given to demolish the mausoleum and mosque of Shah Muhammed Ghaus Qadri outside Delhi Gate Lahore. An European Delaurax dismantled the mosque and started with the mausoleum. There was a huge hue and cry in the city (strange for Shah Ghaus and not for others), and it is reputed that Kharrack Singh died that very night. And people believed that it was the spiritual might of Muhammed Ghaus which did the same. But all this gives us no view about the Hujwiri quarters in Lahore. The same is also very near Bhatti Gate, and it is probable that this too was cleared. What happened?
Graves relocation is normal in history. It happened with Shah Bilawal of Shah Jahan’s time, too. When the present site of Pir Ali Hujwiri was made recently (only a few years back), a number of graves of holy men were dismantled and relocated elsewhere, and the whole process was done in the night. A number of graves within the site were just cleared and the tombstones sold in the market. How sad that how ruthless can administrators become? No compassion anywhere. But so many other mazars were cleared during the night, ruthlessly. Nothing seems to have changed. Ruthlessness has no religion.
The mystery deepens. Dara Shikoh mentions the grave of Pir Ali Hujwiri in the Lahore Fort. Chandar Bhan Brahman mentions a Tomb complex somewhere. A proper mausoleum made about 1861 (and remade over time) exists to this day. What are the secrets of Pir Ali Hujwiri? Only time will tell or it will never be found. No one really knows! I have seen manuscripts written at the tomb of Pir Ali Hujwiri, and two of them are in our library, one 17th century, and the other 18th century, but again no area is given in the colophon. One of them is by the Mujawir of the complex. Till something comes up, nothing definitely can be said by anyone. Speculation cannot be enough.
A theory can be evolved that Pir Ali Hujwiri was buried in the Lahore Fort. Dara Shikoh thought it not fit for the great saint and had a new Tomb complex made in the Hujwiri quarters, under Ishwar Dass, Administrator Mausoleums. That complex existed till the time of Ranjit Singh, and then Kharrack Singh had it demolished in 1839. With this demolition the remains of Pir Ali Hujwiri were shifted back to their original site in the Lahore Fort, where it still exists today. But that is a theory only. Research may bring more facts. But complexity remains. Obviously such mischief is left out of the pages of history.