BARFI VERSUS DHOTI
AN INTERESTING TALE OF 1965 WAR
Happenings in Lahore
The 1965 war with India was a chapter in the history of Pakistan which will never go away. Tricked and invaded in the stealth of night, the Pakistani forces reacted with a reaction of which songs are spun to this day. The war involved not only the fighting forces but the entire population of the country. Crime rate dropped to literal zero, and everyone was willing to contribute everything of their own for the welfare of the country. The bravado of Lahore can be understood from the fact that with empty streets, boys came out to play cricket in the heat of battle. Spectators of the dog fights of jets over Lahore were on all roofs. People cheered the Pakistan jets like it was a boxing spree in a round in a ring. In fact the Pakistan Air Force had to issue a request for people not to be on the roofs as fighters feared for their safety when firing on the enemy. Sufi Tabassum made history by writing the most patriotic songs ever and Nur Jahan sung them with a candour, which sent ripples of martyrhood through the Army on the front.
An incident is unrecorded by any person, and it is befitting that it is recorded here for posterity. There was an ancient Havelli inside Mochi Darwaza Lahore, by the name of Havelli of Nathu Sonay wala, and it was inhabited by at least five of his sons. One was Qamar-ud-din. Qamar-ud-din had out of his savings bought a new DHOTI for himself from the Azam Cloth Market. He was very proud of same. As he passed the shop of MAHTAB HALWAI near the Mosque of Muhammed Salih Kanbo, people were discussing the war that was going on. President Ayub Khan’s speech had roused the sentiments of the people and they were talking about it. Then one person out of the blue said that there was a possiblity that Lahore may fall, and then all the citizens may be taken prisoner. Qamar-ud-din became so sad, when he realized that he would never be able to wear his brand new Dhoti and it was of no use to him at all. He hurried back to the bazaar and sold the dhoti at a much lesser price than its cost. Then he hurried to Mahtab Halwai and bought barfi (sweet-meat specialty) for himself for the amount and sat down to eat and relish every piece of it. Somebody asked him what he had done and why he did that? His reply was simple and pragmatic. He said, “The Dhoti I may never end up using, being dead before that, or even a prisoner. But here is something I am relishing, right now, and nobody can take this pleasure from me.”
Lahore is composed of many kinds of people. The melting pot of many cultures and many different characters. Here is the one aspect of the Pakistani spirit which has not been seen, or written before, by anyone else.
ART GIMMICKRY IN PAKISTAN
NEW HEIGHTS IN POLITICAL ISLAMO-BASHING
Success at all costs
We love Pakistan. When Pakistani artists do good out side their country, we love them too. Success for artists is success for Pakistan. All patriotic Pakistani should be cheering those people who bring a good name to their country. Period. Good name!
The cult of Malala Yusufzai has taken another turn. Our dear friend Jalees Hazir wrote an excellent article on her. Well done, Jalees! Who on Earth could criticize dear Malala, but sooner, than later, we realized words coming out of her mouth, were not her own. She was being told to say things which are sweet not to her own country, but to other countries. An innocent child victim of the ambitions of her father and the people who surrounded her to bash her country. Look at the quantity and quality of the education received by females in Pakistan. Nothing but the best. The highest in the world. And instead of a peripheral small group (not knowing whom), the Pakistani nation is being picked up as an aggressor to her. Is the criteria for leadership being a victim of aggression?
A group of artists are doing the same. For promotion of their names, their favourite subjects are Pakistani as swell as Islamic bashing. This is political art gimmickry taken to new heights, as never experienced in Pakistan before. We have nothing against art nor any allergy to its contents. But Art means praise for Art itself, its craft, its style as well as its aesthetics. Political messages are not Art related, even when they become part of it. No one likes the Mullahs, but in disguise of Mullah bashing, starting to bash Islam itself, is not fair, for people who believe in FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION . After all freedom is for both sides, the sending side and the receiving side.
We wish Pakistani artists all the best. Live and prosper. But be concerned about your Identity. You are being patronized because you are PAKISTANIS. If you were not, no one would even look at you, lest your art. And the other side of the picture is clear too. Who is financing these Mullahs themselves? Not us, of course. The circle of deceit is miles long.
MASJID BHAGWAN DASS
A HINDU JAMIA MASJID FOR THE MUSLIMS
STORY OF EMPEROR AKBAR’S LAHORE
Raja Bhagwan Dass (Raja Bhagwant Dass) was son of Raja Bihari Mal Kuchowa. He was a courtier in the darbar of Emperor Akbar. Raja Bihari Mal was the first Hindu Rajput to join Akbar’s cabinet and was the first to give the hand of his daughter to Akbar himself. That daughters name was Maryiam Zamani. In a similar way Raja Bagwan Dass also married his daughter to Prince Saleem in 993 AH in Lahore. The wedding took place with great pomp. Sultan Khusrow was born from this lady. When Khusrow rebelled, the lady was very ashamed of the behaviour of her son, and sided with her husband in the consequences. Raja Bhagwan Dass died in Lahore in 998 AH. When Raja Todar Mal died, Raja Bhagwan Dass was there at his cremation ceremony in Lahore.
RAJA BHAGWAN DASS MADE A SPLENDID JAMIA MASJID FOR THER RESIDENTS OF LAHORE AND IT WAS KNOWN AS MASJID BHAGWAN DASS. Historians have recorded this incident. This Jamia masjid no longer exists but it is speculated that as Todar Mal lived near on Grand Turk road near Lahore Mint, Bhagwan Dass must have lived near by. Historian feel that this mosque would have been situated in and around DHARAMPURA, an area inhabited by Akbar and given the same name by him.The area still exists today without anyone knowing about the Masjid Bhagwan Dass.
In any case the Masjid of Maryiam Zamani is still there in Lahore with all its glory. It is speculated that the Masjid of Bhagwan Dass must have in many ways looked like the mosque of his sister, mainly the Queen of Emperor Akbar, and mother of Emperor Jahangeer.
A BIZARRE TALE OF DATA DARBAR
MURDER IN THE COMPOUND
Mutavallis on rampage
Lahore abounds in bizarre happenings. Volumes after volumes can be filled with tales of Lahore. I recall a story about a murder that is worth telling again.
A land owner had sold his land for a huge amount of money and he carried the money with him to the Mazar of Data Darbar in Lahore. This was before the same had been taken over by Auqaff, around 1960, in the term of President Ayub Khan. The land owner sought the blessings of the Saint and met the Mutavalli with great reverence. The Mutavalli immediately realized that this man was carrying a lot of money, and entertained him with great honour. A manji (bed) was laid for the visitor with required blankets. Fresh from the village, there were a couple of cinemas just near the Mazar, and the land owner felt obliged to view a Punjabi movie then. Neelo and Nimi were the reigning film queens of that time. He took the money with him and decided to come back late at night.
The Mutavalli instructed his servant to put a glass of milk near the manji and put poison in it. It was said that when the land owner would come back, and drink the milk, he would die in the night and the money would be their own. According to instructions the servant did what was required of him.
The Mutavalli had one dear son and a manji was laid out for him too. Not realizing which manji was for guest, the son of the Mutavalli came and sat down on the manji of the guest. Looking at the glass of milk, he considered it as laid for him, and drank all of it. Then he went to sleep. And sleep he would for the rest of his life. The land owner came late at night, and saw another manji laid for him. He slept on it. He woke early in the morning and left back for his village, happy and contented with everybody.
The Mutavalli and his servant were rubbing their hands in glee. Nobody had moved under the blanket and they felt happy that their work was done. The Mutavalli raised a fuss about the guest and asked the blanket to be removed to check the health of his guest. When it was removed, he saw the dead body of his own son.
In a matter of little time the Government of Pakistan nationalized all the relgious institutions of Pakistan and Auqaff took over the possession of the Mazar of Data Darbar. For his greed, the Mutavalli had lost not only his dear son, but also the hold on a money minting institution. and things would never be the same again.
The motto still stands when you dig the grave of others, perhaps you are digging your own.
The Ahmadiyah Prophet Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was in town and visiting men who mattered in Lahore. In most probably a well planned move, he visited many houses in Lahore around 1897 (upto 1903-4). Some very important men lived in Mohalla Chabuk Sawaran, including the famous Chishti family of Lahore. Even a newspaper came out of the area. Baba Hiyadatullah the famous poet was another one of them. The Chinay wali masjid had become a centre for the Quran minded persons and men of letters abounded in the Wazeer Khan mosque. The arrival of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was natural.
I saw recently a book on Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in Lahore and was surprised to see the Mohalla of Chabuk Sawaran in it as well as the front of the ancient Chughtai family’s house. Originally named as Mohalla Qazi Saderuddin, the mohalla had a long tradition behind it. The Chughtai brothers were mere children (or not even born) at that time and hardly mattered but the house was occupied by Mian Kareem Baksh Mimar, who belonged to the ancient family of Ustad Ahmad Mimar Lahori. It was amazing for me to know that the Prophet of the Ahmadiyahs had sat on the front of our house more than a hundred years ago. An Ahmadiyah friend told me that as their Prophet had sat there, our family was blessed in all counts.
My step uncle (tahia) Hussain Baksh Chughtai was a well read man, and a holding a Bachelor’s degree from Islamic College, when you could not find educated people around. He was a Royal tutor to the family of the Afghan King exiled in Lahore, and had been given a horse for that purpose by the Britishers. It would have been natural for the Ahmadiyahs to have contacted him too. And talk must have been held with my grandfather Mian Kareem Baksh. No where were they willing to accept any alternative views. My uncle was a Hafiz ul Quran himself and was not inclined to budge from his position. But there were conversions in the mohalla. The Ahmadiyah movement was projected as radical Islam and Lahoris did love radical changes as well. The notion of Prophethood was still not presented then. Mirza Sahib was a well read man and could hypnotize an audience. The Mullahs could not stand in front of him, as they did not rely on the Quran itself. And Mirza Sahib knew more Hadees than anybody else, said some people.The impact was there. Even Dr Allama Iqbal was first moved with the ideas, but later realized the dangers involved in the preaching being done at that time.
Mirza Bashir Ahmad and M.A. Rahman Chughtai did communicate with each other. I remember a letter from Mirza Bashir in our archives, in which he invited Chughtai Sahib to embrace the cult of the Ahmadiyah. M.A. Rahman Chughtai was primarily a follower of Iqballian dream, and ardent well wisher of the great thinker G.A. Pervaiz. The thought of such a thing would not cross his mind. But he always befriended everybody. He was not a bigot in any way.
The tradition is with us. Our family firmly believes in the finality of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and can never budge from that position. But we carry no hatred, prejudice on our shoulders for anyone. For us human beings can accomodate other human beings with love and affection. In fact we have so many Ahmadiyah personal friends that it may surprise people to know how firmly we believe in JEHAD and it is a word we can all take our pride. We can send our love to Nael and Nida right here.
The attitude of the Mullahs make martyrs of everybody. But not us. Respecting our views, we respect the views of others too, however different they may be from ours. Yes many Ahmadiyahs are very sweet and well behaved persons. They have their own viewpoints. They still idealize the colonial Britishers as demi-gods. The face of those ruthless Masters shout out at us in various incidents of British rule. I heard an Ahmadiyah say (with my own ears) that he wished that the British came back. That indeed is a fool hardy wish in these modern times. And that certainly is not sincere to Pakistan. Co-existence means restraint. Most Ahmadiyahs only know of Islam and their Prophet as a jump of their faith. Thinking and pondering can clear things!
CONVERSIONS OF ONCES WAY OF LIFE
RELIGIOUS CHANGES IN LAHORE
Lahore the melting pot of Punjab
There is a strange dynamism when a man decides to change his way of life and embrace that of another. The reasons for the same can be a matter of guess, but best understood as the coming in the fold of faith. In Islam, Allah tells us to use our minds for the purpose and the Quran repeats again and again for man to ‘think and ponder’. The rest is history. The first person to embrace Islam was of course Hazrat Khadija, and that was merely because she knew that the Prophet was not capable of telling anything but the truth itself.
The first person to embrace Islam in Indian region is reputed to be Cheraman Perumal Baskara Ravi Varma, who embraced Islam at the hands of the Arab traders who came here, in the life time of the Prophet himself, and built a Jamia Masjid in Kerala in the year 629 AD. A remarkable event in all circumstances. Muhammed bin Qasim never imposed Islam in Sind, but gradually the Sindhis saw the culture that was being imposed with it, and they gave their hearts and minds to the person, who did not conquer them, but actually liberated them from the tyranny of rule. The Chach-nama tells us how happy the Buddhist and the Hindus were at looking at the liberator Muhammed bin Qasim right from the start. If the heart of Ladi could be won, so could be the hearts of the fellow citizens! That is why they made a statue of Qasim in the square of their major city when he was no more. Mass conversions took place in the Ghaznavid period and the Indian region was fluxed with lakhs of Muslims in the Sultanate period. Nobody pursued the Hindus for conversion, it was an act of faith with them.
If thousands became millions, then there was something certainly going on. But we do find cases of Muslims embracing Christianity. To this day we have never heard of a Muslim embracing Hinduism, although it may have been so. The greatest conversion attempts were made by the Monks here to convert Emperor Akbar, but when he died, Akbar recited the Kalma, and that is on record. Whatever he was doing was the work of a clever politician TRICKING EVERYBODY into a false sense of being. Catrou and Manucci could tell us that Dara Shikoh died a Christian, but such calumny is a matter of shame for them, as he was buried in the mausoleum of his ancestor, Emperor Humayoun, in exactly the position of a Muslim grave. The most famous Muslim conversion was of course that of the Chaplain Abdul Masih, whose name was actually Sheikh Salih. Impressed with the Persian translation of Henry Martyn’s New Testament, he not only embraced Christianity, but became a Father himself, and was inviting people from all over Indian region to do the same. It is said that he converted about 50 Muslims and Hindus, but without a short period the whole renounced their conversion.
There was a complete record of various conversions done by the Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore. A regular record was created, in which a form of conversion was given to the converted person, with the record of his old name, as well as the new one. On the back of the duplicate receipt was either the signature of the converted, or the thumb impressions, as well as a certificate of the Imam himself. Of the various record lost, the record for the year 1908 is still preserved with us. A total of 187 conversions at least in that year, with full record of them. We publish an image of a couple of these conversions. It is one of the strangest record of all times.
Today the ‘big bucks’ are in the compound of writers like Irshad Manji and Tarek Fatah, and they are doing their best to amend (to most distort) the image of Islam in the mind of their followers. With heavy backing, they will end up doing less than their plans. There is a NOOR on the face of all those who aim at right and do right. That Noor tells us all! Abu-Jahls are allowed by Allah to exist, for Allah knows that his compassion can touch anybody anytime, and Allah too believes in freedom of expression for all. Indeeed what is about Allah that cannot be praiseworthy? Nothing. Everything about him is purity of infinite dimensions.
THE SHIT CLEANERS OF LAHORE
CHANGING TIMES OF HYGIENE
A history of dealing with refuse
The organism of man is related to input of energy requirements for his body, and the expulsion of refuse which his body no longer needs. The history of dealing with refuse is an interesting history of mankind. By design of Allah, the input has savoury smells, and the refuse has unwelcome odours. Various societies dealt with it in their own way, and archaeologists have uncovered the systems with time. In our region Mohenjo-daro was well advanced in its time, with a grand system of toilets. The dead sea scrolls tell us a different story. The monks living in caves had a system all their own. With a shovel in their hands, they would scrape a hole in the dust of the near mountain, squat on it and then fill it with mud. Later they had a pond in which they used to wash their feet. The Romans had public toilets, where men, women sat with each other in open enclosures, and talk their heart out on all subjects. English and French castles have their own tales to tell, where the Royalty were in the habit of defecating where and whenever they wanted. All these are fun for the archaeologist. From the survey of faeces of the dead sea scroll monks, they can research on what the monks ate at that time. Research is not always savoury for all.
The Islamic way of life is often quoted in the saying that CLEANLINESS IS HALF OF FAITH ITSELF. That is why the Arabs invented the soap itself. The Muslim way of life including the ritual of regular baths and cleansing of the body. It is said that Europe hated the concept of bathing itself, and Europe existed for 1000 years with out bathing. Their rituals even today are very different from Islamic way of life. When Father Sebastian Manrique was in the palace of Nawab Asif Khan in Lahore in 1644, Emperor Shah Jahan was asked to comment on those Christians of his time. The Emperor including the following in his assessment of them. Shah Jahan said:
“Truly the Franguis would be great people, were it not for three grave faults; in the first place, they are Cafars (people without religion); in the second, they eat pork; and thirdly, they do not wash the parts which replete nature expels the excess of their material paunches.”
Turkish steam baths swept the world, and not only the palaces, but the entire city was full of ‘hammams’ to take baths and cleanse the body. Lahore had plenty of them. A look at the ladies toilets in the Red Fort Delhi tells us the system of the Mughal toilets. Similar ones existed in Lahore. Sir Thomas Herbert, Bart found it one of the most clean cities of the world in 1595 AD, as well as Richard Still and John Crowther in 1626 AD. The best cities of the world included Lahore for its clean and pure air. The system in most houses had ‘gurkis’, or small refuse wells. The refuse used to fall in these dumping holes in the ground. Either the sames were filled up and new gurkis dug, or they were cleaned after a year, or so.
The Sikh times brought in the break up of the the whole systems for reasons understood and at times not known. Out of the blues we have the city surrounded by small huts, houses, or fallen havellis in possession of the SHIT CLEANERS OF LAHORE. Ugly words were attached to them and ethnical they were termed as ‘Changars’. An ethnic race considered the lowest on the rung of the Hindu ladder of classes, and they were responsible for the dirtiest job of mankind. A few decades ago they could be easily seen, carrying a ‘PARAT’ or iron vessel, and moving from house to house. They would put the shit of every house in their parat and then dump it outside the city, from where it was collected in bull carts, and sold as fertilizer for vegetables sown outside the city. And the Shit-cleaners worked from generation to generation. Lest one may think that it was for poor people, even the description of travelers first class hotels in Lahore paint the same picture. A description given by an English traveler in the 19th century speaks the same story of Falettis hotel Lahore, here a better kind of Swedish basin was used for the purpose.
Lahore was serviced in water supply through big and small wells. Water need was also fulfilled by the water carrier (mashquis), who took water to the home of persons in a big hide skin vessel. The Mori system actually started with the making of the PANI WALA TALAB in Rang Mahal area, from where water was taken to the houses by a system of lead pipes. This changed the complexity of the city in total. With it came the Moris, open small gutters, and the bigger MORIS and the final MORI GATE itself. One of the Gates of Lahore is known as MORI GATE, or the GUTTER GATE, from where all the refuse of the city came out. The moat around the city was also used for the same purpose. And people may remember that these kind of MORIS were all there in the city, on which small children were seen shitting all the time. The elders used a small room at the top of the house. The whole city really stank and there was no reason to doubt same.
The Missionaries in our region did excellent work in rehabilitating many of such people. Being treated as human beings for the first time in thousands of years, the ‘Changars’ were ever grateful. Our hats off to these wonderful Monks and Nuns who gave the pride back to this community. Indeed God will bless them for their charity work and putting this community to useful tasks in the society. In the changing system of today, the Plumber remains important and the memory of the SHIT CLEANERS OF LAHORE ever there
THE ‘WAAR’ IN FILMS
NATIONAL SENTIMENTS AND MISGUIDANCE
A rhetoric of propaganda ideas
It is a crazy world. Perhaps it was always like this! Perhaps the dangers are even more in this fragile world. Over the years we have seen films being used as effective mechanism for swaying the minds of the people. The bad guys were once upon a time ‘Chinese’ who were considered yellow and the ‘Russians’ who were considered Red. The colours have no relation with those people themselves. Abusive language was hurled at both countries. That state may be over, when Samuel Huntington started the ‘Clash of Civilizations’. Islamo-phobia became the catch word in internationsal relations and there is so much Islamic bashing in the world right now, so far from the truth, that one wonders why disharmony is created to further expansion ideas.
One could sense this first in the petty Indian movies being made and the so called Indian hero, lambasting with his video photoshop equipment into some phenomenal superman. It made us laugh, really laugh. I remember in 1971, the Indian war planes over Lahore, and when the Light Ack Ack used to start, the fighters would scramble away. In such a frenzy they dropped a bomb on the ‘Do moria pul’ (a small bridge near Station), instead of the Ravi bridge, and killed a tonga fellow and his horse driven cart. Great achievement for such an act out of the skies for them, but Ravi bridge stood its ground through out the war. Those heros one could kill with ones laughter. Then the Western television and movies started using the Pakistani element in them. From vague references, they started being more specific. Pakistan bashing was on and it was not even subtle any more. I remember in an episode of NCIS LA, the heros battle an ISI agent in Afghanistan as well as Washington DC. Even the idea of drones came in the series. The reference to Pakistan sprung again and again. When RAMBO marched to Afghanistan to drive the Russians away for the Mujahideen, it was great show. But then the Mujahideen became the enemies themselves. I remember President Saddam Hussain of Iraq stating once that War was not like the one Rambo fought in the movies.
The preposterous got in way. In the season THE LAST RESORT we see an American Captain of Colorado submarine eing asked to nuke Pakistan and he refuses to do same. Then two nukes are fired on Karachi and Islamabad. NOT LAHORE. Why not Lahore? For Lahore is very near the Indian border, and it was not appropriate to send radioactivity to Delhi itself, directly, even if it was a mere movie. So whoever writes the script, their homework is perfect. The symbolism of NUKING OF PAKISTAN prevails in some minds.
Well finally it seems we have our own answer and we have made the film ‘WAAR’ to highlight the malady of this culture. Well done! Retort was necessary. But then why is the world shrinking for PEACE . The salamati of Islam in telling the world to co exist as fellow beings on Planet Earth even with a different way of life. I think films should preach PEACE but should also show RESISTANCE to wrongs being done by others. The crazy neo-cons are bordering on madness and their threat should be removed by the force of the people itself. The American people are very good people, but inward looking, with no knowledge of the world. A new phenomena is rising. The American people are looking outward for knowledge and realize for the first time that their media has always let them down. Let us see the friendly American again travelling all over the world, winning hearts and minds of people, through sharing of culture, and appreciation of other ways of life.
DIWAN-BARID OF LAHORE
MY NAME IS BOND, JAMES BOND!
The Secret Service in Lahore
In the spurt of the Ghaznavid conquests in this region, Sultan Mahmud realized the importance of an agency trying to collect information for consolidation of his rule. A secret network was formed and the informers to the Sultan included many Hindu Rajas. Hindus spying on Hindus as well as spying on the representatives of the Sultan, so that the Sultan may receive adequate information for all actions. This was the first Muslim Secret Service of the region. We do not have adequate knowledge of the network but many of the Sultan’s conquests were a result of timely information of gathering events.
When Sultan Muhammed Ghauri was assassinated by the Ismaeli assassins on the bank of the river, near the village of Damyak, on 15th March 1206 AD, it was a failure of intelligence. The Fidai Mulahidah were ruthless in their work had made everyone realize the importance of espionage. A number of other prominent leaders through out the Indian region were caught and murdered in cold blood. Qutb-ud-din Aibeg knew all this well. A very methodical secret service was set by him in Lahore, as he ruled most of his life from Lahore itself. Even when in Delhi, he would come to Lahore for weekends.
In a class system like Hindustan, resentments were great. Ethnic played a great role, and there was no unity amongst the various Hindu Rajas. There is an interesting fact narrated in the Chach-nama about Jats and Gujjars. These people were literally slaves and held in utter contempt by the rulers. The historian Peter Jackson himself quotes this:
“It (Chach-nama) alleges that Muhammed Bin Qasim, the conqueror of Sind, learned of the disabilities imposed on a local people , the Jats, in the era of the deposed Brahman dynasty. One was that the Jats were to take dogs with them whenever they went out of doors, in order that they might be recognized.”
When there was so much disparity, how could the society function. One of the reason for the success of the Muslim conquests was that many classes of people were not considered fit to fight a war with enemies. And these were the people who befriended Muslims and how the Rajas lost their hold due to their own ruthlessness.
The formation of Diwan-Barid was inevitable. To execute the functions of the State, a very effective intelligence gathering system was evolved and named as Diwan-Barid. The exclusive group composed of many rungs of life, including Rajas themselves, had the responsibility of gathering information and providingto the Sultan well in time. We see today that espionage activities in modern times are considered really essential for the survival of a country. More was at stake at that time,and Lahore famous for people of culture, also had its share of the James Bond of those times., History goes on repeating it self and man goes on making the ame mistakes. This is all well elucidated by Tajuddin Hassan Nizami in the times of the Sultan himself.
SARCOPHAGUS IN NAWAB ASIF KHANS MAUSOLEUM
IS IT REALLY HIS?
Fresh thoughts on a neglected monument
The complex in Lahore with mausoleums of Emperor Jahangeer, Nawab Asif Khan and Empress Nur Jahan is the most unique and beautiful Mughal enterprize of the region. Every Head of State who visited Pakistan was taken to this important site. The tea parties, lunch parties and picnics were all a part of this complex. As the Mughals would have wanted it, a place containing dead bodies was made into a living place of human interaction. In real terms PARADISE itself.
The complex would have remained as it was, if not for the intervention of the Sikh ruler, Ranjit Singh in Lahore. Hungry for bricks and marble, he ruthlessly destroyed the complex. It is a real surprise how the small enclosure of Emperor Jahangeer was saved from extinction. Miracle in all ways! If it had remained, the dome of Asif Khan’s mausoleum was no less than the Taj Mahal of Agra, perhaps even grander. Our heritage destroyed by callous people insensitive to the legacy of mankind.
In the compound of the Asif Khan’s mausoleum as well as that of Nur Jahan, there lived an old man, a literal giant of a person, whose presence could scare everybody away from the site. Eventually he died and he too was buried in the compound somewhere. When the British Archaeological Department woke up, they had this compound cleaned of rubble collected over the decades. In the compound of Asif Khan, they came across a sarcophagus of the Royal kind. Immediately thinking of it as being the missing one from Asif Khan’s mausoleum, they put the huge stone outside its verandah. Fenced by barbed wire, it was there outside even in 1907 AD. As time passed, they saw it fit to put it as the Sarcophagus of Asif Khan. But to me there always was an issue?
The sarcophagus at present in Nawab Asif Khan’s mausoleum is not proportionate to its surroundings. It is too small for its grand environment. If we see the sarcophagus of Emperor Jahangeer, it is not only very large, it also has the name of the Emperor on it. It’s identity is hundred percent proven fact. But there are no names on the one in Asif Khan, no dates, nothing. There were two sarcophagus in the Mausoleum of Empress Nur Jahan. One was hers own. The second (often attributed to her daughter Ladli Begum, who is actually buried in the compound of Khusrow in Allahabad, as even seen by historian Dr Abdullah Chaghatai) was the empty one, the Ashiq Mashooq concept. Designed by Empress Nur Jahan herself, the second sarcophagus represented her lost love Emperor Jahangeer. As a tribute to him, this one would be empty, and there would be no names on the sarcophagus itself. The Sikhs in their frenzy threw things here and there. The sarcophagus from the Mausoleum of Empress Nur Jahan got thrown in the compound of Nawab Asif Khan, from where it ended up as his own sarcophagus.
Then there is another question. The size of the Emperor’s sarcophagus was always bigger than the Queens, as shown in the sarcophagi of the Taj Mahal itself. We attach an image to show the difference between a male and a female’s sarcophagus. The sarcophagus of Nawab Asif Khan should have been much bigger in size, for everything in construction was then related to Euclidean principles, of which both Mir Abdul Kareem and Ustad Ahmad were Masters of those principles of architecture,.
Is this possible? Wishful thinking, merely. Not at all. This is hundred percent possible. But for this we need people who ask questions? Then they get answers. The whole Archaeological department no longer contain the stalwarts of the department. Just mere clerks now getting their pay, and going home. The relation with their legacy long gone.