Saturday, May 1, 2010

Visiting Baba Reshi

Near Ramboh village in Baramulla District, three miles from Tangmarg, on way to Gulmarg, the shrine of Baba Reshi is situated at about 7,000 ft. The tomb (Ziarat) is of an ascetic actually named Baba Payamuddin (Pam Din) and to whom the Chak Dynasty Rulers of Kashmir paid courtesy visits during the Mughal period.

Born around 1411, he is said to have died around 1480. This Reshi, a highborn son of a nobleman but turned ascetic after observing hardworking ants too closely one day, was a disciple of  Baba Zainuddin Rishi (born Ziya Singh or Jaya Singh, some say) of Aishmuqam who was one of the principal disciples of Sheikh Nur-ud-din (Nund Rishi) - the first of the Reshis; the disciples, his four Jewels: 'Buma' Baba Bamuddin Rishi, 'Nasar'  Baba Nasruddin Rishi, 'Zaina'  Baba Zainuddin Rishi and 'Latif ' Baba Latifuddin Rishi.

In  his later years, on the direction of Zainuddin Rishi, Baba Payamuddin moved to village Ramboh, and like others of the order, performed miracles, helped the common people and spread the name. Baba Reshi famously built a daan, a fire place at this place. People came from far and wide to plaster  this daan, to offer sacrifices. They still do. All to have their wishes granted.

In the 90s, this place also faced fire.


On way to Gulmarg, I had no idea we were going to make a stopover here. So it came as a pleasant surprise. After visiting the house that wasn't there anymore, it came as a pleasant surprise from my parents. My mother couldn't stop gushing about the place. I guess she has inherited the devotion to this place from her mother who must have been here often thanks to Nana's job at Gulmarg.

Inside the shrine, in the center of the hall, there is some wonderful woodwork around the tomb of the saint. As I walked around the tomb, circling it, appreciating the art, 'Is it walnut wood?', noticing something strange, I  came to a sudden embarrassing halt. There was something wrong with the place where I stood. One look around and I realized that I had been circling in the outer circle and had unwittingly walked into the women section. There were women sitting all around. The right side of the hall seemed women only. Women praying, crying. Baba Reshi is famous for granting 'child wish'. According to an old tradition of this place, the children thus born, taking a vow of celibacy is attached to the shrine for life and at any given time forty such saints (Reshis) are supposed to serve the shrine.

I traced back my steps and this time started to walk the other side. My mother took up a corner and did her own bit of praying and crying. I walked into the inner circle, taking a closer look at the tomb, 'Is it a tomb?', again I realized something wrong. This time it was the direction. Circling, left to right, I found myself facing a teenage boy coming from the other direction. The boy, praying under his breadth, was cleaning the woodwork using his fingers, measuring the woodwork inch by inch, picking up pecks of dust. An old practice, I have seen Pandits do it at the new shrines of old saints, at Jammu.

After spending some more time inside the shrine, as I started to step outside, I noticed an attendant at the door was handing out something wrapped in Newspaper to the people walking out of the shrine. Prashad? Prasadam? Something sweet? Something to eat?Tabarruk? I too streached my arm for the handout. Walking a distance outside, I opened the paper packet. Inside I found broken down stones and rocks. Others found ash, dust and soot. 


Later someone told me a funny little anecdote. A couple of years ago, a small group of Pandit families had come to visit the shine on the urs, death anniversary, of the saint. A group of separatists was also present. After the common prayers, the separatists raised their hands and asked the saint to grant their wish, 'Kashmir bane Pakistan, Let Kashmir be Pakistan'. The crowd said, 'Ameen, Amen'. The Pandits shaking their sideways, under their breath added, 'Zah ti ne, Zah ti ne, never, never'

2 comments:

  1. Kashmiris, both Muslims and Pandits used to visit Baba Reshi for Zarkasi - first head shave ceremony for kids.

    ReplyDelete

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