Monday, May 22, 2017

The shrine of Bhulbhulaiyan, Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Mehrauli


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Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar was born in Osh (now in Kyrgyzstan), but came to India at the time when the Turks first founded the Delhi Sultanate, in the later twentieth century. He became a disciple of Muinuddin Chisti, who founded the Chishtiya Sufi order in India. Muinuddin Chishti, who had his seat in Ajmer, nominated Qutubuddin his spiritual successor and ordered him to go to Delhi. The latter came to Delhi most likely during the reign of Iltutmish. Delhi, under the protection of the Sultanate had become a major centre of Islamic learning, culture and spirituality after the destruction of Central Asian centres by Mongols under Chengiz Khan.

The work and popularity of the saint extended to non-Muslims too, and he and other Sufis won over many Hindu followers. Qutubuddin’s popularity meant that he received large donations from the rich, which were then expended on charity. The traveller Ibn Batuta, who visited Delhi about a century after the death of the saint tells us the story behind the nickname of the saint, ‘Kaki’. According to him, the saint was frequently visited by those in financial need, and he helped then out by giving them a biscuit or kaka, of gold or silver, and thus came to be known as ‘Kaki’. After his death in 1235, his shrine continued to be popular place of pilgrimage. It still is, and is visited by many, including, non-Muslims, particularly during the annual celebration of the urs. The urs of a saint, literally ‘wedding’ is the date of his death, the imagery of a wedding symbolizing the union with God.

Women are not permitted to enter the enclosure which contains the grave of the saint. They may look in through the screen windows set into the enclosing wall.” Taken from (pg 209 Delhi 14 Historical Walks by Swapna Liddle)  

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