Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Famous Nagore Durgah, mystic Sufi saint and Thanjavur secular rulers

Nagore Durhah, Nagore, Tamil Nadu. //www.nagoredargha.com
Through out the Indian history, the Hindu rulers had the highest tolerance towards other religions and had  the deepest respect for  preachers of other faiths. They generously granted lands to them to practice their religion freely with full freedom. A good example is the construction of seven and half churches in Kerala by St. Thomas in 52 Ad, besides the early arrival of jews and Arabas on the coastal Malabar.
    
Nagore Dargah is a well-known  place of worship in India  built over the tomb of the Sufi a saint  Hazrat Syed Shahul Hameed, a Sufi  saint (1490–1579 CE). It is located in Nagore, a coastal town in Nagapatnam District of  Tamil Nadu and well connected  by trains and buses. Nearest big town is Nagapatnam, one of the ancient towns in India.

Shahul Hamid, a native of Manikpur, in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh and a 13th generation descendant of the renowned Sufi saint, Hazrath Muhiyudin Abd al-Qadir al-Jalani, had his Islamic education at Gwalior under the guidance of Hazrat Mohammad Ghouse.He is believed to have led a simple and pious life, performing a lot of miracles; hence the name Nagore Andavar (in local language meaning god of Nagore). He became popular in that region.
Maps of India

As per local legend and historical records, Shahul Hamid is believed to have cured king Achutappa Nayak (1529–1542 A.D.), a Hindu ruler of Thanjavur of his physical affliction and pain caused by acts of sorcery or witchcraft. The king was facing near death and his own relatives wanted to grab the kingdom from him. When the saint was camping near Thanjavur local people came to know about his mystical powers and the message was passed on to the Nayak ruler's family, Upon royal family's request, Shahul Hamid visited the ailing king and through his mystical powers found out that an enemy of the king in the royal family had done black magic on him. Besides, he found an ailing and dying pigeon dotted with numerous needles on it, which was believed to be the cause of kings misery and affliction. The spell was on the bird which had a direct bearing on the Nayak ruler's indisposition. He applied the holy, medicinal oil on the pigeon and painlessly removed the needles from bird, resulting in the king's health improvement over a short period of time. In remembrance of this event, the practice of setting pigeons free on the Nagore Dargah premises is continued by worshipers even today

After the saint had cured the king's affliction ,as  a mark of respect and gratitude, Achutappa Nayak of Nayak Dynasty, the king of Thanjavur during the 16th century, donated 200 acres (81ha) of land to the entourage of Shahul. The saint refused to take gold, precious stones and other luxerious items offered by the king. It clearly shows the saint's detachment from materialistic life and his greater  focus on religion and services to humanity. Such great souls are torch-bearers of humanity, serving people of all faiths and religions unmindful of rewards and accolades.
 

The Dargah was built on a part of the land donated by Nayak. Shahul Hamid is believed to have predicted his death and advised his adopted son Yusuf about his burial location and rites to be performed after his death. Yusuf performed the rites as per the instructions and decided to stay there for the rest of his life. A mausoleum was built over the grave and devotees of Shahul, who continued to believe in his powers after his death, venerated the site of the burial. The Dargah has a gold-plated dome located on the west face outside the main entrance.In the central part is located the tomb of the saint Shahul Hamid which can be accessed through seven doors, four of these doorways are made of silver and the rest of gold.
 

Maratha ruler and Nagore Durgah:
 

The shrine was initially a smaller one and gradually gained prominence. Pratap Singh (1739–1763 A.D.), the Hindu Maratha ruler of Thanjavur prayed for a son and built one of the five and the tallest minaret (called Periya Manara locally) with a height of 131 ft (40 m) once his wish was fulfilled. The Marathas of the later period were patrons to the dargah and the Maratha king Thuljaji, the son of Pratap Singh, donated 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of agricultural land to the dargah. The land, it is believed, is being managed by the State's WAKF board
 

The Nagore Dargah covers an area of 5 acres (2.0 ha) enclosed by a compound wall. The main complex has four entrances in each direction. The Dargah is believed to have been built by ardent devotees of Shahul Hamid, who were 60 per cent Hindus.

Nagore dargah is a common place of worship for devotees of various religious faiths. According to the administration of the Dargah, About 50–75 per cent of pilgrims visiting the Dargah everyday are Hindus
according to the Durgah authorities. The practice of offering flowers, tonsuring of head, sweetmeats and food, the way of conducting worship, and playing musical instruments like nadaswaram (a type of wind instrument commonly used in Tamil Nadu) are atypical of Hindu tradition. Other worship practices include offering flags and lighting lamps of ghee at the saint's tomb. Devotees have their heads tonsured near the tank and offer silver plated facsimiles of body parts, houses, sailboats matching their material needs. The Durgah is being managed by the hereditary trust, most of the trustees being the descendants of the great saint.The annual ''Kandoori festival'' is quite famous here. On the evening of the ninth day of Akhir month in the Islamic calendar, a   a chariot containing sandal paste (locally called santhanakoodu) is pulled across the streets of Nagore by  devotees. The saints descendants receive the sandalwood paste to anoint the Rowla Sharif (sanctum) of the saint by the Khalifa (lead follower of Sufism) of the dargah
Inside the dargah. note the oil lamps. nagore durga.com
 Marata rulers of Thanhavur. gopixpic.com

Nagore durgah,S. India with pigeon towers. nagordugah.wordpress.com

Tit-Bits:A uique feature of this durgah is the annual14 day festival called Kandoori festival. People of all faiths attend this important festival. Kodimaram'(flagstaff) contribution is part of this festival. It is a 400-year-old tradition and the Sirang (the person who raises the flag) had the absolute right to collect the entire offerings. Devotees, who come here with all kinds of grievances, make their offerings at the dargah in various forms, mostly by tying them on the flag ropes of Sahib Manora at the mosque. 
Ref:
http://hindujobs.com/thehindu/2002/08/06/stories/2002080604180400.ht
Ref:"History of Nagore Dargah". Nagore Dargah. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagore_Dargah