The Qadiriya Sufis of Bundi
The Dargah of Hazrat Masoom Ali Shah (Badey Hazrat) and Hazrat Muzzaffer Ali Shah (Daata Saheb)
Saint, son of Saint (Wali ibn Wali) is how our Teacher, Hazrat Pirzada Maulana Chaman Qadri (Babuji or Hazratsaheb, as he was affectionately called) described the relationship and lineage of the Sufi Saints of Bundi, namely Hazrat Masoom Ali Shah and his son, Hazrat Muzaffer Ali Shah. Babuji himself was also part of this blessed lineage. Hazrat Masoom Ali Shah was a wandering mystic from Khorasan who came to reside in the desert paradise of Bundi in the early 19th Century. He was welcomed by the King of Bundi, who regarded the Saint as his Guru. In time, the spiritual mantle (wilaya) was passed to his son, Muzzaffer Ali Shah, known throughout the region as Daata Saheb (the Generous One).
Daata Muzzaffer Ali Shah was known for his selfless service and plurality. Not surprisingly, he had as many Hindu devotees, as Muslim (those being the largest communities in India). Every day, Daata Saheb held a community kitchen for the poor (langar) while he himself subsisted on a single meal that consisted of a piece of dry bread (Roti) and lentil soup (Dal). A true ascetic, Daata Saheb never married and lived a life of self-sacrifice and spiritual discipline. He chose Hazrat Maulana Chaman Qadri as his successor, who he had trained since he was a boy of seven.
At the age of 107 years, when Daata Saheb’s time of passing approached, he beckoned the young Maulana Chaman Qadri to him and entrusted his spiritual mission to his young disciple. He also guided Babuji to his own Master in Baghdad, the Saheb-ul-Zaman of his generation, Hazrat Pir Ibrahim Baghdadi, who was over ninety years old. For the next twelve years, Babuji served Pir Ibrahim as a faithful disciple and was declared a master of the Qadiriya Sufi way, ready to take up its mantle of grace and compassion in India.
Our late Guide (Pir), Hazrat Maulana Chaman Qadri (Hazrat Saheb or Babuji)
For the better part of the next fifty years, Hazrat Saheb devoted himself to the service of humanity. From the spiritual training and guidance of thousands of devotees to providing healing to a daily line of troubled visitors, he was indefatigable in his efforts. And this was in addition to his duties as the City Qazi (Islamic judge), and Maulana (scholar). As a young man, he was trained in these disciplines and received Ijaza from India’s highest (and conceivably greatest) Islamic authority, Mufti-e-Azam, Mustafa Raza Khan, Bareilly. Another area where Babuji carried the torch of his forbearers was that of Qaumi Ekta or communal unity. He was appointed as Chair of the All India Qaumi Ekta Committee (Rajasthan chapter) by the former President of India, Dr. Gyani Zail Singh.
His daily routine was indeed the embodiment of service. To us, as young spiritual aspirants, it seemed as though he never slept. The night always resonated with his deep intonations of the Quran or various spiritual formulae (wazaif). The day began before the crack of dawn for the Fajr prayer, followed by more litanies and devotions. Only then came a small cup of tea. Early morning saw a long line of visitors who would gather in the Qadri garden. People from all walks of life would come seeking Hazrat Saheb’s healing, guidance, and blessings. That would continue till about 10 am, followed by a light breakfast then a quick visit to the city of Bundi, where he discharged his duties as a judge and scholar. Back for lunch and a small siesta. And then again, off to the city for more official business. The office was situated on the main street in a small, quaint building, where Babuji’s team of close devotees would assemble.
People of every faith, age, and occupation were regular visitors. Muslims said their prayers (namaz), others were content just being in the presence of Hazrat Saheb. Chai was distributed, joy and lighthearted conversation followed. By 7 pm, the party of revelers leaves with their daily weariness forgotten. Babuji would be back home in the garden, sometimes after having conducted chores (buying groceries and fruit), where his devoted wife had delicious yet simple dinner ready. There was a tête-à-tête with family members and lights out at 10 pm. Or so it appeared.
But, it was common for the telephone to ring throughout the night, as devotees (mureeds) from various parts of the country, and at times, from across the world, would call for advice and guidance. Some would even visit at odd hours. The gate was always open, and none were turned away from help or a warm meal, nor charged any fees. Everything was a blessing from the unseen (Futuh-al-Ghaib), and Daata Saheb’s grace, Babuji would say. Prayers (dua), litanies and Istikhara were continued through the night.
The night resonated with the devotional notes of the Quran. Day followed, and so did the seasons, years, and decades. Babuji never changed – a life of service, devotion, and pure love unsullied by time. He used to say, “Learn from the Qadiri how to live.”
Babuji left for the Eternal Abode on November 12, 2012 (Muharram 1, 1433AH) . But his saintly legacy continues. His work in Bundi is carried forward by his two sons, Hazrat Abdul Shakur Qadri (Bhai Saheb) and Hazrat Ghulam Jilani Qadri (Guddu Bhai Saheb). A Dervish at heart, Bhai Saheb prefers a life of service and simplicity. He continues to guide and help the founders of EssentialSpirituality (Sufiana Sufi) in sharing the message of the Saints of Bundi. It is our ardent hope that Sufiana Sufi too may contribute a footnote to the story, Insha’Allah!