Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud’s shrine, Bahraich
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The warrior saint
Name: Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA)
Date of Birth: 22 January 1015 A.D.
Date of Wisaal: 14 Rajjab 424 AH / 1032 A.D.
Date of Urs: 14 Rajjab
Resting at: Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, India
Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) (Persian: غازى سيد سالار مسعود) (died 14 Rajab 424AH / 1032 AD) was a Turkic warrior and the nephew of Hazrat Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi. He was son of Hazrat Ghazi Salar Sahu who was descendent of Hazrat Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyyah, son of Hazrat Ali and Sitr-i-Mu'alla, who was sister of Hazrat Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi. Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) came along with his uncle Hazrat Salar Saifudin and teacher Hazrat Syed Ibrahim Mashadi Bara Hazari (Salar-i-Azam of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi) in early 11th century to the South Asia for propagation of Islam. Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) was born at Ajmer on 22 January 1015 AD.
Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) was 11 years old (in 1026 CE) when he took part in the invasion of Somnath with his uncle Hazrat Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi. While his uncle returned to Ghazni after victory at Somnath, Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) settled in South Asia to further his ambitions.
Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) entered India with an army of more than 100,000 men with 50,000 horses accompanied by two generals Meer Hussain Arab and Ameer Vazid Jafar attacked India in May 1031 AD. He marched on into northern India and was joined by his uncle Hazrat Salar Saifuddin, Hazrat Meer Wakhtiar, Hazrat Meer Syed Ajijuddin and Hazrat Malik Bahruddin and their armies.
After swift raids across Northern India plains and passing through Meerut, Kannauj and Malihabad he arrived in Satrikh. They marched on to Meerut and Ujjain whose local kings made friendship treaties. Later Saket was taken. Miyya Rajab and Hazrat Salar Saifuddin took Bahraich. Amir Hasan Arab took Mahona, Malik Fazal took Varanasi. Sulutanu-e-Salateen and Mir Bakhatiar went south to Kannor and there Mir Bakhtiar was killed during a fight with the local army. Syed Sahu took Karra and Manikpur. Leaving Malik Abdullah in charge of Karra and Kutb Haidar at Manikpur. Syed Aziz-ud-din was sent against Hardoi, but fell in the battle at Gopamau on the banks of Gomti.
The graves of his close associates and relatives Hazrat Jalaluddin Bukhari and Hazrat Syed Ibrahim Bara Hazari are still located at Rewari.
Battle of Bahraich
Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) proceeded to attack Ayodhya via Zaidpur, Baba Bazar, Rudauli, but on reaching Raunahi,and here a little town has been founded by Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) named Salarpur. (in the outskirts of Ayodhya) he suddenly changed his mind and marched his army towards Brahmarchi, presently Bahraich is in Uttar Pradesh. At that time, Bahraich was also a very significant place of Hindu pilgrimage, as there stood an old and magnificent temple of Sun God, named Balark Temple. It was a temple of Morning Sun, as the golden rays of the rising Sun first touched the feet of the deity. There was a bauli (which still exists, though in a very dilapidated condition) and a huge tank named Surya Kund.
Meanwhile, 17 Hindu Kshatriya rulers of Northern India forged an alliance against Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA). They were Rai Raib, Rai Saib, Rai Arjun, Rai Bheekhan, Rai Kanak, Rai Kalyan, Rai Makaru, Rai Savaru, Rai Aran, Rai Birbal, Rai Jaypal, Rai Shreepal, Rai Harpal, Rai Hakru, Rai Prabhu, Rai Deo Narayan and Rai Narsinha. Various Kshatriya clans that participated in this war include Bais Rajputs, Arkawanshi kshatriyas, Kalhans Rajputs, Raikwars and Bhar warriors. Rai Sahar Deo and Rai Hardev also joined later.The head of this confederation was Raja Suheldev, the ruler of Sravasti. In June 1033, Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) received correspondence from kshatriya confederation that the land belonged to Hindus and Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) should evacuate these lands. Masood replied that all land belongs to God and hence he would not retreat.
On 13 June, Morning, Kshatriya army of about 120,000 descended on Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) camp of Bahraich. Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi's army was completely besieged and encircled. The battle continued for hours. In the end, nearly all soldiers of Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) army were exterminated. No POW's were taken, no mercy was shown. The battle ended on 14 June with victory of Raja Suheldev and his kshatriya alliance.In the evening of Sunday 14 June 1033 Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) was killed. The location of this battle to be precise was near Chittaura Jheel, a lake about 8 KM away from modern Bahraich on Bahraich-Gonda Road
The location of this battlefield is near Chittaura Jheel, a lake about 8 Kilometers away from modern Bahraich on Bahraich-Gonda Road .
Later, Firoz Shah Tughlaq, the Turkic Sultan of Delhi who had a great admiration for Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) built his tomb.
Dargah of Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA) is a place for reverence for Muslims and Hindus alike. It is believed that people taking bath in the water of this Dargah become free of all skin diseases. The annual festival (Urs) at the Dargah is attended by thousands of people coming from far-off places of the country.
Bahraich is a small town in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Situated on the Saryu River, a tributary of river Ghaghra, Bahraich is 125 km northeast of Lucknow, the state capital. The towns of Barabanki, Gonda, Lakheempur and Sitapur share local boundaries with Bahraich. A factor, which makes this town significant, is the international border shared with the neighboring country, Nepal.
Anarkali is a place where 1000 years before Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi (RA),
Horses stopped and drank water; And Hazrat offered his first prayers.
This lake has since then never dried.
Bahraich got its name from the Arabic word bahr, which means a large body of water. Situated on the bank of river Ghaghra, it was named Bahraich. Although a small town, Bahraich happens to be a very old town of India. It was inhabited around the 10th century.
The main occupation of the residents of Bahraich is agriculture. In the British period, Bahraich was a renowned market for grains and pulses. Even today, it is renowned for agricultural products like pulses, wheat, rice, corn, sugar, and mustard. Also, there are thick forests in Nanpara and Bhinga region, which account for herbs and timber.
Myth and memory
Myth and memory lie in sweet coexistence at Ghazi Miyan’s tomb in Bahraich. Now historian Shahid Amin captures the saga of the warrior saint between covers
India is a land of contradictions and nothing typifies this so starkly as the legend of Ghazi Miyan. There is a lot of talk of magical realism in literature but the legend of Ghazi Miyan introduces it in history – past as well as present.
In Shashi Tharoor’s novel “Riot”, which liberally makes fictional use of the names of real people and places, Professor Mohammed Sarwar informs V. Lakshman that he is “working on the life of a man called Syed Salar Masud Ghazi, popularly known as Ghazi Miyan, a hugely revered Muslim warrior-saint.” He also feels that while a lot is said about the “composite culture of North India”, its “composite religiosity” is not talked about much. In this context, Prof. Sarwar mentions that a number of Muslim religious figures such as Nizamuddin Auliya, Moinuddin Chishti, Shah Madar and Shaikh Nasiruddin alias Chiragh-i-Dilli are worshipped by the Hindus and that Ghazi Miyan happens to be in this league. He also tells Lakshman that “what we need, as my friend and fellow professor Shahid Amin, whom you knew at college, likes to say, are “non sectarian histories of sectarian strife.”
Well, Professor Shahid Amin, who recently retired from Delhi University’s Department of History, has written just that kind of history. Unlike most tomes by erudite historians, it’s a multi-layered, complex, nuanced and intimate telling of the saga of the legendary Ghazi Miyan as it does not attempt to offer a single interpretation and leaves a lot to the intelligence as well as imagination of the reader.
Published by Orient BlackSwan in late September, “Conquest and Community: The Afterlife of Warrior Saint Ghazi Miyan” brings us face-to-face with a tilism, a veritable phantasmagoria where real and imaginary not only co-exist but also constantly interact with each other, resulting in folklore that perpetuates and celebrates the worship of a folk hero who is a Ghazi (an Islamic warrior or jihadi who does not hesitate to slay infidels and break idols to pieces) and, at the same time, is a protector of cows and cowherds, a brother to a Hindu queen, and a saviour of the honour of virgin daughters of the cowherds. Isn’t it incredible that this jihadi warrior is worshipped by the very Hindus that he attacked and that Hindu women pray at his tomb for a male child of his noble qualities?
Ghazi Miyan is also known as Bale Miyan, Bala Pir, Pir Bahlim and Gajan Dulha although his real name is Syed Salar Masud. In Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh, his dargah has been an attraction for Hindu and Muslim devotees for nearly 1,000 years and a big fair is organised every year here. Ghazipur, Ghaziabad and Salarkotla that dot many regions of the country are perpetuating his memory.
Ever since his legend took shape in the 11th Century, fairs have been organised at various places and historical documents reveal that his fame had reached Bengal by the 14th Century. Shahid Amin informs us that in a letter of 1290, Amir Khusrau mentions about the “fragrant tomb of Sipahsalar Shahid” at Bahraich spreading the “perfume of odorous wood” throughout Hindustan. In 1341, the famous Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta accompanied Mohammad bin Tughlaq to the Bahraich dargah.
In the 15 Century, Sikandar Lodi had tried to ban the “festival of the spears” of Masud. Even today, these festivals are celebrated and “Neze ke Mele” (Fairs of the Spears) are organised at many places. In the 1620s, prominent Sufi Abdur Rahman Chishti wrote “Mirat-i-Masudi”, a hagiographical biography of Syed Salar Masud, and described him as Sultan-us-Shuhda (Prince of Martyrs).
But, who was Ghazi Miyan?
Syed Salar Masud was supposedly the nephew (sister’s son) of Mahmud Ghaznavi, who raided India 17 times and is believed to have sacked the famous Somnath Temple among many others. Famous for his valour and chivalry, Salar Masud died in 1034 at the age of only 19 in Bahraich. He fell from grace of his powerful uncle Mahmud because he had his eyes on the ruler’s favourite mare, referred to a Lilly ghodi in folk songs and ballads that have been sung for centuries to pay tribute to his memory. He was about to marry a Muslim girl when news reached him that the marauding Hindu chieftain Sohal Deo was about to attack cows and cowherds. Salar Masud left his wedding, went to protect them, died unwed and became a martyr. Innumerable songs, ballads and dramas were composed in his memory. They are sung every year at fairs by Dafalis. He finds a mention in Premchand’s short story in Urdu “Panchayat”, later published in Hindi as “Panch Parameshwar” but sans Syed Salar.
Now, be prepared for the ultimate shock. Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi had no nephew.
(The writer is a senior literary critic)
Discord and dispute
Building a Surya temple in place of the Ghazi Baba dargah
UP chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath said [in May 2017] that he endorsed the VHP demand to rebuild the Surya temple in place of the Ghazi Baba dargah in Bahraich and construct a memorial in the same district.
The VHP has been demanding rebuilding of the Surya temple in memory of Raja Suheldev, who fought against Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud in the 11th century. VHP claims that the shrine was built after demolishing the temple. Yogi said the VHP's demands would be fulfilled. “I agree with the validity of the VHP's demands,“ he said.
Post-2014 election victory, BJP had raised the Suheldev temple issue as well, with party chief Amit Shah holding a huge rally in Bahraich to unveil his statue and launch a book on him. A month later, the NDA government started the Suheldev Express from Ghazipur to Anand Vihar in Delhi. Then, just before the UP elections, the saffron party entered into an alliance with the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party , whose founder is Om Prakash Rajbhar. His party was given eight seats to contest and won four of them. Rajbhars are OBCs and considered key to elections in east UP. Speaking at VHP's `Hindu Vijayutsav' programme in Lucknow to mark the victory of Raja Suheldev over Ghazi Masud, who was the nephew and army general of Mahmud of Ghazni, the CM sought to rename Lucknow's Sainik School after Raja Suheldev as well.
“There's nobody in the country who would not give Ashfaqullah Khan, Abdul Hameed and APJ Abdul Kalam their due honour, but we will have to decide whether Ghazni, Ghauri, Khilji, Babar and Aurangzeb deserve any regard,“ said Yogi.“Ghazni and his nephew plundered the country and demolished monasteries and temples to divide the country ,“ he said.
The over 1000-year-old shrine of Ghazi Syed Salar Masud is one of the most famous dargahs of UP, visited by both Hindus and Muslims.