I visited the Dargah for the first time a few years ago. It was a hot dusty afternoon and I had no idea what to expect as it was my first visit to Ajmer. The Dargah fascinated me and in a strange way I felt very much at home. It made no difference that I was a Hindu, I was just one of the many, visiting the tomb of a great Saint, with others from different faiths and various walks of life. Shortly thereafter my children studied in Mayo College, the prestigious boarding school in Ajmer. The magnetic pull of the Saint's presence drew me to the Dargah again and again and I wanted to know more about the life of the Saint, his teachings and the historical significance of the impressive buildings in the Dargah complex. Today that pull has culminated in the writing of this book it also helped that my children studied in Ajmer and with Khawaja Gurib Nawaz's blessing, it was possible for me to satisfy my spiritual stirrings by visiting the shrine often as well as my maternal yearnings by visiting the town that has fascinated me ever since.
Often, when one visits an important or popular religious shrine or holy place in India, the mass of people, the heat, the dust the traffic and congestion overwhelm one. Invariably beggars and the poor get after you, and in the confusion and rush, one misses out on the spiritual and historical significance of the place. Often what started out as a pilgrimage, becomes an uncomfortable experience if done without some knowledge and background.
This book, is also dedicated to those who visit the Dargah for the first time and have heard about it but have no way of knowing about its significant and salient features. The daily rituals, the customs and what happens in the Urs (the death anniversary of the Saint) are therefore written about in great detail. I have also endeavoured a chapter on Sufism, to give an introduction on the Islamic Mysticism prevalent at the time and to describe the main tenets of the Chisti group of Sufis.
One of the nicest times to visit the Dargah is in the evening, when the decorative lights are lit up and the Qawali singers are in place bringing life to the place. The traffic is less, and the ambience reminds you of the presence of the great Sufi Saint. I have been fortunate enough to attend an Urs, and was lucky to be taken along with the mass of devotees right up inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, through the 'Gates of Paradise' and brought out again. My only effort was not to resist the surge and flow of humanity that took me right in and brought me right out, again with the grace of Khwaja Garib Nawaz.
Back Of The Book
Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's tomb lies in Ajmer in Rajasthan. He was one of the greatest Sufi saints and his Dargah is a centre of pilgrimage for thousands of people of all faiths. The Dargah complex is a conglomeration of various buildings. Places of worship and tombs of various people built over the last 750 years revealing the spiritual and historic importance of the place. Various Sufi rituals. The annual Urs and daily ceremonies held at the Dargah are a fascinating mix of different customs. The patronage of the Mughal. Rajput and Maratha emperors and kings have added tremendous variety and colour to the shrine as it is today. This book though based on the life of a Saint of the thirteenth century is extremely relevant even today for it deals with mysticism. Love. Unity, sacrifice, spirituality and secularism. The Saint's preachings are vibrant, even today, as they strengthen the fabric of love and unity amongst diverse faiths.
Laxmi Dhaul became interested in the Sufi saint of Ajmer through her personal experiences. She went to Ajmer for the first time in 1992. And subsequently she sent her three children to study at Mayo College, in Ajmer. Her interest and fascination for the Dargah few during each visit she made to her children and to pay homage to the great saint. Miracles and prayers answered are a feature of the Ajmer Dargah and this alone attracts thousands of devotees daily.
Laxmi Dhaul is a science graduate from St Xavier's College, Mumbai and an M. Sc in Biochemistry from Mumbai University. She lives in Mumbai and is currently writing a book on Shri Eklingji, the Shiva shrine near Udaipur. Her involvements include running a renewable energy power station in Belgaum, Karnataka, and working with the Independent Power Producers Association of India.
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