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Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki
Poet
--: Biography of Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki :--

 

Baba Sheikh Farid was a Sufi saint who is considered by many to be the first major poet of the Punjabi language. He was born in the Multan district of what is today Pakistan.
 
Later, when the Sikh holy book the Adi Granth Sahib was compiled, many of Baba Sheikh Farid's poems and couplets were included, alongside the poetry of Kabir and Ravidas.
 
Baba Sheikh Farid as he is called all over Punjab, India, and Pakistan was born at the time when Punjab was going through great crossroads. Tamur the Lame, Halaku (Son of Chengez Khan), etc ravaged Punjab about 100 to 200 years before he was born. The official language of India was Turkish and Persian. The Slave Dynasty of Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak was at that time being ruled by Sultan Balban. 200-300 years earlier to the West of India, sword of Islam had swept in the countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Eastern Europe. In India too, Slave Qutub-ud-din Aibak tried to subdue people through force, but could only create a rift between different communities. Then came the sufi saints from Arabia and other places to spread their message of love for Allah. Sufi saints like Khwaja Qutub-Ul-Din Bakhtiar Kaki, who was a Syed of Jafiri Hussaini tribe, were very famous.
 
Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki was Born around 1150 A.D. and studied under Abu Hifz, a celebrated doctor of Ush, he went to Ajmer and became a disciple of Muayan-ul-Din Hasan Chisti. In due time he proceeded to Delhi where Baba Farid met him and became his disciple. Emperor Sultan Shams-ul-Din Altmish was also his disciple. He died in A.D. 1235 and was buried in Delhi, where his tomb is held in devout reverence by pious Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. His descendants are called Chistis from the tribe of his priest. - Makhazan-ul-Tawarikh.
 
Genealogy of Baba Sheikh Farid ji is given in the Jawahi-r-Faridi (The gems of Farid), preserved at the shrine of Pak Pattan, by Ali Asghar of Bahadal, a town near Sirhind. Baba Sheikh Farid ji descended from Farrukh Shah, who was king of Kabul and kings of Ghazni and other states were subject to him. Baba Farid ji's Great Grandfather was son of Farrukh Shah, the emperor of Kabul. During that time, Baba Farid’s Great Grandfather was killed when Halaku, the grandson of Chengez Khan invaded Kabul, he killed several princes and learned men, including several of Baba Farid’s ancestors. Baba Farid’s Grandfather Shaikh Shaib abandoned their country and took refuge in the Punjab in A.D. 1125. The Qazi of Kasur who was acquainted with the high position Shaikh Shaib had held there, treated him and his relatives with great respect and hospitality. After some time Shaikh Shaib proceeded to Multan where he deemed he should be less exposed to worldly influences or the temptings of ambition. He took his abode in Kothiwal, now known as Chawali Mushaikh, close to Dipalpur. He established in Kothiwal a private college for religious instruction and attracted much attention. His eldest son Jamal-ud-din married Bibi Miriam, daughter of Syed Muhammad Abdula Shah - a descendant of Ali. Bibi Miriam had three sons, Khwaja Aziz-ul-din, Farid-ul- Din Masaud (Baba Farid) and Khwaja Najib-ul-din, and one daughter Khatun Jamila.
 
When Baba Farid was a few years old his mother taught him his prayers. The boy asked her what was gained by prayer. His mother replied Sugar. Accordingly, she used to hide some sugar under his prayer-carpet, and, when he had finished his prayers, draw it forth, and give it to him as a reward of his devotion. One day his mother forgot to put the sugar but after prayers, there was sugar under the carpet. From that day on, Bibi Miriam started calling his son Shakar Ganj, or the treasury of Sugar.
 
When Baba Farid was 16 years old he went to Hajj and stayed in the house of Abdul Rahim Ansari. Since, Baba Farid ji use to talk in Punjabi, an unkempt faqir on hearing Farid’s language foretold the Boy’s subsequent greatness. After Farid came back to Punjab, he was sent to Khwaja Qutub-ul-Din Bakhtiar Kaki at Delhi to learn theology. Qutub-ul-din finding Baba Farid deficient in scholarship sent him to the shrine of Abdul Shakur of Sarsa, near Delhi to finish his education. 
 
The high reputation Farid obtained in Delhi soon became irksome to him. He therefore made his way to Hansi, where he remained for some time.  Baba Farid paid a second visit to that city, and assumed the mantle of his late spiritual guide. He ultimately left it in the keeping of Jamal-ul-Din of Hansi and thence proceeded to Ajodhan, the present Pak Pattan. The manner in which the name of Ajodhan changed to Pak Pattan was that a canal which derived its water from the Sutlej passed near the town. It was usual for all who visited Baba Farid to wash their hands and feet there. The place then became known as Baba Sahib ji da Pak Pattan, or Farid’s cleansing ferry.
 
Baba Farid after some time, in accordance with his mother’s advice, went to forest, and lived there as an anchoret for some years on leaves of trees. On his return, when his mother began to comb his hair, Baba Farid complained that the operation caused him pain. His mother replied that he must have caused similar pain to the trees when he robbed them of fruit for food. Then he set out on another pilgrimage . This time, so as not to hurt any living thing, he tied a wooden cake to his stomach, and, it is said, subsisted on the imaginary sustenance it afforded him for this vow. Then when Baba Farid ji returned, his mother finding him that he had not lost all remnants of pride, dismissed him to do penance for a third period of some years. This time, it is said, he caused himself to be suspended by the feet in a well. He composed the following couple in reference to these circumstances.
Farid, thy body is on the stake; 
thy head hath become a cage; 
the crows peck at thy feet
If God come to me even now, happy shall be my lot.
 
Sheikh Farid ji made Pak Pattan a great center of Sufi Thoughts. People from all over India and Middle east would come to see him. He always used his language, that was Punjabi spoken by common people, even though he was highly learned and educated in Arabic, Persian, etc. His all couplets are written in Punjabi, with Persian script. He generally rejected offerings of money, but would accept gifts of food, etc for public kitchen. Baba Farid Ji went to Delhi again and was received with a most hospitable reception. Emperor Nasir-ul-Din Balban introduced him to his family. Baba Farid ji looked to Emperor’s daughter Hazabara and asked Emperor to marry her to him. Thus Hazabra was married to Baba Sheikh Farid ji, but only after Emperor Balban promised not to give any costly gifts, Baba   distributed all her jewels, etc to Faqirs.
 
 Baba Farid visited a city called Mokhalpur, it is now called Faridkot in honor of the Baba Farid ji, it is the Indian part of Punjab. Then he turned towards the Punjabi mountains where he converted a tribe. Baba Farid ji remained there for six months and then he locked up the house in which he had dwelt, saying that his successor would open it, and then returned to Pak Pattan. As his successor Diwan Taj-ul-Din was returning from a pilgrimage to Makka and Madina, he happened to visit that part of the country. He asked people their tribe name, they said they were descendents of Qutub-ul-Alam Baba Farid Shakarganj. And thus Taj-ud-din opened up the door of Baba Farid ji’s hut hundreds of years later.
Baba Farid ji died of Pneumonia on the fifth day of Month of Muharrim, A.D. 1266. The date of Baba Farid jis death is commemorated by chronograms (a) Farid Asari (b) Auliye Khudai. He was unique, a saint of God. Baba Farid ji were buried outside the town of Pak pattan at a place called martyrs grave. 
 One of Farīd’s most important contributions to Punjabi literature was his development of the language for literary purposes. Whereas Sanskrit, Arabic, Turkish and Persian had historically been considered the languages of the learned and the elite, and used in monastic centres, Punjabi was generally considered a less refined folk language. Although earlier poets had written in a primitive Punjabi, before Farīd there was little in Punjabi literature apart from traditional and anonymous ballads. By using Punjabi as the language of poetry, Farīd laid the basis for a vernacular Punjabi literature that would be developed later.
Among the famous people who have visited his shrine over the centuries are the famous scholar-explorer Ibn Battuta, who visited in 1334,  and the Founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, who met the then head of the shrine, Sheikh Ibrāhīm, twice, and his meeting led to the incorporation of 112 couplets  and four hymns by Bābā Farid, in the Sikh Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib, by the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev in 1604.  Guru Nanak was familiar with the verse of Bābā Farīd, and not only includes these verses in the Holy Book, but even comments on some of them.[13] These verses are known to the Sikhs as the Farīd-Bānī; Guru Arjan Dev also added eighteen saloks from the Sikh Gurus, which add commentary to various of Bābā Farīd's work. The city of Faridkot bears his name. According to legend, Farīd stopped by the city, then named Mokhalpūr, and sat in seclusion for forty days near the fort of King Mokhal. The king was said to be so impressed by his presence that he named the city after Bābā Farīd, which today is known as Tilla Bābā Farīd. The festival Bābā Sheikh Farād Āgman Purb Melā' is celebrated in September each year, commemorating his arrival in the city.  Ajodhan was also renamed as Farīd's 'Pāk Pattan', meaning 'Holy Ferry'; today it is generally called Pāk Pattan Sharīf. Faridia Islamic University, a religious madrassa in Sahiwal, Punjab, Pakistan, is named after him,  and in July 1998, the PunjabGovernment in India established the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences at Faridkot, the city which itself was named after him. 
Various accounts are related as to why Bābā Farīd was given the title Shakar Ganj[19] ('Treasure of Sugar'). One legend tells how his mother used to encourage the young Farīd to pray by placing sugar under his prayer mat. Once, when she forgot, the young Farīd found the sugar anyway, an experience that gave him more spiritual fervour and led to his being given the name. Other accounts and legends also says that Baba Farid once a caught a bolt of lightning with his bare hands and placed it into a pot, which saved the lives of many civilians.
 
The small tomb of Baba Farid is made of white marble with two doors, one facing east and called the Nūrī Darwāza or 'Gate of Light', and the second facing north called Bahishtī Darwāza, or 'Gate of Paradise'. There is also a long covered corridor. Inside the tomb are two white marbled graves. One is Baba Farid's, and the other is his elder son's. These graves are always covered by sheets of cloth called Chadders (the green coloured chadders are covered with Islamic verses), and flowers that are brought by visitors. The space inside the tomb is limited; not more than ten people can be inside at one time. Ladies are not allowed inside the tomb, but the lateBenazir Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, managed to enter inside when she visited the shrine.
 
The Shrine   is vast and spacious, located in the city of Pakpattan, otherwise Pākpattan Sharīf. At first his tomb and shrine were constructed under the supervision of Saint Nizamuddin Auliya/Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia. The shrine is made entirely of marble. Some years back it was partly made of marble and bricks. Charity food called Langar is distributed all day by visitors and the Auqaf Department, which administrates the shrine. The shrine is open all day and night for visitors. The shrine has its own huge electricity generator that is used whenever there is power cut or loadshedding, so the shrine remains bright all night, all year round. There is no separation of male and female areas but a small female area is also there. There is a big new mosque in the shrine. Thousands of people daily visit the shrine for their wishes and unresolvable matters; for this they vow to give to some charity when their wishes or problems are resolved. When their matters are solved they bring charity food for visitors and the poor, and drop money in big money boxes that are kept for this purpose. This money is collected by the Auqaf Department that looks after the shrine.
On October 25, 2010, a bomb exploded outside the gates of the shrine, killing six people. 
 
Every year, the saint's death anniversary is celebrated for six days in the first Islamic month of Muharram, in Pakpattan, Pakistan. The Bahishtī Darwāza (Gate of Paradise) is opened only once a year, during the time of the urs/fair. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and visitors from all over the country and the world come to pay homage. The door of the Bahishti Darwaza is made of silver, with floral designs inlaid in gold leaf. This "Gate to Paradise" is padlocked all year, and only opened for ten days from sunset to sunrise in the month of Muharram. Some followers believe that by crossing this door all of one's sins are washed away. Some critics say it is unholy to pass through this door only with this intention. Others argue that it is good to pass this door with a resolution not to commit sins in the future. During the opening of the Gate of Paradise, extensive security arrangements are made to protect people from stampedes. In 2001, 27 people were crushed to death and 100 were injured in a stampede. A large brick tomb adjacent to the main tomb is the resting place of Fariduddin's siblings. The 'urs is celebrated every year from the fifth through the tenth of Muharram. Some of his personal belongings were taken by his descendant Sheikh Salim to a fort he built for his family in Sheikhupur, Badaun, where they are preserved in a trunk called 'pitari'. To this day it is taken out in a procession for the first six days of Muharram.
 
One of the significant features of the daily life of the shrine is Qawwali. It is performed all day at some part of the shrine, but at night it attracts a huge gathering. Every Thursday evening, there is a big Mehfil-e-Sama just outside the tomb, that lasts all night and attracts hundreds of people. Many famous and popular Qawwals (Qawwali singers) of the country participate in the Mehfil. Many listeners become so mesmerised that they start dancing a traditional religious dance called Dhamaal. The first Thursday evening of every lunar month attracts extra thousands of people, making the shrine jam packed.
 
 
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