Homage to Hazrat Nizamuddin

Thursday is a special day at the doorstep of Hazrat Nizamuddin. Even for one who has been here before, it is a surprise that the place can hold so many people. Several hundreds. Perhaps a few thousand. All quietly walking around, queuing up for a glance at the innermost shrine, or sitting and listening to men singing of devotion and grace in somewhat tired ways.

He stood behind the singers, feeling deeply alive, almost on fire with a blaze that shot through his eyes. The walk through the narrow alleys of the entrance, flanked on both sides by congested shops selling religious objects, had set off a series of experiences, just like it always did. Devotion, sadness, longing, sincerity. The air was soaked in tears. It felt like the world came here. People from the neighbourhood. People from other parts of the city. People from North India. People from all over South Asia. The shrine of the 13th century saint was a fountainhead of energy that drew in all these grieving, sad, solace-seeking people with one hope – may my heart fill up with grace, so that life makes sense. Ever since humanity had thought about life and its purpose, it had also known suffering and purposelessness. Knowing these, it had also known longing for its opposite. Nizamuddin’s home had become a centre for these longings to be deposited and consummated, if only for a while, until one would come back here.

After the longing, one also felt the deep solace of the longing consummated. There it was, the shrine – men queuing up to enter, offer flowers, a chaadar, say prayers; women – considered creatures not worthy of a direct glance at the saint’s grave, sitting around the shrine, prayer beads in hands, quietly pouring their hearts out to the saint they could not see, tying threads in the grill outside his shrine, one thread for one prayer. It was the solace of tears which were held back for years having smoothly flown away and taken with them all of one’s sorrow. It was the solace of being cared for, heard, offered succour. It was the solace of home.

Deeply moved by the experience, he decided to drop some money in front of the singers, something he had never done before, having been brought up in a city that taught one to turn away from those who asked for money.

After the longing and the solace, there was also the commotion. The shoulders pressing against each other. The little begging child constantly tapping on one’s back. The man with no arms. The woman possessed by a dead man’s soul, sitting in a corner with her father. The hundreds queuing up for free food. The presence of several hundreds of people, their thoughts, emotions, vibrations spreading out and devouring the minds of everyone else. In the old days, spirituality was deeply associated with space, with solitude, with a lack of external stimulation. His muscles were becoming stiff. There was a feeling of suffocation. He decided that he had experienced enough for this visit, and left.

He walked away from the saint’s home through the same alleyways. As the path became broader, restaurants lined both sides of it. The smell of roasted meat blew in the air. It went into his nostrils, and his body revolted, as usual. The smell lasted for almost a minute as he tried to walk away from it. Nizamuddin could not have liked these putrid, consciousness-killing smells. He could not have been dead to the numbing effect they have on one’s mind.

He left the area and drove home. The commotion and the dark, opaque smells slowly ceased to have their impact. The devotion too faded away after a while. The solace remained.

The saint of sorrows had blessed us all.


~ by tdcatss on September 11, 2015.

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