A Darvesh holds the reins of time like steed,
He brings sun, stars and moon to book with speed.
Zarb e Kaleem
Mian Bashir Ahmed Larvi (November 1923-14 August 2021) whose role in society was multifold passed away in Wangath in Ganderbal district of Kashmir. He was continuing the legacy of Mian Abdullah Abad, his grandfather, and his father Mian Nizamuddin, who had migrated from Hazara area of Pakistan in the 19th century. He belonged to the Naqshbandi order of Sufi tradition, worked as a politician, spiritual leader, legislator and ambassador of peace. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award by the Government of India, for his services towards society.
Background of migration
In the book Matah-e-Faqar-o-Daanish, which is an official account of the shrine of Laar, it is mentioned that the spiritual master of Mian Abdullah Abad asked him to migrate to Wangath, which was covered with forest and very scant demographic presence, to perform his duty of spiritual guidance to those who had the thirst for truth. Because Mian Abdullah Abad himself was from a tribal community, he chose to serve the downtrodden and socially alienated people of Gujjar-Bakerwal tribe.
The presence of this tribe in the hills and on less productive areas made them socially alienated and economically less fortunate in society. Moreover, their transhumance, nomadism and pastrolism created serious challenges and issues which were never addressed by the state of that time. It is in this background that an intervention was made by Mian Sahib to fight against social evils, the state’s exploitation, and political inefficiencies by providing leadership and creating ‘political consciousness’ among pastoralist nomads. Through political assertions, many challenges were addressed. Mian Bashir Ahmed resigned from Farooq Abdullah’s cabinet for not providing special attention to the conditions of the tribe. It shows his commitment for the cause of his tribe and his priorities.
Langar, Urs, and
Mian Abdullah Abad visited Poonch-Rajouri area for the first time in 1898 for collecting a handwritten copy of the Qur’an by Aurangzeb. He successfully collected it along with a copy gifted by an Egyptian emperor. In his second visit, matrimonial relations were established with Ghulam Hussain Lasanvi. These two families along with some other prominent people established the socio-political forum of the Gujjar Jat conference, which fought the injustices of Dogra rule.
Some 100 kanals of land was given to Mian Abdullah by Choudhary Buland Khan, who was the maternal uncle of Gulam Hussain Lasanvi, in Mohra village. Here a masjid and a langar was established. It was an important place of social gathering because Mian Abdullah Abad used to spend 5 months here when the connection with Kashmir valley was lost because of snowfall. Along with Ibadaat, zikr, and murakba, people were learning the cores of Islamic teaching here. It can be argued that in initial stages, focus was given on Sufism in general and Islamic teachings in particular.
During Urs, special focus was given on the understanding and practices of Islam. Emphasis on Gojri language was made by translating Salat into Gojri. In this way the Gojri language flourished. A special tradition of “Siharfi” emerged. Most of the Ash’aar composed in this had lament as the main theme, which reflects the challenges and problems faced by the tribe.
Abdullah Abad wrote in Punjabi but the breakthrough happened when Mian Nizamuddin encouraged people to write in Gojri. One of the books of Mian Nizamuddin is “Asraar-e-Kabiri”, which is in five languages, namely, Arabic, Persian, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi. It shows his rich literary taste and love for multiple languages. Poets like Khuda Baksh Zaar, Sain Faqar Din, Sain Kader Baksh, Asrar Asar, Zabhi Rajourvi, Barkat Shah and many more wrote and participated in the literary mehfils of Laar. Later on, Mian Bashir Ahmed Larvi himself compiled the Siharfi, “Neer Samundar”. In this book, the poetry of prominent poets of Gojri was published. It can be argued that Gojri language was institutionalised by Mian Bashir.
consciousness and legacy
The injustice of the Dogra state on the tribe in the form of taxes and punishment were the reasons that had awakened Mian Nizamuddin. He founded the Gujjar-Jat conference to provide a platform from where the voice of the downtrodden tribe can be raised in a united form. This legacy was taken forward by Mian Bashir. He fought for getting Scheduled Tribe status for Gujjar-Bakarwal tribe and was successful in doing so. Now the level of political consciousness is much higher in the tribe. It can be hoped that the legacy will be continued by the successors along with educated and economically well-off sections by establishing educational institutions, sponsoring students in foreign universities, and providing counselling and information.
Wangat is not only a place of spiritual gathering but has the potential to play a role at multiple levels for those who are less exposed to education, social change and economic stability.
—The writer has an MA in History from University of Hyderabad.