Tuesday, May 10, 2005

fakiri legends - 2

The story of Inayat Shah and the grave-digger.

According to sufi tradition, once a pir lays hands on you, you belong to him. Once he holds your hand, he will never let it go...

Right next to Inayat Shah's tomb, lies the tomb of a grave-digger. However, once this grave-digger was a robber.

The story goes:
Being such a popular saint (Bulle Shah's master, no less!), Inayat Shah had a grand funeral. Several of his devotees were rich men and they brought dozens of dushalas (shawls) or kafans (shrouds) - rich silks and fine satin, embroidered with gold and studded with gems.

The funeral was being observed, silently, by a grave-robber.

At nightfall, the robber dug up the grave again, and began pulling off the rich shrouds, one by one. He ought to have been content with a few, for they were precious enough, but his greed wouldn't let him rest. So, he pulled and pulled and pulled. Until there was only a single piece of cloth left, covering the dead body of the pir.

As the robber reached out to take that last shroud away, the pir caught at his hand and said something like, "yaar, ek to chhod de" (Friend, leave me one, at least).

The robber stood transfixed.

Not because he'd been touched by a ghost, but because he realised what it means to have a pir hold his hand. Once a master lays hands on you, tradition demands that he never let go. It is both a blessing and a mark of acceptance.

So, the robber decided, to respond to this gesture, he would stay here with the pir, all his life. He became a grave-digger instead of a robber, and was buried alongside the pir.

And devotees, in keeping with tradition, will bow at this tomb first, and later go on to the master.

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