Iqbal Ahmad

Remembering Baba Zain-ud-Din wali ( R.A)

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Baba Zain ud din Reshi (RA), more popularly known as Sakhi Zainudin of Ashmuqam is one among the most celebrated Reshi Saint of  this land,  who  lived in 15th century AD. He is one among the founders of the Kashmiri Reshi order and is remembered for his openheartedness and generosity (Sakhawat) for centuries together.

His devotees believe that even today no one goes empty handed from his Dargah which is located magnificently in the lap of the rising hill at Ashmuqam, in South Kashmir. The symbol of the spiritual legacy and wonder of the Kashmiri  Reshi order architecture, the shrine of the Reshi has been attracting devotees from the distant corners of the state  throughout the year while maximum of the devotees gather here during the Urs days (annual days) which  begin  from the  16th of Zaeth of the local Calendar.

The Urs is always celebrated with full religious honor and cultural gaiety in entire south Kashmir and several glorious functions are held across the valley in memory of this great saint. The most attractive and distinctive function held here is that of lighting up wood torches locally known as ‘Zool or Phrow’.

The entire site of the Reshi Dargh is illuminated with traditionally lighted torches which give the ambience a very different feel and the torches consist of the small polkas of deodar and Kavior (pine) wood.   In the practice, the small pieces of the wood are first bundled and fixed on the tip of a long wooden rode. The    devotees than hold torches in their hands  and throng the shrine in Processions  with  raising slogans, ‘ SHAH  SHAH ZAIN UD Din  SHAH’ WALI WALI ZAIN UD DIN WALI. They run in chores with rhythmic body movements similar to the Sufi whirling.

This practice begins immediately after sunset when the evening prayers are over.  The entire lighting scene, slogans and Sufi whirling gives fills the air with spiritual feel. The philosophy behind observing of this Reshi ritual is to symbolize success of truth over the evil. It is not only here at the Dargh, but the ritual of lighting torches is held all over the south Kashmir and some parts of North Kashmir as well where the saint is being revered by devotees.

In the Reshi order, Baba is recorded as the second dreariest friend of Nund Rishi- the highest regarded saint of Kashmir.  Baba Zainudin was born at Bounderkote Kishtwar as a Rajput Hindu named Zai Singh. He also entered into Rishi fold at the hands of Nund Rishi. He was asked to report at the cave of Aishmuqam where he could meditate in search of the truth. When he reached the cave, he saw it filled with snakes. Baba told them that this cave had now been allotted to the saint so please leave the spot. Snakes left the cave for the Baba where he meditated for years and attained the enlightenment. He then came to be known as Sakhi Zain-ud-Din Rishi.
Sufi devotees believe that no one goes empty handed from Baba’s shrine. Baba’s shrine is located midway in the lap of Aishmuqam hill. He is learnt to have left for heavenly abode at the same site, however the details about his funeral rites are a mystery. Historians say that when his body was put into the coffin, it disappeared. Later Baba appeared in a dream of one of his friends and told him that dig the grave where the coffin lies and later same was done.
Baba abstained from other things and worshiped Allah only. He searched for the truth and attained the favors of the Creator in the blue forests and in the cave. He restrained from eating non vegetarian and would consume very small quantity of vegetables thus following his spiritual mentor who is believed to have consumed considerably less food in his entire lifespan.

At the shrine of Zain-ud-Din Rishi is preserved a relic called ‘wooden-bread’ and  it is recorded that the saint used to tie it with his belly when he had nothing to eat.
A mysterious rod known as ‘Asa Sharief’ of the Rishi is also learnt to have been preserved inside the shrine which is hardly shown to anybody. But some of the local residents claim that they have seen it about thirty years back. They claim that it is like a magic rod and when you hold it, it would pull you upwards. It was exhibited thirty years ago when the area was experiencing a major draught and a big congregation was held at the shrine and during special prayers. This rod was exhibited to get rid of the natural calamity.
The Aishmuqam shrine not only houses the rod, it also has several other relics of Zain-ud-Din Rishi that include a bow and arrow, wooden bread, coffin and skull of the lamb. The shrine itself symbolizes the grace of the Reshi order of wooden architecture of Kashmir where the tombs of the saints are magnificently adorned with classical wooden ornamentations.

The superstructure has got the pyramidal type of roofing in four tiers with each successive tier diminishes in size and finally gives culminating into the rising steeple of the pagoda order. The people here have been impressing upon the concerned authorities to preserve and conserve the relics of the saint and shrine on scientific lines.












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