From Jinnah to Khwaja: ideological malleability of a self-styled loh purush
by Shreerang Godbole on 16 Dec 2008 11 Comments

L.K. Advani, the man whom the Bharatiya Janata Party would make Prime Minister, evidently thinks he can fool most Hindus all the time. The political fortunes of the BJP, floundering in the maelstrom of Gandhian Socialism, had touched a new low in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. But once Ayodhya captured the imagination of the Hindus, Advani hijacked it to bring himself to the centre-stage of national politics. 

Subsequent events proved that when the netaji was riding the rath to Ayodhya, he was in fact taking Hindus for a ride. Unmindful of the day in 1948 when his family had to finally flee the land of his forefathers because of marauding Muslims, Advani has consistently described the Babri demolition as the “saddest day in my life”. He has thus repeatedly insulted the memory and the sacrifice of kar sevaks who gave up their lives in the run up to this epic event.

Once in power, Advani repeatedly humiliated Hindus. His deliberate mishandling of the Ayodhya issue, his masterful inactivity during the kidnapping and brutal murder of six senior RSS pracharaks, his disastrous non-performance as Home Minister in the face of repeated jihadi attacks, his eulogy to Jinnah, his defiant chumminess with individuals whose credentials are suspect, his inane stand that terrorism has no religion, his statement equating re-conversion with conversion…the list is endless.

Then, sensing that there was an even chance of finally ascending the PM’s gaddi, netaji is grabbing every opportunity to shed the undeserved appellation of a hard-line Hindu leader - a designation he assumed to fool Hindus while flirting with secularists, and one with which secularists have in turn been taunting him with.

Recently (1 December 2008), Advani sent a ghilaf or chadar to the tomb of Sufi ‘mystic’ Khwaja Mu‘inu’d-Din Chisti (hereafter “the Khwaja”) at Ajmer, Rajasthan. This offering, in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai massacre, is only the latest instance of the ideological malleability of this self-styled loh purush. For this is not the first time Advani has paid respects to the Khwaja.

During his Bharat Suraksha Yatra in 2006, Advani visited this tomb amidst much fanfare. Advani (or his ghost-writer) described that visit in considerable detail in his autobiographical tome. Pictures of Advani solemnly bowing his head to the Khwaja’s memory occupy pride of place on his personal website. Advani mentions that visit as a shining example of his commitment to the phoney secularism he once accused his opponents of practicing. When Advani’s party colleagues (poor gullible souls) suggested that he visit the sacred Hindu shrine of Pushkar, Advani insisted on adding the Khwaja’s dargah to his itinerary! Asked why he chose to visit the dargah, the dhimmi in him responded: "Ajmer aaker mera farz tha ki itni pak saaf jageh par aana." 

To be fair to Advani, he has not been the only BJP leader to rub his nose before the Khwaja’s tomb (incidentally, tomb-worship is a very un-Hindu practice; it is Abrahamic faiths that make a morbid fetish of their dead). Toadying to the secularist establishment has been the hallmark of top BJP (and Bharatiya Jan Sangh) leaders. As Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat spent a cool Rs. 25 lakh from the state exchequer for the renovation of the dargah!  Little wonder then that when Shekhawat stood for the Presidential election as NDA candidate in 2008, a delegation led by Sayed Abdul Sari Chishti from the Ajmer Dargah met Shekhawat and pledged to campaign among Muslim MPs and MLAs on his behalf.

As Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee regularly offered chadar at the Khwaja’s tomb during the annual ursIdeological rot has a way of percolating down. On 27 March 2006, a herd of 40 BJP MLAs from Jharkhand led by then Chief Minister Arjun Munda went on a thanksgiving pilgrimage to the Khwaja’s tomb. If this is the sort of ideological clarity and awareness of history that so-called Hindu leaders have, is it any wonder that thousands of ordinary Hindus flock to the Khwaja’s tomb? 

To return to Advani and his patron saint! Had Advani been intellectually honest, he would have cared to examine the Khwaja’s record before kowtowing to his memory. Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi’s classic two-volume A History of Sufism in India (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1986 reprint) gives the Khwaja’s career in detail. Born circa 1142 CE in Sistan province of present-day Iraq, the Khwaja travelled widely and finally left for Delhi from Lahore in March 1206. He reached Ajmer towards the end of the same year. As Rizvi writes, “It would appear that the Khwaja lived in Ajmer fort and his simple, ascetic life was an inspiration to both the Turkic ghazis, who swelled the Islamic forces through a lust for plunder, and to the Hindus who were forcibly converted to Islam”(Vol.1, p. 121). 

What was the Khwaja’s record vis-à-vis the Hindus whose descendants are the bulk of Advani’s voters?  Ajmer (and Delhi) was then ruled by Rai Prithviraj (called Pithaura Rai by Islamic chroniclers). Later Islamic accounts gloatingly describe how the Khwaja stamped out idolatry and unfurled the flag of Islam. Some chroniclers credit him with effecting the conversion of 700 Hindus. Prithviraj’s mother, an expert in astronomy and magic, had prophesized the Khwaja’s arrival twelve years before the actual event. She drew pictures of the Khwaja and Prithviraj had them distributed to his officers to prevent the Khwaja’s entry into his kingdom. Every foreigner’s face was compared to that picture.

At Samana, Prithviraj’s officials recognized the Khwaja from his picture and requested him to stay at the palace. But Prophet Muhammad warned the Khwaja during his meditation (so Islamic chroniclers claim!) against the treachery of officials, so he left for Ajmer. There, the Khwaja and his followers moved to a place near the Anasagar Lake. His servants killed a cow and cooked kebabs for him. Some members of the Khwaja’s party went to Anasagar and some to Pansela Lake for ablutions. There were 1000 temples on the two lakes. The Brahmans stopped the ablutions and the Muslim party complained to the Khwaja.  He sent his servant to bring water for his ewer.

As soon as the ewer touched the Pansela Lake, all the lakes, tanks and wells around became dry. The Khwaja went to the Anasagar Lake temple and asked the name of the deity. He was told it was Sawi Deva. The Khwaja asked whether the image had talked to them. On receiving a negative reply, he made the idol recite kalima and converted it into a human being, naming it Sa’di. 

To cut a long story short, Prithviraj asked his Prime Minister Jaipal to fight the Khwaja.  After allegedly subduing Jaipal with his spiritual powers, the Khwaja asked him to convert to Islam. Jaipal relented, but Prithviraj refused to accept Islam, at which the Khwaja prophesized that Prithviraj would be handed to the Islamic army. Later, Sultan Mu‘izzu’d-din Muhammad’s army arrived from Ghazna, attacked the forces of Prithviraj and defeated them. 

Prithviraj was taken alive and thus the Khwaja’s prophesy was fulfilled. To hitherto celibate Khwaja married at the ripe age of ninety (according to one legend); his second wife was the daughter of a local Hindu chieftain captured in war. 

Shorn of its Islamic triumphalism, the foregoing account leads to the following conclusions:

? The Khwaja indulged in or actively encouraged deliberate vandalism of lakes, idols and temples holy to Hindus
? The Khwaja indulged in cow-slaughter to hurt Hindu sentiments
? The Khwaja effected the conversion of ordinary people and the nobility
? Unmindful of his age, the Khwaja converted and married a Hindu maiden who had been won as war booty (a famed Islamic practice)
? Far from being an ambassador of a mythical Hindu-Muslim unity which leaders from Gandhi to Advani have been mindlessly chasing, the Khwaja was an Islamic zealot

Equally noteworthy is the sustained psychological and physical resistance offered by ordinary Hindus and leaders like Prithviraj in the face of the Islamic onslaught led by the Sultans and Sufis. This is in stark contrast to the meek surrender offered by tired old men like Advani to Abrahamic ideologies bent on destroying Hindu dharma. This time around, Hindus are not willing to be fooled by a leader who reveres the adversary, be it a medieval Khwaja or a modern-day Jinnah! 

The writer is a Pune-based endocrinologist, social activist and author

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