Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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Defence compromises for Jammu’s Baba Budan Ali Shah Dargah

A nondescript Dargah was coming in the way of Jammu’s airport expansion plans and was to be ground levelled as it was on the runway! Things took a toll for the country’s airforce… planes would crash, the planes would not start for no apparent reason and many more issues… The officer in charge got a divine dream not to disturb the humble edifice and a decision was taken by the country’s mighty defence force to let the final resting place of the great Sufi Mystic Saint, Baba Budan Ali Shah be left untouched. Sometimes logic in India is ruled over by divinty and spirituality. India is a land of incredible places and experiences and this is one example. Today, ‘Satwari Peer Baba’s final place stands with reverence welcoming all faiths!
‘Khangah – e – Budhan Ali Shah’ as it is referred out at Jammu is approximately 9-10 Kms from the city, this area is known as ‘Satwari’. It’s a highly protected defence zone as Jammu’s airport doubles as a Defence and Civilian airport. Jammu is a volatile city as it is close to the border. Less said the better. This holy place is crawling with defence forces armed to their teeth. Photography is viewed with suspicion and supervised intently, visitors are viewed with suspicion too and at times questioned, it seems like interrogation in a democratic country. My cab driver didn’t enter the Dargah, but the army personnel on duty had enquired with him about my whereabouts, especially me a new face and a camera laden guy. Cab and Auto drivers are uncomfortable taking you to this place as a tourist destination, they avoid mentioning this place. I was supposed to just click photos of the Dargah nothing surrounding it. I did see a frightening sign painted on the compound wall which said – ‘Trespassers will be Shot’. I was tempted to take this photo, but was sternly warned against doing so. The road to this edifice looks like a war zone! This Dargah is normally visited by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims with reverence. It’s believed your prayers and wishes are granted here and nobody returns empty handed! Thursdays see a large number of people in faith out here! This shrine is supposed to protect the city of Jammu from mishaps and evil spirits!
Baba Budan Ali Shah was born in Talwandi in Punjab. Apart from this shrine in honour of him, there’s also another shrine dedicated to him at Anandpur Sahib at Punjab. He’s believed to be a vegetarian and lived on goats milk. It’s also believed that he had a lion which took care of his goats and would take the goats to graze! He’s believed to have met the two Sikh Gurus in his lifetime, one being Guru Nanak Dev at the ‘Kehlor Mountains’ and the other the last 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind. Apparently Guru Nanak came to discuss spirituality with him and Blessed him with a long life, Baba Budan Ali Shah is believed to have lived for over 500 years. The Sikhs have a lot of reverence to this Sufi Saint! So do Hindus, it’s a all faith destination. It’s ironic that he being a vegetarian, people come here and offer meat Biryani when their wishes are fulfilled. There are two festive days called ‘urs’ out here in a calendar year – a lot of people participate on these two occasions!
When in Jammu, please make time to visit this shrine for divine intervention and make a wish my tying a thread to the Mulberry Tree inside the shrine complex called, Ziyarat. Imbibe a little bit of our spiritual past and India’s history. It sure is Incredible India!
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography

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