Monday, 18 February 2019

Naked Sufi Saramad Shaheed: Beheaded by Aurangzeb.Saint Danced With His Head

Recently I was in Delhi to attend a marriage, there I stole few hours to quench my old memory. The mystic life story of Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed (R.A) was narrated by mother, when I was a child.

What made me more interested in knowing about Sarmad Shaheed was the fact that he was beheaded by powerful Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, but with his beheaded head he was moving ahead to enter Jama Masjid of Delhi.

According to legend, his decapitated head started reciting the full kalima (La ilaha illa’llah- there is no God, but Allah), showing that in death he had achieved his affirmation of faith.    
Twin Dargah of Sarmad Shaheed (R.A) and Hazrat Hare Bhare Shah (R.A)
For that reason, I drove away to Dargah of Sufi Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed (R.A) to offer my flower of reverence: The little-known Sufi ascetic and poet whose life was a revolt against traditions is, just below the stairs of the Jama Masjid.

A humble monument to the memory of Sarmad Shaheed resonates with legends and myths woven around this striking figure from history.
Twin Dargah of Sufi Sarmad Shaheed(R.A) and Hazrat Hare Bhare Shah(R.A),below stairs of Jama Masjid of Delhi

The shrine faces the Red Fort, surrounded by the open-air stalls of Meena Bazaar; the noise of people, bargaining shopkeepers, venders’, spitting, yelling and cursing on the street stands in stark contrast to the soothing hum inside the shrine.

Jama Masjid of Delhi
Actually, this dargah is home to two Sufi saints: Sarmad Shaheed and Hazrat Hare Bhare Shah, a contemporary of Aurangzeb’s father Shah Jahan.

Hare Bhare Shah’s tomb, indicative of his name, is made of green tiles. The entire shrine is halved into these two colours—even the doorway gets its colours from this scheme, red and green respectively. The red colour stands for the martyrdom of Sarmad Shaheed.
Lot of chaos: Biryani, Halwa paratha and tea stalls.Muslim Bhakti songs, beggars and other sights and sounds associated with Old Delhi. Sandwiched between the imposing Jama Masjid and the chaotic Meena Bazaar, narrow lanes and by lane.Visitors clicking selfies in background of this look, as a memory.
Who was Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed (R.A)

Sarmad is described as a Jew Trader from Iran or Persia who came to India during 5th Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s time for selling his items.

It is narrated that since Sarmad was a trader from Iran or Persia who wanted to make money, he was told by his friends about India where Persian is official language and people gave a lot of money to purchase Persian goods.
Since he was Jew, he did not know about Sufism or Islam, so in order to get acquainted he read about it and got knowledge from the Islamic scholars and eventually got converted and set off for India to sell precious items.

Here he landed in Thatta province, Sind in in 1631 (Modern Day Karachi, Pakistan).
Sarmad in Thatta
When Sarmad reached Thatta in Sindh, he fell in love with the local girl, but due to some unfortunate events lost every possession, including the local girl. The impact of this destructive love made him give up his clothes and worldly things. He would walk the streets of Thatta naked. In this state of absolute renunciation, Sarmad achieved the heights of spiritualism.

Sarmad meets  youthful Abhay Chand 
At Thatta in a musical concert, Sarmad happened to see the youthful Abhay Chand, who was the son of a rich Hindu trader. It was love at first sight for Sarmad and Abhay.

Abhay Chand’s melodious voice that he rendered at a ghazal pierced the tender heart of Sarmad so much that he never recovered from the feeling of love.
Sarmad began to attend the concert daily not caring that the ship on which he came had sailed away.
Abhay Chand also responded to his love with equal devotion and soon, the two began to live together at Sarmad’s place. Soon gossips started to abound in Thatta about the two men living in unnatural conditions. When this gossips spread, Abhay Chand’s parents took him away and confined him in his house.

The pain of separation was too much for Sarmad who tore of his cloths and began to roam the streets of Thatta in a state of frenzy seeking his beloved Abhay Chand. Following the incident, he was to live in a state of total nudity for the rest of his life.
Sarmad in Delhi: His Contact With Prince Dara Shikoh 
Later they both left Thatta and finally reached Delhi on 1657 and in couple of years started to have a massive following. He used to reside near Delhi’s Meena Bazar (besides Jama Masjid).
During this time he came in contact with Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz (Taj Mahal Couple). Dara was supposed to be crowned the next Mughal king. He was well read and had translated many texts to Persians from Indian religions. The most prominent of his translation was Upanishads. He was a devout Sufi of Qadiri order.
Sarmad Encounters With Aurangzeb
Fate had other plans for Dara and Sarmad, Dara’s youngest brother ‘the more radical’ Aurangzeb became the next Mughal king. Sarmad and Aurangzeb were ideological enemies, Sarmad stood for everything that Aurangzeb hated.
Aurangzeb
On story goes that as Aurangzeb’s procession was passing through the streets of Delhi, he saw Sarmad sitting by the roadside. Aurangzeb ordered march to halt and demanded the mystic to cover himself. The peer or saint looked at him with wrathful eyes and said, ‘If you think I need to cover my nudity so badly, why you don’t cover me yourself?’

When the emperor lifted the blanket lying on Sarmad’s side, he saw the bloodied heads of all the family members he had had secretly murdered. Bewildered, Aurangzeb looked at Sarmad, who said, ‘Now tell me, what should I cover — your sins or my nakedness?’

Princess Zaibunnisa purchased Jannat from Sarmad Shaheed in exchange of some Tobacco

In another such story, Emperor Aurangzeb’s daughter, Princess Zebunnisa (she was eldest daughter and inspired by Sufism), saw Sarmad making clay houses on the roadside. After paying her respects, she inquired: ‘Are these for sale?’

‘Yes,’ Sarmad said, ‘I will sell them for some tobacco.’

Upon receiving the tobacco, Sarmad wrote around the border of one of the clay houses: This clay house is sold to Princess Zebunnisa for some tobacco.

That night Emperor Aurangzeb saw a dream.He was roaming around in Paradise, when he saw a beautiful palace. When he approached it, he was barred from entering it. Then he noticed that the palace had Princess Zebunnisa name written on it.
 Sarmad Faced Trial In Court Of Qazi

Aurangzeb ascended throne on 1658 AD and had Sarmad executed in 1661 AD, after having Dara Shikoh executed in 1659 AD. Sarmad’s fearless attitude was too much for Aurangzeb who soon called on his chief Qazi, Mullah Qawi, and plotted to do away with Sarmad.
Trial of  Sufi Sarmad Shaheed
The trial given to Sarmad was farce, orchestrated by the Islamic Mullahs in Aurangzeb’s court, Aurangzeb himself wanted to get rid of all those associated with his eldest brother Dara Shikoh.

Sarmad was dragged to the Qazi’s court where he was accused of defying the shariah by living naked.Sarmad had befitting replies to all of the Qazi’s accusations, and this frustrated him even more.

In order to make him relent, the Mullah had Abhay Chand flogged in front of Sarmad. It is said that the whip lashed Abhay Chand’s flesh, but the pain was inflicted on Sarmad.


For the Mullah Qazi, Islam was a set of stern and inflexible laws (this is Salafi interpretation of Islam). For Sarmad, it was nothing but a message of love (Sufi Interpretation of Islam).
Aurangzeb knew that public of Delhi was behind Sarmad and if he gives him execution sentence on lesser crime like nakedness or being with Abhay Chand, it will create a rebellion. Hence he instructed Mullah that Sarmad be asked to recite Kalma-e-Tayyaba.

Aurangzeb knew Sarmad never use to finish the Kalima and this would be good enough reason for apostasy or Atheism.
Execution of Sarmad by Aurangzeb’s Order(1660)

The Mullahs demanded that Sarmad should recite the kalimah shahada (acceptance of oneness of God), which “La Ilaha Illallah, Muhammad-ur-Rasul Allah” (there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad SWT is the messenger of Allah), in order to prove that he was a true Muslim.

Sarmad refused to go beyond “La Ilaha,” which means there is no God, as he had still not found the end of his search for God. This enraged the Mullahs who awarded him death sentence. Hence, Sarmad was dragged through the streets of Delhi and promptly beheaded.

He was killed in a very inhumane way: just his head was cut off. His head rolled down the steps of the Jama Masjid.

A story goes, that Sarmad emerged victorious in death. He picked up his severed head much to the fright of his executioners. Then he started to climb the stairs of the Jama Masjid, while mocking the emperor and his false men of God all the while.

According to legend, his decapitated head started reciting the full kalima (La ilaha illa’llah- there is no God, but Allah), showing that in death he had achieved his affirmation of faith.
At the moment he was about to enter the Jama Masjid mosque, a voice called him out from the grave of Harey Bharey and asked him to relent as he had reached the end of his journey and had united with God at last. Sarmad turned round and went to Harey Bharey’s tomb. There he was buried by the side of Harey Bharey, where they share a common Dargah today.


The curse of Sarmad fell on Aurangzeb as the Mughal Empire gradually crumbled in front of his very eyes. He did not have any peaceful day in his old life.

It is said that that the troubles which plagued Aurangzeb throughout his reign and downfall of the Mughal Empire were due to this unfortunate decision to behead Shah Sarmad.

A view of Meena Bazar (Around Dargah of Shaheed Sarmad)
The story of Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed (R.A) has ben written, photographed and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram (wih the help of Wikipedia other materials and few photos from other sources available on net,with thanks

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