By Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro, Weekly Pulse Magazine, September 09, 2013
The dargah of Pir Nasiruddin Shah is located 4 km north of Larkana on Naudero-Larkana Road at Dodai Village. He was a Sufi saint who lived during the British Period (1843-1947). Dodai is a small village which is believed to have been founded by a person from the Sangi tribe in the 18th century and, during the British Period, Pir Nasiruddin came to Dodai Village. He belonged to a Syed family and ‘the Syeds’ are greatly venerated in every nook and corner of Sindh. He was well-received by the villagers who offered him the opportunity to live in the village permanently. Pir Nasiruddin accepted the villagers’ offer and proceeded to live in Doadi Village. Soon, he began to give lectures to the villagers on mysticism. The village was inhabited by both Muslim and Hindu tribes and both groups responded his teachings and, within no time at all, his khanqah (Sufi hospice) became full with his devotees. Pir Nasir uddin was very fond of nature and he planted many trees in the village. Some banyan trees which still dominate the village’s landscape were planted by both Pir Nasiruddin and his Hindu devotees. According to Ayaz Channo, Pir Nasiruddin used to deliver lectures on mysticism as well as on Islam and related religions subjects under the shadow of these banyan trees.
Pir Nasiruddin also used to hold Sufi katchery (discussions) under the shadow of the banyan trees. He would sit on the relli (patchwork appliqué) which was spread on the ground. Unlike other contemporary pirs, Nasiruddin avoided sitting on a sofa or a cot. This showed the simplicity, pious conduct and refined manners with which he disseminated the Sufi teachings to his devotees. He devoted his whole life to prayer and the practice of mysticism, the latter of which he made a deep study. He never discriminated between his Muslim and Hindu devotees; both were equally treated by Pir Nasiruddin. His chief disciple was Chandi Ram, a Hindu who always accompanied his mentor. It is an established fact that Hindus were well-received by Sindhi Sufis at their khanqahs. Due to caste hierarchies, ‘lower-caste’ Hindus were not allowed to interact with ‘upper-caste’ Hindus (Brahmins and Rajputs), however, they were always welcomed by the Sindhi Sufis. Those caste-forbidden and down-trodden Hindus who were rejected by the ‘upper’ castes, found solace at the Sufi lodges and khanqahs. They were always found sitting next to the Sindhi Sufis. This is one of the distinctive features of Sindhi Sufism that attracted a large number of Hindus to the shrines, khanqahs and lodges of the Sindhi Sufis. At several Sufi shrines in Sindh, devotees are asked by the Sajjada-Nashins to first visit the graves of the Hindu disciples of the Muslim saints and this has been the practice since the time of the saints when they were alive.
When Pir Nasiruddin died, Chandi Ram continued to serve his son, Abdul Rasool. The tomb of Pir Nasiruddin is said to have been constructed by Chandi Ram. It is a square building with a hemispherical dome crowned with a lantern. Chandi Ram spent a great deal on decorating the tomb of his murshid, Pir Nasiruddin. He summoned the famous artists of Nasarpur to decorate the tomb and an artists of Nasarpur did so with glazed tiles. These artists also painted the interior of the tomb. An ornately carved door of the tomb was also made by the Nasarpuri artists. Today, the tomb has lost its original beauty due to the annual repair carried out by the descendants of Pir Nasiruddin.
When Chandi Ram died, the Hindus wanted to cremate his body according to Hindu tradition, but his Muslim fellows wanted to bury him. Abdul Rasool allowed the Hindus to perform their ritual and cremate him. To everyone’s great surprise, when his body was put on the funeral pyre and was set on fire, it did not catch fire! The Hindus struggled with it for three hours but each time either the fire became extinguished or it did not engulf the dead body of Chandi Ram. Consequently, Abdul Rasool, the son of Pir Nasiruddin, asked his Hindu devotees to bury Chandi Ram. Accordingly, Chandi Ram was buried in the Gyan Garden which belonged to him. Today, there is a mango orchard where his garden was once located and his grave is now surrounded by the mango trees. Chandi Ram was also a sufi who served both Pir Nasiruddin and his son, Abdul Rasool. He learned the basics of Sufism from them. Today, a few devotees of Pir Nasiruddin remember Chandi Ram and the villagers still narrate his stories of devotion and dedication to his mentor, Pir Nasiruddin.
There are three banyan trees in the village that remain from Pir Nasiruddin’s time the shadows under which the villagers sit when narrating the stories of the miracles of Pir Nasiruddin. During the mela, (festival), these banyan trees likewise also provide shade to his devotees.
The descendants of Pir Nasiruddin, who still live in the village, hold the annual mela at his dargah. During the run of the mela, people come from far-off villages to pay homage to the saint. On this occasion, temporary kiosks offering sweets and others things are established. A traditional malakharo (wrestling match) is also held which is the main entertainment activity during the mela. Sufiano Raag (Sufi music) is also played at the Pir Nasiruddin’s dargah.
Due to a dispute between the Syed and Sangi families, some members of the Syeds moved to Larkana, but there are still a few families who look after the tomb. To the north of the tomb is an imposing haveli that belonged to Mehar Shah, the son of Jafar Shah, who was also a descendant of Pir Nasiruddin. Despite of the current tribal dispute between the Sangis and Syeds, the descendants of Pir Nasiruddin are still influential in the village. This religious power undoubtedly comes from the shrine of Pir Nasiruddin being located there.
The devotees of Pir Nasiruddin are found in almost every town and village of Rato Dero and Larkana Talukas. Moreover, this saint’s spiritual power extends beyond these two Talukas to other parts of Sindh.