Early Gursikhs: Pir Budhu Shah
Sayyid Budhu Shah was a Muslim saint of Sadhaura in Ambala district lying on the road from Chandigarh to Jagadhari and from Barara railway station to Nahan, 55 kilometres to the east of Ambala city, at the foot of the Shivalik hills on the banks of Nakti Nadi. His piety and holiness had attracted the attention of all the people in the region both Hindu and Muslim.
Pir Budhu Shah’s original name was Sayyid Badr-ud-din. He was born on June 13, 1641, in a rich Sayyid family of Sadhaura. From his childhood he was imbued with spiritualism and realization of God. As he took no interest in worldly affairs and spoke little, he was called Budhu or stupid. Being a Sayyid, Shah was added to his name. When he grew up to manhood, people considered him a man of God, and designated him Pir or a saint. The epithet of Budhu Shah stuck to him. He became Pir Budhu Shah. At the age of 18 Budhu Shah was married to Nasiran, younger sister of General Saced Beg of Bhareli in Ambala district. He had four sons by her: Muhammad Ashraf, Muhammad Bakhsh, Muhammad Shah and Shah Husain.
Most of the Muslims had rejoiced at the fanaticism of Aurangzeb and at the execution of Guru Tegh Babadur. Pir Budhu Shah was of a different mould. His soul was tormented at the Emperor’s wrong policy, and his mind was tortured at this wrong deed. When Guru Gobind Siugh began to live at Paonta in Sirmaur State, only 16 kilo-metres to the north. Budhu Shah decided to call on him and offer him his sincerest condolences. At the head of a few disciples he visited Paonta. After expressing his sorrow, grief and sympathy he wanted to know how far the young Guru had attained divine light. In the course of conversation the Pir asked how man could meet God. The Guru replied as night met day. The Pir remarked that night then disappeared. The Guru observed that in the same manner when truth dawned falsehood vanished. The barrier of self stood between man and God. By discarding love of self, family, wealth, power, prestige and fame, one would meet God. The Pir said that the ego could not be curbed easily. The Guru suggested that a person must resign himself completely to the will of God. By doing so be would attain divine light. Budhu Shah praised the young Guru.
Shortly after his arrival at Paonta, the Guru began to reorganise his forces. Young men of dash and daring were flocking to him from the plains below. Five Pathan leaders of village Damla in Tahsil Jagadhari not far from Paonta had their own contingents of troops, each roughly consisting of one hundred men. They were professional soldiers and offered their services to anyone who could pay them. They were all disciples of Pir Budhu Shah. As they were unemployed, they approached the Pir to recommend them to Guru Gobind Singh for service. The Pir accompanied them to Paonta. They were immediately employed on daily wages. Each sardar was paid five rupees and a soldier one rupee.
A few months later acute differences arose between the Guru and the hill rajas led by Fatah Shah of Garhwal. The real person who was responsible for this act was Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur (Bilaspur). He was a bitter opponent of the Guru. He had already fought a couple of engagements with him and had been repulsed. In October, 1688, he had come in the Dun region to marry his son to the daughter of Raja Fatah Shah of Garhwal. On this occasion several other hill rajas were also present with their contingents. They all decided to fight the Guru and break his power, because he believed in casteless society, and had declared Shudras equal to Rajputs.
They knew that the Guru’s Sikhs were raw young men, and the only trained soldiers were the five hundred Pathans in his service. They were offered higher pay and rewards and were to be allowed to plunder Guru’s camp and capital in case of his defeat. A few days before the actual attack they deserted the Guru and went over to the hill rajas.
The Guru was upset at this sudden desertion and treachery. A man was sent to Pir Budhu Shah who was very much disappointed at the conduct of the Pathans whom he had recommended. He invited his disciples to meet him, and in a short space of time as many as 700 young men gathered at Sadhaura. They were placed under command of his two sons and two brothers in order to avoid any defection. They marched to Paonta under Pir Budhu Shah and offered their services to the Guru. The Pir’s sons and brothers were designated as Risaldars, and each of them was paid Rs. 150/- per mensem while every soldier received Rs. 30/-.
The enemy crossed the Yamuna a little above Paonta. The Guru immediately hurried to intercept them. Both the parties took up position in the valley of Bhangani, 10 kilometres to the north-east of Paonta. A fierce battle was fought on the bank of Gin, a tributary of the Yamuna. Bud hu Shah’s men fought desperately. But as bad luck would have it, the Pir’s two sons named Sayyid Muhammad Ashraf and Sayyid Muhammad Shah, Pir’s brother Bhure Shah and many followers lost their lives. Pir Budhu Shah’s timely help was mainly responsible for the Guru’s victory. The Guru won the battle, but he was grieved at the Pir’s heavy loss. The Guru expressed his deepest gratitude to Pir Budhu Shah for his singular contribution at the most critical juncture. He blessed the Pir, gave him many presents and conferred a robe of honour on Budhu Shah.
Budhu Shah bore the shock with fortitude; but he was sure it would break the heart of his wife Nasiran. The Guru had made up his mind not to continue any longer at Paonta, but he could have left the place at ease. In view of Nasiran’s state of mind, the Guru wished to accompany Budhu Shah in order to console the old lady. In consequence he raised his camp in the greatest hurry and reached Sadliaura. He did his utmost to alleviate the grief of Nasiran, and told her it was the will of God.
Pir Budhu Shah’s brother-in-law was Saced Beg. He was an officer in. the Mughal army. In 1702 a contingent of Mughal troops under command of Alif Khan was going from Lahore to Delhi. Saeed Beg was his deputy. At Sarhind they were met by Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur. He persuaded Alif Khan to help him in expelling Guru Gobind Singh from Anandpur on a payment of one thousand rupees daily. Alif Khan had already fought in the Kangra hills, and had a grievance’
against the Guru. Saeed Beg was not in favour of attacking the Guru. whom he considered a saint. He told Alif Khan that the hill raj as were opposed to him because they were all idol-worshippers, while the Guru. was against idol-worship. Alif Khan did not agree and marched upon Anandpur. After a couple of skirmishes Saeed Beg deserted Alif Khan and went over to the Guru. Alif Khan thereupon retired in disgust. Saeed Beg remained loyal to the Guru, and laid down his life in another engagement fighting against the Mughal forces.
No notice was taken of the battle of Bhangani and Pir Budhu Shah’s participation in it at the time. It was a battle between the kafirs. The loss of Muslims on the battlefield was also ignored as they were the followers of a Sufi saint who were also in bad books of the emperor.
Pir Budhu Shah’s case cropped up 16 years later. On Guru Gobind Singh’s escape from Chamkaur every attempt was made by Wazir Khan, the governor of Sarhind, to capture the Guru alive or dead. Having failed in his attempts, the governor’s wrath fell on the Pir as Sadhaura lay under his jurisdiction. Wazir Khan ordered Usman Khan,. the Darogha of Sadhaura, to destroy the Pir and his family. They were all killed in cold blood on 21 March, 1705. Later on the Pir’s tomb became a place of pilgrimage for Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike.
Pir Budhu Shah set up a noble example of being free from religious bigotry and prejudices and of his co-operation in the right cause. His descendants enjoyed a holy status in the area upto 1947 when they left for Pakistan
Pir Budhu Shah was a Muslim saint who lived at Sadhaura, about ten or fifteen miles from Paunta Sahib. He was well known for his piety and had a large number of followers. He had heard of Guru Nanak and his mission. He had also learned that Guru Nanak’s throne was then occupied by Guru Gobind Singh who was staying in the neighborhood. Ultimately he decided to visit him. The Guru seated the Pir near him who beseeched,” Pray! tell us how one meets God Almighty.” During the discussion the Pir humbly submitted to the Master. There was a glow in the eyes of the Guru which radiated Divine Light and the Pir exclaimed with sudden joy,” Allah-hu- Akbar!” – Great is God Almighty. After a while the Pir confessed,” Master, I was spiritually blind and you have shown me the Light.” Blessed are the souls on whom the Guru bestows the divine grace.
The Guru remained about three years at Paunta Sahib and his fame attracted poets, singers and learned people to his court. During this period he composed Jap Sahib, Swayas and Akal Ustat.In Akal Ustat he writes:
“Without Thee (God) I worship none Whatever boon I want, get from Thee.”
The Guru makes the above point clear in his thirty-three Swayas:
“Some fasten an idol firmly to their breasts, some say that Shiv is God,some say that God is in the temple of the Hindus, others believe that he is in the mosque of the Musalmans, Some say that Rama is God, some say Krishna, some in their hearts accept the incarnations as God, but I have forgotten all vain religion and know in my heart that the creator is the only God.” (Swaya- XII)
“Why call Shiv God, and why speak of Brahma as God?. God is not Ram Chander, Krishan, or Vishnu whom ye suppose to be the lords of the world.
Sukhdev, Prasar, and Vyas erred in abandoning the one God and worshipping many gods. All have set up false religions, I in every way believe that there is but One God.” (Swaya- XV, Guru Gobind Singh)