New Delhi: Terrorists struck yet again on Saturday. Ironically, this time less than a kilometre away from sufi saint Bakhtiar Kaki's dargah which, his believers say, has been Delhi's bulwark against evil for 800 years, ever since the saint died.
Kaki's disciples believe Delhi can't be destroyed so long as the saint's mazar near the Qutab Minar exists.
"For, everyday he calls down blessings from heaven on the city, which he had made his abode. Believe it or not, but Delhi has survived for many centuries after his death, come what may,'' notes R V Smith author of `The Delhi no one knows'.
"None of his disciples believe he's dead. For them, he has just drawn a veil around himself, so that nobody but God and the blessed can see him,'' the book says.
Mahatma Gandhi was also a great believer in the saint's message of peace and is believed to have visited the shrine a few days before his death. He got the shrine repaired by Hindus and Sikhs after it was damaged by mobs from those communities during the post-partition riots. Gandhi sat on a fast and made them repair the shrine.
The dargah, which also stands out as an enduring example of India's syncretic culture, continues to hold a special three-day festival of Hindu-Muslim unity Phool Walon Ki Sair. The festival started during the Mughal era as a means of bonding between Hindus and Muslims.
"The festival is a great sufi legacy and an event of the love Hindus and Muslims have shared for centuries,'' sufi scholar Salman Chishti told TOI, "they come together to decorate Kaki's shrine, Yog Maya Mandir and Jahaz Mahal with flowers.''
He says, Hindus are at the forefront on the first day of the festival wearing Muslim caps and it's difficult to make out they're Hindus.
"On the first day, a chadar is presented at the shrine and the focus shifts to Yog Maya temple where devotees, led by Muslims, offer flowers,'' Chishti says.
The British stopped the festival in 1942, but Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru revived it in 1961 as part of his efforts to bridge the Hindu-Muslim gulf.
Smith says the dargah is one of India's oldest and revered shrines.
"Kaki was such an exalted divine that even Moinuddin Chishti had decreed that those coming to seek his blessing should first pay homage to the former,'' he says, "The practice is still adhered to.''
[Book cover from http://www.bagchee.com/books.php?id=22003].