Mian Bashir Ahmed Laravi: Epitome of a sufi tradition

I have had the privilege to look after Mian Sahab’s medical problems since 2000 and was involved in many procedures, some of them even lifesaving.
Mian Bashir Ahmed Laravi: Epitome of a sufi tradition
Pic: Author

In the passing away of Baba Ji, Janab Mian Bashir Ahmad Laravi, on 14thAugust, an era of Sufism, of the Naqshbandi order, has concluded. This order of sufism derives its name from Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari. Their masters trace their linage to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Abu Bakr, the first Caliph.

Born in November 1923 the eldest son of the renowned Saint Mian Nizam-ud-Din, the founder President of Gujjar-Jat conglomeration, which is a Socio-Political body established in 1932. His grandfather was Baba Ji Sahab Larvi, a very tall personality amongst Kashmiri Gujjars, which constitutes 15 % population of Jammu and Kashmir. Most of them are followers of Islam.

Wangat, a very picturesque hilly area, with green pastures, beautiful flowers and fruit trees of numerous varieties, in district Ganderbal has been their abode for 3 generations. Wangat historically is a group of temples near Naranag which according to Kalhana’s notes in Rajatarangini was a city built by Ashoka in the 3rd century BC and the remains of these temples can still be seen and are a part of two complexes with a central pavilion. These are centrally protected structures by the archaeological society of India.

Mian Bashir Sahab’s ancestors came to this place in the last century and set up the Darbar Lar Sahab Sharif which is one of the most sacred places for Gujjar, Bakarwal and Pahari people of Jammu and Kashmir. Baba Ji Sahab, Mian Bashir Sahab’s grandfather, was actually born in Balakot (Now in Pakistan) and was from childhood a deeply religious person who left his family, spent years in meditation in areas close to Khyber Pakhtnwa area of undivided India. He later found his master in Peer Naqshbandi Nizam-ud-Din Kayani Sharief of Muzaffarabad and became his disciple. In 1893 he migrated to Wangat along with his followers and bought a piece of land where he made his Dera in 1895. Here he started the traditional Langars, built a mosque and started preaching the true thoughts of Islam to the devotees. In 1901 he visited Poonch in search of a hand written Quran by Aurangzeb which he finally found with a family there and brought it with him. A hydro power station near Kangan is built after his name.

Mian Bashir Sahab followed the same tradition and continued and expanded the establishment of his forefathers. He became a social reformer and brought Gujjars and Bakarwals to limelight and fought for their due rights, being a substantial part of the population of the erstwhile state. The family then entered politics and represented their constituency, Kangan. His father Baba Nizamudin, himself and his worthy son Mian Altaf never lost any election from that area. Mian Bashir has been elected four times to the state Legislative Assembly, being closely associated to Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed and Mir Qasim, and was a minister in their cabinets. On the national level he had been closely associated with Mrs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He was sent to represent the Kashmir issue in the United Nations to argue for peace and headed many international delegations representing Kashmir and India. For these meritorious contributions he was awarded the 3rd highest award Padma Bhushan by the president of India in 2008. He dedicated this award not only to Gujjars of J&K but to crores of Gujjars living in 11 states of India.

On a visit to Pakistan under Gen Zia ul Haq’s regime to visit the mausoleum of his Sufi saint in Hazra, he was followed by a large group of people, followers of Sufism. The Pak government provided him full security but did not allow him to visit the mausoleum for security reasons. This deeply irked him and Mian Sahab quit politics in 1997 and continued only as a religious head of his community and returned to Wangat. Mian Altaf, his son continued the political role which he is doing till date.

Mian Bashir also wrote and released his book “Mat-e-Faqar-o-Danish” based upon his personal diary written during 1947-2007. The book was released by Sajjade Nishin Darbar Hazrat Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Hazrat Sadiq Raza from Sarhand Sharif, Punjab. The function in Jammu University was attended by scholars and researches and was preceded and followed by religious notes by noted singers and writers. The book gives a detailed account of history of the period post-independence of India and Pakistan and the lessons from Islam pertaining to peace and brotherhood.

On a lighter note, Mian Bashir was an ace horse rider with a collection of highly bred horses. Ironically, he was also very fond of modern sophisticated cars and heavy vehicles. He loved Kashmiri cuisine and would very often drive down to Srinagar and eat at Ahdoo’s, a very well known restaurant. This he was continuing to do till very recently.

My Association with Mian Bashir Sahab

I have had the privilege to look after Mian Sahab’s medical problems since 2000 and was involved in many procedures some of them even lifesaving. I found in him a great personality always ready with his anecdotes and poetry regarding his encounter with politicians of India and Kashmir. He was a widely travelled man and would come out with his experiences of travels even across my native village Hawal in Pulwama and Shopian District. He very often invited me to Wangat and have also been there on the very celebrated Urs held every year on 7th and 8th June when more than a lack of devotees throng Wangat. I have seen him leading a full life without any regrets and handing over his responsibility to his son, my trusted friend a perfect gentleman Mian Altaf Sahab. This responsibility he has been holding since 8th June 2007.

Personalities like Mian Bashir Sahab never depart, they leave a deep influence on our society for centuries to come and watch us from the heaven smilingly.

Prof Upendra Kaul, Founder Director Gauri Kaul Foundation, Recipient of Dr B C Roy Award and Padma Shri

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