The Dargah of Tawakkal Mastan bears testimony to our syncretic cultural legacy. THE DARGAH of Tawakkal Mastan in Cottonpet stands testimony to our syncretic cultural legacy, a valued tradition that has been seriously threatened in recent times.
A place visited by Hindus and Muslims alike, this dargah has a history of over 200 years. The annual urs is being celebrated here on 19th Safar.
The dargahs history takes us back to the time of Nawab Hyder Ali Khan.
The king, after accession to the throne, wanted to build a sloped wall to his fort at Kalasipalya and replace the mud walls with stone walls.
Three men – Hazrath Tipu Mastan, Hazarath Manik Mastan, and Hazrath Tawakkal Mastan – came to Bangalore and joined the work force at the construction site. The three worked with other labourers during day, and spent the night, in prayers.
The three, it is said, would not draw salaries, and Hyder was puzzled to note that they were always missing on salary day. Hyder Saheb asked the quiledar to enquire into the mystery. Hyders maternal uncle, Banke Nawab Ibrahim, who investigated the men, learnt that the three went to mosque in Kumbarpet after work and slept there. When he went to the mosque to look for them, he saw no labourers there, but only three parts of a human body, with two dogs standing guard over them. The quiledar narrated this to Hyder, and he realised instantly that the three were not labourers, but great saints.
The story goes that from the blessings of Hazrat Tipu Mastan, Hyder Ali had a son, whom he appropriately named after the saint. It is said that Hazrat Manik Mastan died in Bangalore and his tomb is on Avenue Road. Tipu Mastan left Bangalore and his tomb is in Arcot in Tamil Nadu. Tawakkal Mastan stayed in Bangalore and settled in Cottonpet, which was then a small area full of thorny shrubs. Hyder Ali Saheb visited the place and wanted to present the saint something. The saint, who did not accept any gifts, asked Hyder Ali to build a mosque there.
Work on the mosque began in 1777 and was completed in 1783 by his son Tipu Sultan. A stone inscription at the tomb states that Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan preached Islam and passed away in 1777. A book written by Kirmani in Persian, describes Hazrat Tawakklal as a Sufi saint and a disciple of another Sufi saint, Baba Fakruddin of Penugonda in Andhra Pradesh.
There is another version to the story, though. According to that version, Tawakkal Mastan, also known by the name Mirza Baig, came to Bangalore from Iran many years ago. He traded in the famous Persian horses. Later, he is said to have given up his trade and devoted all his time to religious pursuits.
Around the same time, Hyder Ali wanted to expand and develop Bangalore. He brought people of the Thigala community from Tiruchinapalli, Arcot, Thanjavur, and Madurai to help him in this work.
Among them was a scholar known for his philanthropic work, aptly called Dharmaraya. Dharmaraya wanted Hyder Ali to build a temple and a math. Hyder Ali constructed the temple and the math, which were named Dharmaraya Swamy Math and Dharmaraya Swamy Temple.
In an interesting development, the two religious systems came together at one point in time, and the annual Karaga of Dharmaraya Swamy visiting Tawakkal Dargah became a tradition. It is considered a sacrilege for the person carrying the Karaga to drop it. The story goes that during Tawakkals time, one particular year, the person carrying the Karaga stopped at Tawakkal Mastan Dargah and asked for his blessings so that Karaga would not fall off his head. Tawakkal blessed him and asked him to utter Din, Din.
The tradition continues to this day and the Karaga-carriers visit the dargah three days prior to the Karaga puja begins. He visits the dargah on the day of the Karaga as well, with the Karaga on his head. When he arrives, the fateha, ritual is performed, after which the Karaga-carrier goes round the dargah thrice.
He walks the first round, goes around on his knees on the second, and dances around the dargah on the third.
After this, the caretaker of the dargah and the Karaga carrier exchange lemons.
The dargah is visited by scores of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians every day.
An interesting tradition here is that some Marwaris and Gujaratis come to the dargah early in the morning and give away bread and idlis as breakfast for the poor.
The Secretary of the trust that runs Hazrath Tawakkal Mastan Shah Dargah Mosque, Mohammed Nasrulla, says that the trust also involves itself in social and educational activities.
It runs HTM Computer Institute, HTM English School, Al Kateeb TCH College, a nursery training institute, HTM Urdu School, and Arabic classes.
The HTM English School is adjacent to the dargah compound and has 500 students who come from all communities.
Hindus and Christians are part of the school, and this charitable institution caters to the needs of the poor of the surrounding areas, says R.N. Satyanarayana, the Principal. The headmistress of the school, Nagamani, says the school stands as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim amity.
Ghousia Sarai, also run by the trust, was built in 1953 with the idea of supporting social causes. It conducts marriages of poor people and provides them financial aid.
The Sarai provides boarding facilities, where poor belonging to any community can rent rooms at low rates.
The dargah has been visited by many celebrities. Amitabh Bachchan, after surviving the horrendous injury during the filming of Coolie, visited the dargah, offered his thanks and gave charity to the poor.
Music director A.R. Rahman is said to visit the dargah regularly. Kannada filmstar Raj Kumars family members are also among the visitors here.
On the annual urs day procession starts from Cottonpet.
It goes through City Market, Chikpet, and returns to the dargah.