18th Shawwal Urs Amir Khusro,New Delhi, 1325CE

Nizamuddin at night (photo by Smitha Khorana)

Amir Khusro : Ab’ul Hasan Yāmīn al-Dīn Khusro (1253-1325 CE), better known as Amir Khusro Dehlavi or Amir Khusraw Balkhi in Afghanistan and Iran (in Persian ), is one of the iconic figures in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. A Sufi mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, Amir Khusro (or Khusrau or Khusraw) was not only one of India’s greatest poets, he is also credited with being the founder of both Hindustani classical music and Qawwali (the devotional music of the Sufis). He was born of a Turkish father, Saif Ad-din, and an Indian mother, in India. (from the Aulia e Hind website)

For more information about Amir Khusro, his influence on India music and his poetry you can link to the Aulia e Hind website and the Amir Khusro website of Elekrta Music.

Amir Khusro was a devoted disciple of Nizamuddin Aulia. He love and friendship between them is a shining light in the Chishti silsila. The great saint would call him “tukem” meaning “my turk” referring fondly to Khusro’s father’s nationality. They were bonded very closely as Murshid and Mureed with much love and respect between them.

Tomb of Amir Khusro

My favorite story that illustrates this is the story of the poor farmer who came to Nizamuddin to beg for something that would help his family’s situation. Nizamuddin was known for helping the poor and needy and for never keeping anything that was donated to him after the close of the day. Each day all must be given away. But the farmer came from far away and by the time he arrived at the Khanka Nizamuddin had already given out all that there was for the day. The farmer was very dissapointed and seeing his distress Nizamuddin offered his own sandals to the man. The farmer accepted this gift but wondered to himself how this would help his family.

Setting out for home the farmer realized he would never make it back all the way that night so he came to a caravan which had camped for the night to warm himself by the fire and perhaps get some food. Amir Khusro was among the merchants in the caravan and watched as the farmer sat down to share the fire. Khusro noticed the sandals that the man was wearing and asked where he had gotten them. The farmer told his story about getting them as a gift from Nizamuddin Aulia. Khusro immediately offered to buy the sandals from the farmer and set the price as everything he had with him on the caravan. As he was just returning from a very successful trip, this was an enormous sum. The farmer was overjoyed and returned home the next day leading all the animals that had been Amir Khusro’s laden with all the goods as well.

For his part, Amir Khusro woke the next day and immediately went to the Khanka of his Sheikh, wearing the sandals on his head. When Nizamuddin Aulia saw this he smiled and said “Turkem, (a term of endearment meaning “My Turk”) how much did you pay for those sandals?” to which Khusor replied “All that I own” “Well then, you got them for a cheap price!” Nizamuddin said.


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