aushan Chiragh Dilli or Chiragh-e-Dehli—the illuminating lamp of Delhi—is the most beautiful and befitting epithet for Khwaja Naseeruddin Mahmood, also known as Chiragh Dehlvi. He lightened up not only the earthen lamps with water instead of oil, but also human souls with devotion.
Born at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh in 1274, Chiragh Dehlvi illuminated the entire people of India with his inclusive spiritual legacy. He left Ayodhya for Delhi, attained the spiritual guidance of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and, thus, became the last pioneer of Chishti Sufi tradition in Delhi. Remarkably, his memories are still alive in the city of Ayodhya where the shrine of his elder sister, called Badi Bua, is still found.
The 14th century historiographers affirmed the everlasting impact of Chiragh Dehlvi as India’s native Sufi master on the future generations of Delhi. In his time, he had evolved such a progressive and all-inclusive worldview that represents, even today, the harmonious values of the Indian culture. Inspired by his spiritual guide (Murshid) Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, Chiragh Dehlvi served the mystical mission of khidmat-e-khalq (service for mankind) during the rest of his life which he spent as disciple (mureed) and then successor (khalifa-majaaz) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. He brought out in his Sufi discourses (malfuzat) all that he learnt from his Murshid (guide). Hazrat Nizamuddin, popularly known as mehboob-e-ilahi (the one who is beloved to Allah) would often exhort to his disciples: True love for Allah can only be reflected in an earnest love and sympathy for His creations. This was the surest way to attain closeness to Allah (Qurb-e-Ilahi).
At a time when people in India were judged on false distinctions, Hazrat Khwaja Naseeruddin taught the country’s kings and masses alike to transcend the boundaries of caste, creed and race in creating a humane and brotherly bond. His sermons mainly dwelt on Tajlli-e-Rooh (illumination of the soul), Aqsam-e- Muhabbat (various forms of love), Sehat-e-Nafs (soundness of the self), different kinds of the Ghusal (purity of the soul), Chaar Aalam (the four kinds of world as per the Sufi view) among many other key Sufi percepts. Around a hundred of his discourses have been beautifully weaved in a book titled, Khair-ul-Majaalis (the noblest meetings).
Khwaja Naseeruddin enlightened the hearts and minds of India’s old generations and, therefore, he truly deserves to be recalled today as ‘Raushan Chiragh-e-Dehli’, the illuminating lamp of Delhi.
A poet at heart, Chiragh Dehlvi is also known as one of the most celebrated Sufi poets in Persian and Arabic in our country. Through his Sufi poetry which reflects an essentially pluralistic and composite culture, Chiragh Dehlvi connected Indian people beyond all the barriers.
It is mentioned in Khair-ul-Majaalis that an official of the then King Muhammad bin Tughlaq who was hostile to the Sufi saints, chose to be disciple of Khwaja Naseeruddin. In his first nasihat (an exhortation of Murshid to Mureed), Khwaja taught this couplet in Persian:
“Muraad-e-Ahl-e-Tariqat Libaas-e-Zaahir Neest,
Kamar Ba Khidmat-e-Sultan Be-band-o-Sufi Baash!”
(Divine lovers don’t aim to attract attention or admiration. They remain a [true] Sufi, even while being in the service of a king).
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar), writer and translator of several Arabic, Urdu and Persian books. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org