Hazrat Madho Lal Hussain
Hazrat Madho Lal Hussain was born in A. H. 945 (AD 1539) in Lahore. His ancestors, says the author of Tazkira, were originally Kayashtha Hindus who embraced Islam in the time of Feroz Shah. But Baba Buddh Singh is of the opinion that his great-grandfather or grandfather, who become a Mussalman, belonged to the dhata clan of the Rajputs. At the birth of Hussain, the family was sunk deep in poverty. His father, who was called nau Shaikh “Usman” was a weaver. Hussain never learned this trade.
Shah Hussain was put under the charge of Abu-Bakr at a very tender age and become a “Hafiz” when he was ten year old. Then Shaikh Bahlol of Chiniot (Chiniot, Jhang District), who learnt the doctrine of “fana” from a Sufi of Koh-Panj-Shir came to Lahore and made Hussain his own disciple. After a few years Shaikh Bahlol returned from Lahore and left Hussain to continue his study of the Sufi Practices at the shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh in Lahore. For twelve years he served the ashes of the Pir and followed the strict Quranic discipline. He is said to have spent many a night in a standing posture in the River Ravi, repeating the Quran. At twenty-six he left that Pir and became a student of Maulana Sa’dullah, with whom he read many a book on Sufism. Some time after this, as he was coming out of the house of his teacher with the fellow students, he thought he had found the secret of God. Happy at his success he threw in the well the Quran, which he had in his hand, but his companions were enraged at this act. He thereupon asked the book to come out. It came, and to the surprise of his companions it was dry as before. Hereafter Shah Hussain discarding all rules and regulations began to dance, sing, and drink. He became mystic. The excesses of Shah Hussain became scandalous and reached the ears of Shaikh Bahlol at Chiniot. The Shaikh was so much upset that he journeyed to Lahore to see things for himself.
His talks with his disciple convinced him of his saintliness and he went back satisfied to his native town Shah Hussain wore a red dress and came to be known as Lal Hussain or Hussain the Red. Shah Hussain was very fond of dancing and singing and mixed freely in the company of dancers and musicians. The Qadris, to whose sect Shah Hussain belonged, generally loved nusic and dancing which, they thought helped them in their divine contemplations, but they never went to the extreme which Hussain reached. Hussain clean shaved his moustaches and beard and refused, according to the author of Hasnat-ul-afifin, to accept those persons as disciples who were unwilling to shave their faces. This idea of Shah Hussain and his neglect of the religious duties of a Mussalman aroused suspicion, and some official thought of punishing him; but by pointing out to them their own reglect of religious duties, Shah Hussain escaped punishment. He is essentially taken by the writers as a sufi saint with typical traits. Shah Hussain’s sufism was of a peculiar type and presented a curious medley of Persian and Indian characteristics. In his mystic ideas and deliefs he was more Indian than anything else but in his daily life he followed the style of the Persian sufis. Lal Hussain was fortunate to have been born, to live, and to die during the reign of Emperor Akbar whose fondness for religious men and especially the Sufis was proverbial. Akbar, it appears from the writings of Dara Shikoh, knew Shah Hussain. Prince Dara Shikoh writes: “Prince Salimand the ladies of Emperor Akbar’s harem believed in his supernatural powers and entertained respect for him”.
The Tehqiqat-i-Chishti states that Prince (late Emperor) Salim was greatly attached to the saint and appointed Bahar Khan, an officer, to record his daily doings. These records, which were regularly submitted for the perusal of the Prince, were later on compiled together with the sayings of the saint and were named “Baharia”. The Baharia is sain to be replete with incidents relating to the supernatural power of the saint. Having become a Sufi, Shah Hussain bagan preaching in public. A Brahman boy of Shahdara frequented these religious scenes and showed keen interest in his reaching. This attracted the attention of the saint, who soon became attached to the handsome youth. This attachment developed so much and so repidly that if on any day Madho failed to come, Shah Hussain would walk down to his house. This sort of friendship was not liked by the parents, who tried to dissuade their son from meeting Hussain, but to no effect Desirous of separating their child from the Sufi, they proposed to take him to the Ganges on a certain festival day. When Madho informed the saint of his impending departure, he was much distressed and bagged the boy not to go with his parents. However, he promised Madho a bath in the company of his parents on the appointed day. Madho thereupon refused to accompany his parents, who proceeded alone to Hardver. After a few day the saint asked the boy to close his eyes, and when he did so, Madho found himself on the banks of the Ganges long with his parents who had reached there by that time. After the bath he discovered that he was back in his house at Shahdara.
On their return the parents confirmed their son’s statement that he bathed with them on the appointed day. This miracle, says tradition, so much impressed Madho that he confessed the Muslim faith and became a Mussalman. Another story about Madho’s conversion is that the attachment of Shah Hussain for Madho was disagreeable to the parents andcreated suspicion in the people’s mind. But Shah Hussain unmindful of all would go to the boy’s house when he was prevented from visiting him. Very often the parents would tell him that Madho was absent and Hussain would return disappointed. One day when he had been refused permisssion to see the boy, he walked down to his house for the second time. On reaching the place he saw people weeping and wailing. On inquiry, he was told that Madho was dead. The Faqir laughed aloud and walking to the dead body excaimed: “Get up, Madho, why do you sleep at this hour? Get up and see I am waiting for you. “upon this, continues the story, Madho jumped on his feet and followed Hussain out of his parental house, never to return there again, and became a Mussalman.
The love of Shah Hussain for Madho was unique, and he did Madho Lal’s on was known all that lay in his power to please the boy. Once, seeing his co-religionists celebrating “Holi” and being desirous of doing the same, he bought some gulal (pinkish-red powder) and threw it on Hussain. Shah Hussain at once joined him in the fun. Basant or the spring festival, like Holi, was also celebrated each year by Lal Hussain to please Madho.
Madho Lal Hussain was held in great respect by the people, and the Hindus, though they seem to have turned Madho out of their fold, could not master their credulous beliefs in the supernatural miracle-performing power of the saint and esteemed him just as much as their Muslim brethren. Masho Lal Hussain died at the age of 53, a comparatively early age for a saint. His death occurred in A. H. 1008 (AD 1593) at Shahdara, where he was duly buried. A few years later as predicted by the saint, the grave was swept away by an overflow of the Ravi. Thereupon Madho exhumed the corpse and carried it to Baghbanpura, where it was buried with pompous formalities. After his death Madho was buried by his side. Latif describes the tomb as follows:-
“The tomb is situated north of the village of Baghbanpura. There are signs of two tombs on a high platform. One of Madho and the other of Shah Hussain, the actual tombs being in an underground chamber. A wall surrounds the platform with a gateway to the south. Between the platform and the surrounding wall is a space left for the devotees to go round, - the platform being lined on all sides with lattice-work of red stone. North of the enclosure is a tower in which is reverentially kept the impression of the Prophet’s feet (Qadam-I-Rasul) and to the west is a mosque. This mosque was constructed by Moran, a wife of Ranjit Singh. Lal Hussain appears to have had friendship among the holy men of his time. He was an intimate frien of Chajju Bhagat who, the tradition says, called him Shah Hussain for the first time. He used to meet Guru Arjun whenever he came to Lahore. Hazrat Lal Hussain’s Sufism was of a peculiar type and presented a curious medely of Persian and Indian Sufism. In his mystic ideas and beliefs he was more Indian but in his daily life he followed the style of the Persian Sufis.
Shah Hussain has left no poetic works. His only work is a number of Kafis of a highly mystic type. His verse is written in simple Punjabi, slightly overlaid with Persian and Arabic words. It excels in expression of thought and has a clear flow. In its simplicity and effectiveness it is superior to Ibrahim Farid’s punjabi. It lacks the brilliance of Urdu poetry but is remarkable for its just proportion of words and powerful sense of shyme. His versification is smoother, his similes more relevent, and his words simpler but more effective than those of Ibrahim. His poetry is of a less orthodox type but is not as saturated with Indian thought as would be the poetry of Bulhe Shah. Like his character, his poetry is a curious mixture of Sufi, Indian, and foreign thought. The essential feature of his poetry, which strikes the reader is that it is highly pathetic and, piercing the heart, creates a mystic feeling.