By Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro
The Friday Times : 05 Oct 2018
Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro on some of the Turkic-origin rulers and mystics of Sindh
Dilapidated cenotaphs of Beglars
About 12 km east of Nasarpur town is located the historic graveyard of Miyon Wahyun formerly known as Torki/Turki containing the tombs of saints, scholars, and cenotaphs of the Beglar nobles who played an important role in the sociopolitical history of Sindh during the eras of the Arghuns, Tarkans and Mughals. Amir Qasim Shah Beglar was the first person from the family to migrate to Sindh from Samarkand during the reign of Shah Hasan Arghun in 1521 AD. It is believed that the ancestors of Qasim Shah Beglar had lived in Khita, Turkistan, and developed intimate relations with the Arghuns – and hence Beglars were later also called Arghuns.
Tomb of Ibrahim Shah at the Miyon Wahyun graveyard
Now this graveyard is named after the Sufi saint Miyon Wahyun (d.1593AD) who belonged to the Chanhyo caste. He was a learned scholar of his time. Abdul Qadir, the author of Hadikat ul Aulia has written about his piety and called him one of the eminent saints his time. Despite being a non-Syed saint, he was very influential among the Syeds of Nasarpur and other towns of Sindh. Many miracles have been recorded by Abdul Qadir about Miyon Wahyun Chanhyo in his book.
Miyon Wahyun Chanhyo was a disciple of Syed Sakhi Rukinuddin of Matiari (d. 1567) who was a devout follower of Makhdoom Sahar Lanjar (d.1525), the chief deputy of Makhdoom Bilawal (d.1522). He was strict follower of the Shariah and always used to preach to the people to spend their time in prayer. He, himself, used to spend most of his time in prayer and mediation. On the Fridays, his mosque (now in ruins) was full of common people who used to come to pray. They also listened to his sermons. He was very well versed in the Arabic and Persian languages. Apart from being a scholar of high repute, he was also a poet. Due to his growing popularity as a religious scholar many people enrolled as his disciples. Some of his friends also used to attend his lectures. One of his friends was Ibrahim Shah, who is later believed to have become his chief disciple. The tomb of Ibrahim Shah is very close to the tomb of Miyon Wahyun Chanhyo. Apart from these two eminent saints and scholars there are some tombs of other notable saints in the graveyard. One such tomb, albeit in shambles, belongs to Bodho Dars who was a disciple of Miyon Wahyun Chanhyo. He used to teach in the madrasah of Miyon Wahyun. After the death of Miyon Wahyun, he continued to preach the thought and ideology of his mentor. The tomb of Budho Dars lies in a deplorable condition. It is an octagonal tomb still withstanding the vagaries of weather. Northwest of Miyon Wahyun is located the dilapidated mosque of the Beglars which is believed to have been built by Amir Shah Qasim Khan Zaman. The roof of the mosque has recently caved in. Apart from the tombs of saints and religious scholars, the necropolis is also dotted with the cenotaphs of Beglar nobles who largely served the Arghuns (1524-1555) and Tarkhans (1555-1592). Some also served the Mughals (1592-1737 AD). The most eminent dignitary from the Beglar family was Amir Shah Qasim Beglar who rose to prominence during the rule of the Arghun dynasty in Sindh. Shah Qasim came to Sindh from Samarkand during the reign of Mirza Shah Hasan Arghun in 1522 AD. He was made an Amir in the court of Mirza Shah Hasan Arghun, who gave him the Jahija pargana as a fief – thus making him the most powerful person in the vicinity of Nasarpur. He made Nasurpur a centre of his all political activities. Amir Shah Qasim died while fighting the forces of Emperor Humayun, when the later after suffering the defeat at the hands of Sher Shah Suri took shelter in many places and finally reached Sindh. At Jun, Qasim Shah died in a bid to stop emperor Humayun (1508-1556 AD) from advancing to Thatta, the capital of Sindh. Amir Shah Qasim was buried at the Torki graveyard which later came to be called ‘Beglaran Jo Qabaristan’ (The graveyard of the Beglars). After the burial of Miyun Wahyun it was named after him as ‘Miyon Wahyun Jo Qabaristan’. After the death of Amir Shah Qasim, his descendants continued to play an important role in the annals of Sindh. However, it was during his eldest son Amir Shah Qasim Khan Zaman(1540-1610 AD) that the Beglar family became one of the influential families of Sindh during the Tarkhan dynasty. He served Mirza Isa (ruled from 1555 AD to 1565 AD), the first Tarkhan ruler of Tarkhan dynasty and was considered the most influential at his court. After the death of Mirza Isa, a war of succession started between his two sons JanBaba and Baqi Beg.Amir Qasim Shah Khan Zaman supported Jan Baba and fought many battles on his behalf. However, after some time truce was declared and agreement was made between Jan Baba and Baqi Beg in which Baqi Beg (ruled from 1565 to 1585 AD) was accepted new ruler of the Tarkhan dynasty. Jani Beg asked Amir Shah Qasim Zaman to be part of his court which he accepted and thus was granted jagir of Nasarpur to him. Under Amir Shah Qasim Khan Zaman, Nasparpur became a centre of cultural and political activities. Apart from being a brave general and avid administrator, he was also a great patron of art and letters. Amir Qasim Khan Zaman died in 1610 AD and was buried next to his father Amir Shah Qasim Arghun. Idraki, the author of ‘Beglar Nama’ mentions ‘Mirgh Munara’ which Amir Shah Qasim Khan Zaman erected on the grave of his favorite horse which is now in ruins at the Miyon Wahyun graveyard. Amir Abul Qasim Sultan (1562-1630) son of Amir Shah Qasim Khan Zaman was another brave Beglar general who took an active part in the politics during the reign of Mirza Jani Beg (d.1601 AD). He was also a good poet of the Persian language. Due to the rebellious nature of Amir Abul Qasim Sultan, he was blinded and imprisoned by Mirza Jani Beg. Many other Beglar nobles were celebrated for their bravery and heroism in the annals of Sindh.
Broken stone carved grave of a Beglar noble
After Makli, Miyon Wahyun is the second graveyard in Sindh where there are such fine cenotaphs in terms of carved Quranic verses and Persian inscriptions
There are nine highly carved stone cenotaphs of Beglars at the Miyon Wahyun graveyard. After Makli, Miyon Wahyun is the second graveyard in Sindh where there are such fine cenotaphs in terms of carved Quranic verses and Persian inscriptions. Unfortunately, most of these stone graves are in shambles now. Two of the graves are broken and the broken pieces are lying on the ground. The saints’ tombs are very well taken care of by the devotees but regrettably, the stone carved graves of Beglar soldiers, generals, administrators and poets are victims of neglect. The concerned authorities should immediately restore these fabulous pieces of art before they become history.
The author is an anthropologist and has authored four books: ‘Symbols in Stone: The Rock Art of Sindh’, ‘Perspectives on the art and architecture of Sindh’, ‘Memorial Stones: Tharparkar’ and ‘Archaeology, Religion and Art in Sindh’. He may be contacted at: email@example.com