Dargah Hazrath Tawakal Mastan Shah Saherwadi

Dargah Hazrath Tawakal Mastan Shah Saherwadi was established nearly 350 years ago. Situated in Cottonpet (near Majestic Bus Stand), Hazrath Takwal Mastan Dargah is considered as the most famous shrine in Bangalore. Members of all communities, irrespective of religion or caste come here and worship.

The dargah opens at 5 a.m. every day and closes at 11p.m. in night. On Fridays, people in huge number come for jumma namaz in afternoon. After the namaz on Fridays, around 3 p.m. there is a small fair outside the Dargah and people from all the communities come here to worship. An interesting tradition has developed in this Dargah, every morning around 4 a.m. members of usually from Hindu community gather outside the Dargah and take rounds of main dargah building. After that, they feed poor people with idli and sambhar. This practice take places everyday in morning and according to the Muzaaveer, the priest of the dargah, the number of worshipper coming in morning has not changed in long time.

Apart from the everyday customs and practices, there are three main festivals which are celebrated in the dargah. One is Uruus, the death anniversary of Hazrath Takwal Mastan, second is Karega Festival and third festival is celebrated on Mohramm’s ninth date. In all three festivals Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs, or Christians participate in large numbers. Karega is a famous Hindu festival of the South. In Bangalore, since the time of Hyder Ali a tradition has developed that Karega carrier will come to Dargah three days before the procession and take blessing from the priest. On the day of Karega festival, the carrier of the Karega takes three rounds of the Dargah and then exchange lemon with the priest in the Dargah and then carry on with the procession. According to the Muzaveer of the Dargah, last year approximately 25,000 people participated in Karega. On Uruus of Hazrat Takkawal Mastan and Mohram’s ninth date, members of all communities come together in large numbers to dargah and celebrate.

As far as religious identity is concerned, after talking to many devotees present in Dargah, it was observed, that for a Muslim there is no identity important than him being a follower of Islam. The only distinction in Islam is between Shia and Sunni; otherwise, there is no distinction or discrimination in Islam. According to one of the devotee who was present in the Dargah all these caste distinction done in Muslim communities are because of Indian laws and Government policies. He said that, in India there are various benefits attached in being called a “Dalit” or “Backward” but in Islam no such distinction is made. According to other devotees present in the Dargah, it is the Indian Laws, which create new identities for Musalmans. Taking this view further, I tried enquiring about the caste hierarchies present in Indian Muslims in day-to-day life. I asked them, why Sayyids and Sheikhs are given higher status in society and few others are considered as backward. I also learned that there is no intermarriage between these so-called “castes”[1]. The Muzaaveer of the Dargah said that it is not the religion which has created the divide or hierarchy but the people themselves have made these practices. According to the Muzaveer Imtiyaz Ali, it is more of an ego problem rather than any religious mandate. People from higher strata like Sheikhs or Sayyaids have ego issues in mixing up with so-called backward groups. He said, “But in front of ullah every one is same and no one is discriminated on any ground based on caste, creed, or wealth”. In the dargah there nothing is nothing which views people through any religious or caste lens.

During my visit, I observed few Hindu Women who were probably visiting Dargah for the first time had little clue about conducting themselves inside Dargah. They conducted themselves in Dargah the same way as they would have conducted themselves in any temple. No one seems to notice (forget objecting) their bowing down at the entrance or worshipping with joined hands inside the dargah. According to Moshabbir, who is a resident of Cottonpet, and has been visiting Dargah from past 18 years, he has never even bothered to know caste or religion of the people coming to Dargah. When I asked him why he comes here, he answered, “Because I believe in Baba’s (Hazrat Takwal Mastan) power. I know my work will be done without any obstruction with his blessings.”

One may say that people from other community worship here because they believe that whatever they wish in Dargah will come true. Therefore, there is a selfish motive behind people coming from other religion and it is not “composite”, in its true sense. However, what I have analysed is that even Muslims worship in Dargah for the same reason as a Hindu or Christian or any person of any other religion will worship. The priest of the dargah is called the Muzaveer; when any devotee comes to him he will ask his/her name, read a prayer, and gives a taveez with some “bhaboot” to the devotee. Devotees come here with all sort of problems, they will carry their sick child or relatives and take blessings from the dargah and wish for their well-being. During my 3 hours of interaction with the Muzaveer, I observed that irrespective of religion, caste, or creed, all devotees come here with similar problems and seek blessings to find solution to their problems. Therefore, it is inappropriate to attribute selfish motive of people from other religion who come to worship here. Instead, I would say it is the conviction or “aastha” of the people on the higher power that attracts thousands of men and women to come here and worship.

Harat Takkwal Mastan Dargah is located in a sub-urban area of Bangalore. The regular devotees who come here are generally from the surrounding areas. The area surrounding the dargah is not very well developed and majority of people are less educated and struggle every day for bread and butter. In spite of these economic conditions, the devotees in Dargah seem to be very religious in their conduct. I have serious doubts if these devotees understand the concept of “secularism”, even in its loose sense. There seem to be no distinction or differentiation of any sort between devotees inside the dargah. I don’t even think that secularism is a question for them. They worship in the dargah not because they are secular or they have read anything on religious tolerance. They worship simply because they have faith in something, which they think can improve their lives for better.

It would be a misnomer to address Hazrat Takkwal Mastan Dargah as a “syncretic” place of worship. For syncretism to exist there has to be two or more elements to mix and give rise to a new system. After talking to many devotees and staying there for a bit more than half a day it is hard to conclude if there is any kind of new “system” which arises from the culture and practices of the place. Hazrat Takkwal Mastan is said to have dedicated his life in helping poor people without any discrimination. No one was discriminated by him when he was asked for any help or something. Whatever is happening today in this Dargah, are the same old customs, as they were 350 years ago when Hazrat Takkwal Mastan was alive. People started noticing about these customs only when they segregated religion in boundaries. Otherwise, no practice or custom of this place seem to look unusual.

According to Fazul Rehman, its all “siyasat ka khel” which has differentiated people in petty groups called religion. Fazul is a middle-aged drop out from school and owns a small shop in Cottonpet near the Dargah. He hardly seems to have studied or understand history or Indian Constitution in its true sense. For him to take take the name of Ullah or Ram is ibadat of the same almighty by taking different names. He said he is more bothered about his family and future rather than involving himself in a complicated unending futile debates.

[1] Actually, these are not caste but “Silsilas”.  They are like Family Names which are carried on by birth of an individual. For eg. Sayyaids are direct descendents of Prophet Muhammad and therefore given higher status in society.

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  1. A detailed account of the life and teachings of Hazrat Tawakkal Masran Shah (ra) is the need of the hour. Also, the silsila of the saint should be made known .Or , is it that he himself wished to remain unknown during his lifetime? Now he has become so popular that his miracles need to be spread among the people so that more and more of them benefit from his miraculous powers.

  2. mastan baba is agreat bujurgani din in india we are pleased to get a bleasing on our head

  3. baba fakhruddin shorawardi rehmathullah alayhi , murshid-e-girami of hazrath tawakkal mastan shah sohrawardi rehmathullah alayhi is resting in penkonda of anantpur district of AndhraPradesh.

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