The Legend of Panj Peer Shrine in Jammu

PANJPEER :- At Ramnagar, in the outskirts of Jammu town, is the shrine of the Panj Pirs, or ‘Five Pirs’. The Panj Pir cult is widespread all over northern India and Pakistan. The composition of the Panj Pirs varies from place to place. In some cases, it includes both Muslim as well as Hindu figures. The origins of the cult have been traced back to the Hindu cult of the five Pandava brothers, heroes of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, as well as the S h ica tradition of revering the five members of the a h l – u l – b a y t, the ‘holy family’ consisting of the Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima, her husband Ali and their sons Hasan and Hussain.

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Little is known about the history of the Panj Pir shrine in Jammu. Legend has it that five brothers of a Muslim family spent many years there in meditation and austerities and then they all left to go their own ways.1 3 According to local tradition, one day the five Pirs appeared in a dream to the Maharaja and admonished him for sleeping with his feet pointing to their Chillah, the placed they used to meditate. The next morning, the Maharaja ordered the spot to be excavated, and an umbrella and five kettledrums
were found. Believing this to be a holy place, he ordered the construction of a dargah there . He then appointed his royal charioteer, Alif Shah, and a Muslim woman, Khurshid Begum, as custodians of the shrine.

The great popularity of the Panj Pir d a rga h, especially among the local Hindus, is believed to be a largely post-1947 phenomenon. It is said that following the Partition riots in which thousands of Muslims in Jammu lost their lives and many more were forced to flee to Pakistan, some Hindus attempted to take over the shrine, claiming that it was actually a temple of the five Pandavas. They went so far as to forcibly install a Shiva Lingal i n g a1 5 on top of the grave-like structure inside the d a r g a h. Local legend has it that the next  morning the people discovered that the l i n g a had cracked into pieces on its own. The Hindus took this as a sign that the shrine was actually a Muslim d a r g a h and so withdrew their claims

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