There is an abundance of myths and superstitious beliefs around the Subcontinent. In Pakistan, many of these beliefs revolve around saints. These beliefs have descended from generation to generation and people are often seen going to the shrines of these saints to get a remedy for their problems. Such a vast population visiting the shrines of saints or pirs has made these places of devotion a part of Pakistani culture.
However, there is the grave of one saint situated in Lahore which does not attract followers of devotion in our times – nor does it give out any remedies. But it does leave an unpleasant impact if any form of mischief takes place around its surroundings.
The Mughal-era Wazir Khan mosque, in all its beautiful architecture and mystic glory, actually houses the grave of a saint in its basement. Nawab Wazir Ali Khan was the subedar of Lahore at the time and wanted to build a big, beautiful mosque. He had all the skilled craftsmen for such an enterprise at his disposal. His advisers told him to build the mosque in a big open space, but the only drawback was that the grave of Mirza Syed Ishaque Gazaroni, popularly known as Miran Badshah, stood at the empty space. Every year at his grave, an Urs used to take place, which was attended by both Hinds and Muslims. Both communities recognised and acknowledged Gazaroni or Miran Badshah as a saint.
Being a clever subedar, Wazir Ali Khan set about first seeking advice from the well-known Hindu pundits and Muslim ulema as to whether he could go ahead and build the mosque. All of them responded in the affirmative as long as the grave was not damaged and that the remains of the saint were respected. One Hindu pundit even went to the extreme length to say that he even corresponded with the dead saint and the saint was happy that a mosque was being built around his grave. Hence, by the approval of the pundits and ulema, the beautiful Wazir Khan mosque was built housing the grave of Miran Badshah in its basement.
However, the grave of saint Gazaroni or Miran Badshah came with certain reservations. Whoever did any mischievous acts within the surroundings of the Wazir Khan mosque would have to face the curse of the saint.
Legend has it that once a Mughal prince walked into the mosque, admiring its beauty, when he came across a Hindu devotee of Syed Gazaroni and started taking interest in her. No one exactly knows what the prince did, but he did fall ill and recovered only once he came back and sought forgiveness from the saint.
Another tale claims that when Maharajah Ranjit Singh took over the beautiful city of Lahore, he made most mosques into ammunition stores, leaving the Wazir Khan mosque as his pleasure place. On one occasion he took one of his mistresses to the mosque where they indulged in a day of extreme pleasure. Just about when he was about to leave the mosque premises, a strong pain grasped his entire body.
For three days and three nights, the legend claims, the Maharajah was in extreme pain – with rumours that he might die. His mistress also faced the same fate. There was a fear of poisoning but it was brushed off – as the poison would have taken effect within three days. Then, the caretaker of the Wazir Ali Khan mosque appeared before Ranjit Singh and told him that since he had enjoyed himself at the mosque, Syed Gazaroni had cursed him.
The Hindu pundits and Muslim scholars were once again bought into the fold and it was confirmed by them that the curse of Gazaroni was indeed on Ranjit Singh. They also informed that the only way out of the curse was for the Maharajah to repent at the mosque which he did. In addition to this Ranjit Singh provided rice to the poor and gave a stipend for the well-being of the mosque till the day he died. His partner in crime also promised to build a masjid which today stands as a testimony of devotion to Syed Gazaroni.
Other than Ranjit Singh, there were other notable people who – so we are told – faced a similar fate to the Maharajah, for falling afoul of the saint. These tales are a part of history within the walled city of Lahore – embellishing the legend of the beautiful Wazir Ali Khan mosque.