Langar (Free Kitchen) in the Golra Shrine

Background

In the year of 1911, Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) received an official invitation to participate in the Darbar held in Delhi (India) in order to celebrate the coronation of George V, King of England and Emperor of India. In reply, Hazrat (R.A) requested to be excused from such participation. Since Hazrat (R.A) had a wide following in all parts of British India, the Government earnestly wished him to attend the Darbar and felt truly concerned at this negative response from him. The British Commissioner of the Rawalpindi Division accordingly sent emissaries to Hazrat to persuade him to reconsider his decision. These included a Pathan magistrate Muzaffar Khan and a devotee of Hazrat named Shaikh Ahmad of Gurmani Village in the Muzaffargarh district.

These persons assured Hazrat that his comfortable two-way transportation would be fully taken care of, and that all he would be expected to do was to offer his salaam (salute) to the Emperor along with other religious leaders and to pray for the stability of the British regime.

Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) was offered 400 square feet of fertile land and a big amount of money by them for the langar etc of the students, and he was told that the Government considered Golra Sharif as a University where a large number of people from all parts of the sub-continent came for their guidance spiritually and in religious sciences (as in those days, funds were being provided to the Universities). Hence they tried to convince Hazrat (R.A) on this matter by providing every kind of reasons they had so that he accepts the invitation.

Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) remarked to them, “I am a dervish and attendance of royal courts has never been looked upon with favour by dervishes. Nevertheless, since the present Government has not imposed any restriction upon the adherents of our true faith of Islam. I pray for the King from my abode here”. He refused to accept the land and the money saying that, "The One who provides food to all (Razzaq-e-kul i.e., Allah Almighty), will provide langar and facilities for all those coming here till the Day of Judgment”.

It was the result of Hazrat's prayers that till now, thousands of people come here to visit and langar is served to all. Daily approximately 10,000 people are served daily. In Juma Prayers, it is much more. In the Urs days, the amount exceeds 4,00,000 people. This was the result of the Hazrat Pir Meher Ali Shah’s (R.A) dua (prayer).

Babuji (R.A) maintained a langar where free food was served to the visitors pouring in all the times of the day. Free accommodation was easily accessible and the people were allotted rooms for their stay irrespectively of their caste, colour or creed. The practice continues till today.

The Essential Force

Talking about the practice of maintaining free langar, one needs to move a step further by interpreting the term “langar” not simply as comprehend in its usual sense but as it actually gets practiced by the hosts at Golra Sharif. The common conception is that langar is sought of “Tabaruk” (Holy giving) and need not be taken in terms of something humane and down to earth, i.e. a tiny morsel is all to be aspired for and expected to be received at the Holy shrine.

At Golra Sharif “langar” manifests itself in a wider context. The perspective out grows the usual practice and finds itself working in the practical, down - to – earth facilities of offered. Free lodging and bordering, along with the special treatments offered in terms of breakfast, proper lunch, and dinner regardless of whether the visitors and residing at the guest houses or in the open yards. Three – time servings are a must. The daily visitors living nearby and making short visits experience nothing less – they too are served in the best possible manner.

Proper accommodation throughout the year, day in and day out irrespective of the seasonal change or the odd arrivals of the guests; free food, toilet, and bathroom facilities, Wazu (ablution) facilities never come to a stand-still guided by the feeling that each new arrival is a guest of Ghaus-e-Azam (R.A).

Babuji (R.A) strongly believed that those arriving were Hazrat Ghaus-e-Azam’s (R.A) guests, and as such needed to be looked after and entertained in the best possible manner. The enactment of his spiritual belief continued right from Ajji Sahib’s (R.A) time to Babuji’s (R.A) age and onwards. With the passage of time, it is expending and as the amenities of life increase so do the facilities offered at the Golra Shrine Guest houses.

The Guiding Force

The underlying idea is that the people attending the Holy shrines or visiting the religious saints and Allah’s friends are either engaged in search of God, or are so engrossed and taken up by their own mental and spiritual problems and conflicting ties that they arrive at such places thinking these as a symbol of peace and contentment.

Babuji (R.A) believed that physical exhaustion and economic pressures do create a mental crisis for an ordinary human being. Caught in the earthly dichotomies, one’s clarity of vision and spiritual pursuits are apt to get endangered. The traveller therefore needs to be provided with the basic facilities of food and shelter along with an unconditional show of kindness and generosity. Langar management at Golra Sharif bespeaks of such a philosophy.

Above all, Babuji (R.A) religiously fostered the belief that each guest was God’s creature, sent by God Himself. Maltreating such a creature would imply mistreating God Himself. Hence the visitors should be taken as a means of earning God’s blessings to be carried with grace as was done by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H).

The duration of stay of the guests was never spoken of or insisted upon lest this caused hurt to them. The guests were free to live for as long as they wished.