Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ayyaaz and Sultan Ghaznavi

Shri Nathji was very fond of narrating the story of the loyalty of the slave, Ayyaaz, towards his Master, King Ghaznavi.
Ghazvani greatly loved his slave, Ayyaaz, for his obedience and dedication to duty. There was a time when Ghaznavi sent word through a messenger that Ayyaaz should come to his court at once.
The next instant saw Ayyaaz in the filled court, limping along, one leg inside his pyjamas and the other outside, with a bottle of ‘sharbat’ in his hand!
When asked to explain the impertinence, he said: “Your order was to come at once, and I came in whatever state in was in!”
At another time, Ghaznavi handed a very precious bejewelled cup to Ayyaaz and asked him to dash it to pieces on the ground! The cup was priceless and no one had dared even touch it.
Ayyaaz, without the slightest bit of hesitation, dashed the cup to the ground so that it shattered to pieces!
When Ghaznavi shouted at him: “Do you know what you have done? That vase was priceless!”
Instead of telling the King that he had merely been following his orders, Ayyaaz said: “Huzoor galti ho gayi! Sire, I have committed a mistake! I will never do it again!”
His only motto in life was obedience to his Master. Ghaznavi was pleased with Ayyaaz, and this made the other courtiers jealous.
A courtier complained to Ghaznavi that Ayyaaz had hidden away a trunk with stolen goods which he went to view every night in a secluded spot. Ghaznavi could not believe his ears, but when the man insisted, he went with him one night to observe Ayyaaz from a hidden spot.
Ghaznavi saw Ayyaaz come into the forest and proceed to a cave. Inside the cave there was a large streel trunk. Ayyaaz opened the trunk and took out some clothes from it, and holding the clothes high, looked at them with some emotion.
They were rags–the rags Ayyaaz used to wear before he had become Ghaznavi’s slave. Holding these rags before himself, Ayyaaz thanked his Master Ghaznavi from the bottom of his heart, saying:
“O Ayyaaz! This was what you were before! You know your worth. Your Master has made you so rich with his favours that you can never thank him enough. Look upon these rags so that you may never forget who you really are, and know that everything that you have, is due to the generosity of your Master, Ghaznavi!”
Ghaznavi was so pleased that he rushed from his hidden spot and embraced Ayyaaz in a flood of tears for the man’s gratitude!”
Ayyaaz, whose actual name was Malik Ayaz, was son of Aymáq Abu'n-Najm, and  Turkish slave who rose to the rank of officer and general in the army of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (also known as Mahmud Ghaznavi, his full name was Yamīn ad-Dawlah Abul-Qāṣim Maḥmūd Ibn Sebüktegīn, more commonly known as Mahmud of Ghazni . He was born on 2 November 971 and died on 30 April 1030. He was the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid Empire. In the name of Islam, he conquered the eastern Iranian lands and the northwestern Indian subcontinent from 997 to his death in 1030. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazna into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which covered most of today's Afghanistan, eastern Iran, Pakistan and northwestern India. He was the first ruler to carry the title Sultan ("authority"), signifying the extent of his power, though preserving the ideological link to the suzerainty of the Caliph. During his rule, he invaded and plundered parts of Hindustan {east of the Indus River) 17 times. Mahmud was also a great patron of learning. His court was full of scholars including giants like Firdosi the poet, Behqi the historian and Al-Biruni the versatile scholar. It is said that he used to spend four hundred thousand golden Dinars on scholars. He invited the scholars from all over the world and was thus known as an abductor of scholars. Mahmud was also a deeply religious man. He himself wrote a book on Fiqh. He had respect for other religions. A large number of Hindus lived in Ghazni, and they enjoyed religious freedom. Two of his senior most commanders named Nath and Tilak was a Hindus.  A number of soldiers in his army were also Hindus. Mahmud attacked the Hindu Temples in India because of political and not religious reasons.)
 Ayyaaz rise to power was a reward for the devotion he bore his master. The love between the first Islamic ruler in the Indian subcontinent Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni and slave Malik Ayaz was such that it became an Islamic legend. Poets praising the power of love looked to Sultan Mahmud as a prime example of the man who, because of the power of his love, became a slave to his slave.
A painting at Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, shows. The Sultan is to the right, shaking the hand of the sheykh, with Ayaz standing behind him. Another painting of them can be found in the book named Six poems by Farid al-Din 'Attar; from Southern Iran, written in 1472. Here Ayyaaz is seen kneeling before Sultan Mahmud. It is now preserved at the British Library, London.
In 1021, the Sultan raised Ayaz to kingship, awarding him the throne of Lahore, which the Sultan had taken after a long siege and a fierce battle in which the city was torched and depopulated. As the first Muslim governor of Lahore, he rebuilt and repopulated the city. He also added many important features, such as a masonry fort which he built in the period of 1037-1040 on the ruins of the previous one, demolished in the fighting, and city gates (as recorded by Munshi Sujan Rae Bhandari, author of the Khulasatut Tawarikh (1596 C.E.). The present Lahore Fort is built in the same location. Under his rulership the city became a cultural and academic center, renowned for poetry. It is said that in old age "Sultán Mahmúd . . . spent his whole time in the society of Malik Ayáz, neglecting the business of the state."  The tomb of Malik Ayaz can still be seen in the Rang Mahal commercial area of Lahore.  A Photograph of that Ayyaaz tomb in Lahore is given here, which was renovated.
A rich body of tales and folklore has grown around his relationship with Sultan Mahmud. One day sultan Mahmud asks Ayyaaz whether he knows a king greater and more powerful than he. Ayyaaz answers, "Yes, I am a greater king than you." When the king asks for proof, he says, "Because even though you are king, your heart rules you, and this slave is the king of your.
Then once the Sultan and Ayyaaz were sitting together eating lunch. The sultan cut a slice of cucumber and gave it to Ayyaaz, who ate it with relish. A little later he gave another slice of cucumber to Ayyaaz and took one himself. But when Mahmud bit into the cucumber, he immediately spat it out as it tasted terrible — chalky and bitter. He glared at Ayyaaz and accused him of tricking him into eating the foul vegetable by pretending it was delicious.
Ayyaaz answered, 'No, my sultan. It was delicious to me. I have received so many wonderful things from your hand, that whatever comes from you is sweet to me.
On one occasion Sultan Mahmud offered his crown to his favorite slave, Ayyaaz. All the courtiers were consumed with jealousy. Poor Ayyaaz began to weep. When he was asked the reason for such grief in the midst of such good fortune, he said, “I have nothing to do with anything but the King. I want him alone, whereas by giving me the crown, he wants to keep me engaged in the affairs of the State and withdraws himself from me. This makes my heart bleed with the thought of separation.”
 Mahmud used to over-hear his deputies objecting in secret about his inclination towards Ayyaaz. He decided to answer them back in practical. All the deputies were gathered. Mahmud brought the biggest of the diamonds in his treasures. He gave it to the first of the deputies sitting in a ring and asked him what it is. The first deputy answered that this is such and such unique diamond only available in the treasures of Mahmud and no where else in the world. Then Mahmud asked him to strike the same with a stone and perish it. The deputy sought excuse citing the same reason of the uniqueness of the diamond. Mahmud awarded him a Khalat (courtyard dress of honor). The diamond was passed on to the next deputy and the process was repeated by the king. Having seen that the previous deputy was awarded for the action, all the subsequent deputies excused themselves from perishing the diamond. Finally, it was the turn of Ayyaaz. When asked, he quickly destroyed the diamond. All the deputies started talking to each other about the 'sinful' act that Ayaz had just then committed - of destroying the one and only diamond in the treasures of Mahmud. Mahmud turned to Ayaz and said, 'You must reply against what is being said about you here'. On this, Ayaz said the following to the deputies:
Guft Ayaz ay Mehtran-e-Namwar
Hukm-e-Shah Behter Ba Qeemat Ya Guhar
Ayaz said to the deputies: "O Renowned Officers
Is the order of the King more worthy or the diamond?"
There are many more stories associated with Ayyaaz and Sultan Ghaznavi which are popular in Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia nad the India Sub Continent. 

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