The Story of Nizamuddin and Amir Khusro

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Story of Nizamuddin and Amir Khusro

There once was a great Siddha, a Sufi master. He lived in Delhi, and he was a being of incredible power. Many people revered him. He was like a fountain of grace, and whenever people came to him, they would receive this great gift of grace. Thousands of people used to visit him and have his darshan. His name was Nizamuddin.

One day a very poor farmer—dusty, dirty, tired from travelling for hours and hours along the road—entered the courtyard of Nizamuddin's Ashram. He shuffled up to Nizamuddin's chair, fell at his feet, and with great despair, he said, “O Master, O Master. I have three beautiful and virtuous daughters, but look at me. I'm just a poor farmer, and you know that nobody will marry a daughter without a dowry. O Master, everyone says, 'Great is the heart of Nizamuddin and perfect are his blessings.' Please, please help me.”

Nizamuddin sat quietly and looked at the farmer with great compassion. Very kindly he said, “Stay with me for three days. And whatever people bring to me, whatever people offer me, it’s yours.”

So with great anticipation, the farmer woke up very early the next morning, took his place in the courtyard, and waited. Nizamuddin came out of his house at the usual time and sat on his chair. The farmer waited, and waited, and waited. But no one came, not one single person, all day long. Not one person. Nothing. Not one little tiny banana. And the second day, exactly the same: nobody came. No offerings, no money, no food, absolutely nothing. And the third day, the same as well: nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The farmer couldn’t stand it any longer. He’d had enough. He felt it was impossible to get dowry for his daughters. He was crushed. He felt lost. And also he was feeling very hungry. He came up to Nizamuddin and he said, “O Lord, Lord please grant me your leave. Let me go home. I’m poor. I’m dirt poor, but at least at home we eat.”

Nizamuddin smiled at him. He said, “Look, I’d love to give you some money, but this… this is all I have, what you see in front of you—my clothes, my shoes. Here, take my shoes. Sell them in the marketplace. There you will at least get something to eat.”

Nizamuddin slipped his feet out of his tattered sandals and pushed them toward the farmer with his toe. The farmer looked at them dubiously and then picked them up.He left the Ashram, taking the shoes with him, but he didn’t get very far. He was tired, he was weak, he was feeling faint from hunger, and so he sat down underneath a tree to rest.

Not long after, he saw something shimmering, something glimmering, coming out of the heat haze. It was a caravan—nine camels loaded with trunks. And on the first camel there was a man dressed in beautiful silk robes and a great turban with gems. All of a sudden, the man prompted the camel to gallop, and they ran right past the tree where the farmer was resting. And just as suddenly, they stopped. The man turned and looked straight at the farmer. And then to the farmer’s astonishment, he rode up to his tree and dismounted. With a beautiful, soft, polite voice he said, “Excuse me, sir, but by any chance do you know the saint Nizamuddin?”

“Ah… yes, yes… Well, of course. I… I just left his Ashram.”

“Ah,” the gentleman nodded. He said, “I was riding my camel, and I smelled the fragrance of my Guru’s presence. And I started galloping toward it, but as I passed the tree, the fragrance got fainter. And then I realized it was coming from….”

And then he saw the shoes: his Guru’s tattered sandals. His eyes filled with tears and with barely a whisper, he said, “Oh, are they his?”

“Well, yes. Well, he gave them to me. He said I could sell them. He said, ‘Take them to the marketplace.’ Sell them for whatever I could get.”

“Sell them? Sell? Take my caravan: nine camels loaded with silks from China, oils from Arabia, spices, four trunks of gold. Take them all!”

“All? You said ‘all’? Oh no, sir. No, impossible. I couldn’t do that. No, no, no. Did you say nine camels? No, no. I couldn’t possibly take them. No.”

“Please, take everything.”

And so it was done. The rider took the Guru’s sandals. The Guru’s sandals—the wish-fulfilling tree, holding all the Guru’s grace, all the Guru’s knowledge, holding all the secrets of the universe, all the secrets of life. He felt them throbbing, pulsating with the breath of God.

This man was Amir Khusro, a great poet, a great musician, a diplomat. Having retired from a life of service with the king, he was riding to his Guru’s home to spend the rest of his years serving his Guru. All his worldly wealth was on those camels. But he didn’t watch them go. No. He didn’t even notice they were gone.

Holding his Guru’s sandals, he sat down underneath the tree, and with trembling hands, he placed them on top of his head. Closing his eyes, he sank into samadhi, deep meditation beyond time, beyond thought. He sat there one day, two days, three full days, experiencing the unity of all things. At last he opened his eyes and there before him were the trees, the streets. And in the distance was the city. But he—he had changed. He saw God dancing in every moment, in every object. He saw God everywhere. He was ecstatic. He was feeling one with everything.

Slowly, he stood up and began to walk to his Guru’s Ashram.

Nizamuddin was sitting in the courtyard in his usual place. He saw Khusro enter the courtyard, still carrying the shoes very carefully on his head. As he got closer, Nizamuddin smiled. Pointing at the shoes, he asked, “Where did you get those?”

“I bought them from a farmer.”

“And how much did they cost you?”

“Nine camels loaded with cloth, spices, jewels, and gold.”

Nizamuddin shook his head. “Khusro, oh, Khusro, you got them dirt cheap.”

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