Saturday, February 14, 2009

Satya Pir

Satya Pir one of the popular beliefs and practices that crept into the fold of popular aspect of ISLAM by long association of the Muslims with other religionists and probably also due to the increasing number of converts. The Hindu writers changed the word Pir for Narayana, though there was hardly any difference between the Satya-Pir of the Muslims and the Satya-Narayana of the Hindus. The worship of Satya-Pir could be found even in the early twentieth century particularly in north and western part of Bengal. A wooden plank was made the seat of the Satya-Pir and offerings of edibles like confectioneries, MILK, sugar, Betel leaf, betel nuts etc were made.
In the literature, two traditions find prominence. According to the first, the Hindu god Shri Hari appears in the guise of a faqir before a poor Brahmin and orders him to make offerings to Satya-Narayana; the Brahmin obeys the order and becomes rich. According to a second tradition, a merchant is blessed with a female child with the blessings of the Satya-Narayana. The female child when grown up was married, and the merchant takes his son-in-law with him in a certain trading voyage. There the merchant got into trouble because he did not worship Satya-Pir. But the merchant's wife was a devotee of Satya-Pir, so he got out of trouble. When the merchant was returning with his son-in-law they again were about to be drowned, because the merchant's daughter being eager to see her husband, neglected the offerings of the Satya-Pir. She later realised the importance of worshipping Satya-Pir and thus they all got out of trouble. In this way, the Satya-Pir (or Satya-Narayana) literature gained popularity among the people; the main purpose of the literature was to glorify the Satya-Pir. The first book on Satya-Pir called Satya-Pir Kavya is attributed to Shaikh Faizullah and the book is supposed to have been written in between 1545 to 1575 AD. Some scholars think that Sultan Alauddin HUSAIN SHAH (1494 to 1519 AD) was the originator of the Satya-Pir movement, but there is no evidence to support this view.
A close examination of the literature, mode of worship and traditions show that worship of the Satya-Pir (or Satya- Narayana) was almost similar to the worship of local deities MANASA or CHANDI; the Satya-Pir was represented not by any deity but by a simple wooden plank. The Satya-Pir worshippers generally came from the poor class people and their offerings were also simple. There were both Muslim and Hindu elements in the concepts of Satya-Pir and it can be said with some amount of certainty that the Satya-Pir (Satya-Narayana) concept originated through a fusion of Muslim idea of the pir and the Hindu notion of the local deities. It is a local variation of the Muslim concept of pirism, when the local people were converted to Islam, they got the conception of pirism mixed up with the old idea of the supernatural power of their deities. A further evolution of this process saw its culmination in the personification of Pir in Satya-Pir (or Satya- Narayana) or pirism itself began to be conceived as a supernatural power. [Abdul Karim]
Bibliography Sukumar Sen, Bangla Sahityer Itihas (in Bangla), Calcutta, 1920; Muhammad Enamul Haq, Bange Sufi Prabhava (in Bangla), Calcutta, 1935; Abdul Karim, Social History of the Muslims in Bengal, (2nd ed), Chittagong, 1985.
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