A Sufi saint who shunned nobility

Famous Nilanjan Hajra
sufi saint

Miyan Mir was one of the great Sufi saints of the Indian subcontinent. The saint lived during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. He is particularly known to the world for two things: his message of love and peace, and his strict dislike for rich people who sought the company of godmen, saints, and fakirs simply to obtain blessings for fulfilling worldly goals. Saint Mir was the founder of the Mian Khel branch of the Qadri Sufi order. He was also the teacher of Dara Shiko, the eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.

Life and times of Sufi saint Miyan Mir

The great Sufi Saint was born C 1550. The exact place of his birth is not clear. However, he spent a significant portion of his life in Lahore, now in the Pakistani province of Punjab. This means while he grew up and spent the first half of his life under the reign of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Jahangir became the emperor in 1605, and Shah Jahan in 1628. Hazrat Miyan Mir, therefore, also lived during the reigns of these two emperors. Emperor Shah Jahan’s eldest son Dara Shiko was born in 1615. So, it’s not impossible that the prince had the opportunity of being his disciple during the last years of the Sufi saint.

Hazrat Mir’s aversion for the rich and the powerful seeking his blessings to achieve material success is exemplified through a popular anecdote. Just before launching a campaign to occupy Deccan after 1615, Emperor Jahangir wished Hazrat Mir’s blessing. Accordingly, he arrived at the abode of the Sufi saint in great imperial pomp. Hazrat Miyan’s disciples, however, stopped the emperor at the gate. This displeased the Mughal king, but he endured the humiliation.

Finally, when the emperor met the Sufi saint, he raised the issue of a fakir having sentries at his residence. Hazrat Miyan promptly replied that this was only to stop selfish worldly souls. In the meantime, a mendicant arrived at the saint’s door and offered him a token gift of one rupee. Hazrat Miyan advised the poor man to gift the rupee to the emperor instead. He told the man in front of Jahangir that here was a man who had so much wealth, yet wished to obtain more by conquering more territories. Hence, said the Sufi saint, the emperor must be a very poor man at heart whose hunger for wealth was insatiable. At last, the emperor understood Hazrat Mir’s message and apologized to him.

Harmandir Sahib foundation controversy

It is very likely that the Sikh Guru Arjan Singh met Hazrat Mir during the former’s stay in Lahore. However, the popular story that at Guru Arjan’s request Hazrat Mir laid the foundation stone of the Harmandir Sahib, or the famous Golden Temple, in Amritsar, in the Indian Punjab province, doesn’t stand historical scrutiny. This anecdote became popular through later Sikh and Persian literature. It was also picked up by some British historians. However, modern research has shown this is untrue.

Death and legacy

The great Sufi saint passed away on August 22, 1635. Prince Dara Shiko himself read the funeral oration. Hazrat Mir was buried in the southeastern fringes of Lahore. His Mazar is located there, and thousands of devotees visit the shrine to offer prayers even today. Mullah Shah Badakshi became the spiritual successor of the great Sufi saint.


(Written by Author and Translator Nilanjan Hajra)