Tuesday, August 1, 1995

The Strange Life of Tana Shah

Legends and Anecdotes of Hyderabad - 4


The Strange Life of Tana Shah
by Narendra Luther


The story of the life of Tana Shah, the last Qutb Shahi ruler of Golconda (1672-1687) reads like a fairy tale. His real name was Abul Hassan. He was distantly related to Abdullah Qutb Shah, the seventh sultan of the dynasty (1626-1672) and was therefore accommodated in the royal palace. There he grew up and for some misdemeanour, he was the story of the life of Tana Shah, the last Qutb Shahi ruler of Golconda (1672-1687) reads like a fairy tale. His real name was Abul Hassan. He was distantly related to Abdullah Qutb Shah, the seventh sultan of the dynasty (1626-1672) and was therefore accommodated in the royal palace. There he grew up and for some misdemeanour, he was expelled from the palace at the age of 12. Having spent his infancy and adolescence in ease and comfort without having acquired any mental or physical wherewithal to earn a living, Abul Hassan could not do a thing to support himself.

On the advice of a friend he went to the monastery of a Sufi saint called Syed Shah Raziuddin, popularly known as Shah Raju Qattal. Shah Raju was eighth in the line of Saint Khwaja Gesu Daraz Bande Nawaz of Gulbarga. He came to Hyderabad and set up his hospice on the west side of the Fateh Darwaza gate of the city (not the fort). He was believed to possess great spiritual powers and was an influential teach of the Sufi doctrine. He was greatly revered by the people. Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah became his disciple at a fairly early age and Shah Raju also had a soft corner for him.

Shah Raju took pity on the young boy expelled from the palace and accepted him as his disciple. He became his errand - boy and was constantly in and out of the cell in which Shah Raju spent most of his time in contemplation and meditation.

Abul Hassan had a good voice and sang well. He also had a certain innocence about him. Shah Raju therefore gave him the nick name of `Tana Shah' which means a child saint. Having been brought up in the palace Abul Hassan was also of a delicate build and was often seen lost in reverie.

Abdullah had three daughters and no son. The eldest daughter was married to Prince Mohammad Sultan, son of Aurangzeb, after the treaty entered into between Aurangzeb as the Viceroy of the Deccan and Abdullah, in 1656. As a consequence of this marriage the sultanate of Golconda was to pass on to the Mughal prince on Abdullah's death. But as fate would have it, for his having opposed Aurangzeb in the War of Succession to the throne of Delhi, Mohammad Sultan was imprisoned by Aurangzeb and he died in jail. The second daughter was married to Nizamuddin Ahmed of Mecca. The youngest was engaged to Syed Sultan of Najaf. However, misunderstandings developed between the second son-in-law who was very powerful in the court and Syed Sultan. As a result the proposed marriage of the third daughter of Abdullah to him was opposed by the second son-in-law and a number of other members of the royal family.

Abdullah , in his confusion, went to consult his mentor, Shah Raju at his retreat. When it was announced that the Sultan was coming all the devotees who had gathered for the darshan of the saint quietly withdrew. Abdullah and Shah Raju met alone and Abdullah explained his predicament to him. Shah Raju asked him to come after three days. After Abdullah had gone, the followers of Shah Raju came back to sit at his feet. Shortly thereafter Tana Shah also scampered into his presence. Thereupon Shah Raju remarked involuntarily - "Lo ! One king goeth and the other cometh." The audience were puzzled at such a mysterious utterance.

At the palace preparations for the marriage of the youngest daughter of the Sultan to Syed Sultan were going on. The prospective groom was also getting ready to lead his wedding procession.

At the monastery Shah Raju told Tana Shah teasingly : "We shall get you married soon. So let us go through your wedding ceremonies." A bewildered Tana Shah submitted to the seemingly eccentric orders of his master. On the third day a messenger a came from the sultan asking for an appointment with the Saint. Shah Raju told him that the Sultan was welcome and that he should bring with him appropriate dresses and gifts for a bridegroom. When Abdullah came to the monastery accordingly and with a spare horse, Shah Raju got hold of Tana Shah and presenting him to Abdullah, said : This is the groom.Take him to be your son-in-law." Tana Shah was taken to the palace, given a good scrubbing and bath, doused with scents, decked in jewellery and in no time was made into a royal groom. Syed Sultan was waiting for the signal to start the wedding possession, but that signal was never given. The switch of grooms was made at the last minute and instead of Syed Sultan it was Tana Shah who became the last son-in-law of Sultan Abdullah. Syed Sultan fled from Golconda and went to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb laughed at this tragi - comedy and said : "Never mind. We will get you married to the daughter of Mir Jumla."

Tana Shah had spent 14 years in the palace, same period in the hospice of Shah Raju and now he was ready for the third phase in his life. In 1672 Abdullah died. Tana Shah who was very popular with the nobles was made the next ruler of Golconda.

One day when Tana Shah was enjoying himself in a boat in the river Musi, Shah Raju sent him a gift of some fruits. The messenger who brought the gift said that Shah Raju had ordered that the Sultan must eat the pomegranate straightaway. Tana Shah, willy-nilly, cut open the fruit and just to carry out the orders of his mentor ate some seeds. The messenger went back and when Shah Raju asked him how many seeds he had eaten. The messenger replied - "Fourteen". Shah Raju sighed and said "Ah! the wretch. He will rule only for 14 years."

And as it happened, it was his prophecy came true. How it happened will be the subject of our next instalment.


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2 comments:

baig said...

Shah means King not saint

Mohammed said...

There are lot of tales in India which are revised with kings,Rajas,Like Asif jahi King eaten 7 roties given by some xyz he was told that he wil rule for 7 generations,likewise pomegrane seeds which tana shah ate he will rule for 14 years is also tale not a fact.