by Our Literary Section
Honorable Pir Ismailbhai Gangji was native of Junagadh, Saurashtra, India. Very little is known about his early life, except that he was privileged to be a hero in the period of Hazrat Imam Hasanali Shah (1818-1881C.E.). He was born in family of an ordinary economical condition. He was a petty trader hawking on foot with a bag on shoulder from one village to another and cheating to earn enough to provide for the family.
Khota tara trajva ne dandee ma (n) kanetar, Katla ne tola bahu bhariji;
Ochhu (n) deedhu(n) ne jeeve adhku (n) releedhu(n). Ane jeevni chinta na keedhee
"False thine scales and balance uneven,
Measures and weight heavily counterfeit;
Extended less and creature grabbed more,
And didn't care for life eternal."
Once upon a time the above stanza of a holy Ginan was being recited in Jamat Khana and there, the then present Ismaili was taken aback. He heard the stanza very attentively and tears poured through his eyes. Immediately on conclusion of the Ginan recitation, this faithful got up, went to honorable Mukhi, Rai Rahmatullahbhai, and sought forgiveness of his sins. This was the moment of the day he started his life anew.
Jamdarkhana of Junagadh State in those days had a wide testimonial of opulence and magnification of Nawab Shahi-gold and rich gem studed ornaments and jewellery, valuable garments and clothes, all these were the contents of Jamdarkhana.
The father of Pir Ismail was an employee in this Jamdarkhana and the honorable Pir also joined to work there honorarily, thereby initially becoming an employee of the Junagadh State. His honesty and loyalty earned him trust and this caused the Nawab to make the appointment of honorable Pir to a very elevated post in Jamdarkhana, and within a short space of time, Revenue Department was entrusted to him. No sooner he became the in charge of the Revenue Department. His appointment as the head of the Treasury was made and he became the Chief.
Honesty of the honorable Pir won him pleasure of the Nawab. In appreciation of his services Nawab bequeathed him a certain piece of land.
He used to hold religious discussions throughout the day in the Palace of Nawab and with common people. He used to deliver sermons in Jamats and acquaint them with the fundamentals of Faith.
In 1259 A.H./1853 C.E. Hazrat Imam Hasanali Shah paid a holy visit to Saurashtra for the first time. When Hazrat Imam arrived at Junagadh, he bestowed upon him the honorable title of "Vazir".
Ardent affection towards Imam:
He had fervent affection towards Imam of the time. He used to be present 'daily' in the small hours of morning and in evening in Jamat Khana setting aside the work of whatever nature, if any.
Once a wedding occasion arose of his son ltamadibhai, whom he loved very much. He started making arrangements and was heartily participating in the joyful gathering of the happy wedding of his beloved son. However, at twilight when the get-together was in full swing with music and songs and the presence of the Nawab accompanied by all the officials of Junagadh State, honorable Pir got up, went to Nawab Saheb and said "Your Highness, excuse me. I can no longer remain here at this hour". Much against the request of Saheb, honorable Pir remained firm on his decision and departed for participating to the greater and more adorable assembly. On another occasion, Pir Ismail was deeply engrossed in prayer at Jamat Khana and exactly at that time Nawab's special messenger came to summon him. Honorable Pir sent a word in reply that he would be present before Nawab Saheb after the prayers were over. Nawab Saheb lost his temper upon this reply and ordered the messenger to summon him immediately. At that, honorable Pir said nothing but handed over the keys of Jamdarkhana to be given to Nawab Saheb. At this Nawab Saheb was wonder struck.
After the prayer was over. honorable Pir went to Nawab Saheb and in explanation for the reason of sending the keys said that he would never serve two Masters at a time. Throughout the day he would be the servant of the State, but at twilight would not go anywhere under anybody's command. But then because of his honesty Nawab wanted him to continue the work.
Honorable Pir used to pay visits to villages of Kutch-Kathiawar and propagate Ismaili faith there, from which he used to derive great benefits.
For the honorable Pir's qualities of heart, Nawab Saheb had presented him with valuable State garment. In consideration of his services Nawab Saheb has bequeathed him a piece of land. Honorable Pir built quarters over the land and gave it to poor people to live in. The place is now known as Anandpur Village.
Sometime after passing away of Hazrat Imam Hasanali Shah, he became physically invalid and in August 1883 C.E. he left this mundane world.
A Hindu State Chief Officer, Mr. Nialchand expressed that a Saurashtra hero was making Saurashtra void of an indispensable asset by his passing away. After some time Hazrat Imam Aly Shah paid a holy visit to Junagadh and said 'Fateha' at his grave. He said that a hero like Vazir Ismail was never to be born again and bestowed upon the deceased a unique title of "Pir"-for having enlightened thousands of souls with spiritual valves.
"An inexhaustible love for the Imam of the time is everything for Ismailis. There is nothing beyond it. If there is desire for tranquillity in life and serenity in demise, then acquire devotional attachment to the Lord of the Age. Live with intrepidity and die bravely."
- Pir Ismail Gangji
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