Story of Adham Shah

Posted on Sat Jun 17 2023

अद्धम शाह की कहानी

I recently read this story from Kabir Sagar, and I thought I should share it here. This is a really long story, I think will post it in parts.

The Story

Adham Shah was the father of Sultan Ibrahim Shah (King of Balkh). He was an ascetic hermit who lived alone, away from society. He used to live on roots, fruits, and anything available in the wild. He never lived in one place. One time, he reached the city of Balkh. He decided to stay in the forest outside the city. He used to visit the city regularly. One time, wandering around the city, he saw the princess of Balkh. He was instantly attracted to her and forgot about his ascetic life. He was so obsessed with the princess that he used to wander around, trying to find a way to get her.

At last, he decided to ask the king for her daughter's hand. King was shocked upon hearing Adham's plea. He thought marrying his daughter to a hermit would surely bring hardship to her life. But the king also feared the ascetic might curse him if he rejected his proposal. He asked Adham to come back again the next day. King discussed the matter with his minister and decided to reject Adham's plea. The next day, Adham Shah returned. The minister told him the princess has taken a vow to only marry the person who will bring a match to a pearl she possesses. Adham Shah requested and pleaded multiple times, but the minister rejected his plea. At last, he took a vow to find the matching pearl, and the minister agreed to marry the princess if Adham Shah returned.

For two years, Adham Shah wandered different towns in search of pearls. At last, he heard that pearls were found in the sea. He reached the ocean and started filling his cup with water and emptying it on the sand. This went on for forty days. At last, on the order of the Supreme Lord, a true saint came near the ocean.

Saint : What are you doing? What is the benefit of emptying the ocean's water onto sand?

Adham Shah was so immersed in this work that he wasn't able to hear the saint's question. The saint asked him multiple times, then awakened him and told him that I had been sent by the Supreme Lord for you.

Adham Shah awoke upon hearing this. He told the saint everything that had happened so far. Adham Shah asked the saint to give him a match for the pearl he sought. The saint advised him to concentrate on the Supreme Lord, who is the origin of both you and the princess. The saint also taught him lessons in ascetism, but he refused to listen. According to Adham Shah, obtaining the pearl and marrying the princess is his greatest prayer; he is not interested in anything else.

Saint : What is the benefit of emptying the ocean's water onto sand?
Adham : I will empty the ocean and get the pearl I sought.
Saint : How is this possible?
Adham : I will try to empty the ocean as long as I am able to; I will not go back. If the Supreme Lord has sent you for me, please give me the match of the pearl I sought.

Upon observing Adham Shah's unrelenting decision, the saint asked him to close his eyes and concentrate. Adham Shah was in blissful concentration when the saint ordered the ocean. A wave came and swept thousands of mother-of-pearl stones onto the sand. Adham Shah opened his eyes and saw heaps of pearls near him. The saint was nowhere to be seen. Adham Shah was confused about how to pick a good match from all these pearls. At the end, he decided to take forty big pearls and put them in his pocket.

Adham Shah begins his journey back to the city of Balkh. He haphazardly entered the court of the king. Both the king and the minister were furious. They were furious because, upon leaving, Adham Shah had taken a vow that if he could not find a match for the pearl and came back, he would be beheaded. They were sure that Adham Shah could never find a match for the pearl. The minister furiously scolded him, saying he had forgotten his vow. Adham Shah said, You are ignorant; my lord has given me lots of pearls, but I have brought back forty of them. Adham Shah took those pearls out of his pocket and presented them in front of the king. Entire court was illuminated, no one could say anything in awe.

Now the king started to think of what he could do. Finally, he decided he should marry his daughter to Adham Shah. But as this is an important matter, he decided to talk with his relatives and ministers first. When discussing this matter, the same minister started giving bad advice. He said that Adham Shah is just a magician, and those pearls were illusions. He should give this responsibility to him; he will get rid of Adham Shah. The king goes back to his palace, and the minister starts threatening Adham Shah. He said, "How could Adham Shah think of marrying the princess? Has he lost his mind?" Adham Shah reminded the minister of the vow. He asked, if they never wanted to marry the princess to him, why did they make him look for the pearl for two years?

Adham Shah was disappointed with his betrayal. He told him the result would be bad. If you are in a higher position, you should not aggrieve the poor. In this world, nobody's pride has remained forever. The one who has forgotten everything through the illumination of wealth has had their pride broken. Adham Shah asked the minister to honor his vow. At last, the minister asked his guards to beat Adham Shah and kill him. Guards rushed and started beating Adham Shah until he collapsed and they could not observe his breath. They left Adham Shas's body in the forest.

At the same time, the princess started feeling deep pain in her chest and collapsed. No medicine or doctor could help her, and she passed away in a few hours. The entire town was crying. The princess was the only child of the king. They buried the princess and came back. On the other side, by the grace of the saint, Adham Shah became conscious once again, as he still had some life left. He saw that he was in a forest, and the king's court was nowhere to be seen. He remembered the princess and came back to the town of Balkh. He saw that everyone was in sorrow. He went to the palace and confirmed that the princess had passed away. Adham Shah collapsed right there. When the king returned after burying the princess, due to the sound of crying, Adham Shah regained his consciousness once again. Adham Shah left that place like an eccentric. By midnight, he had arrived near the place where the princess was buried.

Adham Shah found some relief there. He started observing the guards near the grave from the cover of a tree. The guards were tired and fell asleep. Adham Shah went near the grave after tearing down the awning. He came near the grave, cuddled it, and went unconscious. Adham Shah woke up again and thought he should have a last look at his loved one. There was some light from the earthen lamp. He dug up the grave, placed the princess's body outside, and started gazing at her. Adham Shah felt that he should bring the princess to his hut. Adham Shah covered the grave with dirt and brought the princess's body to his hut in the forest. By the grace of the saint, all guards remained unconscious the entire time.

In his hut, Adham Shah lit up some firewood, started gazing at the princess's body, and started talking with her. Adham Shah was talking and crying. In this moment of nostalgia, with the grace of Sahib (the Supreme Lord), all things were arranged perfectly. Due to darkness, a caravan lost their way and found themselves in the forest. Due to the winter season, a man from the group left the caravan to find some fire. He saw fire from a distance and reached Adham Shah's hut to get some fire. Hearing someone's footstep, Adham Shah got scared and hid in a cave on the corner of the hut. Man entered the hut and got scared. Adham Shah thought a guard had found him. The man from the caravan felt scared, as he could not understand what this deadbody and fire were doing here all alone in this forest. He ran back to the caravan and told the head merchant about this strange event. Merchant thought about it and then went back to the hut with a few of his men and an expert doctor. When they reached the hut, they observed everything.

The doctor told the merchant that this girl is still alive and is just unconscious due to some disease. Merchant was astonished. He asked if the doctor could cure her. The doctor took a small knife and cut a blood vessel in her hand. Blood dripped for some time, and when the contaminated blood was out of her body, the princess regained consciousness once again. The princess now saw two unknown men in front of her. She tried to cover her head but was shocked to see a shroud on her body. She was confused and scared, but she gained strength and started talking with those strangers in a calm voice. She asked why she was brought to this hut from her palace and why there was a shroud on her body. The head merchant explained that they are also confused; they just came to this hut to get some fire for their lost caravan. Our doctor has cured you, so you are now able to talk with us. The head merchant asked her who she was and where her parents were.

Adham Shah was listening to all this conversation. He looked at the faces of the men inside the cave. He confirmed that these are not the guards from the grave. He came out of the cave at once, and after welcoming men inside the hut, he started gazing at the princess. The men from the caravan were assured that Adham Shah was indeed the owner of this hut. They can also guess that Adham Shah was deeply in love with this girl and had brought her dead body from somewhere. When they couldn't contain their curiosity, they asked Adham Shah to truthfully explain what was going on there. Adham Shah told them that the entire course of events had happened so far. Listening to the story, both the men from the caravan and the princess were astonished. The princess, upon hearing a great deal of sacrifice from Adham Shah for his true love, was deeply impressed and started feeling deep love for Adham Shah. The princess was deciding that she should live her life with this man. The merchant asked them what they wanted now, and if they wished, they could come with their caravan. Adham Shah thanked the merchant for reviving the princess and expressed that his only desire is to marry her if she also agrees to it. The princess also expressed her gratitude to the merchant and agreed to marry Adham Shah.