From the time I started delving into the minutiae of the life and teachings of Guru Nanak the information I gleaned was strewn and many a times not validated….but as I probed deeper the story that had been put together through the centuries was of a life so extraordinary and beautiful that it needs to told over and over again in words and format that is contemporary to each generation.
The divine flow of the life of Nanak has brought to fore many a person….The persona of Rai Bular Bhatti has been very stable and fascinating, rather it had been so out of the ordinary in times far from ordinary….that there was a silent coercion in me to try and fill the blanks left in history…with the help of a little logical imagination.
The Bhatti’s were the ‘Rajput warrior clan of Muslim origin’
Bhatti’s perhaps have taken their name from an ancestor named Bhatti, who was well-known as a warrior when the tribe was located in the Punjab…….were these the ancestors that were perhaps residents of village ‘Jamarai’…. And Bhatinda?
What happened? What were the compulsions? …..Facts are uncertain, but it seems that this clan was driven southwards, and it found a refuge in the Thar desert, which was henceforth its home.
The majority of the inhabitants of Jaisalmer are Bhatti Rajputs.
True to times, medieval history has been brutal…and state of Jaisalmer had to fight for its tactical positioning, many a battle was fought for the possession of forts, waterholes or cattle. Jaisalmer was strategically well placed as it was the halting point along a traditional trade route. The camel caravans of Indian and Asian merchants passed through Jaisalmer, linking India to Central Asia, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africaand the West.
The Bhattis levied taxes on the passing caravans….this maybe; this was their main revenue stream.
There are ballads still sung of events in 1293 that were cataclysmic. The three Bhatti princes as an act of adventurism captured the caravans filled with treasures belonging to the Sultan of Delhi, this so enraged the Emperor Ala ud din Khilji that his army captured and ransacked the fort and city of Jaisalmer. After a bloody battle, the city was overrun and one of the Bhatti Rajput prince who survived was taken hostage and was sent in exile to the North of Punjab near Kotli - around 40 miles from what is now called 'Lahore'
Folklore goes that Allaud-din Khilji was so touched by this boys bravery that he honored the boy with a gift of approx.150,000 acres of Punjab's most fertile land as relief to redeem his refugee status and possibly a means of tacit persuasion to keep the boy from rallying troops and building a new Rajput Bhatti Army to fight the Khilji's. It is said that the exiled Rajput prince was Rai Bhoe Bhatti's father, and the place he founded at Kotli was named Raipur and later Rai Bhoe di-Talwandi after the son.
From records it looks as if some Bhatti's migrated to Kotli ….. now Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and others settled in Larkana in Sind, Pakistan under the name of Bhutto.
In Nankana Sahib, the Bhatti Clan can be traced from the lineage of Rai Bhoe and Rai Bular Bhatti. Rai Bular was the only son of Rai Bhoi, and only brother of six sisters. One of Rai Bhoe's daughters was married toDaulat Khan Lodhi, the Governor of the Punjab . After Rai Bhoe's death, Rai Bular inherited the estate.
Rai Bular Bhatti evidently was a great stabilizing factor in times that were in huge tumult and turmoil. He was head of his little fiefdom and Guru Nanak’s father, Mehta Kalu was his revenue clerk……the patwari.
The exact date of Rai Bular's birth is not known but records kept by bards date it circa 1425 A.D. he died. 1515 AD
A mound with the two wells at its foot is the remnants of Kotli.. One of the tombs on a mound is that of Rai Bular Bhatti, and the existence of this tomb marks a grave-yard there as early as the fifteenth century for the Rajput Bhatti clan.
Guru Nanak was born in Rai Bhoi di Talwandi in 1469. Rai Bular Bhatti is mentioned in several stories in the Janam Sakhis. Historically in retrospect it can be seen that if one man deserves credit for recognising the divinity of Guru Nanak even as a child, it is Rai Bular Bhatti. Guru Nanak’s first disciple was his sister Nanaki. Rai Bular was the second disciple. For Rai Bular, who was a devout Muslim himself, was the one who first witnessed the many incidents in which the young Guru Nanak proved his divine standing.
It significant is to see …..How has the close relationship and proximity with Baba Nanak impacted the history of family over the centuries?
|Rai Mohammad Saleem Akram Bhatti and Rai Akram bhatti|
As a community we must never forget the respect and honor accorded to Guru Nanak by Rai Bular Bhatti, and till today his descendants refer to him as "Babaji" in affectionate reverence. Rai Mohammad Saleem Akram Bhatti, the 19th generation descendant of Rai Bular,says "is revered by all of us as our father."
Till today the Bhatti successive heads of the clan has directly been involved in unrestricted care of and visits of the yatris to the Gurduwaras.
The welcome accorded to the Sikh Community as a whole is a matter of extreme delight for the Rajput Bhatti family even today...Today when the world is getting further divided on religious lines, twenty generations have continued to carry on the tradition and legacy of Rai Bula Bhatti ……..It is the blessing of Baba Nanak
Rai Akram Bhatti, the 18th generation of Rai Bular Bhatti following the values and traditions of his ascendents has always welcomed the Sikh Delegations coming from different parts of the world .