Raskhan was born in 1558 and died in 1628. Most of the scholars say that Raskhan was a Pashtun Sardar and his birthplace was Kabul, Afghanistan. Raskhan was the son of a jagirdar and lived in luxury in his youth. He received a good education. Raskhan spoke both Hindi and Persian; he translated “Bhagavata Purana” into Persian. His shrine is located in Gokul near the Yamuna river, Bhramand Ghat. It is a very peaceful place. Many Krishna devotees go there to pay their respects and meditate.
According to one story, as contained in the medieval text Bhaktakalpadruma, he once travelled to Brindavan along with his Sufi preceptor. There he fell unconscious and had a vision of Krishna. Thereafter, he remained in Brindavan till he breathed his last.
Another version has it that Raskhan fell in love with a very proud woman. Later, when he read the Bhagwat Purana he was so deeply impressed by the unselfish love of the gopis for Krishna that he left his proud mistress and headed straight for Brindavan.
There is, however, an even more intriguing story that is contained in some of the hagiographic material about Raskhan. In the Bhavaprakash of the seventeenth century, we are told by Vaishnavite scholar Hari Ray, that Ibrahim Khan earlier lived in Delhi, where he had fallen madly in love with the son of a Hindu merchant. ‘He watched him day and night’, says Hari Ray, ‘and even ate his left-overs’. This angered his fellow Muslims, who branded him as a disbeliever. But Ibrahim Khan, we are told, did not care or relent, answering, very simply, as Hari Ray puts it, ‘I am as I am’.
One day, the story goes, he overheard one Vaishnavite telling another, ‘One should have attachment to the Lord just as this Ibrahim Khan has for the merchant’s son. He roves around after him without fear of public slander or caste displeasure!’. The other Vaishnavite turned up his nose in disgust, and when Ibrahim saw this he drew his sword out in anger. Trembling before him, the Vaishnavite said: ‘If you loved God just as you do that boy you would find salvation’. Ibrahim’s curiosity having been aroused, he began discussing spiritual matters with him. The Vaishnavite advised Ibrahim to travel to Brindavan. When he got there, he was refused entry into the temple on the grounds that he was a Muslim.
After sitting on the banks of the lake near the temple having not had anything to eat for three days, Krishna, the story goes, appeared to Ibrahim, addressing him as Raskhan or ‘the mine of aesthetic essence’, and accepting him as a disciple. From that day onwards, Raskhan began living in Brindavan, composing and singing the Krishnaite Sufi poetry for which he is still so fondly remembered.
Directed by Shruti Anindita Vermaa and Amitabh S Verma (India)