Bibi Nani of Baluchistan

By Sanjay Godbole

s godboleThere is a small village called Kolpur at a distance of 25 Kilometers towards South from Quetta the capital of Baluchistan. It is situated just near the entrance of the ‘Bolan’ pass. The river ‘Bolan’ stems from here only. Evidences of many ancient human settlements have come to light from the surroundings of this river.

 ‘Much’ near the railway lines is a dry, and barren place, and has huts constructed in mud.‘Pir-e-Ghaib’. Here there is a Kund (Water tank) made in stone and gets its supply of water from a waterfall. So also, this place has many Crags of mountains and innumerable trees in its proximity. There is a similar Kunda a Little downstream and is perenially brimful with clear and pure water. There is a sacred spot near this Kund.

‘Kolpur’ Chiefly abounds in fruit laden gardens and Date trees. But, a village named ‘Much’ near the railway lines is a dry, and barren place, and has huts constructed in mud.

As one proceeds, from ‘Much’ one comes across coal mines at a distance of 24 Kilometers and then to wards right, an uneven and wide path takes you to a place called ‘Pir-e-Ghaib’.

From ‘ Pir- e- Ghaib’ just at a distance of five kilometers is situated a place called Bibi Nani. Due to the heavy down pour in Baluchistan in the year 1986. the historically important bridge was completely washed away. If one proceeds from over here, to Sirajabad he comes across several water Kundas (tanks).

These contain accumulated reserves of hot and cold water.

This place is considered as one of the delightfully charming spots in Baluchistan on account of the thickly wooded Landscapes and scenic beauty of the Kundas of water.

Tourists of Foreign origin, however, are not permitted to tour this area, unless specially permitted to do so by the authorities of the Government of Pakistan.

At the far end of the ‘Bolan’ Pass and near the base of the mountain, there is a simple and ordinary mausoleum. A thick green cloth is always rolled up.

On the rocky crags, nearby, some ageold figures seem to have been depicted. It is said that these figures are associated with the revered Bibi Nani. A local tale makes rounds in this area as to when the Zarathrustian religion was dominant all over Baluchistan, Bibi Nani and her brother arrived here with expansionist propagation of Islam. Then the brother of Bibi Nani entered the wall in the mountain. Therefore he was popularly called as ‘Pir – e – Ghaib’ [The invisible Saint]. Mr. Salman Rashid- the famous author from Pakistan has the following version of the said story. As per his version, the Cracked fissure in the wall in the rock is on account of the continuous flow of hot water with traces of sulphur, through it and has formed layers of the Greenish, blue and Brown tinges. At present the Baluchi Muslims call this place as Pire- Ghaib and Hindus here rever this spot as the place of worship for Lord Mahadev (Shiva). Many of those, who are fortunate enough, to have their vows fulfilled tie many things to a nearby tree. As compared to ‘Pir- e- Ghaib’ the mausoleum of Bibi Nani (venerated lady) has been simple and is also not associated with fables and stories full of bizarre accounts. At both the above mentioned places no stone inscriptions are found. But the sacred spot of Bibi Nani is situated at an important place, namely an ancient East-West highway. From this place, the Indian Sub continent was directly linked to Mesopotamia. From here only roads take off for Mohan- jodado; Mehergarh and other important centres of Sindhu (Indus valley) culture. So also important roads leading to trade centres on coastal areas were in existence from the 9th century B.C..

In the opinion of many erudite and archaeologists, there is no secrecy or mistcity in the history of Bibi Nani. But the roots of her legendary history lie in the sect of Goddess Nana or Nania. This Goddess Nana or nania was being worshiped in Iran and Mesopotamia in ancient times.

King Kudur Nankhundi of Elam of Southwest Iran invaded the empire of ’Ur in Mesopotamia in the year 2280 B.C. and looted the city or ‘Erech’. The idol of Goddess Nana was one of those precious effects which found its their way to Susa in Iran. It was installed in one of the temples of Susa and was worshipped, After hundreds a years, when the empire of Elamite was weakened and infriled, the king of Mesopotamia Assurbanipal, invaded Susa, the capital of Iran and looted 14 cities near by and took back the icon of Goddess Nania and reinstalled the same in a temple of Erech.

The sect worshipping Goddess Nania or Nana Devi Happens to be one of the most ancient sects, having a rich tradition of about 4300 years.

The group of traders effecting trade for centuries between Indus culture and Mesopotamia have introduced this Goddess to the outside world.

The name Nana or Nania continued to prevail over here and even as on today, this name continues albeit with few changes, in Baluchistan.

Mr. Salman Rashid, through an article in the Daily Times of Pakistan poses a question for the Western erudites as to why they tried to solve many such and similar other puzzles within the frame work of Cuneiform Tablets : and as to why they have conveniently forgotten to take cognizance of the fact that this ambiguity could also have a reference to the civilization in Indus valley. Mr. Mark Kenoyer is a famous archaeologist and has done a lot of research on Indus civilization. He is of the opinion that the Indus civilization has a close and intimate relationship with Mesopotamia Viz- a – viz trade, arts and culture point of view.

The art practiced and the civilization prevailing there, was of a very high standard.

Mr. Kenoyer further states that the doubtful possibility as to whether or not prior to the king of Iran taking the idol of Goddess Nania to Iran, chances are the traders and artists in the Indus civilization could possibly have taken the sect of Goddess Nania to the west in Mesopotamia. Mr. Kenoyer

further reaffirms that he very faithfully believes that Goddess Nana or Nania must have been worshipped in her original form in cities existing in Indus civilization and that the said Bibi Nani is nothing but the changed version [For the people of Pakistan] of the Goddess worshipped in the Indus Civilization for thousands of years and the Goddess Nana or Nania for the ancient Mesopotamia. The second best sacred spot in Baluchistan could possibility be declared as a place of worship for the Goddess under the disguise of guarding and protecting the vast expanse of fresh water reserve. Some eight thousand years back, the Caravans of traders and others proceeding, resting here near the water reserves, worshipping the Goddess and proceeding further en- route and this spot was later on addressed as ‘ Pir- e- Ghaib’.

In the writings of Akkadian tablets there are stray references to some Elamite deities right from Asia Minor to Susa in Iran during the Persian era, the popular Nania sect shows some striking similarities with ‘Anahita’ mentioned in Avesta. Anahita is a water Goddess and is associated with fertility and functional genetics. The Goddess ‘Ninni’ has been depicted with the king’ Anubanimi’ of lulubi in carving on the Mountain near the entrance gate of the village ‘Saripul’ on the ancient highway connecting Baghdad with Tehran. A Picture of deity ‘ Kiririsha’ – a Goddess of fertility from Susa is shown on a plate used while celebrating the fulfillment of a vow.

According to some scholars, all the qualitative virtues of the Goddess ‘Anahita’ haye since been adopted from the Goddess ‘Annat’ of Syria.

The Goddesses ‘Inana’ and ‘Ishtar’ and the Goddesses’ Kiririsha’ and ‘Nania’ belong to the same sect and traditions, the trio of Goddesses Ahurmazda, Anahita and Mither, when seen in Akhmenian writing of Cuneiform, shows Anahita with Mither. A temple of Goddess Anahita’ still does exist since the Sassani era at Istakhar in Iran. So also her holy temples do exist at other locations in Iran. At Susa she was worshipped as Goddess’ Nania’. In olden times, there were sects which did esteem and revere the Goddess Nania in Countries outside Iran such as Lydia, Armenia and Cappadosia. In Iran, in the Sculpture showing Naqsh – e – Rustum, the King of Iran is shown as receiving the enblem of honour at the hands of Goddess Anahita. In the famous sculpture of Tak- e- Bustan, Khusru the Second is shown as receiving the Royal enblem at the hands of Anahita and Ahurmazda. Kanishka was the most eminent and superior king from the Kushan dynasty. His empire had its tentacles spread, besides India, upto the present Afghanistan and some parts of Asia minor.

His era starts from the year 78 A.D. . There is a depiction of deities belonging to several religions on the coins struck by him. The portrait of the Goddess ‘Nana’ is seen on the coins struck by King Kanishka. Nana has a half crown on her head and an aura behind her face, with the crescent a patera in her left hand and a scepter with horse head mouth in the right hand. In the legend of the coin, the Goddess is addressed as ‘Nana’ or ‘Nanashow’. Like Kanishaka, the coins struck by Huvishka also bear the portrait of Goddess’Nana’.

Every civilization worshipped Goddesses in primal form. The sect of Goddess Nana or Nania was powerful at that time. Bibi Nani of Baluchistan is one such spot establishing connection of olden era with the new one and has been considered as an important place of pilgrimage of Baluchistan as Hinglamata.

  *(The author is a noted Archeologist, based in Pune)