Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan
His Life and Miracles
By B.L. Tamiri
the downtown Srinagar, near
Banamohalla branches off a
street, famous as Razdan Kocha.
This street stands witness to the
high learning and the spiritual traditions
of the Kashmiri Pandit
community. Kashmir's greatest
saint of the past 250 years - Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan lived here
during the Pathan rule. The street
commemorates the exalted spiritual
status of Saint Mansa Ram
Razdan, also known by the names
Razdan Sab or Dooni Sahib.
Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan belonged
to a family of great scholars.
His grandfather, Pt. Baskar
Razdan, author of many books,
had written a commentary on sayings
of Lal Ded in Sanskrit verse.
He had deep knowledge of astrology.
His son Pt. Jagar Nath
Razdan made his mark as an outstanding
astrologer, by forecasting
accurately a solar eclipse. The
Pathan governor rewarded him
with a big jagir.
Prof. JS Grewal, the distinguished
authority on Sikh history,
describes Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan
as a saint "Who was incomparable
for his piety and asceticism
and his knowledge of astrology".
He was much venerated
by Kashmiri Pandits in the early
nineteenth century, and later. His
math at Qiladar, Gujrat (Punjab)
was a shrine of great pilgrimage.
It was customary for new couples
among Kashmiri Pandits, domiciled
in northern Indian towns, to
visit the math soon after the marriage.
This practice was prevalent
till partition. During saint’s lifetime,
whenever somebody was in
distress, he would come to seek
Saint Mansa Ram was born to
Pt. Jagar Nath Razdan on the 5th
day of the bright fortnight of
Ashad. He had his formal education
upto ten years of age. Subsequently,
he gravitated towards
spirituality. The saint possessed
sharp wit and was compassionate
towards all, irrespective of status.
Initially, he meditated at Roopa
Lank in Dal Lake. Later, he set up
his ashram at home itself. The
ashram was located in the same
building where Tiny Tots School
stands today. Till Kashmiri
Pandits' displacement, the ashram
room was intact. It had a havan
kund. Saint Mansa Ram used to
keep Duni (flame) lit up all the
time. For this, he earned the sobriquet
of 'Duni Saab'.
Though the great saint's life
and his teachings have not attracted
the attention of Kashmiri
Pandit scholars, yet a few books -
'Sant Mala' (urdu) by Pt.
Rughnath Dhar, Kashmiri Saints
(Urdu) by Pt. Sarvanand Charagi,
and 'Composite culture and
Saints' by Pt. KL Kalla and Pt KL
Dhar throw some light on some
of the anecdotes connected with
the saint's life. Unfortunately, the
descendants of Pt. Mansa Ram
have also not recorded the history
related to the saint. Fragmentary
references are, however, available
in books on late medieval history
Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan was
married at the age of sixteen. His
wife died only two years later. He
married again, this time the daughter
of a widow. The widow had
been advised by some astrologer,
in view of evil stars of the girl, to
seek her son-in-law with due care.
An interesting anecdote has
been related by Pt. Sarwanand
Charagi. Saint Mansa Ram as a
child had put some clay in his
month. When his mother opened
his month to take out the clay, she
was awestruck to see the picture
of whole cosmos in it. On the advice
of her husband, the mother
did not publicise the spiritual
greatness of the child.
Pathan rule was bad times for
Kashmiri Pandit community. It
bore the brunt of religious and
political persecution. Saint did not
confine himself merely to spiritual
activities. Providing relief to victims
of persecution was always
closer to his heart.
Leading Pandit notables - Pt
Nand Ram Tikku and Raja Dina
Nath Madan and many others
were his disciples. While Saint
Jeevan Saab of Rainawari, also his
contemporary, relied on his miraculous
powers to provide relief
to the victims of persecution, Pt
Mansa Ram used his access to
Pandit nobility to ensure humane
treatment to his biradari community.
Pt. Mansa Ram never compromised
on it since the very survival
of the community was at
stake. There are two interesting
anecdotes which testify to it.
Pt. Nand Ram Tikku was
Prime Minister at Kabul. He had
instructed his younger brother, Pt.
Hardas Tikku, Dewan during
Pathan rule, to take due care of
Saint Mansa Ram. On one occasion,
Pt. Hardas Tiku disregarded
his request. As per the legend,
Saint fell into a trance, with an
inner voice speaking
no more worthy of this post.
Some one else should come'.
Soon after, Pt. Hardas fell out of
favour of Subedar Abdullah Khan
and was subsequently put in
prison. Dewan Hardas was later
on killed by Subedar Azam Khan
in 1813, when he was hardly 35.
Birbal Wangnoo was another
high-ranking official during
Pathan rule. He was a disciple of
Saint Mansa Ram and always
acted on saint's suggestions. Once
the saint sought some favour for
a person, Wangnoo cleverly excused
saying that the grant of
favour could put him in trouble.
He avoided by further suggesting
that he would do the needful in
Jammu, away from the watchful
eyes of Pathan Governor. Pt.
Mansa Ram was compelled to
move to Jammu, expecting a
favour in his disciple's case.
When he reached Banihal, he
came to know that Wangnoo had
been detained in connection with
The saint felt distressed, when
the entire clan of his cousin Atma
Ram Pandit, was wiped out in a
massacre at Purushyar. The massacre
was the outcome of a palace
intrigue hatched by Pt. Dila Ram
Quli. The tyrant Governor Azad
Khan killed 37 members of the
Pandit family. Only Atma Ram
and his son Sudarshan survived.
Razdan Saab's mother and Atma
Ram's mother were real sisters.
Soon after the massacre, Atma
Ram and his son went into hiding
in a milkman's cowshed. Saint
Mansa Ram was held in high esteem
by the Pathan governors too
for his spiritual powers. After the
massacre, the saint instructed his
cook to look into if there were any
survivors. After 3 months cook
brought the news that Atma Ram
and his son were hiding safely.
Atma Ram passed away in hiding
three months later. The milk-man
contacted Razdan Saab for disposing
of Atma Ram's body. His entire
clan would have been in danger,
had the governor come to
know that he had sheltered Atma
The milkman brought
Sudarshan to Saint's home.
Razdan Saab's ashram was frequented
by Sadhus from different
parts of India, particularly during
Amarnath Yatra. Sadhus used to
stay for many days at the ashram.
Razdan Saab asked one of the
sadhus to escape during the night.
The dead body of Atma Ram was
brought strealthily to the ashram.
The following morning it was announced
that a Sadhu had died.
Sudarshan was brought up under
the care of Razdan Saab.
Why did the Saint abandon
Kashmir, no details are available.
However, during his journey to
Jammu, chroniclers have recorded
two miracles. Once, a
shopkeeper's wife had inadvertently
put some poison into the
milk offered to the saint. When the
family came to know about the
mistake, they felt worried. The
poison had no effect on the saint.
Pt. Mansa Ram started living
in a Kutiya at Chenani, near
Udhampur. The fame of his spiritual
powers reached Raja of
Chenani too. The Raja invited the
saint on the shradh of his father
and desired to see the physical
form of his father. The saint
agreed on a condition that Raja’s
deceased father would be allowed
to depart after the ceremony. Inadvertently,
the Raja forgot to bid
farewell to his deceased father and
began to take meals. The saint refused
to join the meals, arguing
how he could take food in presence
of his deceased father. The
Raja realised the mistake and bid
farewell to his father.
The Raja was so pleased with
the saint that a whole village
(Gohar) was granted to him. The
saint set up an ashram there.
Meanwhile, Saint’s mother and
wife also reached Gohar. His
mother passed away here, while
the wife gave birth to a son. He
pleaded with his wife to return to
Srinagar and allow him to live at
the ashram. She refused to agree.
Then the saint ran away to the forests.
The wife left her new born
son at the ashram and began to
look for her husband. She took a
vow to commit suicide in case she
failed to locate her husband. Three
days later he came to see her but
did not talk to her. Finally, he
agreed to stay for one year with
her in case she returned to
Srinagar later. She agreed. After
a week they returned to the Kutiya.
As she was worried about the
child, the saint asked her to catch
the big toe of his foot and close
her eyes. She was bewildered
when she found her newborn
sucking her thumb. After her return
to Kashmir, the son was
named 'Sant Ram'. The Raja of
Chenani was also kind to
Sudarshan, the son of saint's
cousin, Atma Ram, when the
former feared threat to his life in
After sometime the saint left
for Punjab, reaching pargana of
Herat. He established his Dhuni
at Kotla Qiladar, a large village
adjacent to Shadiwal and devoted
himself to the worship of God.
Kotla Qiladar was built during the
Mughal times by Miran Beg
Mughal. Kotla is famous for fine
sugar and hair-dyes manufacture.
Raja Dina Nath Madan, the Finance
Minister of Maharaja Ranjit
Singh, considered Pt. Mansa Ram
as his spiritual guru. He rebuilt his
shrine and granted in perpetuity
the revenue of two villages, including
Kaleke, for this establishment
by way of Kharch-i-Dhuni.
Author Ganesh Dass, who visited
dhuni Saab and wrote his Char
Bagh-i-Punjab in 1847 saw dhuni
constantly burning. It is said when
the saint lit up dhuni at the
Qiladar, it was seen burning at his
Razdan Kocha ashram also.
In a related miracle, the saint
once came to know that the
Mehkhal ceremony of his son was
going on in Srinagar. He did not
talk to anyone on that day and told
his servant not to prepare meals
for him. He took divinely meal
late, coinciding with the conclusion
of thread ceremony. His
devotees were amazed to see to it.
It is said that on the actual day of
thread ceremony, his relations at
Srinagar were awestruck to find
him there, performing the
yagneopavit ceremony. The following
morning he again appeared
at his Qiladar ashram.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh often
visited the saint at his ashram. For
durbar ceremonies Pt. Mansa Ram
was taken on elephant to give his
blessings to Maharaja. The saint
was generous to his biradari members,
who came to visit him at
Qiladar. Lal Kaul's ancestors had
served the Mughals as officers of
the naqqarkhana. Lal
Kaul was a
minister in the Kabul Court. He
often used to visit Kashmir to keep
track of the political situation.
Somehow he developed strained
relations with Azam Khan, the
subedar of Kashmir. This disturbed
him mentally. He went to
visit his spiritual guru, Pt. Mansa
Ram and had a chance meeting
with Maharaja Ranjit Singh there.
The latter extended him an invitation
to visit Lahore. When Ranjeet
Singh sent Diwan Chand to conquer
Kashmir in 1819, Lal Kaul
accompanied the expeditionary
force as commander of
Rawalpindi Brigade. Lal Kaul
subsequently became governor of
Another Kashmiri Pandit,
Roop Kaul, a native of Rainawari,
was employed in Maharaja Ranjit
Singh's durbar. His brother
Narayan Kaul, being least interested
in studies, also left for
Lahore. He was baptised by a naga
sadhu on the banks of Ravi to
spiritualism. Following sadhu's
death, Raja Dina Nath Madan too
had come to attend his cremation.
Roop Kaul, who had come along,
found his brother Narayan there.
Narayan stood like a statue, with
his eyes closed and not talking to
anyone. Raja Dina Nath advised
Roop Kaul to take his brother to
Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan. The saint
described Narayan as a true
Karmyogi and offered him three
spoonfuls of Halwa. Thereafter,
Narayan left for Kashmir and
stayed at Narparistan, close to
Razdan Sab’s ancestral home.
Narayan's fame spread far and
wide. People began flocking to
him to have his darshan.
Narayana's biography has been
compiled by Vasudev. Governor
of Kashmir and his Vizier Ganesh
Das often visited him.
The Britishers too were
puzzled to witness Saint Mansa
Ram Razdan's spiritual powers.
They called him 'Baba' and donated
many villages to him. Lepel
Griffin, an English officer and
contemporary of the saint Mansa
Ram Razdan refers to 'Dhuni
Sahib' in his chronicle of Punjab.
The saint passed away in 1826. Pt.
Ravi Madan has in his possession
photograph of Raja Dina Nath
with Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan.
*The author is working on a
book “Rainawari Through
Ages”, a socio-historical study of Rainawari suburb of Srinagar.