Bhai Budhu's Awa is situated at G.T. Road, Lahore between the University of Engineering and Technology and the Railway yards on the other side of the GT Road.
This particular Awa (turned into a tomb) belonged to a Sikh of Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji named Bhai Budhu Shah.
Bhai Budhu is widely known for not only his tomb but also his famous 'Awa'. Awa is a term used in Punjabi and Persian to refer to a kiln where the potters bake earthen pottery and bricks.
The historical writings suggest that Budhu was buried at the place where he died. It is well established through historical records that he died at his Awa.
During the rule of Emperor Akbar, Lahore possessed a special status, due to being the hub of the state affairs, and remained the capital of the mughal empire in the last phase of Akbar's rule.
This factor made many nobles and the rich establish their houses in the city to remain closer to the court, and ultimately, several new areas and colonies were founded in the town. With the construction of new, luxurious and rich mansions, the brick makers made a large fortune.
A potter named Sidhu was very famous for making baked bricks during Jahangir's reign. After Sidhu's death, the whole business passed into the hands of his son Budhu.
In 1590 AD, when Guru Arjan was in Lahore. Amongst his visitors was Bhai Budhu. He was very Influenced to hear the devotional kirtan of Guru Arjan and became his Sikh. He used to attend the Darbar daily in the dharamshala of Chuna Mandi. Guru Arjan stayed at Lahore for more than two years when he was sent to participate in the marriage of a relative.
Bhai Budhu's business was not doing well, and though he had tried many techniques, every time when he opened the kiln doors, the bricks and pottery were just partially baked. Bhai Budhu waited upon Guru Arjan and begged to be instructed. Guru Arjan said, "Start any task after an ardas or prayer in Sangat seeking God's blessing, distribute langar to all who need it and donate one tenth of your earnings to charity."
Bhai Budhu adopted the Guru's instructions and undertook a large brick baking project, involving considerable investment. He invited all the local Sikhs to a langar after which an ardas was to be offered for the success of the enterprise. It so happened that a pious but poorly looking Sikh (Bhai Lakhu Patolia, who was well known by the name Bhai Kamaliya) came late and was denied entry to the feast. Bhai Kamaliya was standing near the door. As the ardas was being offered with the words, "May Budhu's pile of bricks be perfectly baked," Bhai Kamaliya cried, "May Budhu's bricks remain half-baked!"
Everyone was startled. Bhai Budhu was concerned at the curse and went to Guru Arjan begging him to cancel the curse. Guru Arjan said, "I cannot undo what my poor Sikh has done. Your bricks will remain half baked, but they will sell. A prayer uttered from the core of the heart never goes to waste. Remember to be pious and charitable. Nature herself will find a way for you." That year saw extended monsoon rain, and bricks fell in short supply. Budhu Shah's half-baked stock fetched him the price of full baked ones.
Bhai Budhu received contracts of the bulk supply of bricks for the construction of the Shalamar Garden and Nister Khan's tomb. The reason for this huge demand of bricks was the grand ramparts that were built around these premises. Nowadays, these walls can be occasionally seen. With these orders pouring in, Bhai Budhu's contacts in the court grew and eventually, he came to be a part of the nobility.
Bhai Budhu Shah is widely known for not only his tomb but also his famous 'Awa' in Lahore. When Guru Arjan was in Lahore. Amongst his visitors was Bhai Budhu. He was very Influenced to hear the devotional kirtan of Guru Arjan and became his Sikh.
To express his gratitude, Bhai Budhu had a Gurdwara consructed at a place of the kiln, out of sheer joy and faith in the Guru. This Gurdwara was managed for a long time by the Mahants of the Satlani. In 1927 AD, when the Sikh National College was established, a magnificent Gurdwara was also built. Bhai Budhu owned 3000 acres of land where the University of Engineering and Technology and the Railway yards are located. However, as Bhai Budhu had no children these lands were occupied and taken from Sikhs and the Gurdwara no longer exists.
During the British period, many beautiful and historical buildings were sacrificed to meet the needs of the railways and the associated departments. This destructive spree was started by the state and, later on, worsened by the citizens' insensitive attitude. All included, Budhu's Awa, his tomb, the surrounding garden and all the beautiful buildings and boundary walls, was plundered and ruined. In the South, a graveyard was laid out and some houses were constructed to the North and East. To the West, some old houses existed but have been demolished to construct shops. The mosaic work in blue shade is seen on top of the single dome, the same work is also present at Dai Anga's Tomb.
A small area, used to be filled with piles of garbage around the tomb's platform. There are two samadhs, one for Bhai Budhu and the other for his wife. Under the dome, the walls have been affected by termites. Due to the smoke, produced by the drug-addicts who used to sit there, one can find many black patches and spots in different places.
Nothing has been done by the past governments to preserve this four-century old building. But, more so the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the post-partition governments. If the status-quo persists, there would be no trace left of the tomb and its dome, the only surviving monument of Bhai Budhu's Awa.
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
Other Gurbani Contributors