Within a few days of taking over as Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November, 2004. I enquired whether there was a dargah in Chennai. I was told there is one called the Anna Salai Dargah ( Dargah Hazrat Syed Moosa Shah Qadri )on Mount Road. I sent a message there that I would like to come to pay my respects to the holy saint who has his grave there, and is said to have died about 450
years ago.( see link below ). I was told I was welcome. I went there and offered a chaadar.
Since then I have been regularly visiting that Dargah whenever I go to Chennai. The old maulvi saheb who was there has since died, but others look after the shrine. They know me, and give me a lot of respect whenever I go there.
I go to dargahs wherever and whenever I can, e.g. Ajmer Sharif, Nizamuddin Aulia ( and Amir Khusro, which is just next ), Kaliyar Sharif, Deva Sharif, etc.I get a lot of happiness and peace there.
Some people may find it strange that a confirmed atheist like me visits dargahs.
It is true that I do not believe in God. But it is also true that I respect the good things in Indian culture, and I respect people of all religions. Some of my closest friends are non Hindus.
Why do I go to dargahs ? I go there because dargahs are shrines constructed over the graves of sufi saints, and I have great respect for sufi saints, who preached love, compassion and humanitarianism towards all. They made no distinction between Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc..Though the sufi saints were Muslims, they had many Hindu and Sikh disciples. Some sufi saints were persecuted by fanatical and bigoted people.
Hindus do not go to mosques, Muslims do not go to Hindu temples, but everyone goes to, and is welcome, in dargahs. Often there are more Hindus than Muslims in some dargahs. So dargahs are places which unite all Indians, and I love whatever unites us, and am strongly against whatever divides us, like religious bigotry and intolerance.
India is a country of great diversity. To progress we must remain united. So whatever promotes our unity, like dargahs, is good for us, and whatever divides us, like religious extremism and fanaticism, is bad for us..The Sufi spirit of tolerance and compassion is what all Indians must inculcate and imbibe..