BIDOḴT (current pronunciation: Beydoḵt), the center of a subdistrict (dehestān) in Gonābād šahrestān in central Khorasan and the seat of the Gonābādi Sufi order. The subdistrict of Bidoḵt is called also Pas-kolut, since it is separated from the rest of Gonābād lowlands (jolga) by a stretch of hilly salt land called kolut. It is comprised of some ten villages and has a total population of about 20,000 who speak a Persian dialect (for a study, see Nuri). The farmland is irrigated by wells and underground channels and grows cotton, cereals, saffron, mulberry (leaves used in sericulture), grapes, melons, apricots, pomegranates, apples, and fodder (Farhang-e ābādihā V, pp. 1-36; Tābanda, pp. 67, 78 ff., 113 ff.). Farmers appear in long-tailed Khorasani turbans; younger males are rarely seen, having migrated to large urban centers to work. Historical sites include Qalʿa-ye doḵtar in Šurāb and shrines in Beymorḡ /Boymorḡ and Geysur (Godard, pp. 53-57; Zamāni, pp. 43-81).
The township of Bidoḵt is eight km east of Juymand (center of Gonābād) on the Mashad-Zāhedān highway. It is situated at 34° 21’ N and 58° 45’ E, at an altitude of 1,090 m; its population, nearly 5,000 in 1986, has been fluctuating in past decades due to natural growth, emigration, and immigration. The old town had an attractive desert architecture, and many wind-towers (bādgir) are still standing among the ruins of the 1968 earthquake, which damaged also the two-century old congregational mosque (for the seismic history, see Ambraseys and Mellville, pp. 6, 14, 43, 97-98). The new town was rebuilt up on the hill on a geometric plan, with generous assistance from both the government and the Gonābādi order (Amini Beydoḵti, pp. 50-52).
Bidoḵt was the birthplace of Mollā Solṭān-Moḥammad Solṭān-ʿAlišāh (1835-1909), the founder of the Gonābādi order, and it has ever since remained the principal residence of the succeeding leaders (qoṭb) of the order (Gramlich, pp. 65 ff.). The landscape of the town is marked by Mazār-e Solṭāni (FIGURE 1), a large complex with the lofty four-minaret mausoleum of Solṭān-ʿAlišāh, the construction of which was begun by his son Nur-ʿAlišāh II (1867-1918) and was completed by his grandson Ṣāleḥ-ʿAlišāh (1891-66). It is also the burial place of the latter and his two successors, Solṭān-Ḥosayn Tābanda Reżā-ʿAlišāh (1914-92) and ʿAli Tābanda Maḥbub-ʿAlišāh (1946-97), and it thereby attracts a large number of pilgrims annually. Accordingly, the town has prospered by attracting wealth and skills from all over Persia and maintains a developed social and economic infrastructure (Tābanda, pp. 113 ff.; Amini Beydoḵti, pp. 36 ff.). Followers of the Gonābādi order have been numerous among the residents of Bidoḵt and its environs (Miller, p. 356; Tābanda, p. 113). Many Gonābādis, on the other hand, are known to be resentful of the order (which carries the name of their locality) and hold a negative view of Bidoḵt (e.g., Mojtabawi, among others, nearly ignores Bidoḵt; cf. publisher’s introduction in Tābanda, pp. iii-vii). Early in 1979 revolutionary bands desecrated the mausoleum complex, but a settlement was soon reached (personal survey in the town).
Bidoḵt is not mentioned in sources until late medieval times; one of the earliest, Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, names it as a village of Jonābad (I, p. 42), that is Gonābād. Four more settlements of the same name are recorded in the adjoining Qāyen-Birjand region, in the subdistricts of Zirkuh, Šāḵenāt, Šahābād, and Qaysābād (Farhang-e ābādihā III, pp. 28, 30, 33, 45; for coordinates, see Pāpoli Yazdi, p. 116). Despite the current pronunciation, the name has been compared to Beydoḵt (in Persian dictionaries: Enju Širāzi, II, p. 2221; Borhān-e qāṭeʿ, ed. Moʿin, I, p. 333; ʿAbd-al-Rašid Tatavi, I, p. 371; Abu’l-Moẓaffar Ḥaydar, I, p. 148; etymologized as from Mid. Pers. *bay-duxt “god’s daughter”), which is glossed as the planet Zohra “Venus,” that is, Nāhid, Mid. Pers. Anāhīd (thus it may also be a personal name). The nearby Qalʿa-ye Doḵtar (in Šurāb and Bejestān) suggests a related concept (cf. Bāstāni Pārizi, pp. 203 ff.). Other nearby places, with names like Beylond/Bilond, Beymorḡ, Bihud, Behābād, Bejestān, and Bajesqi, also tempt one to see the component bay/bag “lord, god” and read into them a suggestion of the sacredness of the area in ancient times. In any case, in the Middle Ages the secluded province of Qohestān/Kōhestān, to which Bidoḵt and Gonābād belonged, was marked with old religious symbols (e.g., the ātašgāh “fire temple” of Toršiz and Zoroaster’s cypress tree of Kešmar/Kāšmar). It also offered sanctuary to heretic sects: Toršiz, Ṭabas of the Date, and Moʾmenābād were Ismaʿili strongholds; Zāva, now Torbat-e Ḥaydariya, was the birthplace of the Ḥaydari Sufi order; and Bōzgān was renamed Torbat-e Jām after the saintly Shaikh Aḥmad Jām (cf. Le Strange, Lands, pp. 352-63; Barthold, p. 136).
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Mohammad-ʿAli Amini Beydoḵti, Beydoḵt rā bešenāsim, Tehran (?), 1992.
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André Godard, “Les Monuments du feu,” Athār-éĪrān 3/1, 1938, pp. 7-80.
Richard Gramilch, Die schiitischen Derwischorden Persiens, ester Teil: die Affiliationen, AKM 36/1,Wiesbaden, 1965.
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W. M. Miller, “Shiʿah Mysticism: The Sufis of Gunabad,” The Muslim World 13, 1923, pp. 343-63.
Ḥosayn Mojtabawi, Joḡrāfiā-ye tāriḵi-e Gonābād, Mashad, 1995. Mortażā Nuri, “Guyeš-e Beydoḵt,” B. A. thesis, University of Tehran, 1967.
M oḥammad-Ḥosayn Pāpoli Yazdi, Farhang-e ābādihā wa makānhā-ye maḏhabi-e kešvar, Tehran, 1988.
Solṭān-Ḥosayn Tābanda Gonābādi (Reżā-ʿAlišāh), Tāriḵ o joḡrāfiā-ye Gonābād, 2nd ed., Tehran, 2000.
ʿAbbās Zamāni, Gonābād pir-e tāriḵ, ed. NāsÂer Zamāni, Gonābād, 1994.
July 26, 2005
Originally Published: July 20, 2005
Last Updated: July 20, 2005