Dr. Surendra Bhatnagar
Indian face of Islam is Sufi. Love is the only form of religion to a Sufi. There is no religion greater than the love of God, the love of Man and the love of his creation. In fact, all of these are the manifestations of God’s love for man. For this very reason God loved man, he sent his inspiration, angels and messengers (Holy Kuran S.4.163-166) through out the world, so that they do not go astray and get lost.
The Sufis are not born out of any tradition; they belong to no particular religion. They create no cults. As the lambs of God, they exercise no occult powers, either. They rise from their own funeral pyre from the ashes; a Sufi builds a nest of fragrant twigs, burns the nest along with his physical body, after he finishes his appointed time and leaves the fragrance to spread.
India embraced Sufism, from head as well as the heart. Sufi shrines are on the list of most people in the sub-continent, who visit the holy places. But Sufism in the sub continent is an unfinished agenda, for its real agenda of love to God and love to man is still to be achieved. Yes, the partition of British India in 1947 divided not only the land, but also the minds. I am not saying hearts because they are still bleeding for each other on either side of the physical divide. We can see this come alive when their musicians come and sing, and when their poets come to recite their verses before an audience that goes gaga in appreciation.
Where is the thread that joins these hearts like beads in string? Who has the magic power to bring the hearts together and make them appear as petals of the same flower, which they are? Allow my feeble voice heard through Amrita Pritam’s address to Waris Shah, the Sufi poet.
I call Waris Shah today;
Speak up from your grave,
From your book of love unfurl
A new and different page…..
Millions of daughters weep today
And call out to Waris Shah.
Arise you chronicler of our inner pain
And look now at your Punjab.
The blood should flow towards each others heart,
Instead, the veins are cut and blood is being spilled on both sides of the continent.
So I urge the Sufi anywhere on the two sides of the divide to come forward with the mission of love and heal the wounds lest they become a cureless cancer. I invoke Quran to the Muslim, where God has ordained man not to commit excesses in the matters of religion.
The Sura is: “O people of the Book! Commit not excesses in your religion; nor say God aught but the truth”.
Real Sufi may be jallali or jamali but is not jununi who is without restraint. Meherbaba has described both the kinds of masts (jallali or jamali) and met them personally during his Mast tours. Masts, to an ordinary eye, appear as the mad. But in reality these people are so enthralled with their yearning for union with God that they lose touch with the ordinary world.
The Wayfarers, a 576-page chronicle (published in 1948 by a British surgeon, William Donkins) records in the finest detail what was a major part of Meher Baba’s work during his lifetime, namely contacting hundreds of masts.
In the preface to the book, Meher Baba, who declared His Mission is not to teach but to awaken, wrote: ‘The Masts are God intoxicated souls. The mast, with a feeling of uncontrollable happiness plies through the unchartered planes and has forgotten his self in the act of love of God’.
Elaborating, he wrote: ‘The psychic journey of the mast is a mysterious flight from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from a sense of isolation and frustration to the experience of fulfillment, through a complete merging in the Divine Beloved’.
Whatever the holy men, perfect masters, Avatar, son of God or God’s messengers have said needs to be read in the context of the time frame and the then societies, even as we accept the universality of the message.
Consider this observation.
“These are the statutes and the ordinances which you shall observe to do in the land which the God of your fathers has given you to possess it, all the days that you live on the earth.…..
2. You shall surely destroy all the places in which the nations that you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains, and on the hills, and under every green tree:
3. and you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire; and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods; and you shall destroy their name out of that place.”
These commands, I quote from a sacred book, as you can see, are relevant to the times they were given. And as a part of history and our civilizational progress. Can these be implemented in the time and in the society we live today? Honestly. For us, the commandment from the same God is love thy neighbour as thyself.
We know some thing else from history and from folklore and from the stories handed down to successive generations. That is that often times the Books were revised and so were the sayings of the Messenger and the Son of God in their own time. In the words of Meher Baba, some times this Speak is in ‘their’ language and sometimes in ‘your’ language, and unless expressly stated, it is difficult for you to know which was said in their language.
We should, therefore, read these ‘books’ against the context of the times, while keeping God and his mercy in our heart and the helplessness and the plight of common man, for only He suffers but not the worshipers of terror. Far greater than the books is the mind of man, for every time He gave a book, He has always spoken among those who keep mind, and not to the mindless mind.
About them, Krishna says in Bhagvad-Gita, ‘Let us not create confusion in those lesser minds, which are busy with their routine business. Sanity is the greatest sense and love to all men irrespective of man made divisions is the highest truth’.
Let me end with a Biblical saying. ‘The light of the body is eye’.
So, read the books carefully in the care of God with a prayer that He bestows the right vision.