Saturday, August 6, 2016

SARMAD: THE HERETIC SUFI & LOVER


My grandfather used to tell me Sarmad's tale as a cautionary note against challenging orthodoxy and patriarchy. He had correctly guessed that I possessed germs of rebellion-- and thought by recounting the cautionary tale of  sufi who lives his life defying the social norms and paid the ultimate price with his head--he could dissuade me instead I became fascinated with sufi rebels and religious iconoclasts and there is no figure more iconoclastic than that of Sarmad. 

Sarmad was a Sufi, and he was murdered in a mosque by order of the Muslim king for heresy and accused of being an apostate.

Sarmad’s story and his eventual martyrdom reflect his rebellion against the shariah and orthodoxy and his imposing stand on the simple message of love that he represented.

His stature as a poet is often mentioned along with Ferdosi, Nizami, Saadi, Hafez, Jami and Omar Khayyam. Yet we know so little of this great Armenian who became a Sufi saint, and walked stark naked initially in the streets of Lahore, and then moved to Delhi, where he taunted the emperor Aurangzeb for his “murderous acts in the name of religion.”


The great mosque in Delhi, Jama Masjid, where Sarmad was killed, is still standing, a monument to this great man. He was killed in a very inhuman way: just his head was cut off. His head rolled down the steps of the Jama mosque.

Some Sufis  run around naked and break the rules of shariah,as a means to rebel against the strict rules and dogmas of ulama. Most of these Sufis are known as the “Malamatiyas” or the blameworthy who discard shariah laws and show their own liberalized way of achieving union with God.For them, love was the ultimate means of achieving this.

Perhaps, Sarmad is the most famous Malamatiya Sufi saint of his time.

Who was Sarmad?

Very little is known about his early life. Some say that he was an Armenian while some claim that he was a Jew who later converted to Islam.We know that he dwelled in an open space just next to where today stands the Badshahi Mosque. 
Many years later the great Ustad Daman was to also live there, and often, in a lighter mood, would claim that he slept where Sarmad used to sleep.


According to the eminent Persian scholar and historian Henry George Keene: “Sarmad was the poetical name of an Armenian merchant who came to India in the reign of the Emperor Shah Jehan. In one of his journeys towards Thatta, he fell so passionately in love with a Hindu boy that he became ‘distracted and would go about the stress naked’.

A LOVER:
At Thatta in a musical concert, Sarmad happened to see the youthful Abhay Chand, who was the son of a rich Hindu trader. It was love at first sight for Sarmad and Abhay. Abhay Chand’s melodious voice that he rendered at a ghazal pierced the tender heart of Sarmad so much that he never recovered from the feeling of love. Sarmad began to attend the concert daily not caring that the ship on which he came had sailed away.

Abhay Chand also responded to his love with equal devotion and soon, the two began to live together at Sarmad’s place. Soon gossips started to abound in Thatta about the two men living in unnatural conditions. When this gossips spread, Abhay Chand’s parents took him away and confined him in his house. The pain of separation was too much for Sarmad who tore of his cloths and began to roam the streets of Thatta in a state of frenzy seeking his beloved Abhay Chand. Following the incident, he was to live in a state of total nudity for the rest of his life.


Meanwhile, Abhay Chand’s conditions were no better and at last, his parents gave in to their sons wish and let him reunite with Sarmad. But they were ostracized by the people of Thatta and so they moved to Lahore. Here they stayed for 13 years where Sarmad composed some of his most moving verses on love and God. 
Abhay Chand would sing these verses in his melodious voice and Sarmad would break into a dance of ecstasy. For Sarmad, his love for Abhay Chand was a means to realize God, for Sarmad believed that God manifested in all his living beings and so he could not be separated from his beloved. Sarmad’s search for God in all of his creations blurred the lines of caste and creeds drawn by the society. This he clearly explains in this beautiful verse:

Who is the lover, beloved, idol and idol-maker but You?
Who is the beloved of the Kaaba, the temple and the mosque?
Come to the garden and see the unity in the array of colours.
In all of this, who is the lover, the beloved, the flower and the thorn?


From Lahore, the couple migrated to Golcunda in South from where, after a few years, they migrated to Agra in the North. In 1657, they came to Delhi and settled down at the Dargah of Khwaja Harey Bharey. Here Sarmad began to have a large following and the whole city of Shahjahanabad would move at his single instruction.

Sarmad was anti-orthodoxy and taunted the Mullahs.It was him who said:
                     ‘In the shadow of great mosques does evil propser.’”



DARA SHIKOH & SARMAD:
People flocked round Sarmad and many found him to be a man of great sanctity and supernatural powers. It was Dara Shikoh who brought the miraculous powers of Sarmad to the notice of his father, Emperor Shah Jehan.The following letter which Prince Dara Shikoh had addressed to Sarmad shows the high regard the royal pupil had for his saintly master:


"My Pir and Preceptor, Everyday I resolve to pay my respects to you. It remains unaccomplished. If I be I, wherefore is my intention of no account? If I be not, what is my fault? Though the murder of Imam Hussein was the will of God: Who is (then) Yazid between (them). If it is not the Divine Will, then what is the meaning of “God does whatever He wills and commands whatever He intends”? The most excellent Prophet used to go to fight the unbelievers, defeat was inflicted on the army of Islam. The exoteric scholars say it was an education in resignation. For the Perfect what education was necessary?"

Sarmad’s reply to the above epistle consisted of two lines, in verse, which when translated says:
My dear Prince, What we have read, we have forgotten
 Save the discourse of the friend which we reiterate.


MARTYR;
In the beginning of the reign of Aurangzeb, he was put to death outside the Jamia Masjid Delhi on account of his disobeying the orders of that emperor, who had commanded him not to go about naked. This event took place in the year 1661. 
After Dara was killed and Aurangzeb usurped the throne, he set about killing all of Dara’s close associates and soon, his attention turned towards Sarmad. Sarmad’s popularity disturbed him and he feared Sarmad might someday incite the people to rebel against him.
When Aurangzeb had usurped the throne, he taunted Sarmad about the succession of his favourite disciple, Dara Shikoh, to the throne, which he had promised him.
Sarmad calmly replied: “God has given him eternal sovereignty and my promise is not falsified.” The supreme moment had at last arrived for Aurangzeb to wreak his vengeance on the harmless naked saint and scholar, and he immediately ordered his execution.

Once as Aurangzeb went to Jama Masjid to offer Friday prayers, he spotted Sarmad sitting nude in the street. When he rebuked Sarmad for violating shariah by being naked, Sarmad asked him to cover him with a blanket lying nearby. 
When Aurangzeb picked up the blanket, the story goes that the heads of all he had killed during his ascent to the throne rolled out of it. 
To this, Sarmad told the emperor, “Should I hide your sins or my nakedness?” Sarmad’s fearless attitude was too much for Aurangzeb who soon called on his chief Qazi, Mullah Qawi, and plotted to do away with Sarmad.

Sarmad was dragged to the Qazi’s court where he was accused of defying the shariah by living naked. Sarmad had befitting replies to all of the Qazi’s accusations, and this frustrated him even more. 
To make him relent, the Qazi had Abhay Chand flogged in front of Sarmad. The whip lashed Abhay Chand’s body, but miraculously, the pain was inflicted on Sarmad.
 Sarmad cried out, “GOD who does not let me see my beloved is like an iron cage that smothers the spirit and bruises the heart.”

For the Qazi, Islam was a set of stern and inflexible laws.
For Sarmad, it was nothing but a message of love. 
The Qazi demanded that Sarmad recite the kalimah shahada (acceptance of oneness of God), which “La Ilaha Illallah, Muhammad-ur Rasul Allah” (there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad SWT is the messenger of Allah), in order to prove that he was a true Muslim.

Sarmad refused to go beyond “La Ilaha,” which means there is no God, as he had still not found the end of his search for God. This enraged the Qazi who awarded him death sentence. And so Sarmad was dragged through the streets of Delhi and promptly beheaded for being an apostate.

But as the story goes, he emerged victorious in death. Sarmad picked up his severed head much to the fright of his executioners. He started climbing the stairs of the Jama Masjid, while mocking the emperor and his false men of God all the while. 
In death, Sarmad had found God, testifying to the truth of his own understanding of Islam. 
Just as he was about to enter the mosque, a voice called him out from the grave of Harey Bharey and asked him to relent as he had reached the end of his journey and had united with God at last. 
Sarmad turned round and went to Harey Bharey’s tomb. There he was buried by the side of Harey Bharey, where they share a common dargah today. And the curse of Sarmad fell on Aurangzeb as the Mughal Empire gradually crumbled in front of his very eyes.

It is said that when the condemned man was being led away from the tribunal to the place of execution, he uttered, extempore, a long poem of immense beauty, the last lines of which are:



There was an uproar and we opened our eyes from eternal sleep 
Saw that the night of wickedness endured, so we slept again 

Aqil Khan Razi, the court chronicler of Aurangzeb, writes that when the executioner was about to inflict the fatal blow, Sarmad uttered:

The nakedness of the body was the dust of the road to the friend
That too was severed, with the sword, from our head.

According to another popular version Sarmad uttered:
My head was severed from the body by that flirt, who was my companion
The story was shortened, otherwise the headache would have been too severe



SARMAD"S TOMB;

is Situated in front of the imposing Jama Masjid near the Meena Bazar, the small shrine largely remains unnoticed by many visitors who visit the great mosque daily. The shrine in the vicinity where Sarmad shares his resting with another famous Sufi saint Khwaja Harey Bharey (the evergreen one). Harey Bharey was Sarmad’s preceptor and his tomb was where Sarmad had settled down when he first came to Delhi.

The unique feature of this dargah, which is a dual shrine of Sarmad and Harey Bharey, is the colour of the wall which is green on Harey Bharey’s side and blood red on Sarmad’s side. This is to depict Sarmad’s martyrdom because of which he has been given the title of “Shaheed” (martyr). Red ceramic tiles lined his side of the flooring and red threads hung by his grave’s railings by devotees hoping for their wishes to be granted. Incense sticks and candles continuously burn on the side while qawwali singers vent out numbers in praise of their Pir as the evening sets in.




As I left the shrine of Sarmad Shaheed and reflected on this story, I realized that Sarmad’s homosexuality and rebellion was not the main fact that made him unique---what was unique about him was that he had dared to understand God in his own way against the established norms: he exhibited the intellect God has bestowed upon mankind.

There are a lot of stories of Sarmad about his life --I don′t know whether all the legends are true or not, but they must be: they have to be!

Even truth has to compromise with a man like Sarmad!


I love Sarmad because he died for his beliefs ---because he challenged the hypocrisy and those who kill in the name of Religion---they killed him too but it doesn't matter; because he still lives while nobody visits their graves.


Sarmad had made love( of a pagan man) the transformative experience and finally, achieved God through this mean.


Orthodoxy and laws of love be damned!


He had just one message for all of us: God is the only God, there is no one between you and God. There is no mediator, God is immediately available. Just all that is needed is a little madness and a lot of meditation.


For Sarmad, God manifested in the persona of Abhay Chand.He didnot believe in walls of cast and the demarcation lines between faiths---for him, all roads led to the Almighty.


For us, it can be anybody or anything. If God is love, it is everywhere-- that is the message of Sufism.


Here what has etched in my mind is a verse of the holy Qura’an, which is written on a signboard on the outer wall of the shrine.

It read, “And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah ‘dead.’ Nay, they are living, only ye perceive not.” I think nothing sums up Sarmad’s life better than this. He still lives on as a messenger of love and finding your own path to God and those who killed him ---they were just merchants of hate, now withering away in pages of histo
ry.







Sunday, July 31, 2016

FANAA or EGO DEATH ( (fana fi 'Allah')




Enlightenment equals ego death.

For millennia this equation has held true. While the term "ego," meaning "I" in Latin, is obviously a relatively recent addition to the English lexicon, just about every major enlightenment teaching in the world has long held that the highest goal of spiritual and indeed human life lies in the renunciation, rejection and, ultimately, the death of the need to hold on to a separate, self-centered existence.


From Shankara's rantings against the ego as a "strong and deadly serpent" to Prophet Muhammad's declaration of a "holy war against the nafs [ego]" to the Zen masters' fierce determination to use any means necessary to break the ego's grip on their students.


In sufi path Bayazid Bastami was one of the first to speak of "annihilation of the self in God" (fana fi 'Allah') and "subsistence through God" (baqa' bi 'Allah).


FANAA: EGO DEATH;


Fanaa is the Sufi term for extinction. It means to annihilate the self, while remaining physically alive. Persons having entered this state are said to have no existence outside of, and be in complete unity with, Allah. Fanaa is equivalent to the concept of nirvana in Buddhism and Hinduism or moksha inHinduism which also aim for annihilation of the self.


Abu Yazid al-Bistami approached the Divine Presence and “knocked on the gate”. He was asked, “Who is there?” “I have come, Oh my Lord”, replied Abu Yazid. He was told: “There isn’t any place here for two. Leave your ego behind and come”. When Abu Yazid once again approached the Divine Presence and was asked who it was, he said: “You, oh Lord”.

The "annihilation of the self" (fana fi 'Allah') refers to disregarding everything in this world because of one's love towards God. When a person enters the state of fana it is believed that one is closest to God.


The Qalaba( heart) is sandwiched between the nafs( EGO) and the Rooh(SOUL) The entire objective of annihilation is to destroy the nafs to that Heart can recognise the soul.Sudi's say soul has the spark of divine as in Quran, its mentioned" all souls come from God".


The nature of fanaa consists of the elimination of evil deeds and lowly attributes of the flesh. In other words, fanaa is abstention from sin and the expulsion from the heart of all love other than the Divine Love; expulsion of greed, lust, desire, vanity, show, etc. In the state of fanaa the reality of the true and only relationship asserts itself in the mind. 

One realizes and feeds that the only real relationship is with Allah Ta'ala fanaa means to destroy your self. if you destroy your self in the love of Allah then that fanaa will convert into entire life means abdi zindgi. and for that one you have to destroy your will and yourself on the will of Allah.

In the death of the ego love is born, God is born, light is born. In the death of the ego you are transformed; all misery disappears as if it had never existed. Your life right now is a nightmare. When the ego dies nightmares disappear and a great sweetness arises in your being, and a subtle joy, for no reason at all. Beyond this is the stage of intimacy (uns) at which the immanence of the Lord is perceived:


And I am closer to man than his jugular vein” QURAN;


On the path of ego annhilation; Bayazid said:


I became like an iron master for twelve years. I put my nafs and ego in the stove of discipline, and prepare it with the fire of striving, mold it on the platform of remorse, hammer it with regret until my nafs became my mirror. I was my own mirror for five years. Until one day when I thought I was the greatest among great learned. As soon as this thought came to my mind, I packed up and went to Khorasan. I stayed in a shelter and promised myself that I would not leave this place unless I receive a message from Allah. On the fourth day I saw a camel rider coming towards me. A thought passed my mind that I could stop that camel right there. The rider looked at me and said: Do not make me to destroy Bastam and Bayazid altogether. I lost my senses. When my senses came back to me I asked him: Where are you coming from? he said: From the side where your promise is kept. The he said: Bayazid, keep and protect your heart; then he left. It is said after this incident whatever passed through Bayazid ’s mind would appear in front of him.


What Bayazid is explaining in this story is that;

He who recognizes himself.. recognizes GOD;

In Bayazidian Sufism, one has to get rid of the pseudo-personality that one has created for oneself. We all want to be accepted and respected by others. Most of the time we are led by society and our own cultural norms to create a false sense of ourselves.


Whenever you are now and here, there is no ego to be found. You are a pure silence. Ego is the center of the false mind.


Your ego is your hell, your ego is your misery, your ego is the cancer of your soul.

When desiring ceases, the other world opens. The other world is hidden in this world. But because your eyes are full of desire, full of the ego, you cannot see it.

This was the lost secret of the ages..the divine lies within you, if only you would listen to it.all mystical paths really aim to remove ego from the self so only name of God remains.

God tells Bayazid that He doesn't care if he sees the world or not. He only cares if Bayazid doesn't see himself. And it's only when he ceases to see himself that Bayazid can truly say that he has seen God.


This is when Bayazid says ;
The final clue is buried in your stare:
So long as 'I' continues to exist
The sun I seek is shrouded in "I's" mist 



Bayazid repents first from thinking he has seen God, and second he repents from that repentance for this is just another manifestation of his being; finally, he repents from seeing his own existence altogether.

He addresses GOD;"Oh, Allah, this is how I see myself. I am not offering You my life's mortification, my constant prayers, my day and night fasting, You know that nothing will take me from You. I confess that I am shameful, I have nothing, You are the One who has given me all this fortune. I witness that there is no god but You. Your have accepted me. Purify me from my errors, forgive my faults, wash away my shortcomings.


A prayer remained from Bayazid:

Oh, Allah, how long this “you” and “I” remain between You and I. Take this “I” from me so all that remains is “You”.
Oh, Allah, when I am with You I am greater than all; when I am without You I am nothing.
Oh, Allah, my poverty took me to you and Your blessings protected my poverty.



HOW TO ANNIHILATE THE EGO & CONTROL NAFS:


How, though, does one go about doing such things?


The goal is part of the desiring mind and bliss is a state of no-mind. Desiring is a barrier: non-desiring is the bridge. And all goals are egoistic because they are ambitions. Ambitions are shadows of the ego, and wherever ego is bliss is not. When the ego completely disappears, when not even a trace is left behind, bliss is found.


In Bayazidian sufism,from the stories about him, one can gather that there are two ways of going against the ego, though they are not separate but rather very much intertwined.


These are

  1. selfless service 
  2. kindness to others
  3. attracting the blame of others on the other. 
Consider the following story concerning the meaning of selfless service in Bayazidian Sufism. Again, this story happens in the context of yet another pilgrimage to Mecca. This is no accident, as Bayazidian Sufism is always a reaction to conventional ritualistic practices:

TRUE SELFLESS SERVICE:

In one of his pilgrimages to Mecca there was such a shortage of water that people were dying of thirst. Bayazid came across a place where people were gathered around a well, so thirsty that they were fighting among one another. In the middle of all this commotion he saw a wretched dog that was clearly dying of thirst. The dog looked at Bayazid and somehow conveyed to him that Bayazid's real mission should be getting water for the dog. He came up with a plan and began announcing, "Does anyone want to buy the merit of a hajj pilgrimage in exchange for some water?" Not receiving any response from people, he began to increase his part of the bargain, raising his hajj journeys to five, six, seven and finally to seventy in exchange for some water. 

At last, someone said that he was willing, giving Bayazid the water in exchange for the merits of seventy hajj journeys. It is at this point in the story that Bayazid's ego gets him into trouble. Right after the transaction took place, he began to feel proud of his action and pleased with himself for doing such a noble act of selflessness. Full of himself and proud of his action, Bayazid put the bowl of water in front of the dog, but the dog did not accept the water and turned away.

Now a man of Bayazid's caliber looks for the divine message even from a dog, and Bayazid felt sorely ashamed of himself for his pride. 

At this point, he heard a message from God, "How long are you going to say I have done this and I have done that? Don't you see that even a dog does not accept your charitable act?" At once, Bayazid repented of his act of self-seeing (Adapted from Aflaki 1983, vol. II, p. 671).
The selfless service alluded to here is not just a charitable act. It is not on a par with giving money to a charity or doing volunteer work for the poor and the needy. It is far more subtle and difficult than that. True selfless service begins when one does not feel proud of one's act of charity and is complete when one is not conscious of oneself as the agent of that charitable act. True selfless service as it was realized by Bayazid is a major way to get rid of the ego.

Bayazid is not saying that a person should drop out of society  for him that is the easy way out. On the contrary, he is asking people to continue doing whatever they are doing and do it to the best of their ability. 'Seeing the world' is nothing other than enjoying the world, appreciating the beauty of the world. God doesn't want Bayazid to be an ascetic. "See the whole world, but don't see yourself," was what God told Bayazid. And here we see a profound ethical principle: Do what you may, but do it selflessly.


KINDNESS:BREAK THE SHELL OF I;
In the following story, we get yet another example of how Bayazid goes against his ego by means of a simple act of kindness:

One night Bayazid was passing through a cemetery in Bastam when he came across a young nobleman playing a lute. Upon seeing the youth, Bayazid exclaimed, "There is no power and force in the world other than God's." 


Thinking that Bayazid was criticizing him for playing music in the cemetery, the young man hit Bayazid on the head with his lute thereby breaking both Bayazid's head and his own musical instrument. Upon returning to his quarters, Bayazid summoned one of his disciples and gave him some money and sweets and told him to go to the young man's house and tell him tile following: "Bayazid asks your forgiveness for what happened last night and requests that you use this money to buy another lute and then eat this sweet to remove from your heart the sorrow over the lute's being broken.

" When he heard this message, the young man realized what he had done and went to Bayazid to apologize (Adapted from 'Attar 1976, p. 117).
To return an act of aggression with kindness is to go against the ego. Our ego wants revenge or at least some kind of compensation when we are wronged. But for Bayazid, to seek compensation is to play into the hands of the ego, thereby becoming further removed from God.

This is why Jesus also asked his disciples to turn the other cheek, so that  EGO may go unsatisfied.

MULAMATIYA: TO ATTRACT BLAME;
The second major way to overcome the ego for Bayazid is to attract other people's blame and to disgrace oneself in the eyes of society. This may sound pretty silly to us now. 
Why would anyone want to disgrace himself?
 In our contemporary western influence  culture, the emphasis is on the promotion and glorification of the ego, not its demise. 
But first, let's examine an example of what Bayazid means by attracting the blame of others:
In the city of Bastam where Bayazid made his home, there lived a very respected and venerable ascetic. He enjoyed Bayazid's circle, though he never became one of his disciples. One day he said to Bayazid, "0 master! For the last thirty years I have been fasting from the world and keeping vigils at night, but I have to be honest with you: I do not find in myself that knowledge you have been talking about, though I acknowledge your wisdom and I would like to understand it." 

Bayazid replied, "O Sheikh, even if you continue your ritual prayer and fasting for the next three hundred years, you would still not be able to understand the smallest portion of this wisdom." "Why?" asked the ascetic. "Because you are a prisoner of your own ego," responded Bayazid. "Is there any remedy for my condition?" asked the ascetic. "There is, but you won't be able to do it," replied Bayazid. "I promise I will accept whatever you suggest, for I have been seeking this knowledge for years," insisted the ascetic. "Then," continued Bayazid, "You must first take off your ascetic clothes and wear rags instead; let down your hair and go sit with a bag full of walnuts in a neighborhood where people know you best. Then call all the children around you and tell them, I will give a walnut to whoever smacks me on the face, two walnuts for two smacks and so on'. After you finish with that neighborhood, go to other neighborhoods until you have covered the whole town. This is your remedy." Completely bewildered and shocked the ascetic cried, "Glory be to God! There is no god but God," which was a way of expressing amazement in those days. "If an unbeliever had uttered these words," Bayazid declared, "he would have become a Moslem, but by uttering such words you have become an unbeliever!" "But why?" asked the ascetic. "Because in saying those words, you worship yourself not God," replied Bayazid. "Please give me some other counsel, Bayazid," pleaded the ascetic. "This is your only remedy, and as I said, you would not be able to do it," responded Bayazid (Adapted from 'Attar 1976, pp. 112-113).


LETTING GO THE STORY OF YOUR EGO:


Bayazid felt that  religious life lived for public purposes  was far too superficial and hypocritical, for it was all geared towards the salvation of the individual in this world and the hereafter. For Bayazid, the conventional religious attitude is tainted with self-interest and ego, for it is ultimately construed for the sake of one's ego. But, according to Bayazid, the realm of the ego is the opposite of that of God.

Bayazid is warning us here about the dangers of identifying with what we do or what we project about ourselves. He is asking us to let go of the story our ego has created about it , of it being righteous and good and virtuous.Only when you would let go the story of your ego , would you witness the divine Or you will always be busy pleasing your ego and its needs.Our sense of self occupies all the space inside of us.


The only way we can make sure we are not attached to the sense of self that we have created for ourselves is to attract other people's blame, to make ourselves disgraceful.That way our ego takes  a beating and the shell breaks a little.
 According to Bayazid, if it is the Truth we are after, then we should let others shatter this false image ..this shell....we have created for ourselves.The ego must be starved of praise and identification.
To follow Bayazid in his search for the Truth, we have to demolish this pseudo-personality, and his way of demolishing it is by means of public disgrace. 
Everyone should judge you a madman, phony, or hypocrite. 
This is the price one has to pay for the Bayazidian Truth.
This is the price he paid himself.









Saturday, July 30, 2016

We Are All Slave-girls!


RUMI has narrated a story of a slave girl of Samarqand. According to the narrative, once the king of an adjoining state visited the bazaar of Samarqand.

There in the shop of a goldsmith, he saw a beautiful slave girl. He instantly fell in love with her, unaware of the fact that the slave girl was in love with the goldsmith.

On return to his capital, the king ordered one of his viziers to bring that slave girl to his court at any cost. The vizier went back to the goldsmith of Samarqand, enticed him and bought the slave girl from him.

 The vizier presented the slave girl to the king who immediately took her as his wife. Later on, the king discovered that the slave girl was not happy with the new arrangement and remained depressed and melancholic all the time. The king also became melancholic and did not know how to make her happy.
One night the king had a dream. In his dream a spiritual guide appeared to him and inquired about his miserable state. The king told the spiritual guide the whole story about how he fell in love with the slave girl of Samarqand and how she remained unhappy despite all his best efforts to make her happy. 
The spiritual guide told the king that he would visit his palace the next day to solve his problem, then and there. The next day the king along with his courtiers waited outside the city walls for the spiritual guide. When the much-awaited spiritual guide arrived, the king was very happy to see him. He rushed towards the guide, kissed his hands and took him to his palace with honour and respect.
There the spiritual guide demanded a private session with the slave girl. During his discourse with the girl, he described in exotic terms the bazaars and markets of Samarqand. Suddenly the slave girl broke her silence. She confessed to the spiritual guide that she was madly in love with the goldsmith of Samarqand; that this was the precise cause of her unhappiness with her marriage to the king.
The next morning the spiritual guide told the king about the cause of the melancholic moods of the slave girl and advised him to summon the young goldsmith of Samarqand to his court in order to help her recover from her misery.
 Eventually the goldsmith was brought to the palace and found the beloved of his yesteryear there. The king allowed them privacy and gradually the slave girl recovered from her miserable state. Together she and her lover enjoyed music, dance, good food and had lots of fun in the palace for many days.
Gradually, the spiritual guide started poisoning the goldsmith. First he became yellowish, and then weaker by the day.
 One day the slave girl felt repulsed by him and finally abandoned him to his disease. The goldsmith died and the slave girl found her new lover in the person of the king. The spiritual guide left the palace the very next day.



This narrative contains symbolic meaning for us, in two contexts. The first context is personal and affects all of us in these days of spiritual vacuum. The slave girl is a symbol of our sick hungry souls; the goldsmith is our unbridled ego-desire; the king is our heart seeking satisfaction; the palace is our primordial spiritual state of existence to which we want to return; and finally the spiritual guide is a person or spiritual idea to show us the path to self-satisfaction.

.I was watching the movie Baraka and it has these harrowing images from around the world of people running and striving and running with a vacant look in their eyes.



The uncontrolled desire chambers of our ego has made our hearts more and more dissatisfied. The more we desire to possess and own; the more our soul becomes melancholic and cut of from its real purpose. 

We are all running like the slave girl.


Our slave girl is enamored by the material objects and toys of globalization. 


You must live to consume is the dictum.I love David Mitchel's novel Cloud Atlas, in oneof its russian doll like stories is about a genetic clone in a dystopian materialist  future--in this all too possible future, society is only constructed to facilitate and encourage consumption and those who refuse to become drones, are outcast and penalized. 


Our cognitive matrix is only populated with fanciful objects and bodies.  
We have become objectified brands, WE ARE WHAT WE OWN.Our identity is Nike, Apple or Gap.We identify and categories human beings by what they are wearing, listening to or driving.This consumption makes us more sad and we feel meaningless and hollow inside.

Everybody is monitored by precise gadgets of control. Our thoughts are regulated. Our networks are watched. Our freedom is mechanical and our choices are shaped by the sinister machine of our civilization. It is driven by the ever-more complex cycles of cultural mechanisms of consumption and destruction. It is dominated by the subtle moves of electronic capitalism.

There is another way to live.We need to find the silence within and construct our identity on spiritual rather than material parameters.You only become what you own/buy /consume when you are too spiritually lazy to find out, who you really are!



I AM AND I AM NOT


Rumi was dancing the dance of life. He knew it, and so did his listeners, which is why the line between poet, saint, and lover became quite blurry in his case.
No poet is more intimate than Rumi, no lover more crazed, no saint more innocent.

An air of the supernatural gathered around him because he never lost this wild, extreme state of ecstasy. Somehow the deepest lovers don't have to fear time. Their intoxication is permanent, even though the divine beloved is invisible, remote, and never touched physically.

His tavern attracted a gathering of intoxicated lovers, people committed to going directly to the source, as fearlessly as the moth who flies straight into the candle flame. In his passion for union with the Beloved, Rumi attracted not just Muslims, but also Jews and Christians, not just men but also many women who heard the echo of their true nature in Rumi's voice:

A lover asked his beloved,
Do you love yourself more
than you love me?
The beloved replied,
I have died to myself
and I live for you.   


I’ve disappeared from myself
and my attributes.
I am present only for you.
I have forgotten all my learning,
but from knowing you
I have become a scholar.
I have lost all my strength,
but from your power
I am able.
If I love myself
I love you.
If I love you
I love myself.
I’m drenched
in the flood
which has yet to come
I’m tied up
in the prison
which has yet to exist
Not having played
the game of chess
I’m already the checkmate
Not having tasted
a single cup of your wine
I’m already drunk
Not having entered
the battlefield
I’m already wounded and slain
I no longer
know the difference
between image and reality
Like the shadow
I am And I am not





When I die by RUMI


When I die, I hope that I  remember Death is just a door to another world. 

When I die
when my coffin
is being taken out  
you must never think i am missing this world don't shed any tears don't lament or feel sorry i'm not falling into a monster's abyss when you see my corpse is being carried don't cry for my leaving i'm not leaving i'm arriving at eternal love when you leave me in the grave don't say goodbye remember a grave is only a curtain for the paradise behind you'll only see me descending into a grave now watch me rise how can there be an end when the sun sets or the moon goes down it looks like the end it seems like a sunset but in reality it is a dawn when the grave locks you up that is when your soul is freed have you ever seen a seed fallen to earth not rise with a new life why should you doubt the rise of a seed named human have you ever seen a bucket lowered into a well coming back empty why lament for a soul when it can come back like Joseph from the well when for the last time you close your mouth your words and soul will belong to the world of no place no time

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sufi Love



              I read this opening line  from Divani Shamsi Tabriz and became intrigued about the sort of love which can transform from being dead and becoming alive, being tears and becoming laughter, reaching the sovereignty of love and transforming to everlasting sovereign

I was dead, I became alive, I was tears, I became laughter
The sovereignty of love appeared, and I became ever lasting sovereign.


  These lines are as intimidating as they are alluring. What is such a love, and why do certain people fall so deeply under its spell?



  I have been fascinated by such questions for a long time and I found answers only by going into the soul-places where mortal love and immortal love meet. Romeo and Juliet were mortal and even died for love, yet they attained a kind of immortality by being allowed to live on in verse.Love is a doorway to a greater reality.

The human form of love can be, and for the Sufi is, the ladder to Divine Love.In Sufism, the beauty of one’s beloved is considered to be a representation (symbol) of the Perfection of God. No wonder then that it has the power to evoke true love in the heart of a lover!


  Sufism decrees that by learning how to love through the love of a person, the sincere Sufi could – in principle – transform his or her love of a person into the love of Allah. 


In the Hindi Film Anwar (2007), the chosen murshid (guide) advises the young protagonist of the movie Anwar, that he has to fall in love in the earthly realm in order to evolve true love for God in his heart.        


        Poetry has that elusive quality of transcending words and lightly touching upon this secret garden of the human heart.In the book, Rumi, The Persian, The Sufi, Rumi quietly murmurs and speaks from his heart about his personal experience:



Do you know who is alive?
That one who is born in love.
I am not the moon, or the universe, or thunder
Or clouds
I am all love, all love, I am all soul by your
Soul
I am full of love, flaming as a burning tree;
A stranger to everyone except love, like oil and
Water


While Divine Love might appear to some to be completely distinct from human love, for many Sufis such as Ahmad al-Ghazali (d. 520/1126), Ruzbihan (d. 606/1209), Ibn ‘Arabi (d. 638/1240), Rumi, and ‘Iraqi (d. 688/1289), there was a continuum from human love to Divine love.


The contemporary scholars Chittick and Wilson, in the introduction to their translation of ‘Iraqi’s Lama’at, discussed this relationship of human love and Divine love.

          Speaking of ‘Iraqi’s understanding of love, they stated, “There is no irreducible dichotomy between divine and human love…There is a gradation from the love of forms, which is “apparent love” (‘ishq-i majazi) to the love of God, which alone is ‘real love’ (‘ishq-i haqiqi).

Love is the ark appointed for the righteous,
Which annuls the danger and provides a way of escape.
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition. RUMI


 To love so that nothing of you remains, is the way to enlightenment.You no longer exist..Non-being is the way to being, and love is the most adequate method to disappear.Just as nature abhors a vacuum, God also abhors a vacuum. You become a vacuum, and God rushes into you.
Rumi's couplet is alluding to this state.

My head is bursting
with the joy of the unknown.
My heart is expanding a thousand fold.
Every cell,
taking wings,
flies about the world.
All seek separately
the many faces of my love.


           That is the meaning when Jesus says, "God is love." I say to you: Love is God -- because it is the purification of love that will bring you to God.Love is the bridge. Love is the process of alchemical change in your consciousness.

        When you fall in love with a person you have seen a glimpse of the divine. It is not really the person that you have fallen in love with; They have been just a window, a beautiful window but still a window. You have seen something beyond, it may have been just a flash; that’s why it is so difficult to explain your love affair to anybody.If somebody asks, ’Why have you fallen in love with this person?’ it is almost inexplicable. And if you try to explain it looks absurd, even to you. But the problem is that you have not fallen in love with this person at all: you have fallen in love with something beyond.

"This woman, who is your beloved, is in fact a ray of His light,
She is not a mere creature. She is like a creator.  RUMI

       Wherever love happens it is always between you and God: sometimes you have glimpsed Him in a flower, sometimes in a star, sometimes in a song, sometimes in the giggle of a child. God comes in so many ways but all these are fragments of God.For Sufis believe that only when a person treads on the path of earthly ‘true romantic love’ and suffers in the pain of separation from one’s beloved, can one get in touch with the rend of separation from God Almighty that is suppressed in the heart of every Individual.


A true Lover doesn't follow any one religion,
be sure of that.
Since in the religion of Love,
there is no irreverence or faith.
When in Love,
body, mind, heart and soul don't even exist.
Become this,
fall in Love,
and you will not be separated again


  We hear the same answer that Ibn Arabi heard in one of his intimate conversations, when he asked Allah “How could one get close to You?”And Allah responded, “Through an attribute that I do not possess”, meaning ubudiyyat, which means servant-hood


    So  on this Valentine's day, feel more loving. Love people and allow others to love you. Don’t create barriers. Whenever love knocks at your door, remember it is God who has knocked. Reject love and you have rejected God. 

Welcome love and you have welcomed God. 
God comes as love, flowers as love.
Begin with love so one day you can know God because without Love, we are not really alive! 

You think you are alive

because you breathe air?
Shame on you,
that you are alive in such a limited way.
Don't be without Love,
so you won't feel dead.
Die in Love
and stay alive forever. Rumi