Termed a kafir by the Mullahs in his quest for oneness with the Divine, Sain Bulleh Shah is now revered as a poet, guiding light and philosopher. He earned the wrath of the clergy in his articulate defiance of Hindu and Muslim bigotry and frequent jibes at blind ritualism. Now hundreds of thousands throng his mazaar each year to pay their respects.
His inspired kafis, sung by folk singers and qawwals alike, have been passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth. The select readings are available thanks to modern day scribes both in India and Pakistan where renditions exist in the Gurumukhi and Persian or the Shahmukhi script.
Kartar Singh Duggal is one ofIndia's leading authors. He has been decorated with the Padma Bhushan and the Soviet Land Nehru Award for his contribution to Indian literature. Equally proficient in Hindi, Urdu and English, he has translated many of his own works into these languages.
The Sufi cult is akin to mysticism. It is believed in some quarters that it was born out of interaction between Semitic Islam and Aryan Vedantism on the soil of India. This is not the whole truth. Sufism took birth in Arabia in the ninth century. However, the Aryan perceptions in Iran and then in India influenced it a great deal, more particularly in accentuating the emotional content as against the dry-as-dust self- denial of the Arabs. The Arabs laid stress on asceticism and disciplining of the body, while the later Sufis in Iran and India, under the influence of Greek philosophy, Platonic ideology, Christian faith, Vedantist thinking, Buddhist lore, etcetera believed in leading an emotionally rich life. They drank and danced and advocated that physical love could sublimate itself into spiritual love. They had faith in
God; they loved the Prophet but they maintained that the Murshid or Guru could also lead to realization of the Divine Reality.
Literally speaking, a Sufi is one who is pure or one who goes about with a woollen blanket. In Greek, he is a Sufi who is enlightened. The cardinal features of the Sufi cult are:
(a) God exists in all and all exist in God.
(b) Religion is only a way of life; it does not necessarily lead to Nirvana.
(c) All happenings take place as per the will of God; nothing happens if He does not ordain
(d) The soul is distinct from the physical body and will merge into Divine Reality according to a person's deeds.
(e) It is the Guru whose grace shows the way and leads to union with God.
The Sufis believe that there are four stages in one's journey to realization:
(a) Leading a disciplined life as prescribed III Islam (Shariat).
(b) Following the path delineated by the Murshid or Guru (Tariqat).
(c) Gaining enlightenment (Haqiqat):
(d) On realization of truth, getting merged into Divine Reality (Marfat).
The practitioners of the Sufi cult came 10 India following the Muslim conquerors, more with a view to propagating Islam. There came to be established several centres at Lahore, Pakpattan, Kasur. Multan and Uch in the Punjab. However, the most popular sects among them were those which combined in them the best of every faith and promoted it arno nqst the people. Bulleh Shah, the noted Sufi poet. belongs to this group.
The Sufis loved God as one would love one's sweetheart. God for a Sufi is the husband and humankind his wife. Man must serve, love, undergo asceticism, gain enlightenment and then get merged in God. The Indian Sufis laid stress on repeating the Name (Japu), concentration (Dhyan) and meditation (Habs-i-dam). A Sufi must eschew sin, repent, live a simple and contented life and should look for the grace of the Murshid or Guru. The Sufis maintain that the soul has been separated from the Divine Reality and the supreme mission of human life is to achieve union with God.
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