Saturday, January 19, 2013

From ‘In Search of Oneness. The Bhagavad Gita and the Quran through Sufi eyes’ by Moosa Raza

Ghalib …..Persian verse
Sar az hijab-e-ta’yyun agar berun aayad
Cheh jalwaha keh b’har kish mitawan kardan
If man were to come our of the self-limiting veil that covers
his eyes, what glorious revelations he will see in every faith.

Rumi … his Mathnavi
Beshtar ashaab-e jannat ablah and
Ta z’sharre failsoofi mi rahand
Most of those that inhabit Paradise are simple folk, who have
kept away from the mischief of philosophy

……Yogavasishta. The author, sage Vasishta, was a rationalist.
He says:
Truth should be discovered by one’s own endeavor through rational interpretation of our own experience, deepened and extended by our own aspirations and efforts……..
All the various views arising at different times and in different countries however lead to the same Supreme Truth …… It is the ignorance of the Absolute Truth and misunderstanding of the different views that cause their followers to quarrel with one another and bitter animosity. They consider their own particular dogmas to be the best, as every traveler may think, though wrongly, his own path to be the only or the best path.

For Sankara, the whole essence of the Gita was gathered in verse 66 of Chapter 18 where Krishna asks Arjun to abandon all religions and irreligions alike
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto
Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear
…..Abdur Rahman Chishti, who was a staunch believer in Ibn al Arabi’s monism, interpreted the Gita in the same vein as Sankara. For him, when the individual soul reached its acme of perfection, it ceased to exist, it is annihilated and only God remains. ‘Muhyial din is no more,’ cried Abdul Qadir Gilani, the great Sufi of Baghdad. ‘I am God!’

…..what is maya? ……..Ibn al Arabi is the proponent of the mystic inspiration of Wahdat al-Wujud – Oneness of Being …..Hadith Qudsi, a sacred utterance of the Prophet through whom God spoke, ‘I was a hidden treasure, and longed to be known, so I created the Cosmos.’
The differentiation that thus arises between God and the Cosmos is a result of the divine self-consciousness, the link between the Creator and the created, between the knower and the known; it is the very principle of creation …. This is perhaps the most comprehensible explanation of maya …..

The poet Iqbal ….
Kabhi ay haqeeqate muntazar, nazer aa libaase majaaz mein.
Keh hazaron sajdey tadap rahey hain meri jabeene niaaz mein
O long-awaited Reality, appear Thou sometime in a material garb for a thousand obeisances are writhing in my expectant brow.

The Gita and the Quran while asserting the transcendence of God also repeatedly emphasize the divine presence in all creation and ask the devotees to look for him in the things he has created. ….
God in the Gita and the Quran is both transcendant and immanent. God as he is in Himself is an impersonal Absolute – the Brahman of Gita and Allah of Quran. But God in relationship to humanity is a personal deity – the Isvara of the Gita and the Rahman and Rahim of the Quran.
…..Arjuna wants to know whethe the devotee should worship the Transcendant, the Absolute, or the personal God. The answer given by the Gita is that both forms of worship lead to the same result. But to concentrate and focus on the Absolute and the Unmanifest is more difficult.

….a verse of Hafez:
Hazar nuktae bareektar ze moo een jast
Na har ki sar be tarashad Qalandari danad
There are a thousand nuances in this, more subtle than a hair. Not everyone who shaves his head becomes a Sufi

Rumi ….
Cross and Christians, end to end, I examined
He was not on the Cross
I went to the Hindu temple, to the ancient pagoda.
In none of them was there any sign
To the uplands of Herat, I went
And to Kandahar, I looked.
He was not on the heights or in the lowlands.
I went to the Kaaba of Mecca
He was not there
I asked about him from Avicenna
He was beyond the range of the philosophers
I looked into my own heart
In that, his place, I saw Him
He was nowhere else!

… the Bhagavad Gita ….
datavyam iti yad danam diyate 'nupakarine
dese kale ca patre ca tad danam sattvikam smrtam
That gift which is made to a deserving person, who can make no return, given at a proper place and time with the belief that ‘this must be given’, is called sattvik or good……
The Quran carried this concept of a voluntary gift into an obligatory tax for the poor. It is called zakat. ….that charity is to be given for the sake of God, not to earn name, fame, prestige and power.

To reach that state of mind where one can realize the divine in the human, one has to first clear the heart of all impurities ….a state of sthitaprajna (equipoise) as the Gita says …….Elsewhere the Gita calls such a person yogayukta. Prophet Muhammad called such a person haleem, and in a famous saying, he exclaimed, ‘Kaad al-haleemu an yakoonu nabiyya!’ – a haleem approaches the state of a prophet!

….The great Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir ……..
Miliye us shaks se jo adam howe
Naaz ussko kamal par bahut kam howey
ho garme sukhan tho gird awey ek khalkh
Khamosh rahey tho eik aalam howey
Seek that man who is utterly human; who takes no pride in his achievements. A concourse surrounds him when he opens his lips; and when he falls silent, he is a world in himself.

Junayd Baghdadi is known as the greatest exponent of the ‘sober’ school of Sufism as opposed to the ‘ecstatic’ typified by Hallaj and Bayazid in Baghdad and Sarmad in India. Farid al-Din, his biographer, tells of an anecdote in the life of Junayd. A thief had been hanged in Baghdad. Junayd went and kissed his feet.
‘Why did you do that?’ he was asked.
‘A thousand compassions be upon him!’ he replied. ‘He proved himself to be a true man at his trade. He did his work so perfectly that he gave his life for it.’

Shabistari, in his poem ‘The Beloved Guest’…..
Cast away your existence entirely
for it is nothing but weeds and refuse
Go, clear out your heart’s chamber;
arrange it as the abiding place of the Beloved
When you go forth, He will come in
And to you with self discarded
He will unveil his beauty.

…..Krishna warns Arjuna ….not to reveal this secret of total surrender to God to the ignorant, the self-willed, the obdurate, the selfish and scoffers.
Many Sufis have lost their lives by revealing this secret to the common man. Hallaj abandoned all rituals and went about crying ‘anal haq’ (I am the Truth) and for that he was crucified …..
Bayazid and Junayd cried, ‘Subhaani, maa aazama shani.’ (Glory be to me, how great is my majesty). But they both communicated this to only a select few and escaped being lynched. Ibn al Arabi ….warns, ‘This kind of spiritual insight and knowledge must be hidden from the majority of men by reason of sublimity. For its depths are far-reaching and the dangers involved great.’ Inspite of this, he could not refrain from revealing this secret, albeit partially, in his Bezels of Wisdom and Meccan Illuminations. And for that, even though he is called the Shaikh al Akbar – the Great Shaikh – his books are ritually burnt annually in Egypt!

Since Judaism, Christianity and Islam all had an orthodox creed, any deviation from that creed invited the charge of heresy. Depending on the age and the political clime they lived in, some mystics got away despite revealing the secret. Among them were Ibn al Arabi and Rumi.  ….. Hinduism had no orthodox creed and therefore no heresy. Mira, Ramakrishna, Madhava and a myriad others faced no persecution. On the contrary they were acknowledged, some of them, as saints in their own lifetime.

….Mir Taqi Mir:
Le saans bhi aahista ke nazuk hai bahut kaam
Aaafaaq ki is kaargahe sheeshagari ka.
Draw even your breath very gently in this glasswork house.
For everything here is delicately poised and finely carved

Prophet Mohammed’s remark, ‘man arafa nafiahu, arafa rabbuhu’ (he who knows himself, knows God). The ancient Greeks said, ‘gnothi seauton’ (know thyself) and the Upanishads exhorted, ‘atmanam viddhi’ (know yourself)

Amir Khusrau’s master, Nizamuddin Aulia, the famous saint of Delhi, got up one morning to offer his dawn prayers. He turned to the west, towards the Kaaba, and made his prostrations and then turned to see men standing on the banks of the Yamuna facing east and offering their prayers, the Surya namaskar with fervor equal to his own. Involuntarily, a couplet sprang to his lips and he exclaimed:
Har qaum raast raahe
Deene wa qibla gaahe
Every people is on the right path, in their faith and in the direction of their prayers.

Mahmud Shabistari (1240-1350) …..
What are ‘I’ and ‘You’
Just lattices
In the niches of a lamp
Through the one light radiates
‘I’ and ‘You’ are the veil
Between heaven and earth
Lift this veil and you will see
How all sects and religions are one.
Lift this veil and you will ask
When ‘I’ and ‘You’ do not exist
What is Mosque?
What is Synagogue?
What is Fire Temple?

The Upanishads have said:
Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti
(Truth is only One, the Wise call it by many names)

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