Hema Malini enacting the role of Meera was in a state of reverie in the motion picture filmed by Gulzar and similarly Rajesh Vivek gyrating like a Yogi absolutely mesmerised was in a state of trance enacting the role of a Sufi in Shyam Benegal’s Junoon. These images are etched and engraved in our minds.
Aslam, my driver at Benguluru too experienced a similar feeling while participating in the advanced mediation course of the Art of Living. He confided, reliving a similar mystical occurrence, experience at Khwaja Salim Chisthi tomb at Ajmer.
The mystic or the seeker surrenders the self to a deity or a supreme power without any spiritual apprehension or shame, which is beyond any discernment.
Sufism was essentially a faith or an intellectual and emotional reserve where philosophers, authors, poets and mystics sought sanctuary which was free from bigotry. The main branches of the Sufi tree were Chisthi, Suhrawardi, Qadiri,Nqshbandi,, Shattari and Raushaniyah.
“There are two aspects of individual harmony between body and soul, and the harmony between individuals. All the tragedy in the world, in the individual and in the multitude, comes from lack of harmony. And harmony is best given by producing harmony in one’s own life” says Hazrat Inayat Khan .
The strands of history underwent change with the advent of Islam in India. The political history was marked with violence, bloodshed, conquests and proselytization.
Feathers were ruffled at the subterranean level following the conquest by Islam. of India.The Bhakti and Sufi movement provided the necessary road bridging and harmony among the denizens. Sufism and Bhakti movement brought the potentate and the populace almost on one platform.
Akbar and his great grandson, Darah Shukoh played a decisive role in spreading Sufism in India. While Akbar during his reign played the role of an eclectic and a peace maker, Dara Shukoh discovered pantheism ( tauhid) in Vedanta . As many as 50 works of Upanishads were translated into the Persian language.
Poet Amir Khusrau , Nizam –ud-din Auliya among others contributed to the growth of Sufism . The tradition of Pir, Murid, and Shaikh mirrored the Guru Shishya Parampara of Hinduism. This reveals the plurality of the prevalent culture.
The Ulema considered Sufis as heretics and iconoclastic. However that did not deter the spirit of inquiry by the Sufis and some among them gave credence to the fact that as the millennium was approaching, the redeemer (Mahdi) would restore the pristine Islamic faith.
Hinduism meanwhile was influenced by conversions to Islam, and there was resentment against the prevalent orthodoxy of Brahmanism, further some seekers of the Bhakti movement were inspired by the concept of one God, one text and a single papal authority as in Islam In fact this is also true of Christianity aswell.
To challenge the rigidity constraining Hinduism, saints like Madhvacharya( proponent of Dvaita – dualism) and Ramunajacharya( advocate of Visishitadvaita ) emerged. They provided a much needed gateway to the unlettered and also to the Mleccha( untouchable).On account of an earthquake at Udipi, the principle deity( Krishna) is placed towards Paschmabhimukha ( western side) and so are the other idols. And this was the only aperture, from which Kanakadasa (belonging to a humble caste) could view the Lord. This has been recorded by Madhavacharya in his treatise Tantrasara Sangraha.
Meanwhile Important saints like MeeraBai, Vallabhacharya, Kabir, TulasiDas, Namdev, Chaitanya Mhaprabhu , Visveswara, Vaishanava Alvars and Shaivite Nayanars emerged and spread the gospel of truth particularly among the lower classes of the society. Reconciling the faith of all denizens became their modus vivendi.
Significantly idol worship as also the nirguna movement flourished in tandem and it was accessible to all castes. This was the biggest benefaction of the Bhakti movement.
The plurality in the Indian thought process can be further appreciated from the fact that the couplets of Raidas (a cobbler by profession and belonging to the Nirguna School) find place in Guru Granth Saheb.
The Bhakti movement lead to the renaissance of Hinduism , which lead to the emancipation of people , contribution to art, culture, literature, music ,poetry, translation of Bhagvad Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata in vernacular languages. This lead to the magnification of regional languages.
But there were some inherent deficiencies. The movement impacted only the flotsam and jetsam of the society. The opinion makers remained outside the coverage area. The much desired emancipation of women could not take place. The appalling practice of Sati and Jauhar continued in the country. The success of any movement depends on the economic development of the people. Economic prosperity was ignored by the movement. And most importantly the torch bearers did not carry forward the movement with the same intellectual vigour as their masters (saints/ philosophers).
Despite all the contradictions, the Bhakti and Sufi movements provided a dynamic voice to Hindu- Muslim unity and an opening for the deprived classes. Thus MeeraBai was not in a state of flux, she was in Junoon with her Krishna.
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