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Rupa Abdi

As I navigated my way through the maze of lanes in Nizammudin West in Delhi,

that led to the durgah of Amir Khusro, I was appalled by the filth, and crass
commercialization that seem to ooze from every corner of those lanes. ‘Could these lanes
really lead me to the shrines of the greatest Sufis of India …?’, I wondered to myself,
struck by the irony of the fact that the final resting place of such divine a soul was now
surrounded by the basest of human passions.
‘Who were these beings called ‘Sufis’ …?’. They were of flesh but without its
weaknesses, ever lost in the love of the Divine. Yearning, seeking and then rejoicing in
the union with their Beloved. One cannot define Sufism, or for that matter mysticism, it
would be like trying to hold water in a clenched fist. A true Sufi is in love with Love.
Love that is all encompassing and infinite, for isn’t love another name for God? The great
Sufi poet Rumi describes this Love as “drinking without quenching”. The essence of
Sufism is to be in love with God with such intense passion that it leads to the dissolution
of the Self (fana) and the lover becomes one with the Beloved.
It is in essence similar to the Bhakti Yoga of Hinduism. Complete love leads to
complete surrender to the will of God. With the ego no longer an obstacle ‘illusion’ is
replaced by ‘awareness’ of the divine nature of all things. However one cannot be
initiated into Sufism by reading about it or practicing the various rituals associated with it
or by contemplation. It is a spontaneous process like falling in love. It just happens to you
by divine grace or not at all.
Historians describe Sufism as the mystical core of Islam, tracing its roots to
Prophet Mohammad who is believed to have received two-fold revelations – the one
embodied in the holy Koran and the other in his heart. The former was meant for all and
the latter was to be imparted to a selected few through a line of succession. However
according to Sufis, the essential truths of Sufism exists in all religions. Sufism is like
river which has been flowing through many lands, imbibing the culture and religion of
the region it flows through.
As I reached the durgah, waving aside the various hawkers selling all kinds of
‘religious’ trinkets, I was in for a disappointment. The durgah itself seemed to have been
robbed of its sublime aura by the decades of decadence that had befallen the people in
charge of it upkeep. The so called ‘custodians’ of the durgah had become scavengers of
religious faith. I returned home to my collection of Khusro’s soul stirring compositions,
they were now his only incorruptible legacy.