Thursday, February 27, 2014

116. Data Gunj Bakhash and Islamic Mysticism

There is very little in literature about the methods employed by Sheikhs/sufis (name of mystics in Islam) in pursuit of God-realization. Shahab has mentioned some details of his training with ‘ninety’ in his book, but not of the actual methods. A person who wants to embark on this journey needs to know, what should be the posture? Where the gaze should be pointing at? Should the eyes be open or closed? Should the room be in complete darkness or lighted? Where should the aspirant focus his thoughts on? How to control the wandering thoughts? What should one be saying? Should one recite some Quranic verses, and if so, what verses? Should one be busy in supplications to God? How long should the marakba (meditation) be everyday, and at what time? Should one forget about marakba and just say optional prayers (nuffels) whole day? Should one quit the world and go in isolation? Should one abstain from sex with one’s wife? Does one need a teacher ( murshed). Should one be completely quiet or make audible sounds, such as chants? Should one synchronize one’s repetitions with breathing? Should one take the path of service to other human beings, instead of marakba?
       I have not followed this path so cannot add anything
      The only place where some details are given is in the book Kushaful-mahjoob, by Data Sahib, in his chapter, “training of the mureed (disciple)”. The book is difficult to understand because of the unfamiliar language and terms (it was written in 11th century). I will try.
      He writes:
 When a seeker quits the world and comes to an accomplished mystic for training the trainer adopts the following 3 years, stepwise method, to make the disciple obedient (respectful) and habituated. If he stays steadfast and strong during this period, well and good, otherwise he is told to leave because he is deemed not suitable for this path. First year is spent on service to humanity; second year is devoted to serve God in the form of austerities and asceticism, and the third year in protecting and strengthening the heart.
Service of humanity means that he should consider himself servant of everybody and everybody his superior. In other words, without exception, he should consider everybody better than himself. It is incumbent upon him, that he should not consider himself a superior person because he is serving and helping others; that is the way of kings and rich.
Similarly, service to God can only be correct, if the person forgets the rewards of this world and the next world. He should be oblivious to all other concerns, and continue his worship and prayers, single-mindedly. Whenever someone worships God for something else, then he is worshipping himself and not God.
One can only protect his heart if one strengthens the heart by making himself above joys and sorrows, so that at the time of worship, he can devote himself wholeheartedly to God.        
When the disciples develops these three qualities, he is allowed to wear the gudri (robe)
When the teacher is ready to award his disciple the gudri, he should make sure that the disciple has passed both the ups and downs of this path, with perseverance and steadfastness. Has he enjoyed the joys of bliss during marakba, and the bitter pangs of despair during aridity? Furthermore, the teacher should ascertain the level to which the disciple is likely to rise. Would he be one of those who regress, or those who rise to mediocrity, or will he become one of the accomplished? If he is likely to regress, then he should not make him his disciple right from the start. If he is likely to be caught in the middle, then he should make efforts to advance him by further training. If he is not ready after three years, the guide may have to delay the permission to wear gudri, till he becomes ready to wear it after further training.
               Wearing a gudri is somewhat similar to wearing a coffin. Just as a corpse wearing coffin has given up all the joys of life, similarly a person wearing a gudri, vows to spend all his life in performance of duties demanded by God. He is there only to serve God. He has to abstain from all worldly desires”.
                 Prophet Muhammadpbuh said; a sheikh (mystic) is to his people, what a prophet is to his ummat (Diaspora, followers)
              All that I wrote above are Data Gung Bakhash’s own words. I just want to stress the importance to certain injunctions of tareekat, which he has mentioned, and seem to be opposite to the view of shariat, such as:
               1. Quitting the world
               2. Abstaining from worldly desires, such as sexual intercourse, acquiring wealth or power, devotion to one’s family, etc. Mystics are special persons, travelling on a path, which is like no other path. They have different standards. Perhaps they understand, why God, in Quran said," Your possessions and your children are but a trial (fitna) for you"

Maybe all these strict conditions are only during the training period. Almost all mystics return to the world, at some time. They devote that time in teaching others and helping the sick and the poor.
Data Gunj Bakhash himself was in a married state for one year. He writes “I became infatuated with a beautiful woman, and was a completely captive of this state for a year. I was near to loosing even my religion but then God had mercy on me, and emancipated me”  

I have discussed the mysticism, in depth, and its difference from religion, in my blog 93-95

There are three standard paths of mysticism (blog 26), the path of love, the path of wisdom, and the path of action. In this mote’s opinion, Islamic mysticism should be considered, the path of obedience (to Allah).

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