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Sai Baba of Shirdi

Monday, 03 October 2016 14:23

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This article will explore Sai Baba’s links with the Chisti Order of Sufis and discuss his spiritual predecessors and their beliefs. It will be seen that many of the sayings of Sai Baba can be traced..
This article will explore Sai Baba’s links with the Chisti Order of Sufis and discuss his spiritual predecessors and their beliefs. It will be seen that many of the sayings of Sai Baba can be traced back to his Sufi Saint Gurus (Auliya’s) almost 800 years before him.
Sufism is the Mystical path of Islam. In Sufism the Guru plays a key role and the disciple merges with God through merging with his Guru. Prayer at the Holy Shrine of the Guru’s tomb is a key aspect of Sufism. Sufism encourages respect for all Sufi saints with a focus on your chosen Murshid or Guru.
Sufism spread on the sub-continent of India essentially under the Chisti order starting from 12th century saint Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (Gharib Nawaz) of Ajmer. Chist is a small town in Afghanistan. Muinuddin was preceded by 200 years of Sufism in Chist. Muinuddin is said to have moved to India on the instructions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a dream vision.
Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (Gharib Nawaz or Helper of the poor)
One of Muinuddin’s first acts was to visit the holy shrine of the 11th century Saint Al-Hujwiri (Data Ganj-Baksh or “the giver who bestows treasure”) in Lahore who belonged to the Junaidia school of Sufism which originated from Baghdad. Al-Hujwiri was the author of Kashf al-Mahjub1 (“The Revelation of the Veiled”), the oldest Persian treatise on Sufism. This school believed in sober mysticism and that “True understanding of Godshould be a silent understanding”.
Muinuddin was born in East Persia and his Guru was Khwaja Usman Harooni from Iran. His Guru’s teachings were conservative and many were for the ascetic:
1 He advised renunciation of the world, which he believed was the root of all evil.
2 Renunciation is no easy task until the love of Godreaches its highest pitch.
3 A man must spend his life in poverty, abstinence and hunger, he must have humility and submission because these are the most valuable assets in real worship and devotion, in order to know the way.
4 A great man is one who is endowed with virtues like contentment, sincerity, selfabnegation, self-sacrifice and above all, spirit of renunciation.
5 He said that the ego in a man was an enemy, as it did not allow him to think rationally, act wisely and live happily.
6 He emphasised that unless a man loves human beings, it is impossible for him to love God.
7 The one who feeds the hungry is dear to God. God fulfills a thousand wants and frees such a person from his sins.
The lover of God should be charitable like the river, generous like the sun and hospitable like the earth. He indeed is close to God, who is ever steeped in His submission, Who interprets every event as coming from God, And who is content with it and who takes it as a blessing. This is the main object of all prayers and worship.
While Khwaja Usman Harooni’s tomb lies in Mecca, there is also a symbol of his strength and source of his blessings at the Usmani Chilla at Ajmer.
Muinuddin preached a philosophy of love and tolerance which easily won him followers. His beliefs included:
1 Love towards all, malice towards none.
2 A sin committed does not harm an individual so much as looking down upon one's own fellow human beings
3 Of all the worship that pleases Almighty Allah, the most is the granting of relief to the humble and the oppressed.
4 Never turn your face from the right path of Sufism and Truth. Prove yourself to be a brave man in this Divine Mission.
5 It was good deed and not knowledge which was really needed in the final relationship with God.
Muinuddin also says that there are four cardinal virtues of the individual self:
1 Refraining from begging in the state of penury;
2 Showing the attitude of being well-fed when feeling hungry;
3 Maintaining a cheerfulness in the time of sorrow; and
4 Befriending the enemy.
The above is advise for a person who is living a normal householders life. Nonetheless, Sufi saints in India often begged for their food and this was one key way to control and kill their ego. Sufi principles also required that they should notaccept more than they needed; anything more should be distributed to others.
Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (Dehliwala)
Qutbuddin succeeded Muinuddin. He had no parallel in abandoning the world and suffering poverty and hunger. He kept himself engrossed in the remembrance of God (“Dhikr”). Whenever someone came to him he would come back to his senses after a while and was then able to talk with him. After a very brief exchange he would show his inability to continue any longer and slipped into the same state of absorption once again. He was habituated to eat little, sleep little and speak little. Death also came to him in an unusual manner. It is stated that once in an assembly of Sama [religious music] he happened to hear a Sufi verse with the meaning: "Those who are killed with the dagger of surrender and pleasure (spiritual intoxication or “Wajd”) get a new life from the Unseen." Kaki was so much absorbed in and inspired with this verse that from that day on he kept on reciting it in a state of unconsciousness and gave his life in the same state. He remained in this state of spiritual intoxication for 3 consecutive days and expired on the 4th day. His Mazaar Sharif [noble tomb] is located in Delhi.
Sufis regards music and sama to be religiously permissible although not indispensablefor the Sufi. Sufis believed that indulgence in sama achieves more than long enduring penitence. Sama is of two kinds - that sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments; and that sung without such instruments. Some Sufi’s life record shows that in their early life they listened to qawwali (the Urdu term for sama) with musical instruments, but switch over to qawwali without instruments as they advanced in age and spiritual experience. This may be explained by the fact that artificial “aid” such as musical instruments are apt to become redundant as spiritual elevation matures and stabilizes. Indeed, when the Saint attains the highest spiritual station of “Mushahida” (direct perceptionof the Supreme Being) and “fana-e-kamil” (complete annihilation in Allah), they no longer remain in need of external factors for their advancement. Some Saints are known to rely on such factors even after attaining the aforesaid station but they do so for the benefit of their disciples (Murid) and not because they themselves need those. It is said that the Saints prayers during such a mystic state have tremendous powers and miracles can happen. Wajd is expected to be remembered forever and impacts how a person lives. Note however, that while sama can confer sublime benefits onto a person who seeks spiritual ends through it, it can, conversely, further excite the sportive thoughts and feelings of one who looks for his own brand of pleasure from it.
KEY SUFI PRINCIPLES
1 Attain God through your Guru – Guru is God.
2 Devotion to your Guru – constant remembrance is the path.
3 You may use devotional music to help strengthen your devotion.
4 God lies within you - you must kill your animal spirit (“Nafs” or ego).
5 Knowledge is not as important as direct spiritual experience.
6 Control your anger, lust and materialistic greed - control your mind.
7 Devotion and faith are the corner-stones.
8 As you start evolving your suffering initially increases to cleanse you.
9 Good and Bad mean different things as you evolve – the same rules don’t apply.
10 An evolved man will experience the results of his actions much faster (he who rises higher falls harder).
11 Your powers are not your own, they are as a result of the Grace of your Guru.
12 Tremendous courage is needed to be a Sufi.
13 Ultimately, you must conquer lust if you want to achieve God.
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