Biography, Autobiography, Journal and Anecdotes
Part I - Biography
Youth - The Sufi Calling
Inayat used to wake for night-vigils at midnight. Sleep during youth was so overwhelming that it would come upon him as a sympathetic friend, telling him: "Sleep on, as everybody just now is sleeping; you are young, you have a long time before you to worship, it is cruel indeed to be so hard on yourself. Even God Himself will not be inclined to listen to you at this time of the night." – And his ascetic soul, with the power of determination, would answer: "Away devil, do not whisper in my ears, I will rise and attend to the service of God." – So he would pass most of the night in night-vigils. And at dawn it was too beautiful to go to sleep, after his exaltation that he would receive with the rising of the sun. He used to spend the early morning in singing divine lyrics and so built the foundation for the whole day of spiritual joy.
In Hyderabad, when in solitude, Inayat devoted most of his time to contemplation. He began to feel that the room in which he sat was illuminated and wherever he moved he found a radiant light around him. He first thought it came from somewhere outside, until he was told by a wise friend, that it all came from within, that the light was in every soul and yet it remained buried; but he who rises up from his grave experiences his resurrection and this was the sign and it was this sign which was the second birth.
Following upon this came a voice which Inayat often heard while asleep: "Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar! God is great! God is great!" which awoke him from his sleep. Wondering what it was and what it could mean, Inayat spoke of it to his wise friend, who replied: "When He calls His servants, He calls them aloud and those hear, the ears of whose heart are open. There is no soul to whom the voice within does not speak, but the pity is that not every soul hears. I am sure that you are one whom a call from within could reach. Further than this I cannot say, for trying to explain more would be like plunging into deep waters; one would lose one's foothold. It is beyond me, I can only advise that the best thing would be to waken when the call comes, and give attention to what follows, as it is the duty of obedient servants to answer the call of the master." – From that day onward Inayat rose from his bed, every time he heard the call, and devoted himself to contemplation. He sat in silence for hours during the night and one day saw with closed eyes a figure rising before him and beheld a most beautiful face. Next day Inayat spoke of his inner experience to his friend, who told him: "Now you have reached a point where you should look for a Murshid."
Inayat had never had that idea, for he had always felt the guidance from within every day wakening in his own spirit, which was sometimes most amazing to those around him. And at the same time he was quite willing to give himself into guidance of someone whom he considered his superior. To obey someone, to look up to someone, was Inayat's natural tendency. He begged his friend to be his guide, but the friend said: "Pray, do not ask me such a thing. I would hold it a privilege to do you service, but if you wish to follow someone as your guide, I will gladly take you to one."
So one day Inayat went with his friend to the house of Maulawi Umar, who was the cynosure at that moment in the spiritual world of Hyderabad. He welcomed Inayat and his friend cordially, but on being asked if he would undertake to guide Inayat, he said: "No, I beg your pardon, I cannot imagine taking this young man as my mureed. I regret it very much, but I feel there is someone, whom I do not know, who may be the one for him." So the search for the guide continued, the guide who was so sorely needed at that period of Inayat's life.
A faqir lived in a village at some distance from Secunderabad and he avoided all those who went to him as adherents so as to bring him publicity. And the manner he adopted to accomplish his object was very amusing; for everyone who went to him, rich or poor, whatever their rank, he insulted to their face. In this way he turned many away from coming to him, but some came in spite of all insults. A friend of Inayat's took Inayat with him when he went, looking forward with curiosity to seeing how he would be treated by the faqir. He did not tell Inayat beforehand about his manner, thinking perhaps he would refuse to go. But when they arrived there, to his very great surprise the faqir acted in a manner quite contrary to his usual custom. He rose from his seat to welcome Inayat and offered him the best place, sitting before him in silence, seeking a silent contact with him. But he treated the man who had taken Inayat there in his usual manner, or with even more insults and the man was much disappointed to find himself in the same position in which he had hoped to see Inayat placed.
In Secunderabad, Inayat was staying in a little bungalow and always had friends about him, who were very fond of him and of his music. One day he sent for a faqir who used to walk through the city with a bag full of money, all of which he would spend for the children and at night none was left. And in the morning he would come again with a bag full of money. The police watched him constantly to see from where he got that money, but they could not find any key to the mystery. In order to shield himself from the glance of many wondering souls, he used to hold a bottle of liquor and a glass in his hand almost all the time. Inayat sent for him, promising to sing before him. It was that which attracted him and he came. Inayat gave him the best seat in the room and he began to speak. He told everyone in the room things about their lives and every word he said was true. It was more than surprising to everyone present. When he had talked to them all he greeted Inayat with folded hands and said: "Mahatma, I ask for thy blessing," and then went his way. This surprised all present still more and Inayat had a hard time clearing away the seriousness which had spread through the atmosphere.
One day they chanced to visit a great sage of Hyderabad, who was a most learned man, Maulana Khair-ul-Mubin. To hear this man preach the Nizam would go and stand with all reverence in any corner where he could find a place. With all his greatness it was the extreme humility of the Maulana which appealed to Inayat very much. When he was told by the friend that Inayat was seeking for guidance in the spiritual path, he said: "I? I do not deserve that privilege. I am not worthy." – He saw in Inayat's eyes what the latter did not express in words, a feeling of reverence, answering which he said: "I am your servant, your slave."
By a most wonderful coincidence he received a telepathic message, whereupon he called a boy to open the door and prepare a seat and turning to his visitors he said: "Hazrat (Master) is coming."
In a moment there appeared, entering in at the door, a personality which seemed as of one who had dropped from heaven and was now gently stepping on the earth, that was not his place. Yet Inayat felt that the face was not unknown to him. On further thought it flashed into his mind that it was the same face which he used to see in his meditation. After the Master had seated himself in the seat prepared for him, he looked at Inayat and it seemed as if he could not take his eyes away from him.
Their glance meeting awakened in an instant, so to speak, an affinity of thousands of years. "Who is this young man? He attracts my soul very intensely," said the Master. Maulana said: "Your Holiness, this young man is a musical genius and is desirous of submitting himself to your most inspiring guidance." – The Master instantly granted the request and initiated Inayat then and there. Inayat wrote a song to his Murshid, the meaning of which was:
"Thou hast my hand, my revered initiator,
He sang it to his Murshid, who was very deeply impressed by it. Thereupon he placed his hands upon Inayat's head and blessed him, saying: "Be thou blessed by the Divine Light and illuminate the beloved ones of Allah."
Inayat went as often as he could to see his Murshid, who lived at a distance of about seven miles and he regarded his Murshid as one would regard his king. The link between Inayat and his Murshid increased every moment of the day. The Murshid saw in him his life's purpose, to which even Inayat himself was not yet awakened. Neither did his Murshid try to awaken it, except that he prepared him and led him along the road of his destiny in his most gracious way of mercy and compassion. The Murshid was very fond of Inayat, not only for his talent in music, which he much admired, being a great lover of music, but also for the music expressed in his personality, which endeared Inayat to the Murshid more and more every moment.
Inayat used to go and sit in the presence of the Murshid with open heart, as an empty cup, into which might be poured the illuminating words, the intoxicating glance and the uplifting atmosphere with which the whole surroundings of his Murshid were charged.
After his initiation by the hand of his Murshid, Inayat went to the Murshid's house for six months during which not one word was spoken to him by his Murshid on metaphysics. At last Murshid told him about tanzih and tashbih (entity and identity), also about wujud and shuhud (manifestation and consciousness) and explained to him the different aspects of these ideas which interested Inayat immensely, for he had a natural inclination towards metaphysics. This was greatly appreciated by his Murshid, who spoke of him to others with pride.
In connection with this, an incident of an amusing nature occurred as for the first time in his life Inayat heard his Murshid's words on metaphysics. He became so keenly interested and filled with enthusiasm about what was being said that he took a note-book from his pocket, intending to take notes of it. But as soon as the Murshid saw the pencil and notebook in his hand, he instantly began to speak of an altogether different subject. Inayat realized by this that his Murshid meant that his words must be engraved on the soul, they were not to be written with a pencil on the pages of a note-book.
He would return home silent and remain speechless for hours, pondering over the words which had fallen upon his ears. His friends began to wonder what could have happened to him in such a short time, that his whole life should be so changed. He had now become quite a different person in his speech, actions, ways, expression, in his attitude and in his atmosphere. In all these, he showed a marked and definite change. It seemed to them as if, while a traveler walking at a certain rate of speed should have journeyed a mile, Inayat had suddenly made such an advance as to cover a hundred miles in the same space of time.
Inayat's singing changed, his voice and the effect that was produced by it showed quite a different charm. The Nizam and his surroundings began to marvel at it, yet not knowing what was the reason. The more they tried to hold him fast, the more he wished to be let loose.
Freedom seeking, which was his innate desire, then became awakened and expressed itself in a form of independence which enhanced his dignity while at the Court of Hyderabad. That silent vairagya, which was his very nature, now and then urged him to turn his back upon all that was interesting in worldly life and showed itself in many ways.
The prosperity at the Court of the Nizam did not for a single moment delude Inayat and he had now found something in life which was much greater in comparison with all the stately grandeurs which surrounded him and that was the presence of his Murshid, Sayyed Muhammad Abu Hashim Madani. He had now two sovereigns before him, one the sovereign of the earth, the other the heavenly blessed Master of life, here and in the hereafter. Therefore his everyday life lessened the importance of earthly grandeur and raised in his eyes the value of spiritual greatness.
Inayat made two visits to Baroda during his stay in Hyderabad to see his father and family there. His father, who always had a great influence on him and who was a very great knower of Inayat's nature, began to feel that something which was told to him by different people at different times was now on the point of springing. He saw that the great energy and spirit of activity was now stilled and calmed down in Inayat's nature and all Inayat said and did moved him so much that once his feelings overcame him and he exclaimed: "I wish I were young just now to sit by you and receive reverently all you give." Inayat said: "Father, you must not say that, you make me abashed."
Once an orthodox friend of Inayat was visiting his Murshid and told him how very unorthodox Inayat was. He said to the Murshid that he should teach him the ways of the faithful and also their customs and manner of life, for he seemed to know nothing of these things. He said: "The clothes he wears are not such as we wear and he scarcely goes to the Mosque. Among his friends are people of other religions, Hindus, Parsis and Christians and Jews, and with them he feels at home. I should have thought that by coming in contact with your Holiness he would have altered, but he seems to be just the same." Inayat's Murshid said to him: "While you see the outward person of Inayat, I see his inner being, I cannot very well tell you what Inayat is and what he is to me, except that he is my beloved mureed and I am proud of him." This answer made the man silent.
Inayat always believed that the greatest and best expression of love and devotion was respect and to him to give respect was not only to fulfill a duty, but it was an impulse of his soul that, expressed in the form of respect, gave him great joy and satisfaction, and he saw in his Murshid the most deserving among all living beings on this earth. To him, therefore, the right place for the expression of such respect was the presence of his Murshid. One day the Murshid sent him word by a messenger, an old servant of his house, who, when he arrived at Inayat's house, was kept waiting by the gate-keeper, who, considering him of little importance, did not show him to the house. Inayat was seen at a distance coming, but his appearance so impressed the man that he wondered if Inayat would speak to him civilly, even if he would deign to speak at all. But when Inayat drew near he asked the man whence he had come and received the reply: "From Madani Sahib " (his Murshid). No sooner did Inayat hear the name of his Murshid, than he bowed low and kissed the hands of that Arab, and seemed so moved by the message that no homage appeared to him adequate to express his feelings. The man was so much touched by this unexpected reception, that his feelings overcame him and the occasion was unforgettable to him.
One day Inayat heard that his Murshid was coming to visit him and this brought him unspeakable joy. He thought out and planned all sorts of ways of giving his Murshid an unparalleled reception. But nothing seemed good enough to satisfy the longing he felt to honor his Murshid. At last an idea occurred to him which pleased him greatly. He thought of standing at a considerable distance from his home awaiting his Murshid's carriage and then keeping step with the horses and running by its side. On the appointed day, however, this was not carried out, as his Murshid had chosen to come by a different road from what Inayat had expected.
Inayat always remembered the words his Murshid said: "There are many ties which make people friends in this world, but there is one tie which is the closest of all and that is the relation between Murshid and mureed, which is a friendship that never ends, for it is in the path of God and Truth and is eternal."
The Murshid was fond of music to an unusual degree and greatly enjoyed Inayat's proficiency in music. As his heart was that of the true Chishti, which constantly longs to hear music, his feelings were always deeply stirred whenever he heard Inayat sing.
For this reason many times he denied himself the pleasure, for he took every means to avoid exposing his emotion before others. But with all the great longing he had to hear some music from Inayat, he would never ask him to sing to him, for even that he deemed to be too much of the nature of a command or an intrusion upon Inayat's free will, although he knew that nothing would give Inayat greater pleasure than to carry out his Murshid's orders and especially to bring him some joy by his music. When he felt a very great longing to hear music, on seeing Inayat he would only say: "Please tell me about that raga, what are the notes in it?" Then Inayat would know that his Murshid desired to hear music and he would begin to sing in illustration of his explanation. Murshid would be filled with spiritual joy, which is called hal (ecstasy).
The Murshid was an ascetic within, but a man of the world without. He had a large family, sons and daughters, and a home where love and culture reigned and which was always hospitably thrown open to all comers. He used to dress simply, in white muslin garments and sometimes wore a pale yellow turban, which would blend nicely with his white beard. He had a most beautiful, venerable appearance with commanding, lustrous eyes and a spiritual expression radiating wherever he went a heavenly atmosphere.
He used to wear shoes embroidered with gold. One day, when Inayat's eyes strayed to these shoes, a thought arose in his mind: why Murshid with all his simplicity should wear such costly shoes? At once his conscience pricked him, he felt so guilty that such a thought of one who was above question should have entered his mind, that instantly his face turned pale. But the Murshid knew all about it and only said with a smile: "The wealth of this earth is only worth being at my feet."
At whatever distance Inayat might be, he would feel his Murshid's call and would immediately respond to it.
Most frequently it happened that on arriving at the Murshid's house, someone among the servants or the members of the family would say: "today Murshid wanted you, he spoke about you, he was expecting to see you." On coming into the presence of the Murshid he found that he was already expected there and this was the greatest proof to both that this was the living link established between them. All telephones, telegraphs and the invention of wireless telegraphy seemed superfluous with this realization. Another most wonderful thing that was vouchsafed to Inayat was that all he had thought during the week, or as he journeyed to see his Murshid, or whilst sitting in his presence, came out in some way or other in the course of conversation on the part of Murshid and all problems were solved without Inayat having to ask about anything. Inayat found that words were not necessary, the presence of the Murshid was itself light which illuminated the minds of those in his presence. All that seemed difficult and obscure became simple and most clear. It seemed as if all were known to him, yet veiled from his eyes and that all became unveiled in the presence of his Murshid.
One day, Inayat was both amused and embarrassed, when his Murshid told him that he might leave. Inayat had been thinking of taking leave earlier than usual in order to call on some friends and yet he was most reluctant to tear himself away. But the Murshid had read his thought and at once granted the unspoken request.
His Murshid used to bless him at the time of departing, saying: "May God strengthen your faith." At that moment he did not realize the full value of it. The realization of this came to him afterwards, namely that once faith is developed in man, all he wishes is granted.
One day, when the Murshid was nearing the end of his earthly life, he became rather unwell. It was a heavy burden of sorrow for Inayat to bear, with all his tenderness and sympathy and devotion he had for his Murshid.
When in his presence a thought came to Inayat: "Why even to such exalted beings illness should come?" The moment the thought came, Inayat held his tongue between his teeth thinking it sacrilege to hold such a thought, regarding his Murshid whom he revered most in the world. Murshid saw from his eyes and expression the trend of his question and immediately answered: "Bandagi bi-charagi, " which means: "Life on earth is poor, subject to nature's laws." It was so touching and so true. Then he quoted a Hindustani verse: "Aish to hamne kiya tha ab musibat pai kaun," meaning: "If man shall experience only pleasure, who is left to experience the pain?"
This last illness showed in every stage of its development that the Murshid was nearing the end of his life on this earth. This gnawed into the very heart of Inayat and yet it was a marvel to him to see someone with a human body able to bear all pain with such fortitude and patience. There was not one moment when Murshid was unconscious of his spiritual realization. Everything he said and did, every move he made, even the atmosphere there, all showed that although God is All-pervading, yet there He made His special abode. One could hear from every corner of the house the name of God and feel in the presence of Murshid the presence of God.
The day of which he had told his wife six months before, when Murshid was to depart, arrived. He, on that day, asked all who were near to come to him and said to them a word of consolation and advice. He next asked for the servants in the house, to bid them farewell and asked all those around him if ever he had spoken a word, or committed a deed that was hurtful and asked forgiveness of them. Then he prayed for all, gave them blessing and begged to be left alone in the room, where he continued his Zikr and through the same Zikr he passed from this life of limitation to the sphere of freedom.
To Inayat the passing of his Murshid left an aching void, which nothing on this earth could ever fill. Receiving visits from friends became irksome and all things in life distasteful. The Court of the Nizam with all its grandeur no longer had any attraction for Inayat. The association with Maharaja Kishan Pershad and his poetical surroundings no longer drew him. The fertile soil of Hyderabad was to him now a barren desert. The old craving, which from childhood had possessed him, that desire for solitude and the renunciation of all worldly life revived. Therefore, without saying one word to anyone at the Court, he went away.
Now, instead of going home to Baroda, which had no more any call for him, he started on a pilgrimage to the holy men of India. First he went to the tomb of Bandanawaz at Gulbarga and from there a three days' journey in a bullock cart to the temple of Manek Prabhu, the great Guru of the Brahmans, whither many went to worship.
When traveling in a bullock cart from Gulbarga to Manekpur, Inayat had a most wonderful experience. In that region none would travel during the day, owing to the strong sun. All travelers therefore, journeyed by night, in small caravans. At this time Inayat traveled with the smallest caravan, consisting of only three bullock carts, the last of which conveyed him. The people in the caravan said there was great danger from robbers on the path, who would not hesitate to deprive one of every scrap of clothing, besides all else they could lay hands on. He was not in the least perturbed by this warning, but kept awake, lest he might encounter the danger unawares. As the night passed and while darkness still prevailed, a misty figure arose, which became more and more concrete to his view.
The figure walked by the side of the cart, holding a staff in his hand as he went. It seemed as if someone had taken charge of the cart and was walking along with it, to guard and guide it. Inayat's heart almost burst within him when he saw this misty figure develop into the form of his Murshid. His gratitude was boundless and this vision brought him the fullness of trust he had in the idea, which he had always believed, that Murshid was always with his sincere devotee and at any time of difficulty even more. This gave the heart of Inayat peace. Drowsiness now to some extent overcame him and he fell into a light slumber. A loud shouting suddenly aroused him and he became aware of a great horror spread throughout the caravan. "What is the matter?" he asked of the driver of the cart. "Robbers have come and robbed those two wagons in front, but they have left our wagon unmolested," he was told. Here was the proof and the result of the vision Inayat had just seen; for there was every reason that the first and last carts should be attacked and that the middle cart should escape, if any did, since it was protected by the other two. Instead of that it was Inayat's cart that was left untouched.
The people, whose duty it was to receive the guests, owing to their caste distinction gave Inayat a room near the stable, a place swarming with insects and above which was a place of roshan chauki (band of musicians), who played at intervals of three hours, both day and night, their flutes making the most screeching sounds, accompanied by the noise of drums. Inayat waited with patience the pleasure of seeing the Guru and did not in the least mind where he was put. On the contrary, he was happy to have been so cast away, for he was spared the notice of others and joyfully accepted the noise of the band, as an alarm to rouse him from sleep for his night-vigils. One day, after a morning's bath in the river, Inayat was returning to his lodging, when he chanced to see the son of the Guru looking out from his verandah. His eyes fell on Inayat and no sooner did their glance meet, than the young man felt instinctively drawn to him and sent for him. Inayat went to see him, the one who was so adored by the followers of Manek Prabhu. As he saw Inayat, he rose from his seat, offered it to him and apologized for having intruded upon his time, but said that he had felt drawn to him and desired much to know him. "What has brought you here?" said he and Inayat replied: "I have heard that the home of Manek Prabhu is not only a religious temple, but a center of music also and as I have taken this tour to pay homage to the holy men living on the soil of India, I first chose to visit this place." "But I am very surprised that you have chosen our place, instead of choosing the place of some Muslim Saint," remarked the astonished youth. To this Inayat replied: "Muslim or Hindu are only outward distinctions, the Truth is one, God is one, life is one. To me there is no such thing as two. Two is only one plus one."
This reply struck a chord in the heart of the Guru's son, which vibrated through his whole being. He asked Inayat to speak further of his belief, but Inayat replied that he had no such belief that could be distinguished as his own belief; he believed in all that was true and saw everywhere the immanence of Truth. The Guru's son was greatly impressed by all Inayat had to say and asked if he might know his name. On Inayat's telling him his name, the young man said: "The other day I read in the newspaper of your having been highly rewarded by the Nizam." "Yes," replied Inayat simply. "Who would have thought of your coming here to our remote temple?" exclaimed the astonished youth. Inayat replied: "For me the temple has much more attraction than a palace." The Guru's son could not forgive those in charge for having relegated Inayat to the background; his face paled and he became greatly abashed. He said: "Will you please wait a while, I will go and speak to my father, the Guru." With sadness in his tone Inayat replied: "Now you have taken from me my shield; I was most happy at the way I was received. My blessing would have been ten times greater if no one had known who I was, or from whence I had come. If I had only seen your revered father and asked in silence for his blessing."
The youth was so touched by all that he heard from Inayat, that he could not wait one moment longer without telling his father of his extraordinary visitor. On hearing from his son, the Guru became most interested and was filled with curiosity to see Inayat. At last they met and he at once asked Inayat the purpose of his coming. Inayat said: "When I had the presence of my Murshid on this physical plane, I was most happy with my privilege; since he has passed from this world I have taken this tour to see his image in various forms and especially to recognize his countenance in the faces of the holy ones". The Guru then told Inayat that he had a great respect for the Sufis and was most interested in Sufism and the proof of this interest was that he had kept the flagstaff of Khwaja Abdul Qadir Jilani, the great Saint. "But," he said: "I should like to know something more of the Sufis and Sufism." Inayat said: "Call it Sufism or Vedantism, it is the one and only Truth, perhaps given in different forms, but as it all comes from one source, it cannot be different, it is all the same."
The Guru was extremely struck with this idea and by the sincerity with which Inayat had expressed his broad outlook. He went on to say: "There seems to be one small difference and that is, there is so much spoken about reincarnation in our faith, but no Sufi seems to have expounded that idea: one would have thought they had never grasped the idea and therefore that accounted for its absence from Sufi writings and yet I cannot understand how such great and perfect beings as are among Sufis, known and recognized by the spiritual world, could not understand this idea which is known by us all, young and old alike. Will you please tell me if there exists among Sufis any belief on the subject?" – "There is," answered Inayat, "it is known to Sufis as Tanasukh, meaning reincarnation. But the principal thing for a Sufi is to deny his limited personality and to affirm the sole existence of God, that the false ego, which is subject to births and deaths, may fade away and the true ego, which is the divine hidden in man, may rise and discover itself. In this lies the fulfillment of the main object of the creation. The Sufi thinks that what is past and unknown to him is of little use for him; what is coming and not known is an unnecessary worry for the present time. He thinks that all that is important is 'just now' and if this 'just now' is made to be as he wishes it to be, he desires nothing better."
"Among the Hindus," continued Inayat, "the belief of reincarnation is prevalent, and they make the most of it. Yet the greatest principle of the Vedanta, from which all different beliefs of Hindus are derived, is 'Advaita' that means 'no duality', in other words 'unity'. May I, therefore ask if this principal teaching of the Vedanta is better promulgated by belief in the doctrine of reincarnation, or by leaving it alone ?" – The Guru was speechless and saw the truth in Inayat's argument. Proceeding further in his conversation with the Guru, Inayat said: "Mukti (liberation) is the ideal of life; it is the rising above the various births and deaths, rather than being involved in the eternal wheel of births and deaths, which is continually running by the ever changing battery of karma (action)." The Guru was deeply impressed by all that fell from Inayat's lips and showed his appreciation by bestowing on him an apricot-hued shawl, a sign of great distinction, and then he blessed Inayat. In apt terms Inayat expressed his deep gratitude to the Guru for his kind and benign reception.
When returning in the wagon, Inayat had another very wonderful experience. It so happened that, having kept watch during the greater part of the night, drowsiness overcame him. He began to nod and during that little sleep he had a dream. He thought a robber came and thrust his hand into the cart, but before the robber could take anything, he rushed at him and the man fled empty-handed. While actually dreaming this, a robber was at that moment searching the wagon to see what was worth taking. Instantly the driver shouted and Inayat awoke and rushed at the man, who fled immediately. Inayat pursued him till he was lost to view. His fleeing was profitless, for Inayat had no intention of punishing him, he only wanted him to understand.
On arriving at the tomb of Bandanawaz, at Gulbarga, the weariness of the night's journey, with the attendant excitement on the way, had given Inayat fever; and it came at that time when the plague was prevalent in India and preventive measures were being taken to suppress it. Some doctors, through fear that the plague might spread, deliberately put an end to the lives of many people who showed only the slightest sign of the plague. A medical inspection awaited Inayat, but an hour before the inspection he paid a visit to the tomb of Bandanawaz, rubbing the dust at the gate of the tomb on his forehead. His faith was so great that the dust, like the white powder of the alchemists, healed him instantly. When he came out from the tomb, he was as fresh, healthy and energetic as ever before. To the ordinary mind this incident was merely imagination, but to the faith of Inayat it was a miracle.
He broke his journey at Baroda, where all his family was impressed by the great change that had come to his personality. For he had risen, so to speak, not above the desire of acquiring wealth, for that had never been in his nature, but he seemed to be above the desire of power or position, or anything belonging to this world. His tranquility was a proof of the stillness of his mind and the way that he won the affection of all who came to meet him, of his friends and his relations, and joined the broken threads, showed to all at home the seedling of something, the promise of which they had partly recognized in him in his childhood. It was then that the people of Baroda offered him an address and a medal.
On his way to Ajmer he visited the place of pilgrimage of Miran Datar, to which the sick and obsessed go from all parts of the country to be cured. There he saw how many illnesses are of the spirit rather than of the mind and how little is known to the physician of such illnesses and that these diseases can only be cured by one of exalted spirit. Besides, it gave him proof that he who dies before death, and so becomes spiritual, certainly lives after the death of his mortal self. He went to see the people there and spoke to them, discovering their different complaints and seeing how they were spiritually healed. It was a most marvelous experience for him to find himself among thousands of obsessed people, showing their disease in different forms. Any impressionable person would certainly lose his mind if he were in these surroundings, constantly seeing the obsessed. This helped Inayat very much in his natural gift of analysis of human life and character.
From there he went to Ajmer and visited the tomb of Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, the most celebrated Sufi Saint of India. The atmosphere of his last resting place was within itself a phenomenon; a sense of peace and calm pervaded it and among all that throng of pilgrims he yet felt as if he were the only one present. At nightfall he went home and said tahajjud, the midnight prayer. And lo! at the end of his prayers there came to him a voice, as though in answer to his invocations. It was the voice of a faqir, calling the people to prayer before sunrise, and he sang: "Awake, o man, from thy fast sleep! Thou knowest not that death watcheth thee every moment. Thou canst not imagine how great a load thou hast gathered to carry on thy shoulders and how long the journey is yet for thee to accomplish. Up! Up! the night is passed and the sun will soon arise!" – The unearthly quiet of the hour and the solemnity of the song moved Inayat to tears. Sitting on his rug with a rosary in his hand, he reflected that all the proficiency and reputation which he had achieved were utterly profitless in regard to his najat or salvation. He recognized that the world was neither a stage set up for our amusement, nor a bazar to satisfy our vanity and hunger, but a school, wherein to learn a hard lesson. He then chose quite a different path to the track which he had followed until then, in other words he turned over a new page in his life. The morning broke and the birds commenced their hymn of praise to Allah. Inayat heard men and women pass by below, some going to the mosque, others to the temples and the general masses to the toil that yields the daily bread. Then he too fared forth and lost in his thought, not knowing his destination, made his way towards the jungle.
He had an inner yearning to be apart from the world, and give an outlet to the thoughts and emotions wherewith his mind was so occupied. He arrived at a cemetery where a group of dervishes sat on the green grass, chattering together. They were all poorly clad, some were without shoes and others without coats, one had a shirt with only one sleeve and another lacked them both. One wore a robe with a thousand patches and the next a hat without a crown. This strange group attracted Inayat's attention and he sat there for a time, noticing all that was passing, while yet feigning to be utterly indifferent. Presently their Pir-o-Murshid or Master came towards them, even more scantily clad than they and with a group of dervishes circling round him as he approached. Two of the latter led the odd procession and with each step they cried out loudly: "Hosh bar dam, nazar bar qadam, khalwat dar anjuman!": "Be conscious of your breath and watch every step you take and thus experience solitude in the crowd!" – When the Murshid arrived at the assembly of his disciples, each one greeted the other, saying: " Ishq Allah Mabud Allah!": "God is Love and God is Beloved." – It was this very greeting which later unveiled to Inayat the Bible words that: "God is Love" and also the verse of the Arabian poet Abul Ala, who sayeth:
The solemnity of the sacred words they uttered, found their echo in Inayat's soul and thereupon he watched their ceremonial with still greater attention. Naturally at first sight their dire poverty was puzzling, but then he had learned ere he saw them how the holy Prophet had ever prayed to Allah to sustain him in his life among the "miskīn" or dervishes, who voluntarily choose this humble way of living. The queer patches on their garments reminded him of the words of Hafiz : "Do not befool thyself by short sleeves full of patches, for most powerful arms are hidden under them." The dervishes first sat lost in contemplation, reciting charms one after the other, and then they began their music. Inayat forgot all his science and technique while listening to their simple melodies as they sang to the accompaniment of Sitar and Dholuk the deathless words of the Sufi Masters such as Rumi, Jami, Hafiz and Shams Tabriz. The rhapsody which their ecstasies conjured up, seemed to him so strong and vital, that the very leaves of the trees seemed to hang spellbound and motionless. Although their emotions manifested themselves in various forms, they were regarded with silent reverence by all that strange company. Each one of them revealed a peculiar mood of ecstasy; some expressed it in tears and others in sighs, some in dances and yet others in the calm of meditation. Although Inayat did not enjoy the music as much as they, still it impressed him so deeply that he felt as if he were lost in a trance of harmony and happiness.
But the most amazing part of the proceedings came when the assembly was about to disperse. For one of the dervishes arose and while announcing bhandara, or dinner, addressed them in the following terms: "O Kings of Kings, O Emperors of Emperors!" – This amused Inayat greatly at the time, while he regarded their outward appearance. His first thought made them merely kings of imagination, without throne or crown, treasury, courtiers, or dominions, those natural possessions and temporal powers of kingship. But the more he brooded upon the matter, the more he questioned whether the environment or the imagination made a king. The answer came at last: the king is never conscious of his kingship and all its attributes of luxury and might unless his imagination is reflected in them and thus proves his true sovereignty. For instance, if a baby were crowned and seated upon a throne, he would never comprehend his high position until his mind evolved sufficiently to realize his surroundings.
This shows how real our surroundings seem to us and yet how dead they are in the absence of imagination. And it also reveals how the fleeting of time and the changes of matter make all the kings of the earth but transitory kings, ruling over transitory kingdoms, owing to their dependence upon their environment, instead of their imagination. But the kingship of the dervish, independent from all external influence, purely based on his mental perception and strengthened by the forces of the will, is much truer and at once unlimited and everlasting. Yet to the materialistic view his kingdom would appear as nothing, while to the spiritual conception it is an immortal and exquisite realm of joy. Thus Inayat compared our deluded life with their real life and our artificial being with their natural being, as one might compare the false dawn to the true. He realized our folly of attaching undue weight to matters wholly unimportant and how apt we are to laugh at the dreamer, building his lovely castles in the air. He saw how our momentary affairs are blown about as chaff is blown in the wind, while the imagination is difficult to alter. "It is possible for the land to turn into water and for water to turn into land, but the impression of an imagination can never change."
Inayat thought: "Now, what shall I do next? Shall I become a dervish and live on the alms offered to me? If I did so," he thought, "I would only be a burden on those who earn their livelihood." He thought, "If I went to earn my livelihood in the world and sold my music for money, it would be worse than slavery; besides it would be throwing pearls before swine." – To see the music and his profession so badly treated by the rich in his country, wounded his heart. He thought that the best use he could make of this wound was to try to raise, by his independent spirit, the music of India to its pristine glory.
While on his pilgrimage to the saints of India, he made up his mind that he would live the life of an adept, hidden in the guise of a musician, and live such a simple life that with very little money he could live and give most of his time to giving lectures on music, illustrated by his singing and playing, and by that, raising the idea of music in the heart of his people.
People were surprised to know of a musician's using his music only for the sake of art and not for any material benefit. Those who had the greatest contempt for the art of music and for the artists began by one interview, to look upon the art of music from quite a different point of view.
Inayat, always attracted by the South of India, started on a tour from Madras, where he was received by the Prince of Arcot. He became a friend of Chitti Babu, a great admirer of Indian music, who gave him a decoration. He gave a musical performance at the Cosmopolitan Club, where his melodious voice and scientific singing were highly appreciated. He made the acquaintance of Ghulam Mahmud Khan and of Nawab Sayyed Muhammad of Sultan Muhidin, of Habibuddin, of Tiruswa(m) Hayra Naidu, who all showed much esteem for his singing. He met there a great musician of the South, Trikuti Kavel Krishna Ayar, a violinist of great repute, who was called the king of rhythm. Seeing that Inayat was so young, he first took no notice of him. But on hearing Inayat, the musician was so moved that he came and embraced him after his singing as Inayat got up from his chair and when he knew of Inayat's mission and his ideal, he felt very much drawn to him.
Inayat wished to visit Mysore once again, but this time his purpose was quite different. There was something drawing him toward it which he himself did not know.
While traveling, he met in the train Captain Baker, Ali Khan by name. They became great friends and Inayat was this man's guest in Mysore. At that time many musicians from all countries had assembled at the Court. It was during the festival of Dasei during which he had the opportunity of hearing a great many musicians, among them Sheshena, the great vina player. Inayat saw the Maharaja once again and saw how the conventionalities of the monarchies make the Rajas stiff as statues. They are no longer Rajas but statues. One can hardly find in them a trace of living personality. It seems as if they were in their grave. He thought: "Although the Rajas have kept alive the flame of India's best music, still the very source is a cause of the downfall of the art. For music, which is a celestial art, is made by the great artists of the country an offering to merriment."
He spoke in public on that subject, on the condition of Indian music and his talent was marvelled at and highly esteemed and expression was given to this in the address that was presented to him by the citizens of Mysore, together with a gold medal. But Inayat discovered that that was not the cause why he had been sent to Mysore. He met Pir Jemat Ali Shah, a Sufi sage, traveling at that time in that country. No sooner they saw each other, than they became most drawn to each other. Inayat visited his dwelling every day and the sage felt more and more drawn to Inayat every day. Thousands of people were interested in his call and followed him, but it was to Inayat alone that the sage was drawn. So the purpose of the visit to Mysore manifested.
Inayat went to Bangalore, which is not far from Mysore. The influence of the sage stimulated in him that Sufi feeling which was the main joy of his life. A public concert had been arranged. Those who were to accompany him in his singing and playing were not there at the appointed time. He found later that, after taking a little draught of liquor, his accompanists, instead of going to the concert hall, perhaps went home. He was glad for them, but sorry on his own account and still more sorry for the audience, then anxiously awaiting. It was already late, but Inayat's coming and the lecture he gave, picturing the music and the musicians of India, impressed the audience very much and then he sang without accompanist, keeping the chord on the tambura, so that it ended in the whole audience being spellbound. The audience presented him with an address and a gold medal.
However, the times when he sang at home were much greater and more wonderful as compared with the public performances. He used to practice singing after sunset, this being his service and devotion. Friends used to come and would feel exalted, for often during his singing he used to rise to the state of wajd.
A pedlar, who also used to come, thinking that he might not be allowed to sit in the house, was wont to stand behind a tree in the courtyard, fearing that he might be driven away. And he attended Inayat's music regularly. One day a friend saw him in the courtyard and told Inayat of him. Inayat said: "Let him come in." When he came in, Inayat saw him full of ecstasy and the light that was shining in his eyes proved him to be a Master. He sat there silent and listened to the song through ecstasy. He then held Inayat's hands, kissed them and pressed them to his eyes and said: "I have ever longed to meet you in the flesh and now my sympathies are with you. I know you and I know what you will have to go through, but be sure that the sympathy of my heart will follow you wherever you go." Then they took a warm farewell of one another and all present were deeply impressed but could not in the least understand what it was all about. Here in Bangalore he met a real Sufi, a sage to whom all religions were nothing but different paths to God, whose eyes were inspiring, whose atmosphere was uplifting, love gushing from his heart at every moment of the day. Once he had begun his preaching, crowds of people, Hindus or Muslims, whatever their castes, would flock around him and sit listening to his words, even if he spoke the whole night. Inayat went to pay him a visit and was very much struck by his great power and piety. As a rule he always attracted sages. This sage also instantly became his friend. "In this," said Inayat, "the purpose of my coming to Bangalore is fulfilled."
At the request of Trikuti Kavel Krishna Ayar, Inayat went to Kumbakonam, a town which is the home of the Karnatic musicians, where none but expert musicians dared to sing, for the audience was extremely critical and consisted chiefly of musicians. And once a musician had passed his examination there, he was welcomed everywhere in the South. Besides, making impression upon his audience in this town by his execution of both Hindustani and Karnatic music, Inayat spoke before them of what was needed for the revival of the art of music in India, giving them the example how in the Western world music advanced with the continual progress there; and this won for him the greatest admiration.
How like attracts like was seen in the life of Inayat continually. When in Kumbakonam no Brahman would give room to anyone who was not of his caste. This awakened Inayat in unhappy wise to the cause of India's degeneration, which is caste distinction. For him it was most painful to find that he could not be taken as a brother by his own country-men. He pitied those who are considered pariahs, the classes who are not touched, and thought what a dreadful thing it is to be for generations in a caste which is looked down upon as not fit to touch. Inayat, in whom respect for the human being was the chief sentiment and held by him as his religion, felt sore at heart and yet self-pity was ever the last thing he would allow to make him miserable and so looking at the same from Brahmanic point of view, he soon got over that feeling. In the end he came to a house of a Cholia, whose mind had never been touched by art or science, only absorbed in his business, who had only a shed to offer him, far from the town and not fit even for cows to live in. Inayat went and as was his habit, made the most of what he had. And as the holes in the ground were many and he could not very well sleep there comfortably, he watched and passed the night in meditation. Before dawn, he heard a voice speaking to him: "Salam 'alaikum!" – "Good morning!" – Inayat opened his eyes and looked to see who was there and saw that it was a dervish. The dervish said: "Subhan Allah!" "Hail to God!" "How much I have enjoyed your night-long vigil, beautiful, beautiful! You are certainly blessed." Inayat asked him how he happened to come there. The dervish said: "I have taken shelter under this roof from storm and wind and come and spend my nights here for twenty years." Inayat thought in his mind: "Here was I trying to endure this one night's trial and the true lovers of God do not feel it a trial after having passed twenty years under this roof." He saw to what degree in the search of Truth one has to journey through the path of continual endurance and found that after all that strain on his patience he had not gone very far along that road.
Inayat went from there to Negapatam, to do homage at the tomb of a great saint at Nagore. He was the guest of a friend there, Qutbuddin and there he saw how this saint, who had then passed away, had inspired the community of Cholias, living in that province, in the development of their commercial and industrial qualities, so that a community so backward as that had been, had become the wealthiest and most advanced, so as to represent the prosperity of Sumatra. He realized by this that spiritual culture is the yeast which has come down for ages and will always inspire mankind to reach perfection in every direction of life.
He went from there to Tanjore and was received as a guest in the old royal house. The young Raja Shivaji Rao and the Dewan and the Queen Mother were all impressed at seeing a young artist in a musician's garb, but with a kingly spirit, who passed three days with them. To Inayat this was another experience of the human race, to see the beauty of an aristocratic family, with their traditions and culture, albeit worn out, that fineness, that gentleness, modesty, that gracious manner they showed, which proved their aristocracy much more than did their palaces and stately environments.
Inayat was happy to visit Tanjore, this well-known center of music in the South of India, where lived most of the celebrated musicians of Karnatic. With his tender feeling toward them and their work, he walked gently, with reverence on the land of Tanjore and admired all the little tokens of their work to be seen there. He sang at the Tanjore Union Club and the citizens of Tanjore gave him a manuscript address, signed by the best professional musicians, to show their gratification.
He proceeded next to Trichinapoli and was received there by Sayyed Mustapha Khan Bahadur, who had devoted his life to the education of the poor orphans among his people and showed the example of a true worker for humanity. Not only did Inayat by his music and personality win his heart, but he awakened in Inayat the virtue that lies in the service of one's fellow men. Inayat began to see that it is not enough to make oneself spiritual, for that is of no benefit or perhaps little benefit to others. It is not the flower, it is the fruit which is most useful. The people of Trichinapoli gave Inayat warm welcome and read an address in an open meeting to welcome their talented guest.
From there he went to Madura, a place well-known for its ancient temples. Moving about in the town, going from one temple to another, he thought: "Is it idolatry or is it something else?" In every temple he visited, he felt that he was in the house of God and these temples, with their carved pillars and engraved walls and their thousand idols, became for him sacred scriptures. As he walked alone from one temple to another, his mind pondered upon the meaning of all that he saw. He felt that these temples were nothing other than an education in human life and nature, given to the unlettered man of the past and this was so clear to Inayat's sight, that every symbol suggested to him a meaning, as every sound of music always held some significance for him.
He entertained the members of the Union Club and sang at the Theosophical Society, whose members wished him success in his tour round the world.
From there he went on to Coimbatore, where he was received by the Anjuman Islam. It made him happy to think how the Muslims of this part of the world were awakening for the betterment of their race, how a new consciousness was coming to the Muslim people, which was making them more united and more progressive. Inayat's talent was very much appreciated and welcomed there, he was presented with a gold medal and an address was read to him.
He looked forward to visiting Malabar, of which he had heard all his life. On visiting that region he saw that it was quite a different India, and felt it was a place first inhabited by the Aryans, who chose it, not for worldly life, but solely for a meditative life. The simplicity of the women's clothing gave him the idea how nature's beauty shines out in its most glorious form when it is not crushed by the artificiality of human attire and how much less toil and expense there is when one lives quite a natural life.
The watery land of Cochin, with little islands here and there, where people visited their neighbor's house in tiny boats, was very interesting and enjoyable for Inayat. The traveling by boat through the moonlight nights of the summer months, green before the eyes, right and left, occasionally stopping at a village often or twenty houses, where the coconut milk and some fruits of the forest were brought by the peasants to sell to those traveling in the boats; this all, the sight of nature, was once again a vision of paradise to Inayat, as he had once before experienced it on his journey to Nepal.
He was very much appreciated in Ernakulam. He made the acquaintance of Pattabhirame Ran, who was struck by his sweet voice.
He went to Trichur and gave a performance to the great satisfaction of the people there.
From Ernakulam he took a boat to row across the narrow stream of water to Travancore, where he was received by Raja Kopal Chari, the Dewan of the State and he was there a state guest. He gave a recital of vocal music at the Maharaja's College, where everyone was delighted and enjoyed listening to his music. He had an interview with the Maharaja and after a conversation with him Inayat felt how the princes and potentates of India, upon whom depends the welfare of the country, are unaware of the progress of the world in general, absorbed only in their little narrow groove and conscious of their little kingship. He thought it was a great misfortune for the land. The presence of Inayat overpowered the Maharaja; he could not very well make out what Inayat was striving after, and yet he could not help feeling regard for someone who had dedicated his youth to the upliftment of the music of India. Raja Kopal Chari, the wise Dewan, was much impressed by Inayat, to whom he presented a gold medal in remembrance of the place and his visit there.
Inayat then for the first time of his life sailed from Tuticorin to Ceylon, again quite another India, unlike the Central India or the North. Among the people there, he found Cingalese, who have some idea of Southern Indian music and among Muslims, Markias, who only know that there exists some such thing as music somewhere, but most restricted by their faith and afraid to go where there was a danger of hearing music. He made the acquaintance of Mahamudalyar Bhandara Nayak of Colombo and of Haji Muhammad Macan Markar, the Consul for Turkey and was a guest of Jalaluddin Markia and made acquaintance with the younger Muslims, who were trying hard to come out of their old restrictions and who besides their appreciation of Inayat as a musician found in him a young reformer. They enjoyed his music and his personality. Inayat visited Kandy and Nuralja.
In Kandy he had taken a room and during the hours of his meditation in the evening, whilst he was engaged in the sacred practices, he felt very restless and wrathful and he could not fix his mind on his meditation for a single moment. He became cross with himself and went to bed. The uneasiness increased still more. Then he got up and wanted to look in the cupboards. He did not know why he was doing so. He thought perhaps his inner self wanted to guide him to the reason of such an unusual experience with himself. He found there, to his surprise, a bunch of black hair, looking as if some woman had collected combings of hair there for a long time. He spent a bad night and in the morning the first thing he did was to ask the landlady who had lived in this room before him. She said: "Sir, don't remind me of her. The thought other takes my breath out of me. A woman lived here for some time. She never paid me rent, called me bad names, fought with the men and quarreled every day without fail, driving away every other tenant who came to live in this house. Now my heart is at rest since she has left this house." Inayat said: "What a shame that you gave me such a room to live in. She said: "Sir, I gave you that room on purpose, because you seem from your looks to be a Godly man, so that I was sure that this room will be purified by your good influence." Inayat had no answer for her but a smile.
What impressed Inayat in Ceylon was nature rather than personalities, but his respect for human nature made him take all things patiently.
After a short stay there, he took ship for Burma and was most delighted to arrive at Rangoon. He found the people of Burma quite unlike his countrymen, both in appearance and nature and yet he was impressed by them. What appealed to him in them was the simplicity of the Burmese nature. Their womenfolk, as busy as the men, perhaps more occupied in business and in the affairs outside their home. Generous and humble as he found them to be, he saw in the life of Burmese his ideal of human brotherhood. For they consider no one, whatever be his faith or belief, in any way inferior to themselves. They celebrate their weddings silently and funerals grandly, especially those of the spiritual persons, in that way recognizing the spiritual individuality and the eternal life of the spiritual soul. They go to the temple of Buddha with their simple devotion, with no pride of religion and with no desire to force their belief on others. Inayat pondered upon the subject and felt what is it in these harmless souls that has kept them behind what is called civilization? And the answer came: they are overcivilized, so the others cannot understand them.
In Rangoon there are so many rich merchants who, hearing of Inayat's fame and his talent, asked him to sing at their houses to their friends. Inayat, as always sacrificing his material gains for the upraising of the dignity of the art of music in his land, refused. Very often it was very hard for him to subsist; yet he would rather starve than sell his art for money.
Once a servant boy in the house took away every penny that Inayat had in his box. In the morning Inayat dreamed, before getting up, that every penny that was in the box had been stolen by somebody. When he got up he saw the trunk actually open and to his great horror, when he went near, he saw that there was nothing in it. He asked the servant what had happened and the servant denied all knowledge. After that Inayat went without food for days together, meeting with his rich friends who took him for a drive in the carriages and who would have been only too glad to have sent him the needed money. In the end that servant who had taken the money, felt so sorry for him that he offered to lend him some money for food, but Inayat would not accept anything from him. After three days of this fasting and at the same time meeting his friends with a smiling face, the servant on the fourth day gave him back all he had taken.
Inayat went to one wealthy man, only when he could not help going, to a man in Rangoon, called Masiti, who was the head of all gambling and drinking that went on in the town and who had made so much money that he had even the police under his orders. He was almost the uncrowned king of that place, under whose direction all the murders and thefts done in the country were carried out.
In the middle of the night, while Inayat was asleep, he heard a bang at the door and got up with a shock. What had come at that time in the night? Opening the door, he saw a gigantic man with a thick staff in his hand, who brought him a message from Masiti in these words: "He has heard your name and is eager to hear you. A carriage is waiting for you downstairs and three men are here with me to escort you." – Inayat saw the evil in that man's glance and the first thought that came to him was the word of Jesus: "Resist not evil." He went to that place and saw Masiti, awaiting him, sitting among all his gay surroundings. The first thing Masiti asked his men was: "Did he make a difficulty in coming?" They said: "No Sir, he came willingly." Masiti, full of pride, got up from his seat and embraced Inayat as he came in. Such honor he had never before done to a musician, and he said proudly to those present there: "See, here is this young artist, whom even the Rajas cannot always have come to them at their command. He has accepted my call."
He said to Inayat: "You have honored me so much by coming here, that I feel more exalted than a king. Now I do not want you to sing, but only to listen while all these artists play and sing." Inayat's personality made such an impression upon Masiti, that he felt as a slave before him, and so also he acted toward him. Inayat sat there all night; the time that he usually passed in his vigils was spent in these orgies and yet to him even this was his prayer. He was not out of his spiritual atmosphere, for he had the fountain of this atmosphere within himself, spreading wherever he went. He realized by his own experience that it is we who create our heaven or hell, there is no such place as heaven, nor is there any such place as hell. This experience with Masiti opened before him a vast field of thought. He felt how down the ages power has ruled and wisdom submitted; and justice or injustice in life cannot very well be weighed by observing the external part of life only. It is the vision of all which in the end sums up all justice and injustice in one perfect whole.
In Rangoon Inayat met Mahmad Casim Barucha, a leader of the Muslim community there and a friendship was formed between them.
The Burmese – Hindus and Muslims uniting together – acknowledged the talent in music that Inayat showed, by presenting an address to him on behalf of the citizens of Rangoon.
When he left one place to go to another, Inayat had already made friends who were sorrowing on his leaving them and he, after having made deep attachments in a place, had to depart from there. For them it would be an impression, an impression which was everlasting, but for him it was a dream, a dream which was a picture of life, whose beginning signified birth and the end death. Inayat would say to himself while leaving dear and near friends: "Such is life, when you are sent you come, when you are called you go. What is left with you and with them is the impression of the love and hate you had for them or they had for you." To him the joy of that love which he had given would rebound with interest.
From Rangoon Inayat sailed to reach the long desired place of his destiny, Calcutta, and wished to settle there for some time. Though this was against his wishes, yet being advised by his father that he must settle in some place, he stayed there some time. He found the people of Bengal a very peculiar race, lovers of originality and saturated with modernity, yet living the simple life of old India; for, as he saw, the Bengalese stand on both their feet. For some time no notice was taken of Inayat, a musician so little known in that part of the world and not supported by any princes or potentates, in a vast city, which at that time was the capital of India. In such a large city as Calcutta, there was a great deal of greed for gain, rivalry and competition among the musicians. Some person, who perhaps had a spite against Inayat's people, on hearing of his coming woke up and tried in every way to spoil Inayat's career in its beginning, so that the plant might be crushed before it could grow. To Inayat's heart it was very painful, for he was so far from the thought of competition or rivalry, that he was not in the slightest degree conscious of any musicians existing who would have such an attitude toward him, who never did or even thought of causing harm to anyone out of professional jealousy. But that made him realize more and more one among all other causes which have not only ruined the music of India, but have been the cause of the downfall of the whole country.
After prolonged patience, while for six months he had nothing to do in the city, he became acquainted with Babu Laheri, who was a Sufi in spirit and recognized in Inayat something very wonderful and saw that a jewel was lying among the rubbish. He said: "The benefit of your knowledge must be given to the students. It must not be brought before the masses, who love to be entertained." He arranged a series of lectures at the University Hall of Calcutta. One day Sir Guru Das Banerji presided at the lecture so arranged, another day Rabindranath Tagore presided. So every day it was presided over by the venerable members of society. The consequence was that the most intellectual public of Calcutta, who were seeking for something greater than the ordinary music, were present among his audience, which roused such an interest in the country that all the spirit of rivalry and competition of the little musicians around there went down, as dust becomes settled under water.
The Maharaja of Natore, the Raja of Rangpur, the Maharaja Tagore, Lord Sinha, were among those whom Inayat met and they admired his art. The only complaint that remained among the professional people was this: "Inayat does not associate with the artists of the country." But those who had known Inayat were ready to answer: "He is not one of you." Where there is praise, there is blame. The sons of Mahmud Arif and Babu Samacharan Dutt and Manacharsha became his pupils and so he became known to all the different circles in Calcutta. He also sang and played at the Presidency College, where a gold medal was presented to him. The great musician Mohendra Nath Chaterji of that place, who had known Maula Bakhsh, took sides for Inayat. The musical society, Sangit Sammilani, invited Inayat in order to hear his idea and in the address they presented to him, called him the Morning Star of Indian musical revival.
Music was his external garb. His life was to see all day the faqirs and dervishes and to sit for the greater part of the night in his vigils and to sing at dawn the songs of devotion and to meditate with music in the evenings.
Inayat considered it his great privilege to meet a Sufi who was addressing large gatherings on theosophical subjects, arousing the utmost interest, Maulana Ektadarul Huq. He recognized in Inayat something and exclaimed in reference to Inayat: "Here is a hidden soul, in whom the divine expression is just now budding."
A master lived in Calcutta in the guise of a Majzub. He often walked along the road, looking at the sights to be seen there from his own point of view, sometimes appearing happy and often most amused at seeing the worldly things going on about him. People who knew, respected him very much, but wherever he would find people who recognized him, he would escape from them. Most of his time was occupied with little children, in playing with them, allowing them to ride on his shoulders and to make of him a horse and if they cried, consoling them. He was always a friend of little children. Once Inayat sent for him, requesting him to come and dine. He refused and ran away with his friends, the children. Next time he was invited by Inayat who said that he would like to sing to him. This brought him at once and on arriving he talked in the language of the Majzub, speaking of the unknown laws of life and nature and about the way to perfection. In this he gave a short summary of his life's experience on the path during one's journey to the spiritual goal. But except Inayat no one understood his language. After this he came often to the house of Inayat and asked of Inayat's brothers: "Where is my Lord and Master?" – They, not being accustomed to hearing such a thing, were perplexed and yet they had such confidence in this Majzub and respect for him that they were shocked at his speaking like this and Inayat had to explain to them that all great souls call even undeserving souls great, because of their own greatness.
Inayat's greatest friend there was a Babu Hiran Maya, who was a saintly soul and knew that under the guise of musician was something else hidden. He was an elderly man, but his respect for Inayat was like worship and Inayat would always honor him as he always honored elderly people. He was the Dewan of the Maharaja Saraswati Chandra Bahadur of Belgachia.
Inayat lived in Calcutta for several years and there received the news of the death of his beloved father, which was to him a blow inexpressible in words, though thus his life became free from any duty binding him as a sacred tie, as he had felt his duty toward his parents to be. Soon after this another misfortune befell him, namely the loss of his medals. In a moment of abstraction the case of medals was left in a [tram] car, which could not be traced despite all his efforts. But in place of the disappointment which at first oppressed him, a revelation from God touched the hidden chords of his mind and opened his eyes to the truth. He said to himself: "It matters not how much time you have spent to gain that which never belonged to you, but which you called your own; today you comprehend it is yours no longer. And it is the same with all you possess in life, your property, friends, relations, even your own body and mind. All which you call 'my', not being your true property, will leave you; and only what you name 'I', which is absolutely disconnected with all that is called 'my', will remain." He knelt down and thanked God for the loss of his medals, crying: "Let all be lost from my imperfect vision, but Thy true Self, ya Allah!"
This prolonged stay in Calcutta brought about in Inayat's life a kind of regularity, which had not existed before. It gave him more chance of contemplating, of thinking and acting as well. Inayat spoke at the Madrasa College to the Muslim students on music and presented before the government of India a scheme, supported by Mr. Ross, the principal of that College, for introducing the scientific music of India in the schools, so that the children might grow to express music in their life, that their personality might become, so to speak, musical. Of course such a project had to pass through a great many formalities in the State. Inayat had not the patience nor the time to stay in one place, so before the answer came he had already left Calcutta to make a tour through Bengal.
In Bengal he first visited the Raja of Lalgola, then the Maharaja of Cossimbazar, who being a civilized prince, very much appreciated Inayat's ideas for the cultivation of music.
When he was once visiting Murshidabad, he met with Fizi Rubbee the Dewan of the State, who became a great admirer of Inayat's talent and personality. Inayat was greatly interested to hear Munawar Khan, the most talented vina player. He was staying with some friends who, knowing him as a musician, through his music and personality soon became attached to him.
In Murshidabad he made the acquaintance of the Dewan of H.H. the Nawab Bahadur. One day, when these friends had assembled, a Brahman came who had a gift of palmistry. He looked at the hands of some of those present and told each one something about his life, saying some funny things which amused all present. He then asked to look at Inayat's palm and Inayat unhesitatingly stretched out his hand. As soon as the Brahman looked at Inayat's palm, he was taken aback. His expression changed and for a moment he became speechless. He then touched Inayat's feet and apologised for having dared to make such an attempt; he showed such a reverential attitude towards Inayat that the friends, whose attitude was that of ordinary friendship, were much impressed. The spirit of mirth seemed to have been dispelled by this occurrence and it cost a great effort on Inayat's part to tune the atmosphere again to its former pitch.
One day Inayat heard of the arrival in Baroda of a Brahman who was said to be a great seer. This Brahman not only read the thoughts of those who came to visit him, but also all about their past, present and future. He was an enormously stout man and when he was sitting cross-legged, he would take up the space of four people. Many people would tremble before him because of his gigantic appearance, but he was friendly and sociable in spite of his loud voice. Inayat went among the rest to visit this Brahman, but for a long time the latter would not look at him or notice him. So Inayat waited until all the others had gone away. When they were alone the Brahman said: "Welcome, Mahatma ! I am sorry I could not speak to you before all the others, but I can do so now. I see you are depressed at this moment and clouds have surrounded your life; but it is the dawn, look forward to the rising of the sun. You are to go to the Western world." – Inayat asked when that would be. He answered: "Not now, later, perhaps after a few years. And there you will do a great work which cannot be told to you just now. It will not bring wealth, but it is work which is beyond imagination. Therefore, build up your courage and all clouds will be cleared away. " – While telling Inayat this, the Brahman's eyes were wet with tears; whether of joy or sorrow, it is impossible to say, but he felt it all so deeply that he could not speak one word more.
Inayat then went to Decca, where he was received at the Asan Manzil palace by the Nawab of Decca, who had invited most of the princes and potentates of Bengal on that occasion. Inayat was invited to sing. He accepted the invitation on condition that he should be allowed to speak first. The desire of a young man like Inayat was readily accepted by the experienced Nawab, who was full of goodwill, but to his great surprise, when Inayat began, he spoke in the face of all the princes without the slightest hesitation, of how the art of music had been abused by being made merely a pastime and the means of merriment, especially by the princes and potentates of India; how they were flattered by the musicians and how they were pleased, and out of vanity pretended to know what in reality many did not understand. Among them the Maharaja of Dinajpur saw the truth of what Inayat said in his address and all were so surprised at hearing that unexpected talk, and yet none could deny its truth. Afterwards Inayat sang for a while and there made the acquaintance of the Raja of Sylhet, Gopika Ramon Roy, with whom he traveled to his State, Assam, at his invitation. The Maharaja of Sylhet considered him not a musician, he considered him a teacher. He said to him one day: "I envy you." – And his only wish was that Inayat should stay all his life in his State and he himself did all he could to love him and be his pupil.
Inayat, by that time had reached the state of Samadhi. This, which might come after many years of meditation, came to Inayat while so young. He used to rise to that state in an instant. No sooner did he begin his music than he would rise above the spheres of the earth. It developed to such an extent that not only he himself, but those sitting around him would become spellbound and feel exalted, in which Inayat found the fulfillment of his having the talent of music. They did not know where they were, or what they were hearing and could not realize to what sphere they were lifted from the earth. After finishing his music Inayat was drowned in ecstasy and they all seemed as if lost in a mist. As they opened their eyes their attitude towards him changed and he, whom they had at first taken for a singer, then became a mystery.
Inayat now understood why the medals had been lost; it meant to him that music had fulfilled its work in his life; now a new era of his life was to begin. No doubt, it gradually came. First his devotional songs began to move people to tears and would create an atmosphere of great love and devotion and of harmony. Then it created dreams and a kind of absorption in himself and in others, a kind of exaltation, an upliftment which culminated in profound ecstasy. Inayat's career in India had there reached its term. Things began to work so as to change his life. The consciousness of his Murshid's injunction: "Fare forth into the world, my child and harmonize the East and West with the harmony of thy music. Spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad, for to this end art thou gifted by Allah, the most Merciful and Compassionate," came more and more to his realization and a way was cleared for him to leave India to fulfill the mission of his life. Nothing could keep him back then.
His uncle, who had formerly traveled in the West told him, the life in the West is difficult for an Eastern person. To make a living is still more difficult. He asked: "Are you backed by anyone, are you supported, have you any definite place to go to?" – "Yes uncle, I have every support that is necessary, my aim is more than definite, my object is clear to me. Do you wish to ask anything more?" – He thought Inayat was so determined that nothing would stop him. Inayat said to his uncle: "The God, Who is the support of all, the Protector of all, does not live only in India. He is everywhere, so I shall be safe, uncle, under His providence; you need not be worried."
There were two friends also going to America. He joined them and had with him his brother Maheboob Khan and cousin Ali Khan, who accompanied him most willingly.