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Biography, Autobiography, Journal and Anecdotes

Part I - Biography


Inayat attracted friends, he was as a magnet and was capable of great attachment to those whom he drew. In any game or pursuit Inayat was always the leader. When quite a small boy Inayat had his own little private room where he studied. Whatever he got for this room showed good taste and everything in it was arranged artistically. The room was kept spotlessly clean and tidy and it was his pride that, no matter how early visitors might arrive, none should enter his sanctum and find it in the least unprepared. To accomplish this he would often himself dust the room long before it could be done for him.

His grandfather Maula Bakhsh always took Inayat with him when he went to visit the sages. They were all fascinated by him at the first glance and he sat so still, an unusual thing in one so young. He sat before them, hearing their discourse and seeing all that went on. He used to be as absorbed as if he understood everything that passed. He preferred sitting with grown-up people and would listen to their talk, discourse and argument with great interest. He would sit with his grandfather, who received in his house all those eminent in learning and culture. At these receptions Inayat was allowed to be in the reception-room and this he preferred to playing with children of his own age and he tried to listen and understand and took interest in all that was going on. His grandfather respected this tendency so much that he always had Inayat sit on a corner of his own seat. The young child looked up to him as to his ideal, watched every move he made, listened to every word he said to his friends and accompanied them in their drives in the gardens.

Every morning Maula Bakhsh went to wake his little grandson and Inayat's first impression at daybreak was his grandfather coming to wake him after his morning prayers. Inayat then spent the morning with Maula Bakhsh, who practiced his singing and taught Inayat music. Young Inayat used to hum or sing to himself, making up words of his own and he would form different rhythms and phrases of music and would amuse himself by repeating them. He had a good ear for music and remembered every song he heard. Inayat spent his evenings in Gayanshala, the Academy of Music, which had been established as the first music-school in India and had been founded by his grandfather Maula Bakhsh and also was under his direction. The house of Maula Bakhsh was practically a temple of talent. All the talented people, musicians, poets, the artistic and literary, came to him for several reasons: some to learn from him, some to be benefitted by his company and others to show their art in order that they might be presented by him at the Court.

Some came to benefit by the opportunity of seeing and hearing many people of great talent. Little Inayat was always to be found sitting quietly in some corner of the room, always wholly attentive to all the conversation and everything that went on. In this way, in his early age, he heard and learned more music, poetry and other arts, than many people could learn in their whole life. The joy of Maula Bakhsh was boundless seeing that his little grandson was born with the hunger and thirst for knowledge and that he was eagerly ready to learn and practice all that was taught him. He also understood Inayat's great desire to see the mystics and to hear about mysticism. From childhood Inayat was curious about every faqir or dervish he saw. Their lives would interest him and by nature he was attracted to them. Maula Bakhsh was a great friend of the wise and godly, being himself a great lover of God and a seeker after truth.

He often took Inayat with him to Narsiji, a sage, whose dwelling he always frequented and the sage recognized the spirit of this lad and told Maula Bakhsh to take special care of his grandson. He said: "You do not yet know with what he has come into the world." Maula Bakhsh thenceforward gave still more attention to his little grandson. He exempted Inayat from the obligation in the East, that the young should wait upon the elder in the family and instead of the least place, he was always given the best seat, a thing contrary to the custom of Orientals. And Inayat's response to his grandfather was such that he absorbed the charm of personality that Maula Bakhsh possessed and inherited from him all that was good, beautiful and of value.

Inayat read the newspaper to his grandfather and afterwards discussed different topics of the news of the world and showed his interest in every side of the questions in the world. Inayat's grandfather bought him a book on morals, called Vidurniti. It interested him very much and he could not read it too often.

Inayat wrote a dialogue between fate and free will, picturing them as persons. He showed it to his grandfather, asking him to suggest any alterations. Maula Bakhsh was so pleased that he took his grandson's manuscript to his friend, a great literary man, a Brahman named Govind Vishnu Dev, who was a lawyer. The Brahman was most astonished and wanted to see Inayat and told his grandfather to wait and see what would come from this promising youth, that some very wonderful incarnation was the spirit of Inayat.

One day Inayat heard his grandfather promising some author a short sketch of his own biography. Inayat heard it and remembered and asked : "What is meant by the word biography?" His grandfather said: "An account of a life." After some time he asked his grandfather if the biography had been sent. His grandfather said: "No, I am sorry, but I have not had the time to write." Inayat asked if he would be allowed to try. His grandfather instantly said yes. Inayat asked him some questions about his life and set to work. After three days he came with a short sketch in his hands and asked his grandfather if it was worth sending. His grandfather was much pleased and allowed the biography to be sent to the editor of Mahajan Mandal.

He especially studied poems in school and one poem, of heartfelt gratitude to the mother, he preferred to all others. He had a great liking for the poems of Dayananda Saraswati, whose life and philosophy he read with great admiration. The poetry of Kabir and Nanak also interested him very much and he sang with great feeling the songs of Dadu and Sundar. He loved the poems of Ram Das and sang to himself and others the verses Ram Das addressed to the mind. He was very fond of the Abhangas (poems) of Tukaram. Inayat loved best of all to study the Bhagavad-Gita, the words of Krishna to Arjuna and he took great interest in all the mystical legends of the Hindus, in prose or poetry.

Inayat learned the language of the Brahmans, Marathi, as well as a Brahman and spoke it at nine years old; and from his manner and speech no Brahman could ever imagine that he was a non-Brahman and people were astonished when they heard his name. But the Brahmans did not like him to be called by his own name, therefore they called him Vinayak, which is a name of Vishnu.

Inayat's parents were troubled at his interest in poetry. They thought the life of a poet and dreamer was a life of constant misery and that as a poet is not a practical man, he must therefore of necessity suffer in an era of commercialism and competition. Young Inayat did two things, either he drew pictures or he wrote poems and his people snatched the papers from his hands and wanted to impress him by saying that to write poems brought bad luck. His father once spoke before him a verse of a fable in which a wolf approaches a lion, finding him in a difficult position, and challenges him. The lion says: "I am a lion and thou art a wolf. There can never be a match between us. If I won, then it would not add to my honor and if I were defeated it would dishonor my whole ancestry." Also his father quoted before him sayings of Sadi, such as: "Akhrah gurbazada gurba shavad, leik ba adami buzurgi shavad." (In the end a kitten proves to be a kitten, though by the contact of human beings it may sit on the sofa against cushions in dignity.) And also the well-known saying: "Kunad hamjins ba hamjins parwaz; kabutar ba kabutar, baz ba baz." (Like attracts like, pigeon to pigeon, eagle to eagle.)

Hearing different things from thinkers, seers and fortunetellers, some of which they would perhaps believe and some they could never believe to be true, Inayat's parents were rather confused and watched and guarded him constantly and tried to keep him away from mysticism or philosophy, or even from poetry, but in spite of all their watching they could not keep Inayat away from that for which he was born on earth. His attempts at writing poetry without any training in the art of metre and form, compelled his parents to place him under the tutorship of Kavi Ratnakar, the great Hindustani poet.

One day his uncle Murtaza Khan, said to him: "Are there not enough songs in the world that you must needs add to the number?" Inayat said in answer: "No uncle, not enough, if there were enough songs, God would not have created me." His uncle had nothing more to say, but was amused.

Murtaza Khan, (Professor Murtaza Khan) the eldest son of Maula Bakhsh, was like his father. Simple and happy by nature, he was quite fit to carry on the line of his father as a singer. He was a great help to Maula Bakhsh, for he sang duets with him. Murtaza Khan, with his commanding look, was most sociable. He was always kind in helping his nephews, especially Inayat in his musical advancement, until he saw Inayat had already gone too far. He had a most wonderful voice, so as to deserve the place of the chief among the Court singers and to be most in favor of H.H. the Maharaja Gaekwad. His voice, with his most imposing appearance, would make such an impression upon people at his recitals, that they would carry with them that impression; and no singer, after his song, could ever succeed in making an impression upon the audience. Murtaza Khan held the position of his father after him at the Court as the principal singer and as professor in the Gayanshala, the Academy of Music, founded by his father in Baroda. He had a son, called Allah Bakhsh (i.e. Allahdad Khan). He took the place of his father at home and outside. He died in December 1924.

Once Inayat and his companions heard a Christian missionary teaching his religion to any who would listen. Many interruptions came from the bystanders in the form of questions and arguments and soon Inayat's friends joined with the opponents. When Inayat showed his surprise at his friends' conduct, they said: "Why should he wish to teach us that religion?" "He is not doing wrong, he is teaching his own religion; if he is doing it with goodwill, what does it matter?" replied Inayat.

Wrestling is a national sport of India and the State of Baroda is especially known for it. Everyone in Inayat's family was more or less interested in wrestling, also his brothers and cousin. On holidays when public wrestling takes place, people gather from all parts of the city to watch the wrestling with the same interest with which a boxing match is followed in the West. Young Inayat was once taken among that crowd, where he saw nothing but two people, each trying hard to get the other down and in the end the rejoicing of the one who had won and the disgrace of the other. The only impression made upon Inayat was that of the stupidity of human nature. Inayat saw how childish man is, to rejoice at seeing such a thing. He looked with great pity at the cruel side of it, that the one who does not win suffers disgrace. He pictured himself in the position of him who had failed to win and thought how useless was both winning and not winning. He never again went to see that sport and this attitude always astonished his surroundings.