Music … religion of humanity

I recently read “The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word”, a collection of lectures by Hazrat Inayat Rehmat Khan, founder of Sufi Order in the West (London, England) and a teacher of Universal Sufism.  In a passage from this book, Hazrat states:

“The greatest error of this age is that activity has increased so much, that there is little margin left in one’s everyday life for repose. And repose is the secret of all contemplation and meditation, the secret of getting in tune with that aspect of life which is the essence of all things. When one is not accustomed to take repose, one does not know what is behind one’s being. This condition is experienced by first preparing the body and the mind by means of purification; and by making the senses fine one is able to tune one’s soul with the whole Being.”

He adds, “The true use of music is to become musical in one’s thoughts, words and actions. One should be able to give the harmony for which the soul yearns and longs every moment. All the tragedy in the world, in the individual and in the multitude, comes from lack of harmony, and harmony is best given by producing it in one’s own life …. Some day music will be the means of expressing universal religion. Time is wanted for this, but there will come a day when music and its philosophy will become the religion of humanity.”

Another mystic, Osho had said, “Music comes closest to meditation. Music is a way towards meditation and the most beautiful way. Meditation is the art of hearing the soundless sound, the art of hearing the music of silence – what Zen people call the sound of one hand clapping”.

Baba Farid (1179 – 1266) and Bulle Shah (1680 – 1757) were two prominent Sufi poets from the Punjab, whose “kaafis” (classical form of Sufi poetry) have been sung by many prominent singers over the centuries.  However, for the interest of younger audiences I have appended a few select “kaafis” contemporaneously sung by Tochi Raina, an artiste whose parents are Kashmiri Pandits, originally from Lahore (Pakistan).  Raina has altered a few verses, but I have deliberately used this version over earlier performances by more traditional artistes like Abida Parveen, to highlight “Kahmiriyat” (indigenous secularism of Kashmir) in these divisive times.  At the very end is my clumsy attempt at translating these poets’ verses.  “Jugni” is an expression used traditionally in Punjabi folk music to get attention and highlight an observation; in Sufism, it denotes the meaning, or essence of life.

Vekh Farida, mittii khullii Watch, Farid this exposed dirt
Mittii utte mitti dullhii Dirt falls on more earth
Mittii haase mittii rowe, antt mittii daa mittii hove It laughs, it weeps and this dirt (human body) ultimately turns to dust
Naa kar bandeyaa merii merii O’ (foolish) human do not claim “mine, this is mine”
Naa eh terii naa eh merii (For), nothing belongs to you or me
Chaar dinaan daa duniyaa melaa The world is a fair lasting four days
Pher mittii dii ban gayii dherii Then it turns into a heap of dust
Naa kar ehdaan heraa-pherii Do not cheat like this
Mitti naal naa dhokaa kar tuun Or try to outsmart this dirt
Tuun vii mittii mein vii mittii You are dust as am I
Jaat-paat dii gal naa kar tuun Talk not of caste or class
Jaat vii mittii paat vi mittii Caste is dirt as is class
Jaat sirf khudaa dii uchhii Only God’s class is uplifting
Baaqii sabh kuchh mittii, mittii All else is dirt and dust
Vekh Farida, vekh Farida Observe O’ Farid (and be mindful)
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh mann vichh andar vasdaa ‘ai Jugni says, He/She abides in our heart
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh har vele mainun disdaa ‘ai Jugni says, He/She is always in my sight
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh kan-kan de vichh risdaa ‘ai Jugni says, He/She resides in each speck
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh akkhaan vich mere vasdaa ‘ai Jugni says, He/She lives in my eyes
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh jagmag-jagmag kardaa ‘ai Jugni says, He/She twinkles everywhere
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh raataan nuun kyuun phirdaa ‘ai Jugni says, where does He/She wander at night
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh gallaan kujh-kujh kardaa ‘ai Jugni says, He/She speaks (to us)
Ve Jugni kehndi-aa, oh naa Ali daa laindaa-‘ai Jugni says, He/She calls out to Ali (Prophet Mohammad’s son-in-law)
When someone inquired of Baba Bulle Shah, “Babaji, how are you able to express gratitude to the Provider, living in penury?”,  Babaji replied thus:
Charrhde suraj dhalde dekhe, bujjhde diive balde dekhe I have seen rising suns go down and flickering lamps light up
Heere daa koi mol naa jaane, khote sikke chalde vekhe No one knows the value of a diamond, but bad pennies remain in circulation
Jinhaan daa naa jag te koi, oh vii puttar palde dekhe I have seen those sons thrive, who have no one in this world
Ussdi rehmat de naal, bande paanii utte chalde dekhe With His/Her Grace, I have watched humans walk on water
Lokii kehnde daal nahin galdii, mein te patthar jalde vekhe People say the pulses remain uncooked (but) I have witnessed stones melting
Jinhaan ne kadar naa kiitii rabb dii, hathh khaali oh malde vekhe Those who do not respect God, I have seen them go empty-handed
Kaii pairaan toh nange phirde, sirr te labhde chhaanvaan Many wander bare-footed, seeking a shade over their heads
Mainuun daataa sabh kuchh dittaa, kyuun naa shukr manaavaan The Lord has given me all, how can I then not express my gratitude
Paddh paddh kitaabaan ilm diyaan, tuun naa rakh liya qazi Reading the (holy) books you have started to call yourself a Qazi (magistrate or judge)
Hathh vichh phadh ke talwaraan tuun naa rakh liya ghazi Holding swords in your hands, you proclaim yourself to be a Ghazi (warrior)
Meccae-Medinae tuun phir aayaa, aur naa rakh liya haji Then you came to Mecca and Medina and declared yourself to be a Haji (honorific title for one who has completed the pilgrimage to Mecca)
Ve Bulleya tuun haasil kii kiitaa, je yaar nuun naa rakhiyaa raazii O’ Bulla what did you achieve, if you have not (succeeded in) pleasing your Beloved (Lord)
Ve sunn lai jugnu tuun dhuu-dhuu karke kyuun baldaa-‘ain Listen O’ fire-fly you burn yourself out
Teriiaan mohabbataan, ibaadataan eh kii jaanan lokii Mankind is unable to appreciate the love and worship displayed (by you)
Ve sunn lai jugnu, Tochi kii kii kehndaa-‘ai Listen O’ fire-fly to what Tochi says
Oh naa Ali daa laindaa-‘ain He recites the name of Ali


4 Replies to “Music … religion of humanity”

  1. “Music is a way towards meditation and the most beautiful way.” So true! Thanks for another lovely post.

    See you and Ritu at the concert on Saturday?





    1. Glad you liked the post and its message, Mohamed. As a connoisseur of music you no doubt appreciate, perhaps more than others, the effect music has on us. As Gulzar had so aptly stated in his introduction to Abida Parveen’s singing of Kabir sahib’s dohas, “Dhyaan lag jaata hai, ibaadat shuru ho jaati hai, apne aap aankhen band ho jaati hain” (Listening to Abida, “One enters into a meditative state, a prayer comes forth, the eyes close by themselves …” Thanks for your feedback!


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