Saturday, May 21, 2005 By Maryam
The tradition of Sufism celebrates human love abundantly. It speaks of ishq-e-haqiqi or divine love and ishq-e-majazi or personal love, two highly charged terms that are not only deeply interlinked, but are conditional for each other. For the Sufi a transparent, pure soul, unconditioned by the world but also a mirror unto the same world human love is The Way, a path tread with absolute innocence, and simplicity, completely unpretentious.
Dynamic expression of Sufi love poetry is evident in Pandit Amarnathji's music, composer of the khayal, who created over 250 compositions in various ragas in a genre that has come to be known as the khayal bandish. Panditji's bandishes came to be 'revealed' to him in the highly-charged moments of his life, over an entire lifetime. Sometimes he would wait for years for a song to be completed, when an 'asthai' or first part would come to him, for example, in Lahore in the 1930s, and its second part or 'antara' 30 years later, quietly, while travelling in a train from Bhopal to Delhi.
He expressed by breaking journey at Ratlam, one night, under the canopy of a large, ancient oak tree.
The story of his khayal songs begins with 'dhyana' or concentration. In one song, the 'nayika' or heroine speaks of 'stealing the dhyana of the beloved' without taking his permission. In another song, dhyana leads to 'simran', or the 'continuous, unbroken remembrance' of the beloved, where the souls begin to experience a natural kind of telepathy. 'You and I, without speaking, without hearing, know what our hearts say. When I found you, O beloved, I found myself', says the nayika. In this simran, if there is 'darshan' in spiritual terms the 'vision', in worldly terms the meeting it is the source of 'param sukh', or eternal peace. But as long as the souls are in the body, this peace will not remain for long. The worldly destinies of the lovers will surrender to the inevitabi-lity of larger forces, which bring in separation, and what has been celebrated in legend and lore as 'birha', the longing between man and woman, which is really the longing between the human soul and God. In one song, 'the days turn into the nights of the mind', and such endless days pass by till the soul is numbed by the pain, and 'it doesn't even matter any longer if the beloved knows of it, or does not know'. Birha has turned to 'vairagya', dispassion, when 'happiness, even the hope of happiness, has turned to ash'.
What is that larger force that has brought this about? It is the direct antonym of spirituality itself the Void. Spiritual aliena-tion or what is also commonly known as fundamentalism. Being incapable of love itself, the Void has always victimised spirituality. It gets activated and becomes obsessed by spirituality in a negative sense, because spirituality, for it, is a mirror unto itself. 'There is only one wonder that I see in this world', sings Panditji about this state, 'man's karma and his soul are not at one.
Understand that this body will not be eternal, nor eternal will be the ego'.
It is the Void that separates the lovers in this world, though not in the other-world. In the other-world they will not only merge, but merge with the divine. In the other-world there will be 'moksha', or liberation. And yet, even after moksha, as Panditji once said, 'the soul, in a deeply compassionate state, begins to wish to return to the world, and experience pain once again for the sake of humanity so as to reduce its quantum in the cosmos. And that is why saints and lovers are born again and again to enact their 'leela' the role divine.