Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dance of the Dervish

My father used to take me to visit the shrine of a certain Muslim seer, back home at my native place. I have clear vivid memories of that place which seem so majestic, grandiose at the same time eerily quiet. Once during a special occasion at the shrine, I heard enthralling voices along with a rhythmic accompaniment of percussions and other instruments which blended so beautifully with the fragrant holy smoke emerging from a huge incense bowl placed before the singers. They were dressed in flowing white tunics and their eyes had the soormah – a special sort of mascara. Bearded and long haired, their voices rose and fell with rapturous melody, and their beautiful faces strained in devotion and the flow of music. The whole atmosphere was divine. The singers sang in Urdu. The melodic patterns of the beat were in perfect harmony with the lush green surroundings of the holy shrine. I could figure a bit of what their words meant. They spoke of “the body not being your body, but that being a divine possession of the Lord and His will. How dare you let yourself or anyone tamper with it?” I am reminded of a line which said “There only Light everywhere and it is Your Light that prevails and I submit myself to this Light!” It was magickal. I was lost. And I found myself at the same time. It was with great efforts that I had to bring myself to the 'real' world and go back home with Dad.

Sufi music does wonders. It is the kind of music which is extremely emotional, high on energy, devotional, intensely spiritual and that which preaches the ultimate love of God. I am an agnostic non believer, a born Hindu Brahmin. Still I have always been drawn towards knowing things which are so simple yet so very complex to comprehend. And Sufi represents the mystic realm of Islam. I have often been bemused by looking at the dervishes swaying in a perpetual state of euphoria. They are supposed to be in a direct dialogue with the divine world. It’s a selfless urge to plunge into the spiritual plane with no disturbance being that great a disturbance in their path to stop them from whirling. The divine dervishes hold their right hand to towards the heavens, palm held outstretched for “receiving from God” and left hand titled down earthwards “giving oneself to the earth”. Their head titled towards the right hand which is a sign of submission to the Lord. The dervish becomes a direct connect between the spiritual and the material world. They show how minuscule we are in front of the great Universe. The very thought humbles the mind. The whirling dervishes in white flowing robes and head gear swirling round and round in circular trance-like state under the influence of some very profound tunes, make a uniquely inspirational sight. The dance of the dervishes signifies the loss of conditionality. It resembles joy that exists in solemn undertones of detachment. It marks the sense of being at one with the greatness of the earth. Something that we all have long forgotten.

No comments: