The media has been roasting me for their imagined sense that I saw Lord Ram in Rahul Gandhi. Surprisingly several persons I thought to be sensible, joined the chorus on ‘sycophancy’.
The Hindi media went berserk about Rahul Gandhi being 'compared' to Lord Ram. The use of an analogy from the life of Lord Ram, I believe, is part of our Indian heritage. Do we not draw Lakshman Rekha in our everyday conversation? And if I were to say, he was God, it would at best be metaphorical surely.
Personal Admiration Contorted for Ratings
Enriching language with allusions and similes for someone we admire, from the life of the avatar of Bhagwan can hardly be a denigration of the Holy being. But who is to battle TRPs!
For the uninformed, it might be useful to reflect on simile, allusion, illusion, metaphor, idiom, godly, godfearing, muhavra, roopanter, roopak. The world is not what you might think it is and you cannot make it something by saying so.
Looking for godly attributes – real or imagined – in a leader may not be a rationalistic move, but all religions try to narrow the gap between the human and the divine. Popular Hinduism describes God being present in every particle: 'kan kan mein Bhagwan'.
The Bhakti movement was based on immersing oneself in the devotion to God. So did the Sufis by seeking to obliterate an individual’s identity to unite with God.
Sufism Professes Oneness With The Divine Entity
Sufi metaphysics has the central idea of Wahdat or Unity with God.
Wahdat-ul-Wujood (Unity of Being) essentially believes that the only truth in the universe is God, and thus, all things exist within God only. Wahdat-ul-Shuhud (Apparentism, or Unity of Witness), on the other hand, holds that any experience of unity between God and the created world is only in the mind of the believer. Otherwise, God and his creation are separate. The state where there is no difference between God and human being who is trying to achieve a sense that there is 'No One Except God'.
The concepts of Sufi metaphysics have been discussed in the written form by Ibn Arabi in Fusus-al-hikam which he uses for analysis of Oneness – the metaphor of mirrors. The author compares an object reflected on countless mirrors to the relationship between God and his creatures. God is the central object and human beings, the mirrors that reflect His eminence. Once an individual accepts that there is no separation between a human and his God, the path of Oneness begins.
The Sufis distinguish Lataif-as-Sitta (the six subtleties) as Nafs, Qalb, Sirr, Ruh, Khafi, and Akhfa. These lataif (singular: latifa) designate various psycho-spiritual "organs" or faculties of sensory and supra-sensory perception.
Some mystics see ruh or qalb as “batin” or “the esoteric self”. They believe that a strong soul brings them close to the divine. Strengthening of the soul comes from the spiritual training received from a spiritual guide.
The Various States & Stages of Being
Hāl is a state of consciousness that arises in the course of a spiritual journey (sulūk), either within or outside of the ritual practice of remembrance (dhikr). Among these are states of bliss (wajd), bewilderment (hayrah), etc.
The transient nature of these is contrasted with the more abiding quality of a maqām (station), ie, a stage along the spiritual path. A manzil, literally meaning 'destination' in Sufism, is a plane of consciousness. There are seven manzils along the path to God.
A maqaam is one's spiritual station or developmental level as distinct from one's haal, or state of consciousness. This is seen as the outcome of one's effort to transform oneself, whereas the haal is a gift.
Fanaa is an important Sufi term for 'extinction'. It means to annihilate the self to realise the divine, although remaining physically alive. Fanaa is abstention from sin and the expulsion from the heart of all love other than Divine Love. It includes the expulsion of greed, lust, desire, vanity, show, etc. In the state of Fanaa, the reality of the true and only relationship asserts itself to bring the realisation that our only real relationship is with Allah.
A person's baqaa, which literally means "permanency" in distinction with matters transitory, is a term in Sufi philosophy which describes the ultimate life with God and is a manzil that comes after achieving fanaa.
This ultimate state of perfection, called baqaa by the Sufis, is termed 'Najat' in Islam, 'Nirvana' in Buddhism, 'Salvation' in Christianity, and 'Mukhti' in Hinduism. This is the highest state attainable. All ancient prophets and sages experienced it and taught it to the world. Baqaa is the original state of communion with God.
Now when we look at Sant Kabir’s vision, it is not very different from the Sufi idea.
moko kahaan dhoondhen bande,
main to tere paas mein
na teerath mein na moorat mein,
na ekaant nivaas mein
na mandir mein, na masjid mein
na kaabe kailaash mein
na main jap mein, na main tap mein
na main vrat upaas mein
na main kriya kram mein rahata, na hee yog sannyaas mein.
nahin praan mein nahin pind mein, na brahmaand aakaash mein
na main trikutee bhavar mein, sab svaanso ke svaas mein.
khojee hoe turat mil jaoon ek pal kee hee talaash mein.
kahe kabeer suno bhaee saadho, main to hoon vishavaas mein.
When the media or political personalities fail or refuse to accept the allusions I use to enrich the language of my public discourse, it makes me wonder if one should surrender to mediocrity without ado. Our religions are sublime and philosophical but are under threat of being reduced to platitudes and self-serving, narrow, meaningless political calculations. Will God ever forgive us?
(Salman Khurshid is a designated senior advocate, Congress party leader, and former Minister of External Affairs. He tweets @salman7khurshid. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)