From The Times of India
149. Celebrating Death, Not Mourning It By YOUSUF SAEED -13/1/2000
ABOUT 16 days after Id-ul-fitr, many Muslims and some non-Muslims in and around Delhi take part in another festive occasion they call the Satrahvin Sharif -- literally Holy Seventeenth. This is the Urs or death anniversary of Hazrat Amir Khusro, the favourite companion of 12th century Saint Nizamuddin. Thousands of people throng the twin Dargah and offer their nazrana, of flowers, chadars and sweets, say the fatehas, oblation, tie threads of mannat, votive vows on the tomb's jali, or just sit there listening to ecstatic qawwalis. There is also Charaghan, illumination with lamps, inside the tomb, and outside, everyone makes merry in a colourful fete, which goes on for three to four days.
One might ask as to why someone's death is celebrated and not mourned. According to Khwaja Hasan Sani of Dargah Nizamuddin, the death for common people could be a sad, mournful affairs, but for a sufi it is only a transition -- the final step to the soul's communion with God, a milan or wedding with the divine which the sufi had been aspiring his/her entire life -- hence the celebration. In fact the Arabic word Uroos from which Urs is taken, literally means a wedding.
There may be thousands of saints in Indian subcontinent whose tombs become centre of such occasions at least once every year, yet the legend of Amir Khusro and Nizamuddin Aulia is something special in the history of Indian Sufism. Amir Khusro, according to the popular belief, was a steadfast sufi and the most favourite disciple of Nizamuddin Aulia. However, the contemporary scholars of history and Persian language know him as a court poet who successfully managed to appease more than seven rulers of the Delhi Sultanate with his charming poetry that can still be considered some of the best literature produced in the entire Persian world.
A typical devotee visiting the tomb, who may not be aware of this reality, continues to respect Amir Khusro as a saint, of no lesser degree than Nizamuddin Aulia himself, and requests him to mediate between him (i.e., the devotee) and the God -- a plea that is made on the tombs of almost all saints due to their supposed proximity with God. As an Amir, noble, in the court, Khusro may have indulged in all sorts of material pursuits, but only in his pir's Khaneqah did he find real love and an atmosphere for the evolution of his creative and spiritual faculties.
Whether Khusro was a formal Sufi or not, and whether he received the Khilafat -- deputation in the sufi order -- from Nizamuddin Aulia, has always been debated. Culling out from the myths and authentic history, it can be assumed that Khusro must have made an impact by using his creative genius, in not only bridging a gap between the court and Nizamuddin Aulia, but also in making a number of innovations in poetry and music.
The death of the two was also a peculiar event. It is narrated that when Nizamuddin Aulia breathed his last, Khusro was away in Bengal on Mohammad Tughlaq's royal mission. When he heard the sad news, he couldn't control himself, and rushed back to Delhi. On seeing his pir's grave he is supposed to have read the following Hindvi doha impromptu:
Gori sovay sej pay, mukh par daray kes;/ Chal Khusro ghar aapnay, saanjh bhaee chahu des.The fair maiden rests on the bed;/ her face covered with a lock of hair;/ let us oh Khusro, return home now,/ the dark settles in four corners of the world.
After this, it is said, Khusro's condition started deteriorating and within exactly six months he died, or rather his love met with the ultimate consummation. This incidence and the above couplet is remembered as the highest point in Khusro's relationship with Nizamuddin and also probably the reason for their becoming a combined legend.
Interestingly, there are many other dohas and songs ascribed to Khusro, especially the Babul -- sung by many North Indian women at the bidaee or departure of their daughter on her wedding -- that are sung by qawwals in the Dargah too. For instance:
Bahut rahi babul ghar dulhan chal tere pi ne bulaee/Khusro chali sasurari sajni, sang nahin koi jaee-- You have stayed in your father's home too long;/ come, your beloved is calling now;/ dear Khusro, you have to go to your in-law's alone; no friends will accompany you now.
150. Principles must to make life happy' By Roli Srivastava -14/1/2000
MUMBAI: For the last five decades Srila Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, president of the Sri Chaitanya Gaudia Math, has been propagating the Vedic concept of `Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (the whole world is one family), to counter the present trend of violence and cruelty and bring together humanity, irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
Heading the Gaudia math for 21 years now, he follows the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the eminent Vaishnavite saint. Srila Ballabh Maharaj, who was here recently, spoke to The Times of India, among other things, about the role played by the math. Excerpts:
Though all religions have laid emphasis on peace and equality of all human beings, it is often argued that religion itself has been the root cause of unrest in the world. Please comment.
Religion cannot be the cause of social unrest. It has always taught non-violence. `Dharma' means that which holds together society or humanity. However, fanaticism in the name of religion is not right. Fanaticism is misuse of religion. Our scriptures have not advised any activity which causes unrest.
We should always remember that if we do not follow principles in life, we cannot live happily as a society. Through our preachings we try to make others understand this concept and bring them to the path of spiritual progress.
314. Miraculous deity writes! =17/6/00=By Bansy Kalappa
BANGALORE: Chowdeshwari Mata, a panchaloha idol can write! Ask a question and you will receive a written answer! Sounds irrational, bizarre, but true. At an ashram near the city, a small group of devotees chant bhajans and wait eagerly for the divine word.
The deity is from the Dasarighatta village 100 km from here. If asked a question either orally or even in the mind, the deity writes back the reply. During a session, two devout villagers pick up the deity and write as if possessed. Prabhulinga Swamigalu, the chief priest who had done it once, said it is an unforgettable experience to write, under the influence of Devi.
In a live encounter, this correspondent was witness to the ethereal experience of watching the deity respond with answers to the many questions. In one of the divine question-answer sessions at the ashram, a woman stepped out from among the audience and asked a question in her mind. The bearers of the deity, Shivanna and Lingappa, then picked up the palanquin bearing the deity, which wrote down effortlessly on a rice flour base, the head of the deity almost acting like the nib of a pen. Almost as if out of a mythological!
Even more surprising is the fact that both the bearers of the deity are absolutely illiterate. When asked how they managed to write when they were completely illiterate, they could hardly explain. They said it was a great force that they felt which guided their arms and got them to write.
The written answers are in Kannada script. The answer to the woman's first question: Prarthane maadi (say a prayer). At this divine order from the deity, the devotees break into a resonant round of chanting. Melodious Devi bhajans rent the air for close to half an hour and the deity is ready to answer the next question. The devout gather at the feet of the deity, prostrate first and mentally ask a question. The deity responds with another answer.
The gathering is thrilled. The devotees' doubts are all sorted out. No one else even gets to know the question. Priest Prabhulinga Swamigalu says the original temple in Dasarighatta village is more than a hundred years old. The ancient temple, once just a small one-roomed structure, was later expanded. The Adichunchanagiri Mutt authorities later acquired it.