Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Sufi And Islamic Mysticism

The Sufi And Islamic Mysticism Image
It was in the course of his practice of Islam that the 19th Century contemplative Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886) had one of his remarkable visions: "I was meditating under the banyan tree when I was shown a Mussalman (a Muslim). He came to me with rice in an earthen plate. The Mother (Kali) showed me that there exists only One and not two. It is Satchidananda (Truth - Knowledge - Bliss - Absolute, Brahman) alone that has taken various forms; He alone has become the world and its living beings."

Ramakrishna was initiative into Islamic practice by a devout Sufi Govinda Rai. He repeated the holy name of Allah and recited the namaz (the formal prayer of Islam); the Hindu mode of thought vanished from his mind during this period, which culminated in his vision. As his disciple Mahendra observed: "The mighty river of Islam also led him back to the Ocean of the Absolute."

Ramakrishna's life is unique in the annals of religious experience. Although born to an orthodox Hindu Brahmin family of India and trained as a priest, he practiced a wide catholicity of religious expression. He advocated the positive acceptance of other faiths and resolved the dilemma of religious plurality by direct experience.

By communicating with God through the path of Islamic mysticism, Ramakrishna showed a new way of transcending religious barriers. It was in this spirit that his disciple Vivekananda (1863-1902) wrote: "Practical Advaitism (Non-Duality), which looks upon and behaves to all mankind as one's own soul, was never developed among the Hindus universally. I am firmly persuaded that without the help of practical Islam, theories of Vedantism, however fine and wonderful they may be, are entirely valueless to the vast mass of mankind. For our own motherland, a junction of the two systems Hinduism and Islam is the only hope."

:: Quoted from The Best of Speaking Tree (The Times of India) - volume 1 Traveling Many Roads to the Infinite by N S Chandramouli

Vivekananda, Ramakrishna's most illustrious disciple, is considered by some to be one of his most important legacies. Vivekananda spread the message of Ramakrishna across the world. He also helped introduce Hinduism to the west. Vivekananda was a great admirer of brotherhood of Islam and unity which is unparallel and he wished that great Vedantic philosophy and Islam could come together. Indeed Vedantic teaching very much address in the level of the Haqiqat (the Inner Divine Reality) of Islam and Hindus have great things to learn from Islam.

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