If the advancement in education, science, trade, and technology, transformed our economic and social life into a more modern phase, at the same time it has deprived us of few glorious cultural and social values which can hardly be now retrieved back.
I feel we have lost several magnificent cultural traditions and values to this technological advancement. The present-day society has almost turned self sufficient in terms of its day to needs.
At individual level one has become independent to an extent that has limited the communications with his own fellow community. This phenomenon has given rise to the concept of self, which was missing in traditional societies.
Contrary to it, in traditional societies there was the concept of joint families; people lived jointly with love and affection. They used to celebrate happiness jointly and shared their grief together.
Generally it is observed that due to spread of modernisation, things have changed very fast, that has affected our social and cultural order as well. The traditional communities and dynasties have broken up and now families are breaking up very fast.
There were times when there existed no demarcations and no such high walls around our homes. The neighbors would leave their homes unlocked, but these are the times when everything is disintegrated and neighbourhoods are demarcated by high walls and iron gates.
In deed there may be several other factors responsible for this type of disintegration, but it has been widely observed that the spirit of love, faith, and brotherhood in the modern societies have considerably declined; several of the people have lost their trust and faith, they would hardly believe in one another. They have turned self centered. The once loving, caring and simple society looks to have almost disappeared and disintegrated.
History is witness to the fact that the traditional society of Kashmir has originally been shaped by God fearing Reshi and Sufi saints, Shah e Humdan, Sheikh Noor ud Din and Lal Ded were the icons who built our simple society on Reshi and Sufi doctrines, and showed us the true path of God and spirit of love, tolerance, and sympathy.
Their mission was carried forward by the Reshi and Sufi movements. There then existed no different schools of thought. It was the philosophy of only oneness of God and true message of Islam which was founded here by Amir e Kabeer Mir Syed Ali Hamadani and later cultivated and promoted here by a line of Reshi and Sufi saints who followed their masters.
The local people were also closely associated with the Sufi institutions called Khanqahs. In these khanqahs people, regardless of casted, creed and religious beliefs were most welcome and taught the philosophy of oneness of GOD and the doctrine of interfaith and inter-caste, respect.
The Reshi and Sufi saints were the noble souls, which in their religious teachings and practices have been less vocal and more practical, Instead of spreading hearted and dividing people of the same religion into different sects, they have been connecting people of other faiths with God.
They always cultivated the message of love and brotherhood in different communities. They showed us the path of tolerance and self respect. These saints helped people to distance from social evils and social hatred. It helped in cultivating a more tolerant and peaceful society which was free from worldly greed and anger.
I would like to share a memory of my childhood days. When I was still a village lad and had no such understanding of good and bad. Adjacent to my village was an annual Sufi festival, (locally called urs) held at a local Sufi shrine. We as village kids also went to the shrine to enjoy the celebrations. I saw the local devotees thronging the shrine with their offering and seeking blessing of God at this Sufi centre.
There was a huge gathering of devotees irrespective of any caste, creed, and religion. A weak, tall, white turbaned man who looked like a priest had just concluded his sermon. Now he was making supplication (Dua) with his both arms raised upwards.
The noise of the gathered came to standstill, and there was only on sound that was of amen from the whole crowd. His first lines of the Dua were in Arabic which I could not understand, but when he spoke in my local language, I could understand the meaning. I was gazing at his face which turned pale and his eyes were fully moistened with tears, the droplets spread over his face.
A God fearing silence prevailed all over, but suddenly amidst silence I heard cries which from the gathering. The entire scene turned emotional, like mourning. I could see every eye full of tears; I could also not control myself and cried more loudly.
It was really a heart touching event and just looked everybody surrendered his self and submitted before their creator. The prayers revolved around the Istigrafaar, submission and seeking the blessing of God for a better crop season free from draughts and other natural calamities.
But one prayer line which struck my mind and soul, and which I still remember was perhaps the first line of his kashmeri Dua, ‘Ya Allah preith Hendis the Musalmans Reham” meaning O God! shower your blessings upon every Hindu and every Muslim. The Sufi priest in his prayers first mentioned Hindu and then Muslim.
At that time I was a child and could not understand its import. But when I grew up and started to study Kashmiri Sufism and Reshism, learned few lyrics of Shiek ul Alam and Lal Ded. I could understand the real meaning of the priest’s prayers.
In one of the verses of Lal Ded the same though runs: ‘Par the pan hewoy zanun, (to treat everybody alike). We all belong to one God. The theory revolves around the Sufi doctrine of Wahdat ul Wajud.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.