View Full Version : Sikhism and Sufism in India

05 September 2019, 11:18 PM

Sufism in generally associated with Islam. But at least in India, it was mysticism, both among the adherents of Hinduism and Islam that molded the religious thinking of many people.

The Hindu mystics like Baba Nanak reshaped the spiritual practices of people of Punjab. He was free to express his thoughts that clashed with the existing mainstream Hinduism. The legacy of Guru Nanak and that of the next nine gurus culminated in the establishment of a new religion - Sikhism.

Muslim mystics unfortunately did not have much leeway in opposing the established practices of Islam. The Islamic clergy backed by Islamic rulers made sure that the Islamic mystics did not stray too far and renounce their mother religion. So the followers of their mystics established different orders within the mother religion of Islam. By all accounts, Bulle Shah seems to have gone mad with his feelings of love for the Divine, but he could not leave Islam.

For all practical purposes, mystics from both religions may be called Sufis as the term refers to mysticism - a free flowing connection with the Divine, but one group had complete freedom of thought and action, whereas the other one had well defined boundaries. The muslim sufi poetry is sung as qwalies by all Punjabis - Muslim, Sikh and Hindu. But the poetry of Guru Nanak and other gurus is considered sacred and is sung respectfully to North Indian classical music, and it is done only by Sikhs and Hindus. Muslims do not sing the Gurbani or recite the poetry of any non-islamic sufis. So Muslims limit themselves to spiritual experiences of Islamic mystics whereas Hindus/Sikhs don't mind being infected with the 'kalams' of muslim mystics. It feels weird when Hindus/Sikhs start screaming 'Allah Hoo...Allah Hoo' as part of the islamic sufi poetry recitation. They feel like they are being secular and taking the higher moral ground in accepting all sufi thought/poetry even when it conflicts with the Divinity of their own faith(s).

The orders established by their followers in the name of Islamic mystics took to prostalization and pushed their efforts towards conversions. These followers had a field day in regurgitating the divine experiences of the mystics and pushing the lay people to convert with the tacit support of the muslim rulers. That was one way in which many, many Hindus got hoodwinked into a dead end street called Islam.