Archive for the 'mysticism' Category

[ blogrumination: intifada! ]

At a screening of Jashn-e-Azadi in Hyderabad I was asked if there was a reason why the word ‘intifada’ was used in the context of Kashmir. I tried to explain that the news of the first Palestinian Intifada (and in particular, the television images) came to Kashmir at a very crucial time: in the aftermath of the infamous rigged election of 1987 . The character of the street battles that followed surely took inspiration from what was happening in Palestine…

Someone then asked me what the precise meaning of intifada was. The unsure nature of my response has egged on another viewer of that day to send us this – thanks, Bhashwati:

As a verb intifada means “to be shaken, to wake up”. As a noun it means “shudder, awakening, uprising”, with the implication of “a shaking off” — referring to the process of shaking off sleep or shaking off the dust from one’s feet.
In the context of 37 years of Israeli military occupation (as of 2004), Intifada represents a ‘shaking off’ of the chains of occupation.
The word was first coined in 1987, to describe the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli military rule.

Last week there was a connected comment on this blog from yet another viewer of that days TEFLU screening – thanks, Shafeeq:

This was something I had to ask after the screening at TEAFLU, Hyderabad:
In your docu, the resistance seem to have the language of Islam, also there is this reference to ‘Intifada”. Now, even though an influence of cable TV, intifada carries other connotations too, of an Islamic struggle against the infidel imperialists.
So, what exactly is the role of Islam, is it a garb in which resistance carries itself forward? or is it a programme in itself?
Is Kashmir existing in a metaphysical space (of course, a resistance fighter was pointing to metaphysical battle) for the Kashmiris, in oneness with Palestine and Chechnya, or are they aware of the concrete geopolitics which then can’t avoid Pakistan from referencing? Can’t that be one of the reason why while West [of Kashmir] is so familiar to Kashmiris, South [of Kashmir] is so distant?

I think this is an important question, which I’m unable to answer. We’re posting it here in the hope that sometime in the near future (days, weeks, months, even years), some people will reflect upon this, and share their ideas with all of us.

[ blog connection 2 – wasim bhat ]

here is something on mystic poets of Kashmir by Wasim Bhat. it would have been a disservice to let it go just as a comment:

Alamdaar, the Standard Bearer-I

by Wasim Bhat

Salar Sanz lived in a time that is somewhere after the 1320 just after the marauding hordes of Zulchu the Mongol, had sacked the region. Salar was a person with a mystical bent of mind, his ancestors had settled in the Kashmir Valley after migrating from the outlying area of Kishtwar. The turning point in Salar Sanz’s life came when he met Hazrat Mir Syed Hussein Simnani, a renowned mystic who lived in Kulgam in south Kashmir. Salar Sanz spent a time with the mystic and eventually accepted Islam at his hands. Henceforth he was called Sheikh Salar u Din. In some years Salar u Din was married to a lady called Sodar and they lived at Kaimuh in Kashmir.

It was here that a son was born to them, he was called Noor u Din, the birth and the subsequent events after the birth of Noor u Din are wrapped in layers of legend. The legend goes that Noor u Din after he was born would not suckle at his mother’s breast. At this his parents were completely distraught thinking that if this continued their son would die of starvation. As if to answer their prayers Lalladed who was a renowned Shaivaite mystic of those times appeared at their door and took Nund, for this is how he was affectionately called, in her lap and suckled him and the infant who had refused for so long to suckle started to do so eagerly and hungrily.

This veracity of this incident is shrouded in legend but numerous historical sources attest to this and it finds a mention in many writings of the time and as well subsequent writings. The point however to note is that through this incident a spiritual event and a lineage is established which Noor u Din extolled repeatedly when he became older. In one of his shruks he says, [1]

Tas Padmanpore chay Lallay

She, the Lalla of Padmanpore,
Drunk the nectar long and deep,
And beheld Shiva with a bewildered eye,
Lord! Grant me the same demeanour.

This intimation of a spiritual lineage is a constant in the life and the poetry of Noor u Din. The pivot of spiritual and the mystical universe is the spiritual master without whom the effort spiritual efforts are futile and likely to go awry………

At the age of thirteen Noor u Din married Zaided, they had two children a girl who was named Zoonded and a boy Baba Haider. Apparently Noor u Din was leading a happy marital life but underneath the surface there was a simmering spiritual discontent. Noor u Din yearned to satiate his spiritual yearnings and at twenty he left home and started to live in cave in Kaimuh. He abandoned his family and children. His family was distraught at his action; sources relate that in an attempt to persuade him to come back home to his family his two children were one evening brought to the cave and left there. They were found dead the next morning.

This incident is a formative and critical one which symbolizes the break with the materials world and its concerns for Noor u Din. Now there is nothing that ties him, he is unfettered of the shackles that bind ordinary mortals.

Sources relate another dramatic event that happens around this time that reemphasizes Noor u Din break from worldly ties. This event contains within itself one of the earliest miracles attributed to him. This event is something that Noor u Din himself preserves in one of his shruks. It relates that his mother implores him to return to his family and claims her milk back on which he had suckled if he does not do so. It is related that he calls his mother and mildly reprimands her for her insistence and finally asks her to fetch a pot, he strikes a rock with his staff and milk gushes forth from the rock, he then asks his mother to collect the milk thus freeing himself of this maternal claim. The event again serves to achieve a breaking free, a rending asunder of the claims and the ties of the world that are but fetters in the path of the mystic and the spiritual traveler.

Finally Noor u Din is free of the claims that the world makes upon him to embark on his spiritual quest.

And what is the substance of this quest and what is the goal, Noor u Din himself describes the state that he seeks in his spiritual quest, a state of faqr, this state is an exaltation for the mystic, its merits are valued beyond measure, the lineage of this state is traced back to the Prophet who in the mystical discourses is the Insan i Kamil or the Perfect Man. It is related in a tradition of the Prophet that the Prophet said “al faqr u fakhri”, that the state of faqr is my pride.

The Prophet being the perfect example this state is then what the mystic strives to in all that he is and does.

Faqr chuy dozakhas warun thuro [2]

Faqr is salvation from the fire of hell,
Faqr, the Prophets observed so well,
Faqr is profit in faith, in sustenance as well,
Faqr is the sweet fragrance of the Yemberzal.

At the age of thirty six Noor u Din decided to leave the cave dwelling at Kaimuh and went on journeys across the Valley, his wanderings took him far and wide and the narratives of his journeys that have come to us through different sources relate incidents that are interspersed with his engaging encounters. A letmotif in these encounters is the engagements of Noor u Din with the Islamic and Hindu clerics of his time. What appears most in these encounters is how the clerical or organized religious establishment sees Noor u Din as a threat because he posits for himself a position that is liminal and that speaks to them from the outside and therefore is critical and in most instances as the narratives demonstrates establishes the moral superiority of the Sheikh, as he was now increasingly referred to by the population of the region.

The Sheikh established a mystic lineage or Silsila that he called the Rishi. In one of his shruks he clearly establishes himself at the final link of a mystical spiritual lineage that ultimately goes back to the Prophet. In this scheme then according to Noor u Din, Ahmad or the Prophet is the ‘Awal’ Rishi or the first Rishi and Noor u Din the seventh in line.

The Rishis of Kashmir, the disciples of the Sheikh carried forward the practices and the values of this lineage and in time the people of the region identified Kashmir so closely with the spirit of the Rishis that the seventh Rishi, Noor u Din came to be refereed as Alamdar i Kashmir, or the standard bearer of Kashmir.

Endnotes

[1] A shruk is a four lined composition in verse and usually the lines are in rhyme.

[2] Faqr is a state of piety of man towards the world and his fellow men and of austerity unto himself. It has material as well as spiritual connotations.


Jashn-e-Azadi is available through various online outlets like amazon

You can now buy a DVD of the film, or Download it and watch
More than two years in the making, Jashn-e-azadi [How We Celebrate Freedom], is a feature length documentary by film-maker Sanjay Kak which explores the implications of the struggle for Azadi, for freedom, in the Kashmir valley.

Click here to watch the Trailer

As India celebrates the 60th anniversary of it's Independence, this provocative and quietly disturbing new film raises questions about freedom in Kashmir, and about the degrees of freedom in India.

And here is a short Interview with the film-maker.

This Jashn-e-Azadi blog is an open forum for conversations about the film, about Kashmir, and about Azadi itself.

For more information about screenings, sales and broadcast write to
jashneazadifilmATgmail.com

links

For dispatches from the present

Voices of protest can be found here or call you from here

Stone in my hand

In the season of solutions, the late Eqbal Ahmad's wise words have to be remembered

Kashmir blog has the best one line blog take on Kashmir - they call it paradise, I call it home.

Zarafshan is a Kashmiri blogger whose blog (and blogrolls) are "just ways of dispersing news, views and feelings!"

For a considered discussion on the vexed issue of Pandits in Kashmir see Kasheer. And for more on this Ephemeral Existence

And a discovery called Paradise Lost

RSS Kashmir via Greater Kashmir

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previews

Festival screenings

Thiruvananthapuram
May 26, 2008 / International Video Festival of Kerala
Munich
Apr 28, 2008 / Dok.Fest
Amsterdam
Feb 10, 2008 / Himalaya Film Festival
Amsterdam
Nov 28, 2007 / International Documentary Festival
Kathmandu
Oct 12, 2007 / Film South Asia
Delhi
July 22, 2007 / Osian’s Cinefan film festival

Previous Previews

London
7 Dec 2007 / School of Oriental & African Studies & Sacred Media Cow
Leeds
6 Dec 2007 / Workshop Theatre, School of English, University of Leeds
Egham, Surrey
3 Dec 2007 / Royal Holloway, University of London
New Delhi
26 Nov 2007 / Russian Centre of Science & Culture & Magic Lantern Foundation

New Jersey
Oct 5, 2007 / College of New Jersey
New York City
Oct 4, 2007 / Columbia School of Journalism
Austin
Oct 2, 2007 / University of Texas
Philadelphia
Sep 28, 2007 / Temple University
Philadelphia
Sep 27, 2007 / University of Pennsylvania
New York State
Sep 26, 2007 / Vassar College
New York City
Sep 25, 2007 / New School for Social Research
Boston
Sep 23, 2007 @ MIT
Toronto
Sep 22, 2007 / SALDA
Toronto
Sep 21, 2007 / University of Toronto
New Haven
Sep 20, 2007 / Yale University
Minneapolis
Sep 18, 2007 / University of Minnesota

Hyderabad
Aug 10, 2007 / Pure Docs, Prasad Preview, Banjara Hills

interrupted previews!! [[ MUMBAI ...
July 27, 2007 (Fri)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan, 85 Sayani Road, Prabhadevi
July 30, 2007 (Mon)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Prithvi House, Juhu...]]

Bangalore
July 14, 2007 / Institute of Agrl. Technologies, Queens Road
Bangalore
July 13, 2007 / Centre for Film & Drama, Millers Road
Nashik
June 13, 2007, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Hall
Pune
June 12, 2007, National Film Archive of India Auditorium
Guwahati
May 29, 2007, Blue Moon Hotel
Shillong
May 26, 2007, Assam Club, Laban
Patna
May 12, 2007, Hindi Bhavan Hall
Srinagar
March 31, 2007, Tagore Hall
New Delhi
March 23, 2007, Sarai-CSDS
New Delhi
March 13, 2007, India Habitat Center

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