Thursday, March 15, 2007
New Delhi: We cannot help being born black, white or Caucasian, any more than we can decide the faith into which we are born.
And, just because we speak different languages, eat different foods, have different customs, and follow different religions does not mean that we cannot live next to each other.
Few countries in the world have such an ancient and diverse culture as India. Stretching back to over 5000 years, India's culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration, which eventually absorbed the Indian way of life. It is this variety, which is a special hallmark of India.
This can be clearly seen at the shrine of Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi. Those who come here and sing in praise of the almighty, connect in a bond of faith and love.
The show of reverence knows no caste, creed or religion. It is one of the most revered Sufi shrines in the subcontinent.
Sufism is a school for the actualization of divine ethics. It involves an enlightened inner being, not intellectual proof; revelation and witnessing, not logic... It is a faith of the masses and for centuries, it has drawn on and has been influenced by the practice of both Hinduism and Islam, in India.
Sufi saints were both popular and influential because they identified themselves with popular traditions, customs, practices and beliefs.
"I have been coming here for a long time now. I come here to seek blessings and offer my respects. Of course inherent faith should be there. People from all religions come here," a visitor to the dargah says.
Deepankar Gupta, a sociologist, agrees that it is very important to uphold these secular traditions, which form a part of India's composite culture.
"Yes, there has been a composite culture. Sufism has a lot of elements that were kind of Hindu in orientation. Sikhism grew out of Hinduism, Jainism grew, Buddhism grew. But I must learn to respect a Sikh for being a Sikh. That is very important in secularism," says Gupta.
This dargah, therefore, serves as the perfect place to seek solace irrespective of caste, colour or creed.