Have you ever heard a dervish sing? If not, use your imagination. Open your window and what do you hear? Imagine that you are hearing approaching footsteps, while someone is singing. It has to be a dervish, because his song is telling a Sufi tale, complaining of love’s separation.
Do you like to listen to a song of a dervish in real life? Why don’t you visit the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi? It is the habit to go to the nearby shrine of his closest disciple first, i.e. Hazrat Amir Khusro. Music was prayer for Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, while Hazrat Amir Khusro created qawwali, devotional music, for his master. His poetry resounds in the songs of the dervishes in India.
In case you cannot visit the sacred places of the Sufis in India, the song of the dervish need not be like the notes from a distant flute to you. Meher Murshed can make it a true story. He is the author of Song of the dervish. This book pays attention to the life and teachings of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and people belonging to his Sufi circle. When you open Song of a dervish, you’ll be enabled to travel to the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and thus learn something about this dervish who lived from 1244-1325.
Why would you be interested in a dervish who lived so long ago? Is is uberhaupt possible to accurately describe him or have his life and teachings disappeared in the mist of time? When turning the pages of Song of a dervish you’ll see how the spirit of this fourteenth century Sufi master still pervades, directs and uplifts the lives of those who never knew him, yet feel his guidance, and respond to his love in the twenty-first century. Dr. Bruce B. Lawrence has helped the author to separate facts from fiction. Dr. Lawrence is an authority regarding Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. He has translated the authentic discourses of this Sufi from Persian into English.
The author, Meher Murshed, is not the only one, who, in modern times, experiences the attraction of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. In his Song of the dervish you’ll read several true stories of contemporary people who are guided by him and receive inward healing. These stories are taken from modern life, not avoiding descriptions of many extreme difficulties like violence, rape, being unemployed, severe illness, the death of a son, etc. You’ll meet contemporary people, who, instead of merely running away from such disasters, are enabled after some time to listen to such a song in mineur and give a courageous response to it.
You’ll also read about modern seekers of spirituality, like the psychologist Dr. Kramar who is attracted by the similarity of Sufi and Yoga teachings, and thus has mastered the art of breathing. What the breath is for Dr. Kramar that is the ‘breeze’ for Dr. Lawrence. He notices a certain ‘aroma’ emanating from the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, which he doesn’t find elsewhere:
Mera nasim-e tu bayad.
Sabah koja ke nist?
I need your breeze.
Where is not the morning breeze?
You’ll also meet several musicians of east and west. Thus you’ll be enabled to listen to the personal song of a young Canadian, Geoffrey Lyons. Geoffrey leaves Montreal as a restless soul. His spiritual search takes him from plucking blankets off dead bodies in the river Ganges to wearing the mantle of a Sufi minstrel. He is now known as Tahir Faridi Qawwal.
Meher Murshed tells us about his love for Sufi music, even at a young age. Qawwali is, according to him, not a sport but a meditation. It is a spiritual nourishment, which is a goad to remember the Unseen and to practice love and compassion. The concern for others manifests itself through verse as well as song. When you start reading Song of the dervish you’ll learn which song attracted the author when he was a five-year-old boy. Music was a prayer for Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and this very song was composed by his favourite disciple, Hazrat Amir Khusro. This prayer for his master is The Song of the dervish.
Meher Murshed: Song of the dervish –
The saint of hope and tolerance; Bloomsbury;
New Delhi, London, Oxford; New York; Sidney; 2017. [222 p. illustrated].