Sufis and Yogis
I’m in the middle of reading William Dalrymple’s beautiful book on Spirituality in Modern India, viewed through the lives of amazing individuals he encountered through his years of travels in South Asia. In one chapter about Sufis in Sindh, he recounts the 18th century Sufi master Abdul Latif, a spiritual seeker at home in the company of people of other faiths. Sadly Latif’s modern-day Sufi descendants, are being hounded by Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan.
(Ratif) … set off wandering through Sind and Rajasthan in the company of Hindu sadhus and Nath Yogis, a sect of ash-smeared Shaivite mystics who invented hatha yoga in the twelfth century …
(Ratif) … reflects on the three footloose years he spent wandering the deserts with these yogis, visiting both Hindu and Muslim pilgrimage sites. For Latif, there is no distinction between the different faiths: the divisions, as he sees them, are between the bigoted and orthodox, on one hand, and itinerant and free-thinking mystics on the other.
From the Sur Ramkali chapter of Risalo, by Shah Abdul Latif:
Yogis are many, but I love these wandering sadhus.
Smeared with dust, they eat little,
Never saving a grain in their begging bowls.
No Food in their packs, they carry only hunger,
No desire to eat have they,
Thirst they pour and drink.
These ascetics have conquered their desires.
In their wildemess they found the destination
For which they searched so long.
On the path of truth, They found it lay within.
Hearing the call,
Before the birth of Islam
They severed all ties,
And became one with their guru, Gorakhnath
Now, sitting by the side of the road, I look for them.
Remembering these sargrasis, tears well up.
They were so very kind to me.
They radiated brightness.
Yogis are many, but it is these wandering sadhus that I love