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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Facebook Discussion : Was Fakir Lalon Shah an Agnostic - Part 6

Mac Haque on 03 February: Dear Habibur, thanks you for your time and patience in your pointed reference to the vast and myriad process of Islamic mysticism and spirituality. I am grateful for your explaining the techniques associated with Tusawuf, and its relation to the principals of the four station, Shariat, Haqiqat, Tariqat and Marefot (Marifa hereafter).

Over all this has been very educative for me in clearing some of the latent and flawed perceptions I had, and yours made illuminated reading when you addressed them on terms of Faylasuf, philosophy, theology, theosophy, humanism - which I feel is exactly the way and premise by which an unfamiliar audience will be able to relate to our discussion in this new millennium.

Finally boiling it down to our original point of contention of whether or not Fakir Lalon Shah was an Agnostic, you have concluded that he was not, and would rank him in the category of a Gnostic or one in a state of Marifa. Probably by intent or purpose you have refrained from addressing Lalon directly as an Insan-E-Kamel or Wali - although in your own admission in the concluding portions of your essay - termed him the 'Perfect Man'. It could well be that in your own discernment, you refused to rank him in any known genre of world mysticism because sHAIJi personally despised the idea of raising any being, body, object or idea - to a pedestal for worship.

As he mentions in one of his kalaam :

প্রতিমা গড়ে ভাষ্করে, মনে প্রাণে প্রতিষ্ঠা করে |
the sculptor build deities, and does so with intent of mind and soul

আবার গুরু বলে তারে, এমন পাগল কে দেখেছে ||
but calling him the Guru? Where else have you seen another mad man

মাটির পুতুল দেখায় নাচায়, একবার মারে একবার বাচায় |
clay dolls they display and dance, kill and then rescue

সাই জেনে স্বযং হতে চায়/ লালন কয় তার সকল মিছে ||
enlightened spirits wishing to be absolute, Lalon says his every effort is in vain.

taking this forward - did he therefore believe in any 'attainment' per se - more than দিব্য জ্ঞান which I will argue is simply deep insight, understanding or wisdom?

He claims nowhere that 'he knows about the divine mystery' adding the words 'যে জন' or 'those that (who)' preceding '(যে জন).. দিব্য জ্ঞানী হয় তবে জানতে পায়'.

In other words Lalon indicated that he/or those that have a clear perception of Man in relationship to cosmological realities, which is an established branch of science and quite separate to mysticism or the metaphysical notions of the 'known and unknown world' is his ideal reference point. No words of wisdom as such would be of any service to us, if it does not relates to Man - or done without the acknowledgement of man as in the exponential experience of mankind.

You mention the limitations of the Bangla language and difficulties in the 18th Century. For an unlettered man of wisdom, did he really have a choice? Other than that, I guess he had to make do with whatever was available within the acceptable paradigms of the rich Bangla language of Nadiya district, which then - as even today is thought to be the purest of Bangla?

Where the dilution of Lalon started was when an urbanized nobility were first attracted to his work - foremost being Rabindranath Tagore. He had many of sHAIJIs kalaams published and in so doing, felt it imperative to 'urbanize' or 'Kolkata-ise' his works for the sheer 'entertainment' of an emerging educated middle class and elite of West Bengal.

In so doing, Tagore edited and 'standardized' sHAIJi's Bangla, and removed what he termed 'rural, unsophisticated gibberish and hideous misspellings' and in the process set in the innate controversies surrounding Lalon's kalaam - which in due course spiraled up as his name and fame spread, as to whether he was a Hindu or a Muslim? He claimed he was neither, so what was he, if he wasn't a Hindu polytheist or a Muslim monotheist - and there is no available evidence that he was an atheist?

Making matters more complex Lalon was a believer par excellence - yet challenged the prevailing dogmas relating to God of both Hindu purohits and Muslim mullahs!

The above may be considered as our first koan or 'paradoxical meditative statements' as practiced in Zen Buddhism.

While we do not or may not appreciate it, the concept of 'God' as we know it does not exist in Buddhism. Because it does not confirm to the conceptualized God of the Hindu, Muslim, Christians etc, we therefore prefer to ignore or shun aside Buddhism's influence in Fakir Lalon's work. কলি যুগ thus for all practical purpose could well have started before the times of the Buddha - placing Buddha within the circle and frame of reference among monotheist Prophets.

I could however not help overlook your contention that Lalon 'borrowed' কলি যুগ 'Kali Joog' from Hindu mythology'. Do you really believe that it is true? In absence of either Hejira or Gregorian calenders Hindu cosmology and not mythology attest that Kali Joog is thought to have commenced approximately 2000 years or more before the death of Christ, corresponding closely to the times of Abraham, the first among monotheist Prophets and the যুগ is set to last a total of 432,000 years. (I will get back with details of this at an opportune time for I have left some of my genealogical flow charts/date/ reference materials in the UK. )

In any case the times of Abraham changed the perceived 'many God' concept as in polytheism, at the same time propounded the proposition of 'one God'. This may have been new for the Arabia centric world of the time, but then it took thousands more years to be crystalized, perfected and its outreach codified in precise scientific terms. But it did not mean that the concept of the one God only came from Monotheist Prophets.The Quran mentions that there is nothing in the book that was not known to mankind as in 'seed truth'.

Because India and Buddhism were unknown to the Arabs (although the Quran has an apparently allegorical reference of the Buddha) the process of the contemplating Man as the center of all truth; as opposed to the prevalent hub-and-spoke notion of Man being on earth and God in a 'celestial heaven' up above - was perhaps equally unknown. The Quran is thought to have put the final seal of authority in the realms of scientific-spiritual-mystical yearnings of mankind and there were important historical precincts here. Among the 124,000 Prophets thought to have come and gone - Muhammad was the only historical personality in that he was 'recorded' with evidence.

Physical evidence of his place of birth, contemplation and meditation, his tracts and treatise, his commerce and battle records - his final resting place have all survived until this day. Although the greatest miracle of Muhammad was he was a man, the miracle he brought with him was the book. A book that would live on to be an auto-updated reference material until eternity.

What has NOT been recorded and indeed has been left to conjectures harboring on the unscientific was his contemplative/meditative techniques and practices in the cave of Mount Heera, for over 14 years.

In essence, the techniques and the four stations of Haqikat, Tariklat, Shariyat and Marifa, in attaining spirituality, or knowing the unknown world, proximity with God and more importantly the concept of 'representative of God' which you mention comes from the Quran raises a few caveat which I will expand upon later.

But before I go - I leave you with a second koan. This one from the Quran and the Shahada - "La Ilaha Illallah" - in classical translations mean 'there is no God but Allah', or 'there is no deity but Allah', or even 'there is no God but God'.

Question: if we are to contemplate on the above three translations - the overriding implication of the Shahada would also translate to mean "there is God and there is no God" or "there is Allah and there is no Allah" ?

If that be true - I believe it is not just Fakir Lalon Shah, but Islam and Muslims are patently agnostic. In that they neither believe nor disbelieve in the existence of God - but have chosen to leave it to the middle, straight path, the entire parameter of God/Allah - of the intellect, or 'akel'.

To be continued...................

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