DALAI LAMA MAKES SPACE FOR THE SUFI DANCERS FROM TURKEY
By : VIJAY KRANTI
NEW DELHI, March 24: On the just past warming up Saturday of April, the Diwan-i-Aam of Delhi's Taj Mahal hotel was witness to a unique event which is bound to go down in the spiritual history of Delhi as one of the most outstanding days of confluence of hearts, souls, music and spirituality. While life size portraits of smiling Shakyamuni Buddha, the Medicinal Buddha and Tara Devi offered themselves as a soothing backdrop, an overwhelmed Dalai Lama and a group of his over three hundred mesmerized Buddhist devotees watched a group of Sufi dancers from Turkey performing Mevleviyye, the famous whirling Dervesh Sufi dance.
As two Sufi dancers of the 'Zuhurat' music band from Intanbul gyrated endlessly with closed eyes and swirling white flowing gowns, each of them looked like a motionless Buddhist Yogi in trance who has been meditating since ages. For most of Buddhist audience, the meditational songs and music played on the Ney (reed flute), Memence (Turkish fiddle) and Rebab (a popular Turkish string musical instrument resembling Sitar) by the other four members of Zuhurat looked like the melodious prayer songs of legendary Tibetan mystic poet and singer Yogi 'Mila Re Pa'.
For the performers as well as for the audience, this unscheduled musical spiritual treat came as a pleasant surprise gift from Dalai Lama who decided to forefeet one session of his annual Buddhist teachings, in favour of the Sufi dancers. These annual teachings are organized by the 'Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama' (FURHHDL) and, like many previous years, was hosted by the Taj group this time too.
"Today morning a group of Turkish Sufi musicians came to meet me at the hotel. When they told me that they perform music as a part of spiritual meditation, I asked them if they would like to share this meditation with their Buddhist friends. They enthusiastically agreed and I decided that we should sacrifice one session of our teachings to gain from their spiritual experience...", he announced to an amused and surprised audience.
For the membes of Zuhurat too, it all happened perfectly in tune with the name of their music band. In Turkish language, 'Zuhurat' means 'something which happens without plan.'
After the performance and a long photo session with the Dalai Lama, a beaming Bekir Sahin Baloglu a senior member of Zuhurat reflected his troupe's joy, "We are so happy that Zuhurat played to Dalai Lama. He is very kind and he liked our performance. Also, it's a matter of great pride for us that we performed to the people of Delhi which is the city of a great Sufi saint Imam Rabbani".
Mevleviyye is performance of a ritual called 'Mevlevi Ayini' which started during the time of great Sufi saint and poet Rummi ('Mevlana Celleddin Rummi' inTurkish) in the 13th Century. In our short discussion Bekir explained the Sufi philosophy that guides his music band 'Zuhurat', "Sufists try to reach Allah with love. The main idea of Sufi Islam is to love everything in the world and then you will learn how you can love Allah....".
I wonder if Bekir or his colleagues were aware that their host Dalai Lama is considered as the reincarnation of Avalokiteshwara, the compassion manifestation of Buddha. Had they been present in the earlier teaching session in the same morning, he would have heard Dalai Lama explaining the same Sufi philosophy in its Buddhist manifestation : viz. "As long as there is suffering among sentient beings on the earth, I would be reborn to mitigate their sufferings...."
The author is a senior journalist and an acknowledged Tibetologist. Article submitted by the author.