Indonesia – Spending one’s time on Saturday evenings is a matter of choice. Quite a few people in quest of bliss and inner peace would choose to go to Anand Ashram. On Saturday, April 24th 2012, the Ashram held Sufi Mehfil (Sufi Party) at One Earth Center in Ciawi, Bogor. More than 30 people were enjoying the event’s highlight: Whirling Dervish or Sufi Dance.
The dance is actually Love Offering of devotees to the Lover. It was introduced by Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) who chose to tread the path of Sufi. He was born in Balkh—now part of Afghanistan. His father, Bahauddin Walad was Sufi, whose lineage is connected to Abu Bakar—a friend of Prophet Muhammad.
It is no ordinary dance though but embraces profound philosophy. As we are whirling against clockwise we are actually releasing ourselves from worldly attachment. It resembles to the act of thawaf done by hajj pilgrims circling the Ka’bah in Mecca.
Regular practice ensures the shifting of awareness. It reveals to us new perspective and understanding toward life, whereas we will behave in accordance with nature. For, we have seen all that exist as the very manifestation of Existence, God.
Moment before the dance is commenced, the Master yells, “Haqq Maujud!” Dancers reciprocate, “Sada Maujud! Sada Maujud! Sada Maujud!” The phrases mean “Truth Is. Only Truth Is. Only IT That Exists!”
And, there it goes! Dancers rise and whirl. It is not a performance, but a devotion to God, True Dancer who masters all the movements. Their faces are radiant with joy. They are drunk, not because of drugs or any kind of narcotic but of the blissfulness. They are ecstatic, but not because of ecstasy pills.
What a dance! Joy and bliss are also felt by those attending, not dancers alone. Sitting relaxed either with eyes closed or open they are enjoying it, listening to strains of music, feeling the shower of spiritual energy. Dancers and the witness are absorbed in tranquility and peace springing up from within.
“Drop your body. And, together with it, let go of your ego, your vanity”, Master’s tender voice is heard, directing dancers to end the whirling. The dance takes around 20 minutes time.
He continues, “Together with body drop, surrender too your lust and greed. Surrender all illusions that separate and distance you from God, delude and make you indulge in worldly comforts. Drop your body, let God recycle, renew and bring back love, compassion, meekness, peace, joy, bliss and awareness”.
The dancers are still lying on the ground for a few moments. Master asks them to sit back, saying, “Rise as new human being, for you have tasted how sweet love is and how beautiful it is to present the dance of soul for the Lover”.
All participants are then guided to dzikir—rhythmic and repetitive saying of religious mantra but in an understandable language, “O, Allah, God Divine, do please clear my sight, so wherever my eyes turn, I can see Your Face in the west, in the east, everywhere”.
Amazing! An old Sufi meditation technique, dating back to 13th century, is practiced by people of modern age in the 21st century. Whirling Dervish attracts contemporary ones to retreat within “self”, temporarily escaping from the desert of life and leaving all worldly routines behind. It is a tool used to cultivate and dampen the heart with love. This love will color our lives.
The party that evening was closed with a beautiful song, lyrics adapted from poems of a Sufi mystic, Kabir, sung by Anand Ashram’s Torchbearer:
“O, beloved, where dost thou seek Me
I am beside thee
I am neither in mosque nor in church
Beloved, where dost thou seek Me
I am beside thee
I am neither in temple nor in any houses of worship
If thou art a true seeker, thou shall at once see Me in a moment of time
O, beloved, God is in each of your breath…”
Rumi’s dance is engaging us to walk the path of love as modern Sufis, and fetching us to see God everywhere. So that we are enabled to care, love and serve all without selfish motivation and interest. A Sufi realizes that Almighty—called by any names whatsoever and worshipped in many ways—resides in everyone and everything. “Haq Maujud! Sada Maujud! Sada Maujud! Sada Maujud!”
(Reporter: Selamet Dwipantara Jr – Photographer: I. Made Bhaskara – Editor: T. Nugroho Angkasa – Translator: Dominggus Koro)