The Rasa-Lila Dance: Caroling the Hora – Conclusion The Sacred Dance in Islamic Mysticism

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BOTH THE CONSTANT REPETITION OF THE HOLY NAME(S) AND THE SACRED DANCE ARE CLOSELY ASSOCIATED SUFI MUSLIM TRADITIONS.  THE DHIKR OR CONSTANT INVOCATION OF THE NAME OR 99 NAMES OF GOD IS PRACTICED BY THE SUFIS WHO DANCE THE CIRCLE AND SPINNING DANCE.   DURING THE DANCE ITSELF, THE DERVISHES ARE CHANTING THE HOLY NAME(S).  TO BALANCE AND SPIN CONTINUOUSLY, ACHIEVING CONSTANT PRECISE MOTION WHILE CHANTING, REQUIRES TREMENDOUS FOCUS. THE SUFI, OR GROUP OF SUFIS, MAY ENTER INTO AN ALTERED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS WHILE ABSORBED IN THIS AMAZING DEVOTIONAL PRACTICE.

“Some say the label Sufi (in Arabic suf means wool) grew from the wool cloaks worn by these holy beings. Others like to think that its origin is from the Greek word sophos that means wisdom.”

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THE SOPHOS ETYMOLOGY WOULD MAKE SENSE CONSIDERING THE HISTORICAL RELATIONSHIP OF THE SUFI MYSTICAL TRADITION TO PLATONISM.

***

“Originally, the dance, actually more accurately a “movement” was performed in tekkes that were dervish schools that existed in communal fashion and considered a prayer lodge. The sema began with the Sultan Veled Walk. The dervishes walk around the semahane three times wearing black cloaks which represent their tombs and their worldly attachments. Upon removing the cloaks, so too did they remove themselves from the world.

“Like the weaver, traditional Sufi Dervish may be seen chanting a dhikr, which is the repetition of “la illaha illa’llah” (there is no god but God). However, some Dervish may only repeat “Allah” because they know man can die at any moment, and they want only the name of God on their lips and in their hearts. The left foot of the whirler should never be raised, but sometimes is in a fit of ecstasy.”

THE PREVIOUS QUOTATIONS ARE FROM  “WHIRLING DERVISH” BY JIMMY DUNN.

THERE IS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SUFI SEMA DANCE AND THE RAQS DANCING OF THE ‘BELLY’ DANCERS.  THIS IS BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH HISTORICALLY RELATED TO THE TRADITIONS OF THE KOUROI AND KORAE DANCING OF PARADISE.   THE RAQS ‘BELLY-DANCERS’  MAY BE IDENTIFIED WITH THE MUSLIM HOURIS OR VIRGINS OF PARADISE.  IN SUFI LOVE POETRY, THE SOUL COULD BE ‘FEMININE’ LIKE THE GREEK PSYCHE OR SANSKRIT JIVATMA.   AS IN THE JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN BIBLICAL ‘SONG OF SONGS’, IN GREEK BRIDAL MYSTICISM, THE SOUL WAS ALWAYS FEMININE, OR RECEIVER IN RELATION TO THE LORD WHO WAS THE PLENUM / PURNAM ORIGIN AND THUS GIVER OF ALL GIFTS, INCLUDING THE GIFT OF BEING.   THUS IN CATHOLIC TRADITION, THE SOUL AND THE CHURCH ITSELF IS CONSIDERED FEMININE IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOD.   THIS IS WHY REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE SOUL OR THE CHURCH AS ‘THE BRIDE OF CHRIST’.  IN PLATO’S “SYMPOSIUM” PSYCHE, THE SOUL IS ALWAYS REFERRED TO IN THE FEMININE GENDER.

IN MAINSTREAM ISLAM HOWEVER, THERE IS A NOTION THAT THE VIRGINS OF PARADISE EXIST FOR THE PLEASURE OF THE SAVED, WHO WILL RECEIVE A WHOLE HAREM OF THEM AS A REWARD FOR EITHER EARTHLY PIETY OR MARTYRDOM.   THUS THE IMPIOUS ARE OFTEN PROMISED A HAREM OF HOURIS AS A REWARD BY THEIR MULLAHS (SPIRITUAL LEADERS) FOR COMMITTING SUICIDAL ACTS OF JIHAD.   THE HOURIS ARE DESCRIBED AND CONTRASTED WITH THE HELLISH PUNISHMENT OR NON-BEING THAT AWAITS THE SINNER.  THEN THE SINNER IS OFFERED AN ASSURANCE OF PARADISE WITH THE HOURIS IF THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL (THEY MUST SUCCEED) IN CARRYING OUT THEIR ACT OF MARTYRDOM.   THE MULLAHS THUS MAY RECRUIT SUICIDE BOMBERS FROM JAILS AND AMONG THE HOPELESS, WHO SEE MARTYRDOM AS THEIR ONLY CHANCE TO ESCAPE SEVERE EARTHLY PUNISHMENTS OR DAMNATION.  FOR SUCH MEN, THE HOURIS ARE THE MAIN INCENTIVE FOR GOING TO PARADISE, NOT A BEATIFIC EXPERIENCE OF GOD.  THE HOURIS ARE IMAGINED TO BE PERFECT HEAVENLY VERSIONS OF THE RAQS DANCERS.

ALTHOUGH THE RAQS SHARQI DANCE ONCE HAD MUCH MORE RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE, AND WAS PERFORMED AT WEDDINGS, ETC., TODAY IT HAS DEVOLVED INTO A MERE ‘FERTILITY’ DANCE, AND IS USED MAINLY FOR ENTERTAINMENT.   IN SOME EXTREMELY REPRESSIVE MUSLIM SOCIETIES, VIEWING THE RAQS ‘BELLY DANCER’ IS THE ONLY CULTURALLY PERMITTED FORM OF PLEASURE OF ITS KIND ALLOWED.  PRESENTLY,  RAQS PROFESSIONALS FROM AUTHENTIC DANCE LINEAGES ARE TRYING TO RECOVER THE SACRED ELEMENTS OF THEIR DANCE, AND TO RESTORE THE DIGNITY OF THEIR ART FORM.   TO THIS END, PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS HAVE FORMED, AND THESE ARE TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM THE MORE EXPLOITATIVE AND SEXUALLY COMMERCIAL POPULAR FORMS OF THE DANCE.   THESE ASSOCIATIONS ARE TRYING TO EDUCATE MUSLIMS ABOUT THEIR RICH DANCE HERITAGE, AND TO REVERSE THE 20TH CENTURY TREND TOWARD THE NEAR-NAKED SEXUALLY-CHARGED DANCES PERFORMED IN BAR-LIKE WESTERN-STYLE ‘NIGHT CLUBS’ AND COFFEE HOUSE SETTINGS.

THE PICTURE BELOW IS OF SHARQI DANCER EVA CERNIK. NOTE HER TRADITIONAL FINGER AND THUMB CYMBALS.  AS IN INDIAN KIRTAN, THE DRUM AND CYMBALS (KARTALAS) PROVIDE THE BEAT FOR RAQS SHARQI DANCING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THERE ARE ALSO OTHER FORMS OF MUSLIM DANCE.  SOME IS ACROBATIC AND MARTIAL, LIKE THE GREEK MARTIAL DANCES OF THE KORYBANTES AND KOUROI.  AS IN JAPANESE, GREEK  AND INDIAN THEATER, SOMETIMES MEN PERFORM ALL THE ROLES IN A MIME, DRAMA OR OPERA.   SOMETIMES TROUPES ARE ALL-GIRL.

THE FOUR KINDS OF KOUROS RELATED GREEK DANCES HAVE THEIR PARALLELS IN MUSLIM AND ARABIC FOLK DANCE.

1) THE HELIOS AND RHODA CHORUS BRIDAL MYSTICISM (HIEROGAMOS) CIRCLE DANCE OF DIVINE LOVE.

2) THE DIONYSIAN CHORUS OF DIVINE LOVE.

3) THE REVELRY OF THE MALE KOUROI (ALSO MAY BE PASTORAL OR MARTIAL).

4) THE DANCE OF THE FEMALE KORAE, HORAE, HOURS, SEASONS, MUSES, NYMPHS, GRACES, CHARITIES, ETC.

MUCH BORROWING OCCURRED DUE TO THE MUSLIM INVASION OF INDIA, SO IT IS NOW DIFFICULT TO SORT OUT WHICH ELEMENTS OF THE SACRED DANCE AND RELATED MUSIC ARE AUTHENTICALLY MEDITERRANEAN, AND WHICH HAVE BEEN IMPORTED FROM INDIA INTO TURKEY, EGYPT AND OTHER WESTERLY MUSLIM LANDS.

THERE ARE SUFI GROUPS IN INDIA WHICH BELIEVE THAT SRI CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU LEARNED HIS KIRTAN AND JAPA PRACTICES FROM SUFIS !    THEY CONSIDER SRI CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU TO HAVE BEEN A SUFI.  SOME BELIEVE THAT HE RECEIVED HIS TRAINING FROM THE CHAND KAZI.   SOME OF THESE GROUPS EVEN TEACH THAT KRISHNA HIMSELF WAS A SUFI MASTER !    MOST SUCH GROUPS ARE ACTUALLY ADVAITA VEDANTIC, TEACHING AN HERETICAL FORM OF MUSLIM MONISM.   THE ‘TOMB OF JESUS’ SUFIS TEACH THAT THEIR AHMADIYYA FOUNDER WAS SUPERIOR TO BOTH KRISHNA AND JESUS, WHO WERE MERELY SUFI MUSLIM PROPHETS.   MANY OF THESE HINDU-INFLUENCED SUFIS ARE PIETISTS WHO ABSTAIN FROM EATING FLESH AND OTHERWISE LIVE QUITE ASCETIC LIVES.

HOWEVER, SUFIS COME IN ALL KINDS.  SOME ARE AHIMSA, AND OTHERS ARE FAMOUS FIGHTERS AND ASSASSINS.   SOME ARE ASCETIC, AND OTHERS ARE LEFT-HAND TANTRIC HERETICAL KALI-WORSHIPING HEDONISTS.  THE NOTORIOUS THAGS (THUGS) AND HASHISH SMOKING HASHASHINS (ASSASSINS) HAD MUSLIM ‘MYSTICS’ OF THE LEFT-HAND TANTRIC SUFI KIND AMONG THEIR THUGEE SECTS.  INTERESTINGLY, THESE LEFT-HAND TANTRIC MUSLIMS INTEGRATED HERETICAL KALI WORSHIP INTO THEIR ISLAMIC PRACTICE.

DUE TO PERSECUTION OF THE SUFIS OF ALL SECTS BY MAINSTREAM MAJORITY (NON SUFI) ISLAM, SUFISM HAS LONG SURVIVED IN MUSLIM LANDS IN SECRET SOCIETIES.  THIS IS HOW IT SPREAD INTO CHRISTIAN EUROPE UNDER THE PROTECTION OF GNOSTIC ESOTERIC SCHOOLS.  AS A RESULT OF THIS, TODAY SUFI INFLUENCE IS AT THE HISTORICAL CORE OF MASONRY AND OTHER WESTERN ESOTERIC TRADITIONS.   ESOTERIC ICONOCLASTIC SUFI TEACHINGS ALSO EXERTED A STRONG INFLUENCE IN EUROPE THROUGH THE RISE OF PROTESTANTISM.   FAILING TO CONQUER EUROPE BY MILITARY MIGHT, ISLAM SUCCEEDED IN DIVIDING ITS CHRISTIAN FAITH THROUGH INTELLECTUAL ASSAULT.  THE INFLUENCE OF MUSLIM THOUGHT ON NORTHERN EUROPEANS RELATIVE TO THE PROTESTANT ‘REFORMATION’ IS A FASCINATING SUBJECT.  THE PEOPLE OF INDIA COULD LEARN SOMETHING FROM ITS STUDY.  THE RELIGIO-CULTURAL PROBLEMS THE UNITED KINGDOM IS HAVING TODAY WITH ITS LARGE MUSLIM POPULATION IS RELATED TO THIS LONG ROMANCE BETWEEN ANGLICAN ESOTERICISM AND SUFISM.   PREDISPOSED BY MASONRY ETC. TO INVITE SUFI ARYOSOPHIC ESOTERICISM INTO THE U. K., THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT REWARDED THEIR KASHMIRI AHMADIYYA SUFI ALLIES WITH HOSPITALITY IN THE U. K.   WHEN THE AHMADIYYAS (THE ‘TOMB OF JESUS’  SECT) WERE BEING PERSECUTED IN THE NORTH AND WEST OF INDIA, THEY WERE GIVEN PROTECTION BY THE BRITISH CROWN, WHICH IS ALSO THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.  THUS THE AHMADIYYA SUFI SECT ESTABLISHED ITSELF IN GREAT BRITAIN, WHERE IT HAS FLOURISHED.  GREAT BRITAIN IS NOW THE WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF THE AHMADIYYA SUFI SECT.   THE AHMADIYYAS CLAIM TO BE PEACEFUL, BUT MUSLIM TERRORISTS HAVE USED THEM AS A COVER FOR NETWORKING ACTIVITIES.  FROM WITHIN THE AHMADIYYA COMMUNITIES, VERY SUCCESSFUL JIHAD FUND-RAISING DRIVES HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED.   THE U.K. HAS THUS BECOME A MAJOR SOURCE OF FUNDING FOR THE ANTI-INDIA / ANTI-HINDU JIHAD IN KASHMIR, WHERE THE AHMADIYYA MESSIAH’S ‘TOMB OF JESUS’ IS LOCATED.    THE U. K. NOW HAS VERY SERIOUS SOCIAL PROBLEMS WITH ITS RAPIDLY GROWING MUSLIM POPULATION.   MUSLIMS DO NOT WANT TO OBEY BRITISH LAW.  WHOLE AREAS ARE NOW OUT OF CIVIL CONTROL, AND BEING RUN BY MUSLIM GANGS.  WOMEN ARE NOT RECEIVING THE PROTECTION OF BRITISH LAW. ISLAM IS EATING ITS CHRISTIAN HOST.

THUS, IN THE CASE OF ISLAM AND SUFISM, INTERFAITH DIALOGUE AND COOPERATION IS NOT A SIMPLE MATTER.  VAISHNAVAS AND CHRISTIANS NEED TO USE CAREFUL DISCERNMENT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT KIND OF SUFISM THEY ARE ENCOUNTERING.   SINCE SUFIS ARE OFTEN SECRETIVE ABOUT THEIR TRUE BELIEFS,  ONE SHOULD USE CARE IN UNDERTAKING INTERFAITH PROJECTS WITH THEM.  THE BEST OF THE PERSONALIST, ASCETIC SUFIS CAN BE WONDERFUL DEVOTEES, WHO ARE VERY COMPATIBLE WITH VAISHNAVAS, JEWS AND CHRISTIANS.  THEY ARE INCLUSIVE AND NOT A AN OVERT OR SUBVERSIVE THREAT TO ANYONE.   HOWEVER, LESS BENEVOLENT MUSLIMS TEND TO HIDE BEHIND THEIR PEACE-LOVING MUSLIM RELATIVES, SO SOME CAUTION IS IN ORDER.

MAY WE ALL LEARN TO SEE RADHA-KRISHNA AND THEIR GIRLFRIENDS  AND BOYFRIENDS EVERYWHERE.  MAY WE FIND A WAY TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH OUR MUSLIM SISTERS AND BROTHERS.  MAY THEY REALIZE THAT ALI / ALLAH IS HARI / HARAH,  KRISHNA IS GOD, NOT A PROPHET, AND THAT WE DEVOTEES ARE ALL DESTINED FOR THE SAME SPIRITUAL SKY !    MAY ALL MUSLIMS REALIZE THAT THE VIRGINS OF PARADISE ARE NOT FOR THEM TO ENJOY…THEY ARE FOR THE GOD OF LOVE ALONE.   LET US PRAY FOR THE DAY WHEN WE CAN JOIN TOGETHER IN THE INVOCATION OF OUR GOD, AND DANCE THE SACRED DANCE OF DIVINE LOVE AS ONE FAMILY .

AMEN AUM & HARE KRISHNA !

ASPIRING TO SERVE ALL THE PEOPLE OF GOD,

BHAKTI ANANDA GOSWAMI

 

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About Collected Works of Sri Bhakti Ananda Goswami

This site is a repository of the written work of Bhakti Ananda Goswami managed by one of his students, Vrndavan Brannon Parker. Bhakti Ananda Goswami is a practicing Catholic Hermit under private vows, and a Vedic Monk in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Vaishnava Lineage Tridanda Sannyasi and Siksha (Instructing) Master. His research provides the evidence proving that at the ultimate source there is only One Religion and Divinity yet there are multiple expressions of that religion and Divinity. Read the various collected articles on this site revealing that ancient Humanity was highly evolved and motivated by transcendent and life affirming impulses leading to High Civilization. (Please Note that this site is not maintained and updated by Bhakti Ananda Goswami himself but is managed by one of his students. Though he does scan the site he is not always able to respond to messages or comments.)

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