Sheikh-ul-Alam was a great Kashmiri philosopher considered as the patron saint of Kashmiris. Sheikh ul-Alam is a saint of Reshi order who is known as Crown of the Saints of Kashmir and Flag bearer of the people of Kashmir. He is regarded as the founder of an indigenous Sufi order in fifteenth century. Sheikh-ul-Alam had not attained any conventional education but, still a great philosopher and a poet, having eternal knowledge about the existence of life. Sheikh-ul-Alam was having a sound consciousness about the reality of universe. His poetry is very influential, prestigious and esteemed at every angle. Every verse of his poetry is having a charm and conveys a message. His collection and combination of words are even unparallel. He used his poetry as an instrument to extend the true knowledge of absolute. He has used the word “Ilm” in his poetry that means knowledge which should not be confused with our often used term knowledge. His concept of knowledge is entirely different with its usual meaning. The present paper attempts to explore the word “Ilm” in his poetry which may further widen the horizon of our shrunk perception about “Ilm”. While teaching he often used the demonstration method where a person can empirically gets an opportunity to perceive a particular concept.
Keywords: Reshi, Ilm, demonstration method.
Sheikh-ul-Alam was a great Kashmiri philosopher regarded as the patron saint of people of Kashmir. He is considered as the founder of the Rishi order of saints that deeply influenced many great mystics like Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, Resh Mir Sàeb , Shamas Faqir, Sakhi Zainu Din Wali, etc. A blessing of God unto the people of Kashmir, Sheikh ul-Alam was a saint of Reshi order who is also known as Taj-ul-Awliyai Kashmir means the Crown of theSaints of Kashmir and Alamdar-I-Kashmir means Flag bearer of the people of Kashmir. The admired saint is greatly respected by both the Hindu and Muslim communities of Kashmir. He also has to his credit for laying the foundation of an indigenous Sufi order in the fifteenth century. Reshi is a person who immerses himself into the Divine self. Speaking about the saint‟s life, Nund Reshi was born in Qaimoh (district Kulgam of Jammu and Kashmir) on Eid-ul-Adha. His parents Sheikh Salar-ud-Din and Sadra were pious, honest and sincere human beings and were well known because of their goodness. Sheikh-ul-Alam‟s parents were very much influenced by a great and prominent Sufi saint Hazrat Mir Syed Simnania. Inspired by his piety, it was through the hands of Simnania, that Sheikh-ul-Alam‟s parents embraced Islam. Sheikh-ul-Alam had not attained education through any formal or traditional mode but, still a great philosopher and a poet, having eternal knowledge about the existence of life. Whatever he acquired was the outcome of his meditation, good deeds, honesty and love for God. He wrote such powerful mystic poetry that he became the patron of saints and protector and embodiment of Kashmiri culture. The form of Sheikh-ul-Alam poetry is called SHRUK. Sheikh-ul -Alam‟s shruks are popular throughout Kashmir and have been spread and circulated orally by generations of people of Kashmir. Sheikh-ul-Alam left behind all those things which were bonded to material world. He detached all the connections which were linked to this world. He busied himself thoroughly in the remembrance of God and dedicated all his time in meditation and prayers in order to overcome and conquer the appetite of self, to strengthen the connection between him and God and to strengthen his spiritual power. Later he traveled to Kashmir remained in Charar-i-Shareef for a pretty long time where he met Syed Mir Mohammad Hamdani. Sheikh-ul-Alam was very much influenced by Syed Mir Mohammad Hamdani after having discussion with him and became the disciple of Syed Mir Mohammad Hamdani, who bestowed him the name “Alamdaar-i- Kashmir”. Sheikh-ul-Alam was quite aware about the reality of this universe; he could easily identify the mentality of a person at the very first sight. His poetry is very influential, prestigious and esteemed at every angle; every line of his poetry has its own charm and message. His collection and combination of words is unparallel. He used his poetry as a toolto spread the true knowledge of kindness beyond the borders of limitation. His verses are preserved in the Nur-Nama written by Baba Naseeb-ud-Din Ghazi in Persian. Besides Tasawuff Sheikh-ul-Alam composed poetry on different topics like the people of his time, about the time he lived, about towns and villages, about the self, about the lust of life and last but not the least about the practical education. There are number of schools, colleges, hospitals and institution in the name of Sheikh-Ul-Alam. University of Kashmir is conducting research on his poetry and philosophical thought in an exclusive research centre know as Markaz-i-Noor a centre for sheikh-ul-Alam studies. He used his poetry as tool to spread the knowledge of absolute. Tawhid (oneness of Almighty), Risala (Prophet-hood of Muhammad PBUH), Ma’ad (Materialism), human lust and importance of Education are main subjects of his poetry. He vehemently criticized the so called Mullas and other pseudo-scholars of Islam. One of his most famous and oft quoted couplets is (Kashmiri:”Ann poshi teli yeli wann poshi“) meaning ‘Food will last as long as forests last’. He was very much stressful about the conservation of environment the time when no one would even imagine about the current environmental crisis. Lal Ded the Shaivite poetess of Kashmir was his contemporary. She had a great impact on his spiritual growth. He has in one of his poems prayed to God to grant him the same level of spiritual achievement as God had bestowed on Lal Ded. (Khan, 2012) concluded not withstanding the fact that his personality has been unsheathed by myths invented by careless hagiographers, Sheikh-ul-Alam was a towering historical figure of medieval Kashmir. (Wani, 2012) revealed that of a very few subjects of Kashmir history, which has stimulated exceptional great scholarly attention, Sheikh-ul-Alam and his founded Rishi Movement occupies a prominent place. Yet, the corpus of literature produced on the Shaikh and his silsila (order) rests on a shaky ground in the absence of an authentic text of the poetry of the Shaikh which constitutes the basic source of his life and teachings. (Shah, 2012) conducted that the result of a study of the poetry of Sheikh-ul-Alam one of the most venerated and well acclaimed Sufi saints of Kashmir, which finally led to compilation of an inventory of plant species mentioned therein, with the broad objective to recuperate traditional botanical wisdom for sustainable development. The list of plant species is presented along with their brief description and pictorial support for understanding of common people. The conspectus of plant species is of significance, not only to provide useful insights into important floristic elements of that particular era, but also to rejuvenate the sense of species sacredness for their conservation. Such studies, if extrapolated for other regions in a multicultural nation like India, can potentially yield an invaluable traditional ecological knowledge base for conservation of sacred species. (Zaffar, 2012) Shaikh ul Alam was a man with increased knowledge and understanding which he himself Claims in one of his Shruks. The most effective means which made his movement pervasive throughout the Valley was common man‟s language and the genre he used to bring home to the people his message. He was very much concerned about the artistic and aesthetic elements in his poetry. In spite of being didactic in nature Shruks are loaded with artistic and aesthetic elements which bring more and more beauty in his verses. Therefore to understand and interpret his poetry one has to be more cautious, technical and skillful.
Concept of “Ilm” in the poetry of Sheikh-ul-Alam
“Ilm parith tae parith na palan Pheng payi lalan gash kati aasee”
“Just acquiring of knowledge without following it in a practical sense would make a person blind with eyes”. We today are having a lot of knowledge just for the sake of knowledge. The real motive of having knowledge in the past was to practice all that we know. Today is the period of value crisis even having a very impressive literacy rates in developed and developing countries. More we gained the knowledge more we get deviated from the path of practicing values. The Sheikh mostly stressed over practicing knowledge. He considers a person blind who is not following the knowledge he has gained.
“Paran paran te par gayee Tim khar gayee kitab borah hayeth
Yim sahibas nish bakhabar gayee Tim nar gayee fazal ta ata hayeth”
The so called students who get education not in a real sense just as a formality are like donkeys carrying burden of books on their shoulders. But the students who realize their self and are very much aware about their heart are more successful.
“Yath waw haley czhong kus zale Tale kani zaleas alim ta deen”
Who is going to light a lamp in these heavy stormy and windy nights of ignorance, it‟s the only education and religious practices that can do it in real sense. He considered the ignorance as the strongest storm in the world that can damage the structure of humanity. He is saying that knowledge is the only lamp which will put an end to strong winds of ignorance.
Sheikh-ul-Alam and Demonstration method
Once Sheikh-ul-Alam was invite to a feast to accept an invitation is a part of teaching of prophet (PBUH) so he could not deny and went to the house of host wearing shabby clothes. Gate keeper did not recognize him and was not allowed to enter the party. He went home back and came again but now wearing new clothes. When all had sat for the lavish dinner, Sheikh-ul-Alam entered wearing a stunning cloak and was provide the position of admiration. When everybody started to take food Sheikh-ul-Alam extended out his sleeves and put them onto the plates full of food, people surrounded got surprised and asked him the reason, Sheikh-ul-Alam replied: Kheyev Badev Narew Kheyev ,Eat you rich clothes eat “
The feast was not for poor like me, it is for the wealthy who dress in rich clothes and long sleeves. In education this method of teaching is called demonstration method. The people at party were able to perceive the concept and his criticality by experience.