Rishi order

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The Rishi order of Kashmir is a Sufi tradition associated with religious harmony. Many of the saints held dear by Kashmiris to this day were Sufi Rishis. The original Rishis include Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali also known as Nund Rishi , Resh Mir Sàeb . The Rishi order has made an important contribution to Kashmiriyat, the ethnic, national, social and cultural consciousness of the Kashmiri people, as well as a distinctive contribution to global Islam.

The 17th-century poet Baba Nasib sums up the impact of the Rishi order thus: "The candle of religion is lit by the Rishis, they are the pioneers of the path of belief. The heart-warming quality of humble souls emanates from the inner purity of the hearts of the Rishis. This vale of Kashmir, that you call a paradise, owes a lot of its charm to the traditions set in vogue by the Rishis."[1]

Overview[edit]

The original Rishi Sufis were focused on seclusion and emphasis on meditation. In his memoirs, Jahangir says that "though they have no religious knowledge or learning of any sort, yet they possess simplicity and are without pretence. They abuse no one. They restrain the tongue of desire and the foot of seeking. They eat no flesh, they have no wives and always plant fruit bearing trees in the fields so that men may benefit by them, themselves desiring no advantage. There are about 2,000 of these people."[2]

In recent years, the history of the Rishi order has attracted interest from scholars such as Mohammad Ishaq Khan.[1]

Relationship with Hinduism[edit]

Kashmiris use the Hindu epithets Rishi or Baba to describe these Sufi saints. The Shaivite yogini Lal Ded was a key influence on Nund Rishi, and is said to have suckled him at her breast when he was an infant. Sufi Rishis were certainly aware of yogic practices, as evidenced by the poet Shams Faqir's praise of Lal Ded: "Lalla achieved the fusion of her vital air and ether, and thus realized God."[3] However, the Sufi Rishis made an effort to clearly distance themselves from certain Hindu practices. Some were farmers, and Nund Rishi himself is said to cultivated land in order to demonstrate the spiritual and social importance of manual labour, restricted for the Brahmins.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Khan, Mohammad (2002). Kashmir's transition to Islam : the role of Muslim rishis, fifteenth to eighteenth century. New Delhi: Manohar. ISBN 81-7304-199-7. 
  2. ^ Qadri, Shafi (2002). Kashmiri Sufism. Srinagar: Gulshan Publishers. ISBN 81-86714-35-9. 
  3. ^ Toshkhani, S.S. (2002). Lal Ded : the great Kashmiri saint-poetess. New Delhi: A.P.H. Pub. Corp. ISBN 81-7648-381-8. 

FURTHER READING:

  • "The Rise, Growth and Decline of Indo-Persian Literature" by R. M. Chopra, 2012, Iran Culture House, New Delhi and Iran Society, Kolkata. 2nd Edition 2013.