About the visit of the policemen

The anecdote about the policemen wishing to search the room of Hazrat Inayat Khan (posted here) certainly sums up in a few words the effect that a glimpse of deep realisation can have upon the world, but there are one or two points to consider, which might help us to appreciate it still more.

The historical context is, that India, at that time, had been struggling for decades to be free of foreign rule. The English attitude towards Indians was, generally speaking, racial and dismissive, and also coloured by deep suspicion since the unsuccessful, blood-stained uprising of 1857. During the First World War, public opinion in Britain was very nationalistic and bellicose, and it was not surprising that a dark-skinned Indian, who was teaching a message of love, harmony and beauty, and declaring that all mankind was one single family, might attract unwelcome attention. Therefore, we need not be surprised that a pair of policemen should feel perfectly justified in officiously entering and searching a quiet home.

Musharaff Khan, who answered the summons of the doorbell, would have been in his early twenties at the time, and we can think for a moment about his dilemma. No doubt the policemen were very insistent, and wouldn’t accept denial from a mere Indian ‘boy,’ but Musharaff was raised in another culture, in which an elder brother had the status of a guru, especially when he was so spiritually developed, and to disturb his meditation was unthinkable.

And we can also learn something from the reaction of the Master to the intrusion. His brother knocked for a long time and got no response, so Hazrat Inayat was, evidently, deeply withdrawn from the world. If only our own meditations were so profound! Perhaps this is, in a small part, a tribute to Murshid’s years of practice in India, where one never seems to be alone, and if one wants to experience the inner life, one must just learn to ignore the outer. But he was also, of course supremely gifted and blessed, as the reaction of the policemen shows us.

And finally, let us think for a moment about the policemen. We know nothing about them personally, but that they bent their heads, and then kissed the Master’s hand after he blessed them, shows that, in those days, the world still retained some concept of the ideal. We believe we have evolved, but it is difficult to imagine a western policeman reacting in this way today.

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