Hazrat Inayat: Not a New Religion

The following is an address given to Cherags of the Universal Worship Activity in 1925.  ‘Cherag’ means lamp, a giver of light, and is the name for those ordained to serve in this devotional service.  

My blessed Cherags,

Is the Sufi Message a new religion? Very often this question is asked, and in answer I will say that it is the same old wine put into new bottles.  I will give you an example, the example of Buddhism and Brahmanism and its work in India. Originally the religion of the Hindus was Brahmanism, and if I may explain what Brahmanism is, the word comes from Brahma, the Creator. Brahmanism means to recognize the Creator in all His forms. Then there came the time when a more logical idea was necessary for the Hindus. They were devoted, they were meditative, but the logical idea was necessary. Then came Buddha, and Buddhism became prevalent, and it remained in India for thousands of years. Then came a wave of Brahmanism again, a sweeping wave that took away Buddhism, and established Brahmanism again. This came in the time of Shankaracharya.

One might ask, why was the Brahmanism that existed originally not sufficient for them? When we read the Vedantas and study them, we find that it is good for all ages, even for ten thousand years to come; it is as good as it has ever been. It was not lack of philosophy, it was the personal touch that Buddha had to give, a logical idea removing the magic and superstition which had increased. It was necessary that a wave should come and clear these ideas away, giving them the same Brahmanism anew. It was the same essence of the Vedanta that Buddha gave to the people. If it was only a philosophy that was needed, they could have learned it, but it was the personal touch of the Teacher that gave strength to maintain the teaching for thousands of years. It was the living touch, which is the real sacrament. After a period of Buddhism, and when people corrupted Buddha’s ideas, and Buddhism became worn out there came again Shankaracharya’s Message, and what did it bring to the people of India? It only swept away the corruption that existed.  In other words, the Message was the same. When he came he only swept away the misunderstanding of Buddha’s Message, and brought to it again the idea that was necessary – the idea of belief in God.

The Message that the Sufi Movement has to accomplish in the world is not in the form of a new religion.  It is not a new religion, it is a new form; and the necessity of a new form is so great that even nature in the spring time gives a new form to every plant, and science says that in seven years the skin changes. The Message is the revival of the same one religion. It might seem strange just now that the idea is put into the universal form to which people are not accustomed. They know religion only as one form, not as many. But this is the fulfillment of the prayer of Moses, the aspiration of Jesus Christ, the desire of Mohammed, the dream of Abraham. They all desired that one day there would come a time when humanity would no longer be divided into different sections.

The mission of the Sufi Message is that, instead of giving a new form of worship, it collects all forms in one, so that no one may say: my form of worship is left out. It gives examples so that the followers of all religions may worship at the same time. It also brings all Teachers known and unknown to the world as different beads in the same rosary. Imagine this idea spreading and penetrating through those separated because of differences of faith! Is there any human being who does not wish that there should be one Truth and one idea of God understood by all? This is not a new religion to upset the thoughtful, to give a shock to minds who are tranquil, to hearts that feel deeply. This is the Message that will agree with their deepest longing and it is with this hope that we have the necessity of the Message of today.

When the Cherag takes services, the power will pour out and spread, and the blessing given by the Cherags will be the blessing of all the Teachers of humanity. The Cherags must be conscious of this great power. The power is limited when all are not acknowledged; it is at its fullness when the devotion for all Teachers is given in the form of blessing. The more the Cherags recognize the sacredness of this power, the more they will realize its effects. What is living, however small, promises to grow. Whatever is dead, however large it may seem to be, will not spread, will not grow. It is with this confidence in our hearts that we must work, not looking at the small numbers, but knowing that it is the promised Message, that it will spread in all parts of the world one day, and that it is our great privilege to begin it.

My blessed Cherags, if you observe life clearly with open eyes it will not be difficult for you to feel the power of the Message. All opposition, sooner or later, must drop away, with all that we may have to suffer; and, in spite of all opposition, the Message is living and will make its way through all difficulties, and this belief established firmly in our hearts will enable us all to fulfill our life’s mission.


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