Inayat: An Unusual Child

For his parents, Inayat was the greatest problem. Inayat wakened to sympathy, ready to be friends with anybody, willing to take interest in everything that attracted his curiosity, emotional, besides with love of beauty in form and colour and everything that attracted him, was open to all influences. Therefore, his parents’ responsibility increased, together with their anxiety, with his growth.

The ordinary games of other children had but little attraction for him and he much preferred donkey-riding.

The first drama that Inayat saw in his life was a most ancient play of India: Harish Chandra, the drama of renunciation, which brings out the moral of keeping one’s honour. It made such an impression on young Inayat that for years he craved to see the drama. He saw it three times, but it was never enough; then, he enacted it himself at home.

Many times Inayat would make up a play and get the other children to act it. To each child he would give a part and teach him how to perform it. When the time came for giving the play, the children would forget; but as often as one forgot and could not think how to act, Inayat would stand behind, speak the words and tell the player how to act. So in reality the whole play was performed by himself.

One day late in the evening, Inayat had not yet come home and everyone became anxious and people were sent out in search of him. In the end he was found at a lecture given by Jinsi Wali, a great social reformer. Inayat was so absorbed in what Jinsi Wali said, that he had lost all idea of time. Seeing his interest in things of learning, his parents excused the fault of his not being at home when he ought to have been.

His parents wondered at times what could be the matter with the child. Thinking that he did not act always as a child, they did everything to satisfy his fancies; gave him ponies and other playthings and tried their utmost to provide him with everything, but nothing would keep him continually interested. Very often in the midst of great activity or excitement, among his relations and friends, Inayat would be quite tranquil and he would seem above all things around him. Some people or conditions or subjects which he noticed would give him the inclination to scrutinize them deeply within himself. So in this way he was a mystery to his parents.

Inayat’s father taught him many wise things; he produced in him, even in childhood, a spirit of self-respect. He taught him not to show too great enthusiasm or excitement on seeing things beautiful or rich, to retire when he saw friends or even relations enjoying or amusing themselves, that he might not, uninvited, intrude on enjoyment of others, or even desire to share it. He taught him not to go where he was not wanted, never to frequent a place where he was not welcome, not to visit anyone too often, but only to see friends when it was proper, not to intrude upon anybody’s time, nor to interfere with anybody’s privacy, not to be very friendly to those who don’t care to reciprocate. He said: “Do not pursue friends who like to avoid you. Do not seek association with those who prefer being left alone. Do not make yourself a burden upon anyone. Rather starve and die a death in pride than live a life of humiliation.”

He taught him to refrain from desiring comforts that could only be obtained at the expense of the comfort of others, to renounce a comfort rather than obtain it by asking a favour of another, to restrain or rather to crush every desire that would bring humiliation upon him.

This teaching became so natural to Inayat that it seemed as if he were told just what he himself innately desired.

He was taught to sit quietly among elder people, to greet others first and if others greeted him first, to be sorry to have lost the opportunity; not to belittle the talk of others, however simple it might be; to avoid all inquisitiveness and to withdraw without being asked, if he felt a conversation taking place was private; to keep his own secret and those of others; not to interrupt, but to wait until a talk was finished; to avoid anything rude, rough or abrupt in thought, speech and action; not to contradict his elders, even if he thought what was said was not true, for, he was told, it was not the words only that count but the time and conditions which caused the necessity for saying a certain thing, which, even if not true from one point of view, might be true from another. And he was taught never to speak boastfully, nor presumptuously.

To Inayat, with his inborn love of beauty, beauty of manner appealed so much that he never found it difficult to abide by the principles taught him by his father. But this opened up to him the reason why he liked some people and did not like others. He always recalled a saying: “Ba adab ba nasib; be adab be nasib,” which means: “Good manner, good fortune; ill manner, ill fortune.”

Inayat’s father taught him to offer the better seat to an elder person. Not to retort in speech with people; not to show annoyance by word or frown or by looking cross. He told him not to ask his parents for anything they could not provide and not to ask in the presence of others, which would embarrass them, if they could not provide what he asked and also lest it should give to the others any suggestion of getting it for him, which would be just as bad.

He was told not to excite himself in laughter or crying and to have full control over these emotions. He was told not to give too much expression to his affections, that affection was in the heart, not in touching, or embracing or kissing. And he was told not to speak disrespectfully about religion, the Prophet and the God-ideal, but always to have the most respectful tendency toward all that is sacred and holy.

Inayat’s father believed in the influence of the presence of the Madzubs, Yogis and sages, and used to take him to them for their blessing.

from The Biography of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan

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