Places of Religious Harmony in India

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by A chauhan, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

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    It would be nice to hear H'ble DFI members' views and experiences about their visit to such places where almost anyone can go for a pilgrimage in India ,where there is no bondage of religion to pray representing the religious harmony in India.



    Ajmer-e-sharif

    Ajmer e sharif or the shrine of Sufi Saint Moin-ud-din Chishti is an important place of pilgrimage for Muslims where Hindus and followers of other religions visit peacefully with love. Khwaja Chishti, a direct descendant of Ali, was the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad. His compassion for the poor of caste and creed earned him the epithet of Garib Nawaz. More than three centuries later Mughal Emperor, Akbar made a pilgrimage to the tomb bare footed. He went there to pray for a son. His pilgrimage from Agra to Ajmer was proved successful as he was blessed with a son, Salim. After this Akbar began visiting this place regularly.


    The Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is situated at the foot of the Taragaṛh hill, and consists of several white marble buildings arranged around two courtyards, including a massive gate donated by the Nizam of Hyderabad, a mosque donated by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the Akbari Mosque, and the domed tomb of the saint. The Emperor Akbar, with his queen, used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra every year in observance of a vow he had made when praying for a son. The large pillars, erected at intervals of two miles (3 km) the whole way between Agra and Ajmer, marking the daily halting places of the royal pilgrim, are still extant.


    In the year 1236 a tomb had been built probably by his students here. However, it was Akbar who had built the mosque as a sign of his gratitude and faith in the Khwaja. Moin-ud-din Chishti came into prominence during the Bhakti movement. Being one of the Sufi saints he popularized the fact that there is only one god. He propagated the teachings of Islam and strongly supported religious tolerance. He supported the cause of women. Muslim women always maintained veil and were denied the right of education. They were not even allowed to pray in the mosque with men. Ajmer e sharif, Rajasthan, is probably the only Muslim religious site where women can pray with men. They were also allowed to sing Sufi devotional songs at the mosque.

    At his shrine, the flowers come from the Hindu flower dealers of Pushkar Shrine while most of the chadars are made by non-Muslim skilled artisans. The food prepared for the pilgrims is vegetarian since there are many Hindus in their numbers.


    Ajmer e sharif is a beautiful monument with an imposing gateway that was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1915. The red sand stone Akbari Masjid stands on the right side. At the left side there is an assembly hall with silver doors. The Buland Darwaza leads to the second courtyard. This was built by Mahmood Khilji in the 15th century. There are two huge cauldrons that were gifted by Akbar and a small one was donated by Jahangir. These are still in use. Rich Muslims pay for a feast of rice, ghee, sugar, raisins and spices to be cooked in these for mass distribution. There are two kitchens here-Langar Khana and the Mehfil Khana.

    The dargah chamber is in the inner courtyard. The white marble tomb is square with a domed roof. The ceiling is gold embossed and silver railing. The qawwali are held in the vast courtyards on both sides. These devotional songs heighten the feeling of religious commitment. The inner court also houses Begum Dalaan that was built in 1643 by Shahjahan`s daughter. It is a white marble magnificent building with gilded walls and ceilings etched with gold.

    Ajmer e sharif is considered one of the most religious sites. Chishti is very popular with the poor sections of the Muslim community. As a result during the Saint`s death anniversary celebrations (Urs), hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come here from all over the subcontinent to offer chaadar or the sheet of flowers to their revered saint.

    Revered for his simple teachings, ecumenical approach and eclectic philosophy, the saint believed that no spiritual exercise, penitence or prayer had greater value than bringing succour to distressed hearts and helping the needy. He directed all his efforts towards alleviation of human misery, and his mission was to provide consolation and emotional security to seekers, to help diffuse tension, and bring inner peace and tranquillity within everyone’s reach.

    “Develop a river-like generosity, a sun-like bounty and an earth-like hospitality,” Chishti exhorted, stressing one’s life could have divine significance only if one firmly rejected all material attractions.

    Sheikh Moinuddin Chishti believed in pacifism and non-violence, contending violence created more problems than it solved. In forgiveness, large-heartedness and tolerance lay the supreme talisman of man’s happiness.

    Both Hindu and Muslim as well as followers of other religions, throng the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer for his annual Urs or death anniversary, which is not treated as a sad occasion but a celebration of the soul’s union with god.

    About 250,000 to 300,000 pilgrims visit Ajmer during the Urs. The dargah (shrine) of the saint, who was popularly known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz by his devotees from both communities, symbolises a touching synthesis of the hopes and prayers of various faiths and communities.
     
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  3. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

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    Mosque/Temple of Shirdi Sai Baba

    The Temple/Mosque of Sai Baba is one of the most famous religious places of India.Followers of all religions come here to visit and pray.Sai Baba Temple is a holy shrine that is attracting millions of devotees from many years. Located at Shirdi in Maharashtra, Sai Baba Mandir is easily accessible from anywhere in India. Shirdi is a small town in the state of Maharashtra. The nearest railway station to this temple is sited at Manmad. From Manmad, regular services of buses and Taxis are available for Shirdi. The nearest airport to Shirdi is positioned at Nasik. The city of Nasik lies at a distance of 90 kms from Shirdi and one can hire taxis to reach Shirdi.

    Sai Baba remains a very popular saint and is worshiped by people around the world. Debate over his Hindu or Muslim origins continues to take place but there is no violence .He is also revered by several notable Hindu and Sufi religious leaders. Some of his disciples received fame as spiritual figures and saints such as Upasni Maharaj and Meher Baba.

    The name 'Sai Baba' is a combination of Persian and Indian origin; Sai is the Persian term for "well learned" or "knowledgeable", usually attributed to Islamic ascetics, whereas Baba (honorific) is a word meaning "father; grandfather; old man; sir" used in Indo-Aryan languages. The appellative thus refers to Sai Baba as being a "holy father" or "saintly father". His parentage, birth details, and life before the age of sixteen are obscure, which has led to a variety of speculations and theories attempting to explain Sai Baba's origins. In his life and teachings he tried to reconcile Hinduism and Islam: Sai Baba lived in a mosque which he called Dwarakamayi, practised Hindu and Muslim rituals, taught using words and figures that drew from both traditions and was buried in a Hindu temple in Shirdi. One of his well known epigrams says of God: "Sabka Malik Ek" ("One God governs all") which traces its root to the Bhagavad-Gita and Islam in general, and Sufism, in particular. He always uttered "Allah Malik" - Lord is the sole protector. He had no love for perishable things, and was always engrossed in self-realization, which was his sole concern.

    Sai Baba taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, devotion to God and guru. His teachings combined elements of Hinduism and Islam and tried to achieve communal harmony between these religions as well as other religions.

    Teachings and practices

    In his personal practice, Sai Baba observed worship procedures belonging to Hinduism and Islam; he shunned any kind of regular rituals but allowed the practice of namaz, chanting of Al-Fatiha, and Qur'an readings at Muslim festival times.Occasionally reciting the Al-Fatiha himself, Baba also enjoyed listening to moulu and qawwali accompanied with the tabla and sarangi twice daily.He also wore clothing reminiscent of a Sufi fakir. Sai Baba also opposed all sorts of persecutions on religious or caste background.

    Sai Baba of Shirdi was also an opponent of religious orthodoxy - both Hindu and Muslim. Although Sai Baba himself led the life of an ascetic, he advised his followers to lead an ordinary family life.

    Sai Baba encouraged his devotees to pray, chant God's name and read holy scriptures - he told Muslims to study the Qur'an, and Hindus, texts like the Ramayana, Vishnu Sahasranam, Bhagavad Gita (and commentaries to it), Yoga Vasistha. He was impressed by the philosophy of Bhagvad Gita and want people should follow the facts of life written in Bhagvad Gita in their life to make life more meaningful and beautiful.He advised his devotees and followers to lead a moral life, help others, love every living being without any discrimination, treat them with love and develop two important features of character: faith (Shraddha) and patience (Saburi). He also criticized atheism.In his teachings Sai Baba emphasised the importance of performing one's duties without attachment to earthly matters and being ever content regardless of the situation.

    Sai Baba said that God penetrates everything and lives in every being, and as well that God is the essence of each of them. He emphasised the complete oneness of God which was very close to the Islamic tawhid and the Hindu doctrine, e.g. of the Upanishads. Sai Baba said that the world and all that the human may give is transient and only God and his gifts are eternal. Sai Baba also emphasised the importance of devotion to God - bhakti - and surrender to his will. He also talked about the need of faith and devotion to one's spiritual preceptor (guru). He said that everyone was the soul and not the body. He advised his disciples and followers to overcome the negative features of character and develop the good ones. He taught them that all fate was determined by karma.

    Sai Baba left no written works. His teachings were oral, typically short, pithy sayings rather than elaborate discourses. Sai would ask his followers for money (dakshina), which he would give away to the poor and other devotees the same day and spend the rest on buying wood to maintain Dhuni. According to his followers he did it in order to rid them of greed and material attachment.

    Sai encouraged charity and the importance of sharing with others. He said: "Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. If any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will be certainly pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give, do not give, but do not bark at him like a dog."Other favourite sayings of his were: "Why do you fear when I am here", "He has no beginning... He has no end." Sai Baba made eleven assurances to his devotees:

    1. Whosoever puts their feet on Shirdi soil, their sufferings will come to an end.
    2. The wretched and miserable will rise to joy and happiness as soon as they climb the steps of Dwarakamai (Mosque).
    3. I shall be ever active and vigorous even after leaving this earthly body.
    4. My tomb shall bless and speak to the needs of my devotees.
    5. I shall be active and vigorous even from my tomb.
    6. My mortal remains will speak from My tomb.
    7. I am ever living to help and guide all who come to Me, who surrender to Me and who seek refuge in Me.
    8. If you look at Me, I look at you.
    9. If you cast your burden on Me, I shall surely bear it.
    10. If you seek My advice and help, it shall be given to you at once.
    11. There shall be no want in the house of My devotee.


    Reported Miracles

    Sai Baba's millions of disciples, followers and devotees believe that he had performed many miracles. Some of them were: bilocation, exorcisms, curing the incurably sick, helping his devotees in need in a miraculous way, reading the minds of others. Numerous inhabitants of Shirdi talked about these miracles. Some of them even wrote about them in books. They talked and wrote about how they (and others) were the witnesses of his unusual Yogic powers: levitation, entering a state of Samādhi at wish, even removing his limbs and sticking them back to his body (Khanda Yoga) or doing the same with his intestines.

    According to his followers he appeared to them after his death, in dreams, visions and even in bodily form, whence he often gave them advice. His devotees have many stories and experiences to tell. Many books have been written on these events.
    http://www.saileelas.org/magazines/SAILEELA/exp.htm
    This place uniquely represent the religious harmony between people of various religions.Sai Baba Temple is open to the people from all religions, castes and creeds. The main shrine is known the Samadhi Temple. Here, the mortal body of Sai Baba was actually buried and later, a 'Samadhi' was built on the spot. Besides the Samadhi, there is a marble image of Sai Baba in a sitting position. This beautiful image cannot be described in words. It appears, as if, Sai is sitting alive and would utter a word at this instant. This image was sculpted by Sri Talini, a well-known sculptor from Mumbai.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2010
  4. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    Sabarimala (Malayalam: ശബരിമല, Tamil: சபரிமலை) is a pilgrimage centre in Kerala located in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Kerala in Pathanamthitta District. Lord Ayyappan's temple is situated here in the midst of 18 hills. The area is in the Sahyadri ranges of Kerala. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 914m/3000 ft above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. Temples exists in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional and intact temples exist at many places in the surrounding areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, and Karimala, remnants of old temples survive to this day on remaining hills. Sabarimala is believed to be the place where Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demoness, Mahishi.

    Sabarimala is one of the most visited piligrim centres in the world with an estimated 45 - 50 million devotees coming every year. The world's second largest annual pilgrimage (after Hajj in Mecca) is reported to be to Sabarimala.

    The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is a singularexample of one where pilgrims, without consideration of religion, caste, creed, position or social status, go with one aim, one desire and one mantra that is Lord Ayyappa.
     
  5. nitins

    nitins New Member

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    Yes, in Sabarimala there is Mosque near the temple and it is the custom to go there before going to Temple.
     
  6. A chauhan

    A chauhan "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः धर्म हिंसा तथैव च: l" Senior Member

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    Haji Ali Mosque : Mumbai

    Haji Ali Mosque Mumbai

    This is one of the famous places of Mumbai where people of all paths come to visit.This mosque houses the tomb of Hazarath Haji Ali, a Muslim Sufi saint. There are a number of stories related to the life of Hazarath Haji Ali and about how this tomb came to be built. One version claims that Haji Ali was a rich local merchant who gave up his worldly possessions after a visit to Mecca and took to meditating. Another story is that Haji Ali was an Afghan mystic who lived and meditated, on the island on which the shrine now stands. It is said that he left instructions that after death, his body should be put in a casket and should be cast off into the sea off the shore of what is today Pakistan. Legend has it that the casket with his body in it emerged in perfect condition in the place where the tomb is today. According to another story Haji Ali was on a pilgrimage to Mecca and he died on the way. His body was put into a casket and disposed off at sea. It is said that this casket floated back to Mumbai; though some believe that Haji Ali drowned at the spot where the dargah is today.

    The dargah was built in 1431. The tomb is on a small islet just off the coast of Worli in Mumbai. It is about 500 yards from the coast, in the middle in the sea. There is a walkway that connects the shrine to the shore. This walkway is accessible only in low tide. During high tide and in the monsoons the shrine is completely cut off from the shore. The structure of the dargah is like other Muslim mausoleums in India. The structure is white with domes and minarets like the Mughal architecture. The dargah is a renowned pilgrimage site among the Muslims. Non-Muslims are also allowed to visit the dargah. Inside the dargah the tomb is covered with a red and green brocade chaddar(sheet) and an exquisite silver frame supports it. The tomb has a courtyard that normally has a festive atmosphere. The main hall has pillars on which the ninety-nine names of Allah are written. The whitewashed structure attracts visitors in large numbers on Thursdays and Fridays. This shrine is thronged by Hindu and Muslim devotees alike.

    Haji Ali is a handsome example of Islamic architecture standing on an island. In fact, this holy place is visited by many devotees as well as visitors who are attracted by the beauty of the site. The widespread belief is that whoever prays to the deity here is never disappointed. A number of pilgrims come here for thanksgiving. Haji Ali's sister also followed her brother's footsteps and became his companion in ascetic suffering. There is a mausoleum built for her a little distance away on Worli Bay.

    The mosque has a narrow concrete pathway about a kilometer built over water to reach the shrine and can only be reached at low tide. The walkway is lined with pitiful wailing beggars. A short flight of marble steps leads into the dargah where the body of the saint is enclosed in a semi-circled tomb,in an exquisite silver frame engraved with all the ninety-nine names of Allah. The top of the tomb is covered with a zari cloth and flowers and other offerings by devotees lie scattered around the tomb. The devotees pray and touch their heads and lips to the cloth. Ladies, as is the case in all mosques, have a separate room for prayers. All visitors need to remove their shoes before entering the shrine.
     

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