The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

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Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

By Date



Unity and Uniformity


The Sufi's Religion

The Aspects of Religion

How to Attain to Truth by Religion

Five Desires Answered by Religion


Aspects of the Law of Religion


The Effect of Prayer

The God Ideal

The Spiritual Hierarchy

The Master, the Saint, the Prophet

Prophets and Religions

The Symbology of Religious Ideas

The Message and the Messenger


The Spirit of Sufism

The Sufi's Aim in Life

The Ideal of the Sufi

The Sufi Movement

The Universal Worship




The Symbol of the Sun

The Brahman Symbolical Form of Worship



The Story of Lot's Wife

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

Jesus Walking on the Water

The Symbol of the Cross

The Symbol of the Dove

The Ten Virgins

Tongues of Flame

Shaqq-i Sadr: the Opening of the Breast of the Prophet

Miraj: the Dream of the Prophet

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

The Symbology of Religious Ideas

The Brahman Symbolical Form of Worship

Puja is the name of the Brahman form of worship, which is, from the beginning to the end, a symbolical expression of what the seeker has to perform on the path of spiritual attainment. After bathing in the running stream of water, which the Hindu calls the Ganges (whatever be the name of the river, he at that time believes that it is the Ganges, the sacred river), he proceeds with flowers to the shrine of the deity. He puts onto the deity the flowers, and repeats the mantram, and stands greeting the deity with folded hands, and prostrates himself before the deity. Then he rings the bell and repeats the sacred word. Then he takes rice in his hands and puts it at the feet of the deity. Then the red powder, coucou, he touches with the tip of his finger, and makes a mark with it on the shrine of the deity and then on his own forehead. Then he touches the ointment with the tip of his finger, and, after touching the deity, he touches his forehead with the same ointment. He then prostrates himself, and makes three circles around the shrine. Then he rings the bell, and thus the service is finished. Afterwards he goes and stands before the sun, and does his breathing exercises while arising to the sun, and that completes the next part of his worship.

However primitive this form of worship, at the back of it there seems to be a great meaning. The meaning of the bath in the Ganges is to become purified before one makes any effort of journeying on the spiritual path. The purification of the body and of the mind both is necessary before one takes the first step towards the God-Ideal. One must not approach the deity before such purification--the outer purification as well as the inner purification--for then alone, when once a person is pure, he will find it easy to attain the desired Presence. The meaning of the flowers, which he takes, is that God is pleased with the offerings which are delicate, beautiful, and fragrant. Delicacy means tenderness of heart, beautiful in color is fineness of character; fragrance is the virtue of the soul. This is the offering with which God is pleased.

He stands with the thought that his self is devoted in perfect discipline to the Supreme Will of God. His hands folded express no action on the part of himself, but complete surrender. The meaning of prostration is self-denial in the right sense of the word, which means: "I am not; Thou art." Whispering the words and ringing the bell is that the same word is rung in the bell of one's heart. His touching the red powder means touching the eternal life; and when he touches the deity with the powder, it means that from this source he is to gain eternal life; when he touches his forehead with it, it means he has gained it for himself. And the ointment means wisdom, and the touching of the god with it and then his forehead means that true Wisdom can be obtained from God alone, and touching his own head with it means that he has gained it. Then making three circles around the shrine is the sign that life is a journey, and that the journey is made to attain his goal, which is God; "Every step I take in my life," the Brahman thinks, "will be in His direction, in the search of God." In the second part of the service, when he stands before the sun, by that he means that God is to be sought in the light. And by the breathing exercises he welds that link of inner communication between God and himself.

The Flute of Krishna

Krishna is pictured in Hindu symbology with a crown of peacock's feathers, playing the flute. Krishna is the ideal of Divine Love, the God of Love. And the Divine Love expresses itself by entering into man and filling his whole being. Therefore the flute is the human heart, and a heart which is made hollow will become a flute for the God of Love to play upon. When the heart is not empty -- in other words, when there is no scope in the heart -- there is no place for love.

Rumi, the great poet of Persia, explains the idea more clearly. He says the pains and sorrows the soul experiences through life are as holes made in a reed flute, and it is by making these holes that a player makes out of a reed a flute. Which means, the heart of man is first a reed, and the sufferings and pains it goes through make it a flute, which can then be used by God as the instrument to produce the music that He constantly wishes to produce. But every reed is not a flute, and so every heart is not His instrument. As the reed needs to be made into a flute, so the human heart can be turned into an instrument, and can be offered to the God of Love. It is the human heart which becomes the harp of the angels; it is the human heart which is known as the lute of Orpheus. It is on the model of the heart of man that the first instrument of music was made, and no earthly instrument can produce that music which the heart produces, raising the mortal soul to immortality.

The crown of peacock's feathers leads to a further revelation, that it is the music of the heart which can be expressed through the head; it is the knowledge of the head and the love of the heart that expresses the Divine Message fully. The peacock's feather has in all ages been considered as a sign of beauty and as a sign of knowledge: beauty because it is beautiful, knowledge because it is in the form of an eye. It is by keen observation that man acquires knowledge. Knowledge without love is lifeless. So, with the flute, the crown of peacock's feathers makes the symbol complete.