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



1. The Essence of Art

2. The Divinity of Art

3. Art and Religion

4. Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

5. The Ideal of Art

6. Painting

7. Sculpture (1)

8. Sculpture (2)

9. Architecture (1)

10. Architecture (2)

11. Poetry (1)

12. Poetry (2)

13. Poetry (3)

1. Music (1)

15. Music (2)

16. Drama



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

10. Architecture (2)

If we look at the Egyptian pyramids with open hearts and illuminated souls, they speak to us of the past. They tell us that even if the architecture of that time was not so advanced theoretically, yet it had reached a highly spiritual stage. They stand there as a token of the intelligence of the ancient people, and not only of their inspiration but of the depth of their mind. And if today or in the future, people inquire about the site that was chosen for the pyramids, they will find that it is exactly in the center of the solid part of the earth's surface. At that time communications were not as they are now, and the study of geography was hardly known to the world, yet the Egyptians were able to find the exact center and to construct something there which is unsurpassed in history. What was the meaning of placing the pyramids in the exact center of the earth? The real heart is the solar plexus, and that is to be found in the center of the body which is the shrine of God, and that is why it was necessary for the sacred temple to be in the center of the earth.

The ancient Egyptians had a symbolical point of view in their architecture, and their influence became the principal source of inspiration for the civilizations that followed. Very little is known about ancient Egyptian drawing or painting; nevertheless, in the examples that remain we always discover some mystery, some atmosphere, some magnetism, something very wonderful. And the excavations which are being made today are proving that the Egyptians of that particular period had reached a stage where they were more advanced in art and architecture than any other peoples, and that they were also able to inspire later civilizations.

Egyptian architecture is expressive of mystery. It was a mystical age, and everything the Egyptians did was done without mechanical power; it was done with spiritual power; and that is the reason why what they have made will last after all that others have made has been destroyed, and when all other buildings have vanished from the earth. And it would not be surprising if on the last day, when everything else has been destroyed, the pyramids still remained standing.

It is very interesting to notice that the architecture of the Mongolian races is distinct and peculiar to them, and that it has no resemblance whatever to any other architecture. And what stands out as being most expressive of the people's character is Chinese architecture, including that of Tibet, Assam, Burma, Siam, and Japan. There is a peculiar line, there is a peculiar curve, and there is a peculiar taste in color. This shows the exclusiveness of the Mongolian character, a character which is very distinct and remote. They have followed their tradition to such an extent that every insignificant form that the Mongolians have made has that particular character. They are so attached to the form that belongs to them, that they have been able to retain the type, the character of their architecture for thousands of years. They have never abandoned that form, and they do not change it nor add to it from outside, but they develop it in its own character. In this way Mongolian architecture stands out as something different and distinct, peculiar to itself.

The architecture of Persia was influenced by Arabian architecture; and the peculiarity of Persian and Arabian architecture is the dome, which is called in Arabic the Gunbad and the Mehrab. Gunbad means dome, and Mehrab means an arch used in windows and doors which is not exactly round, but is formed of three or five parts; in other words, in five half-circles with the top made by two lines going upward and joining in the center.

The interpretation of this form was given by the mystics of Arabia, who called it Qasab-e Kousein, which means the meeting of the eyebrows. When a person looks upward, naturally his eyebrows come closer to each other. The idea is, that as the spirit soars upward the tendency of the soul is to rise from duality to unity, and by working with these two particular forms they have arrived at such perfection that if the same form were continued for a hundred thousand years one could never tire of it.

During the time of the Mogul emperors this architecture of Arabia and Persia was perfected in India. The Moguls, who were worshippers of beauty and very fond of splendor and grandeur, spent enormous wealth in building something which would remain as a token of beauty. In India today the most unique and beautiful signs of the past to be found are the Mogul buildings, for instance Moti Mahal, the mosque in Delhi and, best of all, the Taj Mahal in Agra. It was because of the emperor's great love for Nur-i Jehan that he wished this love to be remembered for ever afterwards, and also he wanted the people to know that he really loved beauty. He spared no effort, no money, no time, to make this building perfect; and when it was finished it became the tomb of Nur-i Jehan. When one looks at it, it not only inspires one with its greatness and richness, but it also tells one of love, of beauty, of patience, of endurance, of an ideal, of joy, and of peace; these are all there. It speaks without a tongue, and it will go on speaking as long as it stands beneath the sun. Every little detail, the smallest piece of marble, was worked most carefully. There is not one inch in the Taj Mahal, of floor or wall or ceiling, which had not been made perfect.

This shows a love of perfection, a love of finishing something, a love of creating something beautiful. Would it have been possible to make such a building if the workmen had been on strike ten times a year? Not even in a century. And if the workmen had insisted on week-end entertainments? No, their pleasure was in what they were making. Each workman realized that what he was making would live for centuries, that it was the greatest blessing, the greatest privilege to be allowed to work at it. That was the spirit of every man who worked there. It was built with joy. One can still find this in its atmosphere, for as soon as one comes near the Taj Mahal one begins to feel joy; it is something living.

The builders have gone, but the work remains, and every artist who has a real sense of architecture will appreciate this. What is earthly gain compared with the thought that the work that one has done will live on and give joy for ages to come? This in itself is a great joy for the artist, because a real artist is not born for this earth; he is born in the sphere of beauty and he lives in that sphere. The things of the earth do not count for him.

In ancient Greek architecture, the Doric, which shows Jelal influence in its character, is expressive of power. And where there is Jelal there must be Jemal too; thus the Ionic architecture is expressive of Greek wisdom and beauty and fineness. And where one finds Jelal and Jemal, one will also find Kemal, and this influence is seen in the Corinthian architecture. No doubt when Jelal and Jemal clash, then there is something lacking on both sides; nevertheless these three aspects of Greek architecture are expressive of Jelal, Jemal, and Kemal.

When we compare the architecture of the Middle Ages with the Roman and the Greek, there again we find these influences. The Jelal influence of Roman architecture shows the ancient Roman characteristics: law and rule; the Jemal influence in Greek architecture shows the Greek love of beauty and wisdom. Gothic is the Kemal expression; however, Gothic architecture has taken its own peculiar form in every country. It seems as if the soil inspired the builders, both the architects and the workmen. The Gothic churches in France are different from those in Germany, and even if there is some resemblance between French and Italian cathedrals, yet there is an individual feeling in every cathedral wherever it may be. Gothic architecture has reigned over the Western countries for a long time, and although by now its influence has disappeared, it has made itself felt in a hidden way during many centuries.

It is very difficult to describe modern architecture. We hesitate to call it beautiful; but to say that it is not beautiful--no, we cannot say that! So instead of calling it beautiful we might call it wonderful. If there is any wonder it is in the immensity of the buildings. They are indeed enormous; the ancient people would never even have dreamed of such buildings. They would be horrified if they saw them. They are also wonderful because in spite of the many floors they consist of, they yet stand so firmly; and then the way in which everything possible is pre-fabricated in order to build very quickly--all this is most wonderful. Yet it is a drawback that only vertical and horizontal lines are to be seen, and when a traveller passes through countries where he finds the same kind of architecture in every city, it is just like looking at the same house over and over again; there is no difference. Instead of wandering through the city he might just as well look at one house and be contented with that.

Everyone must have the same kind of house built on the same plan, but we are not all made the same way. Every person is different and that is what makes life interesting. When every person is different, why should not every house and building be different? As the architecture of every country is expressive of the character of that country, so the architecture of every house should be expressive of the particular character of the owner of the house and of the man who built it. But when the law of uniformity is forced upon people then there remains no choice in the matter; the choice has been taken away from the architect as well as from the owner of the house.

No doubt one sees a continual effort on the part of modern architects to produce something new; and it seems that this effort is working as much in their minds as in the minds of painters and other artists, to produce, to create something new. No matter what direction architecture takes, there will come a time before long when a better approach will be found. But what is necessary for this is the development of spirituality. The architect should not think that it is the study of different architectures that will make him capable of producing something new; it is the heart, it is the spirit, which must reveal to him what he should create. The work of the architect is of the greatest importance; it comes through inspiration and its origin is spirit, not matter. A house is built with matter, but made with spirit. And as the spirit of the world evolves so architecture will evolve also.

In the future one can foresee two improvements. One will be the giving of more scope to the personality of the individual to express itself; and the other will be the evolution of an architecture which does not discard all that belongs to the past, but blends some of its best characteristics with the architectural conceptions of the present.