Rumi and The Whirling Dervishes

[There are various approaches to meditate, besides the typical cross-legged one.  We know there is also walking meditation or any repetitive physical movements which actually form a rhythm to ultimately quiet the mind.  There is chanting which not only repeating mantras or sentences to focus the intention subsequently form as a prayer.  I am always enchanted with the Dervishes who keeps on singing, dancing, whirling and whirling in a trance mode… what are they achieving by doing so.. where does it come from originally…  In the light of a series of entries about Rumi, here is the connection between them and the mystery behind it.]


images31The Whirling Dervishes were founded in the 13th century by the great Sufi mystic and poet, Muhammad Jalaluddin Rumi.  Rumi, born in Afghanistan in 1207, he came to Turkey when the Mongols invaded his homeland and settled in the city of Konya with his family.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Rumi became a scholar in spiritual readings, and a practitioner of Sufism or a theosophist, besides he is also known as a mystic poet, a thinker.  If you ask him, ‘What are you?’  He would say, ‘I am nothing but a simple lover of God.’  A true lover of God has no definite nationality, language or race for loves everything without discrimination.  Rumi turned to poetry and losing himself in dance and song to reach ecstatic states and thus commune with God.  His disciples called him Mevlana (our leader), and that’s where the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes took their name.


images8Sufism is a mystical sect of Islam that believes God is in everything, and that humans can come in direct contact with the Divine spirit through love of life and all that is around them.  Rumi firmly believed that Muslims are by no means the only people to whom God has revealed himself.. love of God transcends particular religions and nationalities.


Dervish literally means ‘doorway’ and is thought to be an entrance from material world to the spiritual world.  Their dance is called Mevlevi Sema – the dance of the Whirling Dervishes.  It becomes part of the Turkish history, beliefs and culture.  The Sema ceremony represents man’s ascent to Heaven, his spiritual journey, his turning towards the truth, growth through love, desertion of self to lose oneself in God.  


autr6jacap77z8sca44si02ca58mhgmcailznonca349sgpca17wmygcafqrhudcapqzvb7caxtsbjlcazqflotcae3kakccav22ag7cab3r732cahmzh0ucaet92aqcab8ihghcaslghy7The whirling is a prayer during which the Dervish’s body can become open to receive the energy of God.  For this to occur, the Dervish attempts to be empty of ego or sense of self.  Turning with one palm extended upward to receive and one palm extended downward to give, the Dervish does not attempt to keep the power.  Dancers are wearing tall conical felt hats and long white robes with full skirts covered with heavy black cloaks.  The white robes symbolize their worldly tombs and the hats, their tombstones.  By the third circuit around the hall, they drop their black cloaks, which is symbolic of their deliverance from the cares and attachments of the world.  One by one with arms folded over their hearts, they approach the sheikh, and bow to him.  Upon receiving blessings or instructions whispered in their ears, they spin out on to the floor.  The whirling induces a trance-like state that allows them to forget about their earthy lives and join in mystical union with God.


images11Everything in the universe revolves – the planets around their Sun, the Earth on its axis, the protons, electrons and neutrons in our body.  The Whirling Dervish aligns him or herself with that Universal Truth so that when the Dervish turns, the universe opens.


The practice of the Whirling Dervishes may have declined in Turkey since Ataturk’s ban, but international attention and admiration of the Sufi tradition has increased significantly.  Today Dervish groups from Turkey travel all over the world in cultural exchanges, whirling and sharing their love of God.


The above note is collated from different sources.


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