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Tuning souls to

The role of music in the mysticism of the Indian Muslim mystic, musician, poet, and philosopher

Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927)


Research Master Area Studies - Asia and the Middle East, track Islamic Studies
Leiden University, The Netherlands


Ms. Dr. G. van den Berg

Second reader:

Mr. Dr. U. Ryad


Ms. Aya (Johanna Danille) Drst Britt - s0482730


03-06-2013 / 26-08-2013 (revised version)


Nasrudin decided that he could benefit by learning something new. He went to see a master musician.
How much do you charge to teach lute-playing?
Three silver pieces for the first month; after that, one silver piece a month.
Excellent! said Nasrudin. I shall begin with the second month.

Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will

be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when
completeness comes, what is in part disappears.


For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we

shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these
three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Wa ma tawfiq illa bi-llah, generally rendered as All success comes from God.
The hight cost of learning in Shah, I., The pleasantries of the incredible Mulla Nasrudin, New York, 1968, p. 82
3 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, New International Version of the Bible.



Content list

A note on source indication, spelling, titles, and time reference



The context, roots and impetus of Inayat Khans musical mysticism

1.1 Creating a grid: the importance of history


Contextual developments


Ancestral influences


1.2 A wandering musician




From student to scholar


Travelling the Indian subcontinent



Impetus revisited: from tour to blessing and sacrifice


Mystical lyrics, musical expression

2.1 Early Indian examples



Music textbooks and the Minqar-i Musiqar


Calcutta recordings


. )nayat Khan s lyrical heritage in the West





The Diwan of Inayat Khan


Songs of India and Hindustani Lyrics



The Gayan collection


Notions from Inayat Khans speculative music theory

3.1 Analysis of the source material



Various publications


Approach to and characteristics of the parts selected for discussion

3.2 Selected notions from part ), Music , part of The mysticism of sound and music



The realm of the musician, man and society


Reference to mystical praxis and theory



Remarks pertaining to a perceived divine origin


3.3 A note on speculative music theory










Pictures and illustrations


Relevant other information


Four songs of Inayat Khan





Literary sources are rendered in full reference when mentioned for the first time; thereafter shortened
and if possible abbreviated, e.g. Inayat Khan, Pirzade Z. (ed.), A Pearl in Wine: Essays on the Life, Music and
Sufism of Inayat Khan, New Lebanon (NY), 2001, p.191 versus ZIK 2001:191. Some publications have
appeared in multiple editions; the years of subsequent publication are mentioned with the year of the
edition consulted given without brackets, e.g. Farrell, G., Indian music and the West, Oxford e.a., (1997)
2004, p. 122 versus Farrell 2004:122. When more than two authors, editors, or places of publication are
mentioned by the book, this is indicated by mentioning the first, followed by the Latin abbreviation e.a. (et
alter, and others) as indicated above. If the place and/ or year of publication is unknown, the Latin
abbreviation s.l. (sine loco, without place) and/ or s.a. (sine anno, without year) is given. The abbreviation
cf. means conform . Digital sources are referred to within the footnotes including the exact title and/or
author information (if relevant), whereas the date of last access is only mentioned in the Bibliography.
Maps, pictures, and other information are referred to in the main body of the text as included in the
Appendix, with source indication on the spot.
I favour the British English spelling, which involves for instance ou instead of o (endeavour), s
instead of z (civilisation), ae instead of a (encyclopaedia). Despite my efforts to be consistent throughout
the paper, I apologise in advance for any unintended oversights.
Names and terms have been encountered in the sources consulted in several styles of
transcription and languages, like Dutch, English, French, German, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, and Urdu. In the
books by name of or about Inayat Khan, one finds especially terminology originating in Persian or Urdu,
which derivates from Arabic or vice versa; exemplary is the Urdu and Persian honorary term Hazrat,
which equals the Arabic arat (dignified presence).4 Since I am not familiar with official transcription
systems for Persian, Hindi, and Urdu, and to be consistent, I included foreign terms in italics following the
spelling most encountered in the sources without using diacritical marks indicating vowel elongation,
emphatic letters, or signs indicating specific pronunciation, rendering e.g. sama instead of the more
precise sam (literally hearing, audition; referring to Sufi practice of music gatherings). My rendition of
these foreign terms in Western script follows whenever possible an official transcription system taken
from the Encyclopaedia of Arabic literature, but without using its diacritical marks.5
Foreign words incorporated in the English language are rendered in italics as well for reasons of clarity if
they are not common words, e.g. vina (instead of veena), an age-old Indian string instrument which
preceded the more familiar sitar. These words are followed by s in the case of plural, e.g. qawwal versus
qawwals; the performer(s) of the Pakistani and Indian Muslim devotional musical genre of qawwali.
Foreign words with a common English equivalent have been rendered without the use of italics, e.g. the
Arabic Qur`n and shaykh appear as Koran and sheikh. The exception to the latter term is the rendition of
the particular )ndian title Shaikh al-Mashaik or Shaikh-ul-Mashaik , and other titles. Like Pir ,
This title is used to address one as (is Majesty/ Highness/ Excellency/ Holiness , referring to the presence of someone of great
stature. Cf. Monna, R.M.C., Short dictionary of the foreign words in Hazrat Inayat Khan s teachings, The Hague, 1991, p. 71.
5 Scott Meisami, J.; Starkey, P. (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Arabic literature, London, 1998. The main characteristics of this official
transcription model involve diacritical marks in the form of dots underneath emphatic letters (e.g. and ,), and the use of , kh, j, q,
ay instead of ai, and iyy(a).

Pirzade , and Maharaja , this title is usually found upright and with capitals in the majority of sources
consulted for this thesis. I render these titles with capitals and in italics (Pir) for clarity purposes as to
distinguish between such foreign titles or honorary addresses and foreign names, providing explanation
on the spot when convenient. Titles are scarcely mentioned, however. They are rendered when
appropriate in order to pay due respect to them; I did not want to burden the readability of this thesis by
mentioning titles again and again.
The meaning of the title Shaykh al-mashayk in the context of this thesis is different from the
concept I was familiar with, as used in Egypt.6 In the Indian context, this title is specifically related to
Shaykh al-mashayk Mahmood Mirza Maheboob Khan Mawlabakhsh Youskine (1927-present). Mahmood
Khan is the son of )nayat Khan s younger brother Shaykh al-mashayk Pyaromir Maheboob Khan (18871948), and lives in The Hague, The Netherlands. 7 His title refers to a particular Indian Muslim caste and
status, not (anymore) to religious or spiritual leadership in the Sufi Order, the main body of the
transnational Sufi Movement related to his uncle Inayat Khan, or to its main Dutch branch, the Soefi
Time references are to be understood as BCE (before Common Era) or CE (Common Era) without
mentioning CE after CE commenced, e.g. Khawaja Moinuddin (Muin al-Din) Chishti (ca. 1141-1236). If the
year of birth (or death) is known by proxy, this year is preceded by the abbreviation ca. , of the Latin
word circa. The abbreviation o. refers to the Latin verb obit, meaning he (or she) died .

In scholarly sources, the Egyptian usage usually refers to a particular form of authority over others in a religious, Sufi, or sometimes
even secular context. Claudia Kickinger speaks of the Shaykh al-mashayikh in Egypt as the overseer of guilds and Sufi orders in the
Middle Ages up to the pre-modern period of the Muslim Mediterranean; Frederick de Jong mentions the 20th century politically
independent Sufi institute of the Shaykh mashayikh al-turuq al-sufiyya in Egypt, whereas Virginia Danielson speaks of Egyptian
mashayikh as public figures such as political or religious leaders, often from a peasant background, among whom generally were
teachers, scholars and members of the cultural intelligentsia such as the famous lady singer Umm Kulthum (ca. 1904-1975). See
Kickinger, C., The significance of customary law in the traditional urban market in Dostal, W.; Kraus, W. (eds.), Shattering tradition:
custom, law, and the individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, London/ New York,
, p. ; Jong, F. de, Opposition to Sufism in
twentieth-century Egypt (1900-1970) A preliminary survey , in Jong, F. de; Radtke, B. (eds.) Islamic mysticism contested. Thirteen
centuries of controversies and polemics, Leiden e.a., 1999, pp. 312, 317-318, 321; and Danielson, V., The voice of Egypt. Umm Kulthum,
Arabic song, and Egyptian society in the twentieth century, Chicago London, 1997, pp. 21-26 .
7 Mahmood Khan is a historian by education, a specialist in the history of his family, and a member of the board of the Soefi
Beweging. He has no other function within this movement, although he is entitled to initiate adepts-to-be at request; he travels far
and beyond to lecture about various topics with regard to Inayat Khan and his mysticism, themes related to Sufism and Vedanta, and
about more politically engaged subjects such as aristocracy and democracy or the relationship between the EU and Turkey.
Mahmood Khan published two authoritative biographical articles in the essay collection of his nephew (at the time of the 2001
publication still Pirzade, meanwhile Pir) Zia Inayat Khan: Mahmood Khan, Shaikh al-Mashaik hereafter MK , Mawlabakhshi Rajkufu
A`lakhandan: The Mawlabakhsh Dynastic lineage, 1833, in Z)K
: -63, and Mahmood Khan, Shaikh al-Mashaik, (azrat
Inayat Khan: A biographical perspective in ZIK 2001:65-126. On the history of the family name, see MK in ZIK 2001:57-58 (note 71
in that source, starting at page 57). See also Horn 2010:8-9.
8 MK in ZIK 2001:54; Maas, K.,
jaar Universeel Soefisme: tussen heilige mist en mythologische jungle. Gesprek met Mahmood
Khan over de context van Boodschap en Boodschapper in De Soefi-gedachte (September), 2010, p. 19.

There comes a stage in the moral evolution of man when he perceives and understands the moral of
beneficence, and he learns to return good for evil. At this stage in his progress he hears a chord that connects
and runs through him and through all. He finds himself as it were in a dome, in which good and evil find reechoing tones. [..] But there is a stage to which he may progress; and then it seems to him, that this
connecting chord swells into a great sea; and he realizes that the interdependence of lives is such, because the
spirit is one; and it is the spirit that unites, and the spirit that gives life.

Ajmer, India, the 16th of October 2007. It was the last day of Ramadan, and people had gathered at the
Chishti Sufi shrine complex of Khawaja Mu`in al-Din Chishti to communally break their final fast.10 Later
that day, thousands of people would attend the musical Sufi gathering called sama, near the shrine of the
Khawaja. As the prayers were recited at the time the fast was broken, the crowd was suddenly shaken by a
loud bang, followed by a huge explosion. The next Delhi Walla newspaper contained an eye-witness
account of the event, due to which two persons were killed, and 17 wounded, in a terrorist attack on
perhaps the most popular Sufi shrine of South Asia.11
A hundred years before the Ajmer incident, the Indian Muslim poet-philosopher and musicianmystic Hazrat Inayat(u-llah) Khan had paid his respects at the shrine of Mu`in al-Din Chishti at the very
same complex in Ajmer.12 Faced with personal hardship after the recent death of his own Chishti Sufi
teacher, Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad Abu Hashim Madani (s.a.-1907),13 Inayat Khan was struck by awe
and inspiration when he visited the shrine of the founding father of the Indian Chishtiyya Sufi order.14
In one of )nayat Khan s biographies is written that he went home after this visit to Ajmer. After his
midnight prayers, he heard the voice of a faqir, calling the people to prayer before sunrise.


Struck by

the meaning of the moment, Inayat Khan then chose quite a different path to the track which he had
followed until then [..], turned over a new page in his life 16 [in order to] live the life of an adept, hidden in
Inayat Khan, Hazrat, Rassa shashtra. The science of life s creative sources, Deventer, (1938?), pp. 93-94. Almost similar: Inayat Khan,
Hazrat, A Sufi message of spiritual liberty, London, 1914, p. 51. Hazrat Inayat Khan will subsequently be abbreviated to HIK.
10 In Urdu, Khawaja designates a person who has realised inner peace and calmness. It is used as an honorary address or title for Sufi
saints and sheikhs, resembling Hazrat, which is used in Urdu, Arabic, and Persian. See Sharib, Z.H., Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti. De
geliefde van Allah, Den Haag, 1979, p. 122.
11 The originally Arabic term sama literally means audition or hearing . Sufi shrines are crowded on such days, especially on an urs,
the death anniversary of a Sufi saint, on which Sufis celebrate the soul of the saint s wedding to God. Qawwali musicians perform
mystical poetry in song almost continuously, and large quantities of food are offered freely to everybody. See Lamborn Wilson, P.,
Chishti reminiscence in Z)K
; Chishty, S., Ajmer Diary. Terrorist attack in the Sufi shrine in The Delhi Walla, 16-10-2007.
Stephen Schwartz mentions a number of
persons with injuries in The widening war against Sufism in Newsgram, 04-2011. The
context of Muslim criticism and violence directed towards Sufism is a different subject altogether and will not be explored here.
12 Inayat Khan, Hazrat e.a. (eds.), Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, London/ The Hague, 1979, p. 86 cf. ZIK 2006:63; MK in ZIK
2001:3, 53.
13 At the Indian subcontinent and in Central Asia generally, religious Muslim leaders and distinguished Muslim scholars are
addressed with the title Mawlana. An online edition of the Dictionary of modern written Arabic renders Mawlana as a form of
address to a sovereign, but I could not trace the word in Wehr, H., Milton Cowan , J. (ed.), Dictionary of modern written Arabic (3rd
edition), Beirut/ London, (1961) 1980.
14 On Chishti Sufism, see Nizami, K.A., Chishti, Khwadja Mu`in al-Din (asan in Lewis, B., e.a. (eds.), The encyclopaedia of Islam New
edition ( vol. II C-G), Leiden, 1965, pp. 49- ; Nizami, K.A., Chishtiyya in Lewis e.a. 1965:50-56; Sharib 1979 as a whole.
15 HIK 1914:11-12; HIK e.a. 1979:86; ZIK 2006:63. Inayat Khan s biographical account of
-06-1919 mentions that he visited this
shrine after the death of his mother Khadija Bi (or Bibi, in 1900 cf. MK in ZIK 2001:83), and that he felt consoled and inspired by the
words of the faqir walking outside to call people to prayer as mentioned above. Cf. (et verhaal van mijn mystieke leven in Soefi
Gedachte, 1982, pp. 8-9. As Lamborn Wilson remarks, visiting the tombs of the saints is not merely a devotional practice. Initiatic
dreams can be incubated at such shrines; non-ordinary events, psychic unveilings and coincidences are easier to access there.
Lamborn Wilson in ZIK 2001:444. To this: Farrell 2004:208.
16 HIK e.a. 1979:86; ZIK 2006:63.

the guise of a musician.


)t is exactly this synthesis of )nayat Khan s mysticism and musicianship in the

context of Indian music, Islam and Chishti Sufism around which the subject of this thesis evolves.
In the West, Inayat Khan is generally known for his broadminded metaphysical Sufi teachings, for
instance as published in the multi-voluminous Sufi Message series,18 and for having founded what
developed into the Sufi Order, which combined the post-Chishti mysticism of Inayat Khan with the neoChristian ritualism of his wealthy Theosophical followers.


However, when Inayat Khan left India for the West in September 1910, aged 28, he was not only
an already acknowledged gentleman musician, but also a respected professor of (speculative) music
theory.20 But despite the fact that those genuinely interested in )nayat Khan s Sufi views are often aware
that he was an accomplished musician as well, most admirers of his thinking know little about the music
as it was in his time.


This is not surprising, given the fact that those born and raised in Western cultures

are usually unfamiliar with the age-old traditions of Indian music education and music. Yet, as testified by
historical newspaper articles and testimonials, the young Inayat Khan was widely acknowledged as a
vocalist, musician, poet, and scholar in particular (courtly) circles in India prior to his departure for the
West.22 Partly due to his long residence in the West, his musical accomplishments were gradually
forgotten in India. Indian textbooks on classical music do not mention him, since in India today, unless
you specify you mean Sufi )nayat Khan, it is generally assumed that you are referring to one of the two
other musicians of the same name.


Furthermore, present-day classical music in India differs

significantly from the music performed and recorded by Inayat Khan late 19th, early 20th century.24
What sources can be consulted to come to know more about this topic, and how has Inayat Khan
been studied and portrayed in Western scholarship in this regard? What are, in fact, )nayat Khan s musical
accomplishments? Can )nayat Khan s music theory and musicianship be framed within a larger context,
and, if so, what does this larger context entail? What is the relationship between poetry and )nayat Khan s
music? What did music mean to him, in the first place? Can we distinguish a relationship between the
nature of )nayat Khan s musicianship and his Muslim surroundings? )s it, for instance, possible to compare
the role and context of the practice of sama and qawwali in Chishti Sufism with the role and context of
17 ZIK 2006:63. Zia Inayat Khan remarks that the second passage as quoted above was included by )nayat Khan s biographer Regina
Bloch in 1916, although unjustly set prior to the story of )nayat Khan s initiation by Mawlana Hashimi in Hyderabad. However,
thinking of )nayat Khan s remark d.d. 19-06-1919 recorded in his biographical account and referred to above, one wonders whether
this visit to Ajmer and its impetus must be related to the death of )nayat Khan s mother in
or to that of his murshid in 1907.
18 Paragraph 3.1 contains some reference to the Sufi Message series referred to.
19 Horn, H.J., Hoorn, Th. van, Recollections of Inayat Khan and Western Sufism - Translated, annotated and introduced by Hendrik.J.
Horn, Leiden, 2010, p. XI; similarly p. 136. A recent work on Theosophy is Johnson, K.P., Initiates of Theosophical masters, Albany,
1995. In time, the Sufi Order became the main inner school of the Western transnational International Sufi Movement related to
)nayat Khan s Sufi teachings. At present, various Sufi organisations worldwide are related to these teachings, but they differ in their
characteristics and affiliation. A useful, concise introductory Dutch source on Inayat Khan, his mysticism and its embodiment in
organisations is Slomp, J., De Soefi Beweging, Kampen, 2007. It offers contextual chapters on India, religion, and Muslim mysticism,
and it addresses )nayat Khan s musical career in some detail in a separate chapter. Slomp s chapter V))) addresses the organisational
realm of his mysticism, with specific reference to affiliated orders on pp. 118-122. A useful detailed English source is the dissertation
of Zia Inayat Khan, available online but (so far) not in print; Inayat Khan, Z. A hybrid Sufi order at the crossroads of modernity: The Sufi
Order and Sufi Movement of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan (unpublished dissertation), Durham (NC), 2006, pp. 64-192.
20 HIK e.a. 1979:121, 123-125, 128-129, 135, 137-139, 281-349. The understanding and context of the term gentleman musician will
be looked into in chapter 1.
21 Miner, A., The Minqar-i musiqar and Inayat Khans early career in music in ZIK 2001: 77.
22 HIK e.a. 1979:272-391. These pages contain ample references to his acknowledged musicianship by historical news paper articles,
testimonials, notes of Inayat Khan, letters received by Inayat Khan, and other relevant texts from his years in India and in the West.
23 Siddiqi, J., )nayat Khan: From Maestro to Master in Sufi (47, Fall edition), 2000, p. 24; Farrell 2004:147. Siddiqi s article contains
some biographical mistakes. See also Bor, J.; (arvey, J., )nayat Khan The complete recordings of
, sleeve notes to Inayat Khan
The complete recordings of 1909. 31 classical songs from the legendary Sufi musician Hazrat Inayat Khan [EMI CD NF 150129-130
double CD set, The Gramophone Company, Calcutta, 1994], Panta Rhei Publishers, Katwijk, 1984, p. 4.
24 Farrell 2004:1-2, 44-76, 147, 155; Bor & Harvey 1994: 4-27.


music in the mysticism of Inayat Khan?25 Did Inayat Khan intend to reach out to a particular audience with
his musical mysticism in either India or the West with a musical form of Chishti dawa, i.e. missionary
activities? Do )nayat Khan s particular insights on music and mysticism, which he so often phrased in
poetry and lyrics, relate to similar insights of others? Can we, for instance, draw parallels between Inayat
Khan s efforts to preserve and promote classical Indian music and its theories both in India and the West
to other, related efforts of contemporaries such as those of the renowned Indian Hindu poet, musician,
philosopher, and Nobel prize winner Rabindranath Thakur anglicised Tagore , 1861-1941) of Bengal?26
Though each of these questions is interesting, answering all of them lies far beyond the scope of this
thesis. The focus is on addressing the first and main question of this thesis in order to come to understand
what role music plays in the mysticism of Inayat Khan. In due course, some of the other questions posed
will be addressed as well.
A critical note pertaining to the sources consulted for this thesis
Today, sources addressing the biography and Sufi views of Inayat Khan are amply available in both
printed and digital media. While caution in the treatment and selection of such (biographical) sources is at
place as will become clear, the interested reader is referred to sources mentioned below.27
To those generally interested in )nayat Khan s life story and teachings, publication details might
be of no importance. To the more genuinely interested or critical reader and the scholar, though, they are,
since publications differ much in content, editing, and in the rendition of information. Especially with
regard to )nayat Khan s views and teachings, this is of concern: it influences the degree to which )nayat
Khan s words are authentic, or edited and interpreted. For instance, a stubborn misunderstanding
encountered in scholarly sources is that Inayat Khan wrote and/or compiled the many English
publications bearing his name by himself.28 An issue of greater concern is that most scholarly publications
contain similar biographical mistakes and generalised assumptions based on a non-critical approach to
available sources. This is a very troublesome aspect of contemporary scholarship on Inayat Khan. 29
While popular sources on )nayat Khan s biography and mysticism abound, there virtually was no serious
scholarly discourse on music in relationship to )nayat Khan s mysticism till the last quarter of the


century, culminating at the onset of the 21st century. There used to be a serious lack of trustworthy

An authoritative source on qawwali is the field study of Burckhardt Qureshi, R., Sufi music of India and Pakistan: sound, context and
meaning in qawwali, Cambridge e.a., 1986. On the reception of qawwali in the West, see Farrell 2004:205-209.
26 On Tagore, see e.g. Farrell in Arnold 2000:562-563; Farrell 2004:144-167, especially pp. 155-163; and De Groot .93-98. Tagore had
a very great respect for [)nayat Khan s] extraordinary musical talent and acquirements. Cf. ()K e.a.
; Bor & (arvey
: .
27 HIK 1979 is by far the most popular (partly auto)biographical source, however non-scholarly. Recommendable popular-scholarly
sources are e.g. Jong-Keesing, E. de, Inayat Khan: A biography, London/The Hague, 1974; Jong-Keesing, E. de, Golven, waarom komt de
wind? De levensgeschiedenis van Hazrat Inayat Khan, Amsterdam, 1973 (hereafter DJK); and Slomp 2007:52-94. For a critical
scholarly biographical perspective, see MK in ZIK 2001:3-126, in which various biographical sources are discussed as well.
28 See e.g. Farrell 2004:148; Simms, R., Scholarship since
in Arnold, A., ed. , The Garland Encyclopaedia of world music (vol. 5:
South Asia: The Indian subcontinent), New York, 2000, p. 5 ; Meymandi, A., Sufism, (azrat )nayat Khan, and his music in Psychiatry
(Edgmont, July, 7 -7), 2010, p. 48. Though it is true that the content of the works bearing his name is his, Inayat Khan purposefully
dictated selected students or secretaries to record his words in either shorthand or longhand during lectures and other gatherings.
In time, his lectures were grouped together, and edited whenever seemed needed for the sake of readable language or according to
the understanding of those in charge of publishing before publication occurred. This happened during his lifetime already, yet even
more so after his death. During his lifetime he was involved with matters of publication, though. To this e.g. HIK 1991:viii; Slomp
2007:97-99; Graham, D.A. (S), Bent Hamel, B. van der, Parrish, M.J. (eds.), Complete works of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan
Original texts: Lectures on Sufism (1924 I: January-June 8, source edition), New Lebanon (NY), 2002, p. viii-ix. Publishing books would
not have been a goal in itself for Inayat Khan. Cf. DJK 1973:163.
29 Common themes in this regard are the reason behind and purpose of )nayat Khan s journey Westwards, and the end of his musical
career as a performer, which are concisely addressed in paragraph 1.2.3.


scholarly sources in any regard till that time: when )nayat Khan s grandson Pir Zia Inayat Khan (1971present) once inquired why the Encyclopaedia of Islam did not include an entry on his grandfather and his
Sufism, he was told that there were no sources available. 30 Furthermore, a publication commemorating
400 years of Indo-Dutch relations covering a wide range of fields including intellectual and philosophical
encounters, religion, and music did not speak a word about )nayat Khan s influence upon spirituality in
The Netherlands.31 And another example, in a musical regard: when I received an old Dutch encyclopaedia
on the history of musical instruments worldwide as a gift in 2010, I was pleasantly surprised to find right
in its middle a two pages full-sized black and white picture on which I immediately identified The Royal
Musicians of Hindustan as in ca. 1911-1913. But I was even more surprised to find no reference
whatsoever as to indicate Inayat Khan, his brothers and cousin-brother or the name of their ensemble, nor
the source from which this image derived.32
The earliest scholarly attempts to address the importance of music in relationship with Inayat
Khan s life and mysticism appeared as short, single paragraphs in larger publications, presumably in
1947,33 1949,34 and 1960.35 As far as I have been able to pinpoint recent scholarly attempts to deliberately
discuss the vital role played by music with regard to )nayat Khan s mysticism and/or its relevance with
regard to Indian music history in more recent times, it seems that there exist few sources, comprising
paragraphs,36 articles37 or merely one to few lines remarks in larger publications. 38
This thesis aims to outline the role of music in the mysticism of Inayat Khan by 1) critically discussing
source material whenever appropriate, 2) looking into a selection of his lyrical legacy related to music,
and 3 by addressing a selection of )nayat Khan s views with regard to the relationship he perceived
between music and mysticism from the perspective of man, musicians and society, mystical praxis, and
with regard to God and creation.

Personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 24-11-2008.

Embassy of India (The Hague) & various authors, Changing images: lasting visions. India and The Netherlands, Amsterdam, 2008.
32 I searched the entire book for any caption or reference revealing their identity, but in vain. Jong-Biggs, P. (transl.), Encyclopedie van
muziekinstrumenten - seventh edition, (Helmond/Brugge, 1977) Alphen aan de Rijn, 1987, pp. 162-163. The English original is
Musical instruments of the world, London, 1976. The Brahmin tabla-player Rama Swami (their friend and fellow Royal Musicians of
Hindustan member) is not present in this picture.
33 Hoyack, L., De boodschap van Inayat Khan, Deventer, (1947?), pp. 181-184.
34 As included in a concise chapter on Inayat Khan and the Dutch Soefi Beweging in Mourik Broekman, M.C., Geestelijke stromingen in
het christelijk cultuurbeeld, Amsterdam, 1949. Relevant pages are pp. 110-112, 119-121.
35 Subhan, J.A., Sufism. Its saints and its shrines. An introduction to the study of Sufism with special reference to India and Pakistan,
Lucknow, (1938) 1960 & New York 1970. Only the second, 1960 edition contains a concise chapter on Inayat Khan. Relevant pages in
the 1960 edition are pp. 234-235, 238. To my astonishment, this chapter appeared in its exact 1960 version (thus, dated and
containing all its mistakes!) in Khan, M.A., Ram, S. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Sufism (vol. 4: Chishti order of Sufism & miscellaneous
literature), New Delhi, 2003, pp. 195-197.
36 DJK 1973; Farrell 2004: 1, 147,
; Farrell, G., Music and internalization , in Arnold 2000: 560-569 with minor
biographical mistakes; Slomp 2007:47-51, 65- ; Groot, R. de, Oriental identities in Western music in Groot, R. de; Schoot, A. van
der (eds.), Redefining musical identities at the waning of modernism, Rotterdam/ Arnhem, 2007, pp. 87-99; Horn 2010:38-47, 64, 101106, 118-119, 125, 153.
37 An excellent source but not easily available is Bor & Harvey 1994: 4-27; Siddiqi 2000:24-30 is highly informative but contains
biographical mistakes; two excellent articles are Mehta, R.C., Music in the life of )nayat Khan in Z)K
-175, and Miner in ZIK
2001:177-203; furthermore, valuable and interesting remarks are found in Groot, R. de,
. De Indiase cultuur als bron van
inspiratie in Grijp, L.P. ed. Een muziekgeschiedenis der Nederlanden, Amsterdam, 2001, pp. 685-686. Seemingly of interest, initially,
however general in content and containing mistakes is Meymandi 2010:4749. This latter article, supposed scholarly of nature,
turned out to be a general column for public consumption. Personal communication with the author d.d. 10-09-2012.
38 Meer, W. van der; Bor, J., De roep van de kokila. Historische en hedendaagse aspecten van de Indiase muziek, s Gravenhage,
, p.
34; Berendt, J.E., Nada brahma: the world is sound. Music and the landscape of consciousness, The Hague, 1987, pp. 33-34, 38, 160, 173,
177; Storms, G., Muziek en dans uit India. Een fascinerende muziekcultuur, Katwijk, 1985, p. 1; Simms in Arnold 2000:53, 56.




The present thesis is based upon a literary study of primary and secondary sources of and about Inayat
Khan, complemented with scholarly publications on the music of South Asia (in particular of the Indian
subcontinent), music in Sufism and in Islam, (Indian) Sufism and (Indian) Islam. These sources comprise
scholarly sources, popular-scholarly sources, and popular sources. The latter type of source has only been
consulted if this proved to be of significance to my research, such as the biography of )nayat Khan s
youngest brother, Pir-o-Murshid Musharaff Moulamia Khan (1895-1967), and the memoires of Kismet
Dorothea Stam, a mureed (initiate) and secretary of Inayat Khan.39
The majority of sources consulted were English; at times, relevant sources in French, German, and
Dutch have been consulted as well. Primary sources include )nayat Khan s main (auto)biography;40
collections of poetry partially translated into English by Inayat Khan;41 A Sufi message of spiritual liberty,
supposedly the earliest work of an Eastern Sufi in English;42 and his The mysticism of sound and music, the
most important source by name of Inayat Khan on speculative music theory. 43 Important additional
sources are other (critical) biographies;44 and sources addressing other work of Inayat Khan in English
translation, which comprise a selection of his lyrics, 45 and three articles addressing )nayat Khan s Indian
musicianship.46 Interviews and conversations with Mahmood Khan, a historian by education, figured as
additional sources of data collection.
Chapter one, The context, roots, and impetus of )nayat Khan s musical mysticism , addresses the
significance of contextual developments versus the influence of )nayat Khan s ancestors, and pays
attention to )nayat Khan s scholarly endeavours, his main musical accomplishments and his travels on
both the Indian subcontinent and in the West in this regard. The second chapter, Mystical lyrics, musical
expression , presents the reader with an introduction to )nayat Khan s musical-lyrical heritage dating
from his years in India and in the West. Notions from )nayat Khan s speculative music theory, the third
chapter, is dedicated to aspects of The mysticism of sound and music, a collection of transcribed and edited
lectures of Inayat Khan delivered in the West which contain )nayat Khan s views on speculative music
theory. It discusses meaningful publication details, and highlights perceived key notions from the first part
of The mysticism of sound and music, entitled Music.

Musharaff Moulamia Khan, Pages in the life of a Sufi (third edition), London/The Hague, 1982, and Stam, K.D., Rays, The Hague,
(1927), reprint s.a.. Stam accompanied Inayat Khan as his secretary on his first and only travel to India since he had left it in 1910.
40 This autobiography is included in HIK e.a. 1979. It also contains a personal account, and diary notes of Inayat Khan.
41 Inayat Khan, Hazrat; Duncan Westbrook, J., Diwan of Inayat Khan, (London, 1915) Delhi, 1996; and Inayat Khan, Hazrat; Duncan
Westbrook, J., Hindustani Lyrics, (London, 1919) e-book, 2006 (hereafter HIK & DW); Inayat Khan, Hazrat, The dance of the soul
Gayan vadan nirtan (Indian edition), Delhi, (1993) 1997; and Maula Bakhsh, Harunnisa Khanim, English translation of the lyrics sung
on the double CD set Inayat Khan The complete recordings of 1909. 31 classical songs from the legendary Sufi musician Hazrat Inayat
Khan [EMI CD NF 150129-130, The Gramophone Company], Calcutta, 1994.
42 HIK e.a. 1979:137. This publication, ready in manuscript form in 1913 when Inayat Khan came to Paris, appeared in Russian in
1913 (or 1914), and in 1914 in English as published by the London-based Theosophical Publishing Society. )ts title page notes Prof.
)nayat Khan and the remark Sufism is the Religious Philosophy of Love, (armony and Beauty. Cf. )nayat Khan, A Sufi message of
spiritual liberty, London, 1914, p. 1. A French translation was made in 1913 as well, and published shortly afterwards. To compare:
Nicholson s hailed The mystics of Islam appeared in 1914.
43 I consulted the more recent, revised edition: Inayat Khan, Hazrat, A Sufi message of spiritual liberty (vol. II: The mysticism of sound
and music revised edition), Shaftesbury/ Rockport (MA), 1991. Publication details of this work are discussed in paragraph 3.1.1;
the field of speculative music theory is addressed in paragraph 3.1.
44 DJK 1973; MK in ZIK 2001:3-63; MK in ZIK 2001:65-126..
45 Inayat Khan, Hazrat, The dance of the soul. Gayan Vadan Nirtan, Delhi, (1993), 1997; Maula Bakhsh, Harunnisa Khanim, English
translation of the song lyrics on the double CD set, Inayat Khan The complete recordings of 1909. 31 classical songs from the
legendary Sufi musician Hazrat Inayat Khan, EMI CD NF 150129-130, The Gramophone Company, Calcutta, 1994
46 Bor & Harvey 1994:4-27; Mehta in ZIK 2001:161-176; Miner in ZIK 2001:177-203.


The context, roots, and impetus of Inayat Khans musical mysticism
When Inayat Khan was a little boy, his father wanted him to practice playing and singing during the night.
As his mother was so much against this, his father asked: But if he does not practice, then what will he be
when he is grown up? You will see , his mother answered, you will see.


1.1 Creating a grid: the importance of history

A description of contextual developments with regard to the Indian subcontinent and noteworthy
ancestral influences is valuable in order to understand the circumstances in which )nayat Khan s life was
initially shaped, structured, and guided. Moreover, they are of key importance to identify, understand, and
explain the impetus of )nayat Khan s discerning musicianship and musical mysticism, and its later
development in the West. Therefore, and with regard to the fact that )nayat Khan s life story, family
history, and mysticism are generally amply documented elsewhere,48 this chapter will zoom in on these
contextual factors, ancestral influences, and the hallmarks of )nayat Khan s musicianship.

Contextual developments

South Asia as a whole is marked by ages of the migration of various peoples, especially though the Khyber
Pass in the mountains between present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Vedic Aryans found their way
south through these mountains to the Indus River Valley in the second millennium BCE, introducing their
Vedic religion and the Sanskrit language to the region. Being the forerunner of Hinduism, the Vedic
religion contained four canonical collections consisting of hymns, prayers, and liturgical formulas, which
functioned as the foundation of religious chant. 49
Embracing the ancient Vedic traditions and a multitude of gods, the rise and development of
Hinduism throughout the vast Indian subcontinent brought about the creation of devotional songs by
roaming mendicant poets and singers with prototype vina-like stringed instruments, who drew their
inspiration from elements of the many sacred Vedic scriptures. 50 Further syncretism occurred in the
subsequent process of assimilation of other peoples, their cultures, and religious-spiritual convictions.
This was especially the case in the northwest of the subcontinent, where Greco-Macedonian elements
mixed with the older Persian heritage of Zoroastrianism in that area. In time, these elements blended with
the previously discerning cultural and religious characteristics of various tribal Central-Asian migrants,

Stam (1927) s.a.:13. This story is rendered as one told by Inayat Khan himself.
Authoritative biographical sources addressing )nayat Khan s life, music and mysticism are MK in Z)K
: -126, 160-207; and
as a whole. For spherical, additional biographical reading, see )nayat Khan s account d.d. -06published as The
story of my mystical life, The (ague,
, also included as (et verhaal van mijn mystieke leven in Soefi Gedachte, The Hague, 1982,
pp. 6-15; MMK 1982:3-112; all of DJK 1973; and e.g. Slomp 2007, especially pp. 52-96.
49 Arnold, A., Profile of South Asia and its music in Arnold 2000:11,14; Rowell, L., Theoretical treatises in Arnold 2000:17.
50 Arnold in Arnold 2000:11, Wade, B.C., Visual sources in Arnold
:301, 307. These scriptures include the esoteric Vedas, which
describe ancient Vedic traditions and the Vedic pantheon of gods; the later Brahmanas and Upanishads; which contain reference to
more gods added to the Hindu pantheon; and important other sacred scriptures such as the Puranas, referring to a collection of
ancient stories, and the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana, both epic tales.



and, eventually, with those of Arab and other peoples.51 The Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent
took off in the first fifty years after the hijra of the prophet Muhammad in the 7 th century. Within two ages,
Islam became a dominant faith in at least the north-western part of the subcontinent. This development is
generally ascribed to the influence of Sufism, 52 as Muslim Sufis, who came to India in the backwash of
Muslim armies, are believed to have caused great numbers of Hindus to embrace Islam.53
Shrouded in many layers of meaning and concepts, the last thing that can be said of Sufism is that
it has one single identity. Like the religion of Islam itself, with its myriad manifestations in time and place,
Sufism knows key elements yet as many local, social, cultural and religious influences thereupon as can be
imagined, due to which the nature of Sufism varies significantly all over the world: scholars generally
accept that its manifestation in the world of Islam has not only been influenced by the asceticism of
Eastern Christian monks, but also by elements of Neo-Platonic philosophy, Persian spirituality, Buddhism,
and Hindu mysticism.54 The common factor of the various manifestations of Sufism remained similar:
one s heartfelt endeavour to realise union with God by progressing through various stages on a pathway
of inner development. Despite this commonality there are huge differences in the mental, emotional,
physical, and spiritual ways by which this endeavour has been approached in time by both Sufis and
Early literate Muslim mystics often turned to Arabic to teach and write, regardless of their
background.56 Their treatises contain many technical religious terms, which hints at an intended
readership trained in theology. At the same time, these treatises are believed to account for the fundament
upon which the popular poetical mysticism of later eras was created: the rich literary flow of 10th century
Persia influenced and marked the mystical poetry which would become dispersed throughout the Muslim
world. Cultivated forms of poetical expression were the ruba`i, qasida, ghazal, and the mathnawi. The
ruba`i was used to express spiritual insights and thoughts in a simple manner, whereas the short ode for
(mystical) love poetry (ghazal) and the longer, more narrative ode (qasida) required more eloquence. The

Arnold in Arnold 2000:14.

Muslims, (Muslim) Sufis, and scholars in general vary in their explanation of the term Sufism , as well in their approach to the
subject. Some state that it is not correct to equal the notion of Sufism to Islamic mysticism per se just because the term is supposed to
be a mere derivative of the Arabic word tasawwuf. Those who consider the latter view tend to explain Sufism as an age-old trend
among mankind, already manifest in the Middle East at the onset of Islam, which would become framed in an Islamic context. See e.g.
Kse, A., Conversion to Islam. A study of native British converts, London/ New York, 1996, p. 143. The term Sufi as designating
Muslim ascetics and mystics) seems to have only appeared from the 10th century onwards. Cf. Radtke, B. Kritik am neo-Sufismus in
De Jong & Radtke 1999:163. For a variety of perceived etymological origins, see e.g. (unwick, J.O., Tasawwuf in Bearman ea.
2000:314; Janssen, J.J.G., Nieuwe inleiding tot de islam, Bussum, 1998, p. 174; Johansen, J., Sufism and Islamic reform in Egypt: The
battle for Islamic tradition, Oxford, 1996, pp. 6-7; Inayat Khan, Hazrat, The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan (vol. 5), London, 1962,
p. 16; HIK e.a. 1979:179.
53 Robinson, F., Review Sufis of Bijapur
: Social roles of Sufis in medieval )ndia in Modern Asian Studies (vol. 14, no. 4),
1980, pp. 689-690; Schimmel, A., Mystische Dimensionen des Islams. Die Geschichte des Sufismus, Kln, 1985, p. 478; Arnold in Arnold
2000:3,11, 14-16; Dahnhardt, T., Change and continuity in Indian Sufism. A Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi branch in the Hindu environment,
New Delhi, 2002, pp. V-VI, 1-2; Freitag-Wirminghaus, R., Der )slam in ausgewhlten Staaten: Ruland, Kaukasus, Zentralasien in
Ende, W.; Steinbach, U. (eds.), Der islam in der Gegenwart, Mnchen, (1984) 2005, pp. 277.; Munir, D.A., Der )slam in
ausgewhlten Staaten: )ndien in Ende & Steinbach
54 Lapidus, ).M., Sufism and Ottoman society in Lifchez, R., The dervish lodge, Architecture, art, and Sufism in Ottoman Turkey,
Berkely e.a., 1992, pp. , ; Khoury, A.T. Mystik in: Khoury, A.T. e.a. eds. , Islam: Geschichte, Ideen, Gestalten (Lexicon G-N), s.l.,
1991, pp. 570-572; Waardenburg, J. (ed.) Islam. Norm, ideaal en werkelijkheid, Houten, (1984) 2000, p. 164.
55 Khoury 1991:570-572; Lapidus 2005:15-32, 90, 93; Waardenburg 2000:164; Radtke, B., Neue kritische Gnge. Zu Stand und
Aufgaben der Sufikerforschung, Utrecht, 2005, especially pp. 5,7-9,12-14. The many orders and various branches or sects within
orders account for this. Three important works of reference: Gramlich, R., Die schiitischen Derwischorden Persiens (3 volumes), s.l.,
1965, 1976, 1981 with particular regard to the orders discussed (vol. 1), their convictions and teachings (vol. 2), and their traditions
and rituals (vol. 3); Meier, F., Essays on Islamic mysticism, Leiden e.a., 1999; and Jong & Radtke 1999.
56 Bakhtiar, L. Sufi expressions of the mystic quest, London, (1976) 2004, p. 112. Bakhtiar does not specify the century nor the
geographical area.



mathnawi style originated in epic Persian poetry, but proved a useful way to render didactic mystical
thought.57 In the middle and south of medieval India, for instance, Muslim Sufis acted as agents in the
conversion of many Hindus to Islam by spreading such Sufi poetry among Hindu women, which these
women mainly chanted during their daily chores.58 In time, increasing numbers of Hindus visited the
tombs of Muslim Sufi saints, believing in their intermediary power, and many Hindus frequented the
various annual urs gatherings of Muslim Sufi saints. But it also happened that Hindus made a bay`a (a
contract-like loyalty agreement) with a Muslim pir, by which they usually became Muslim and followed
the particular kind of Sufism of their pir. 59
The various forms of Hindu mysticism and Sufism lay a common stress on personal spiritual effort
and incidental ascetism in order to reach a state in which one becomes free of the self-centred, lower ego
by purifying one s heart and soul from all worldly desires. But whereas Muslim Sufis do so in order to
transgress the world of duality to seek union with what they conceive of as the undivided God, the
Beloved , and (is divine grace, Hindus look for a release from time, space, and causality to reach a state
called moksa, in which one transforms the personal, relative world into what most Hindus consider the
impersonal, undifferentiated, absolute world of Brahman, the indivisible universe.60 Bridging the divide,
the universal devotionalism of the bhakti current would gain a tremendous following among members of
convictions and all layers of society on the Indian subcontinent from the 13th century onwards. Originating
as an inter-religious mystical strand conjoining Hinduism with Islam and later Sikhism as well, devotional
music, poetry, and song of a multi-religious nature played an important role from its early beginnings. Its
popularity culminated in the 15th and 16th century under the influence of the mystical poet Kabir (14401518), whose views also inspired the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539).61 Inayat Khan
read Kabir s poetry as well.62
The span of the Middle Ages would also see the birth of the two discerning classical music
traditions of India: the Hindustani tradition of the mainly Muslim north, and the Karnatak (or Carnatic)
tradition of the predominant Dravidian Hindu culture of the south. 63 The history of these styles seems
Bakhtiar 2004:112. Bakhtiar notes that the mathnawi seems to have been fashioned after the prose form of sheikh sermons
delivered to gathered students present. It may also include Koranic legends and ahadith (pl.; sg. hadith); sayings, anecdotes, and
miracles of saints; parables, allegories, and symbols; et cetera. Exact features of all styles are described by Bakhtiar as well. The West
knows especially about two of these styles, by means of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (ca. 1048-1123) and the Masnavi of Rumi
(1207-1273). These works, amongst others, became increasingly popular in the West in the first half of the 20th century.
58 Robinson/ Eaton 1980:690. Eaton explains that the poetry involved contained metaphors of the particular tasks at hand. These
metaphors drew connections between Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the pir (Sufi master) followed by the Sufi who wrote the
poetry, and the women. The poems were transmitted from generation to generation by women. Interestingly, the stages of the Sufi
dhikr were applied to regulate the phases of the women s work.
59 Idem.
60 Zaehner, R.C., Hindu and Muslim mysticism, London, 1960, p. 7, 10-11,13, 17,19. Zaehner divides Hindu mysticism in five categories:
sacrificial, Upanisadic, Yogic, Buddhistic, and bhakti mysticism. He compares Sufis and Sufi concepts with their counterparts in Hindu
mysticism, and roughly labels Sufism as the mysticism of love, or the way of the lover who yearns for union with the divine Beloved.
The way of the Hindu mystic, then, is the way towards impersonal liberation of the human soul, by reaching the eternal, immortal
state of the unconditioned over-soul, Brahman. Zaehner points out that viewpoints about the nature of Brahman differ strongly;
some strands in Hindu mysticism are theistic, others monistic. He distinguishes three each other overlapping types within the
categories of Hindu mysticism and various strands of Indian Sufi mysticism; pantheistic, the realization of undifferentiated unity
(philosophically interpreted), and the loving dialogue with God.
61 Kabir, born onto Muslim parents, felt at home in Muslim Sufism and Hindu mysticism. He studied with a Hindu mystic, Ramananda,
and lived in a time when the mystical thought in the north of the Indian subcontinent was profoundly influenced by the Persian
poetry of Attar (1145/5-ca.1221), Saadi (1184-1283/91), Rumi (1207-1273) and Hafiz (1320-1390). Eeden, F. van (transl, Kabir,
naar het Engels van Evelyn Underhill en Rabindranath Tagore, Deventer, 1950, p.5-6,8; Meer & Bor 1982:27-31; Arnold in Arnold
2000:2, 10, 13; Dahnhardt 2002:VI, 2.
62 Slomp 2007:62; personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 24-11-2008
63 Storms 1985:27-31; Baghchee, S., NAD: Understanding raga music, Mumbai, 1998, p. 16; Arnold in Arnold 2000:2,14,15; personal
communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 24-11-2008.



entwined with the rise of the Mughal dynasty in the north of the subcontinent. 64 When the Mughal dynasty
came to dominate the north and midst of the subcontinent by the 16th century, the Mughal courts had
adopted a lavish approach to the performing arts as was common in the far Dravidian south, although
marking it by their own eclectic preferences of language, culture, art, and music. 65
Music and the other performing arts in India became especially characterised by the social organisation of
Hinduism, which permeated all aspects of life on the subcontinent. 66 Influencing relationships among
musicians, their patrons, and society at large, one s caste and class also defined the social contexts of
performance, as these marked the borders between which a public performer could move and present his
skills to others.67 Each class and caste had its own dharma: associated patterns of behaviour, duties,
degree of religious purity, and obligations towards society at large. 68
Although music has never been a commonality in mosques throughout the Muslim world, Muslim Sufis on
the Indian subcontinent nursed their musical traditions both in secular and religious life. Two genres
usually performed at the shrines of Sufi saints are qawwali and kafi.69 The term qawwali designates both
the musical genre as well as the occasion of its performance, while its function is to accompany the ghazals
recited or chanted by the performers (qawwals), mainly in Persian and Hindustani.70 Presumably an
already existing trend among the Sufis who dispersed Persian Sufism on the Indian subcontinent, qawwali
seems to have been an additional factor which attracted Hindus to Sufism. Sharing many features of the
classical Hindustani music tradition, specialists believe that an originally slower, Persian kind of qawwali
mixed with the more rhythmic local features of Indian folk music. Qawwali has always been one of the
hallmarks of the sama of Chishti Sufis, the exponents of )ndia s most popular kind of Sufism.71
The arrival of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in Calicut (present-day Kozhikode) by ship
in 1492 marked the onset of the European colonial expansion of the Indian subcontinent. This not only
brought about the gradual decline of the court patronage of the arts but [also] put an end to Muslim rule
some two centuries later.


British influence in the Indian subcontinent dates from 1608, when the first

East India Company ship arrived at Surat in Gujarat. Trade centres of the East India Company were
established in especially Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay. With the later official colonial domination of the
British between 1858 and 1947, the English language and cultural preference were brought along with the
64 Storms 1985:27-29; Arnold in Arnold 2000:14. Storms refers as well to new developments with regard to musical instruments,
ascribed to the renowned Indian musician and composer Amir Khusraw (1253-1325).
65 Arnold in Arnold 2000:14; Wade in Arnold 2000:303. Musicians and scholars of music travelled freely between the Mughal and
Hindu courts. The Hindustani and Karnatak traditions are supposed to have taken a more essential shape by the end of the 16 th
century. With regard to the oral transmission of the performing arts, no treatises exist on this matter except from theoretical
treatises on e.g. scales, modes, melodies, compositions, improvisations, and instruments. For a concise overview of instruments,
important treatises, and scholarship in this regard, see e.g. Storms 1985:29-32; Rowell in Arnold 2000:17-41, esp. 23-24; and Simms
in Arnold 2000:42-58, esp. 45-46.
66 When the British dominated India from 1858 till 1947, caste referred to hereditary social groups in which people are distinguished
by religion, race, region, and profession. Caste did not only define one s inherited status, wealth and possible relationships within the
caste structure; it also provided people with social identity. Arnold remarks that the interests of the British lay far from the
performing arts of South Asia, but their views had long-lasting effects on music and dance performance . Cf. Arnold in Arnold 2000:810, 15. See also Storms 1985:33, and Farrell 2004:1-2, 10-12, 16-23, 45-47.
67 Arnold in Arnold 2000:8. Gender aspects are not looked into in the present thesis.
68 Arnold in Arnold 2000:8-9, MK in ZIK 2001:14. The main classes, four, were regarded as social groups: the teaching and instructing
Brahmins, professional priests; the people-protecting Kshatriyas, warriors, knights, and fighters; the commercial Vaishyas, merchants
and traders; and the upper-classes serving Shudras, among whom were many artisans and musicians. Within the latter class,
considered lowest in hierarchy, a further distinction was made between those included or excluded from society. The excluded group
would later become referred to as outcasts or untouchables . Each class has sub classes and categories.
69 Arnold in Arnold 2000(V):12. These styles and their traditions are maintained up to present day.
70 Burckhardt Qureshi 1986:xiii. Hindustani comprises Hindi and Urdu. Paragraph 1.2.1 will pay more attention to these languages.
71 Burckhardt Qureshi 1986:xiii; Lamborn Wilson in ZIK 2001:444-446.
72 Arnold in: Arnold 2000(V):15. An excellent work on this subject is Farrell 2004. For maps of India, see Appendix A, map 1 and 3.


many English people who migrated to India to live and work there. Furthermore, the British made efforts
to register the Indian people by their religion. 73 This severely challenged the relatively peaceful
intercultural and interreligious coexistence over time.74
In 19th century India, differences between the Islam of the four groups of ashrafi or noble Muslim
immigrants (the khassa or khassat) and the folkloristic Sufism of the lower Muslim classes (the `amma)
became increasingly visible.75 Following Western trends with the increasing cultural colonisation of
British imperialism, the Indian Muslim elite valued a decent education with regard to the English
language, culture, and the (Western) arts in general; urban accomplishments, for hinting at a discerning
status and a landed position in society. Thus, skills in music and poetry were especially cultivated, since
these were considered the highest of the arts, despite of the congruent, ambiguous reputation and position
of foremost Indian musicians and dancers: with the ongoing influence of both Western and Indian
decadency, the performing arts were increasingly regarded as a mere form of amusement in certain
circles.76 Moreover, much in line with the age-old general Muslim prevalence throughout the world of
Islam, the commercial pursuit of a career for fame and fortune was considered derogatory, whereas
musical professionalization for the sake and glory of God alone was seen as a praiseworthy endeavour.77

Ancestral influences

Hazrat Inayat Khan was born the 5th of July 1882 into a pious Muslim family of so-called gentleman
musicians long familiar with (Chishti) Sufism and interreligious mysticism, with respect for the Mughal
Muslim heritage, a general interest in the West, Western culture, and, non-surprisingly, Western music.78
Due to a transition from Hinduism to Islam in presumably the sixth ascendant generation from Inayat
Khan and various marital ties in the Mughal and Pathan groups, )nayat Khan s ancestors initially belonged
to the (lower) Indian Muslim elite referred to above. 79 They were musical zamindars; land owners with an
inclination towards music and poetry, who employed others to work the land for them. Originally from
Central Asia, they had migrated to the royal principality of Baroda (present-day Vadodara), a Marathi
Arnold in: Arnold 2000(V):15; personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 24-11-2008.
Arnold in: Arnold
V : ; Munir
; Burckhardt Qureshi, R., Music, the state, and )slam in: Arnold
Ultimately, this inner separation of the Indian subcontinent lead to tremendous bloodshed and migration: to Indian independence in
the form of the Indian Union for Hindus, and to the creation of Pakistan for Muslims in 1947.
75 MK in ZIK 2001:6, 12-13. The elite groups referred to above are the Mughals, the Sayyids, the Pathans, and the Shaykhs. The
Mughals and Pathans can be regarded as the Muslim counterparts of the Hindu Rajputs and Kshatriyas.
76 HIK e.a. 1979:23; Storms 1985:33; Arnold in Arnold 2000:10; Farrell, G., Music and internalization in Arnold 2000:562; MK in
ZIK 2001:5-9, 11-12, 24-28; Farrell 2004:1-2. Often hailing from the lowest caste of the above-mentioned Shudras, male
instrumentalists were not particularly held in high esteem in the past; nor were female artists. Those who accompanied solo
musicians and those who played instruments containing animal skin or gut were especially looked down on by Hindus, because they
considered the animal material as polluting. However, especially in the Dravidian south, Brahmin musicians received much more
respect than non-Brahmin musicians due to the first s higher class ranking as dignitary temple servants. At the same time, female
temple dancers in the south were largely associated with prostitution; the female singers and dancing girls of the north obtained a
similarly negative reputation.
77 MK in ZIK 2001:23; Faruqi, L.I. al-, Music, musicians and Muslim law in Asian Music (vol. 17, no. 1: Autumn-Winter), 1985, pp. 336, especially pp. 13-19. To this Engel, H., Die Stellung des Musikers im arabisch-islamischen Raum. Bonn, 1987; Shiloah, A., Music in
the world of Islam: a socio-cultural history, s.l., 1995, and Haqq, Jad al-Haqq Ali Jad al-; Alimiyya, M.M. (transl.), Fatwa on Islamic
music, Cairo, 1980.
78 HIK e.a. 1979:19, 30, 33-34; HIK in Soefi Gedachte 1982:9; MMK 1982:3-6, 10-13, 17-18, 22, 32, 76-77; MK in ZIK 2001:6, 41-42;
Farrell 2004:147; ZIK 2006:49-52; Slomp 2007:62. According to Mahmood Khan, who seems to have proposed the term gentleman
musician as opposing professional musician, the vital difference between the two showed itself in title: Khan versus Khwan.
Gentleman musicians, addressed with the title Khan, might have been experts just like professional, paid, recitalist musicians,
entitled Khwan, but the latter was considered a derogatory rank. Dr. Gabrille van den Berg, lecturer in Persian Studies at the
University of Leiden, the Netherlands, remarked that the ear picks up no difference in pronunciation between both titles. Personal
communication with Dr. Gabrille van den Berg d.d. May 2012.
79 MK in ZIK 2001:3-63, especially pp. 3-17, 57-58.



Hindu regime in the kingdom of Gujarat.80 As many zamindar families subsequently lost land by the
dividing aspects of Muslim legislation concerning inheritance, young males from these families often
sought after a musical career by attaching themselves to a court or respectable and wealthy patron. This
safeguarded their livelihood and status as gentleman musicians: expert, gentleman musicians received
gifts of their patrons after performing. It was considered a way of honouring the skills of the musician
while discretely providing for his livelihood; not regarded nor spoken of as a payment.81
Growing up at the courtly Mawlabakhsh khandan or House of Mawlabakhsh where all the family
patriarchally lived together, Inayat Khan was directly exposed to and influenced by music, multireligiosity, mysticism, (sung) poetry generally referred to as ghazals, and reminiscences of age-old Indian
philosophy from his early youth onwards.82 The nascence of Inayat Khans interest in play, poetry and
music may also be attributed to his early youth at the (ouse of Mawlabakhsh : stories told by Inayat
Khan s father played an important role in this period of his life according to sources, as did the darbars
(musical-cultural gatherings) which Inayat Khan often attended. 83 These gatherings, organised by Inayat
Khan s maternal grandfather, the master musician Sangitratna

Gem of music

Mawlabakhsh (1833-

were frequented by thinkers, scholars, poets, and mystics of all walks and talks of life. Especially

musicians sought to perform their skills, hoping to gain access to the court of the Maharaja through the
latter s chief musician Mawlabakhsh: he selected the finest musicians of the day to perform at the court. 85
Mawlabakhsh was renowned for various reasons. Thoroughly trained in the classical (vocal)
music of the Hindustani dhrupad genre by the then famous musician Ghasit Khwan of the Gwalior gharana
(i.e. a music school or lineage) in Baroda, Mawlabakhsh also played the vina. The acknowledged Brahmin
musician and musical scholar Subramani Ayar in southern Malabar taught Mawlabakhsh the theory and
practice of Karnatak music. In time, Mawlabakhsh became an outstanding performer, composer and
vocalist, one who was also well-familiar with the principles of Western music.86 Mawlabakhsh was an
eminent musicologist as well: he was one of the first Indians to develop a system for musical notation,
which was widely used in the central area of the subcontinent prior to later, standardised theories
employed at music schools.87 Moreover, in 1876 he founded the first, later state-patronised music
80 HIK 1979:19; HIK in Soefi Gedachte 1982:7; MK in ZIK 2001:7-17, 44, 57. See again Appendix A, maps 1 and 3. Established
immigrant Muslims, they were not levelled with the ruling Marathis in Gujurat, but still acknowledged for their aristocratic position
and regarded in line with the ruling elite. Zamindars were ranked as landed gentry under British influence, which further increased
their status, and positively affirmed their position in society. Personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 24-11-2008.
81 HIK in Soefi Gedachte 1982:14; Miner in ZIK 2001:186; MK in ZIK 2001:6-11, 14, 24, 41.
82 MK in ZIK 2001:41-42; ZIK 2006:52; Mehta in ZIK 2001:165. This courtly residence was the former treasury of Maharaja Khande
Rao (r. 1856-1870) of the Gaikwad dynasty in Baroda, Gujarat. Mawlabakhsh acquired it when he accepted the position of music
teacher at the court of the Maharaja mentioned.
83 DJK 1973:17-21; HIK in Soefi Gedachte 1982:7-10; MMK 1982:10; MK in ZIK 2001:96-98.
84 HIK e.a. 1979:19-29; MK in ZIK 2001:3. On Mawlabakhsh, see HIK e.a. 1979:19-29; MMK 1982:12-21; MK in ZIK 2001:3-63. See
Appendix B, figure 1.
85 HIK e.a. 1979:23-26; MMK 1982: 15-16; MK in ZIK 2001:18-21.
86 MMK 1982:14-16; MK in ZIK 2001:17-18, 20, 26-33, 107-108; Mehta in ZIK 2001:163-166; Miner in ZIK 2001:179, 182-183; ZIK
2006:49-55. Mastering both classical Indian music traditions was an extraordinary accomplishment in itself, but especially for a
Muslim, as the Karnatak styles were traditionally only transmitted from Brahman to Brahman. Mawlabakhsh s expertise in )ndian
music was confirmed by winning two independent critical musical contests in both traditions. The first, in Karnatak music, lasted ten
months. It was organised in the southern kingdom of Mysore, once ruled by the illustrious Muslim ruler Tipu Sultan (1750-1799)
who had sought alliance with Napoleon Bonaparte against the advancing British (but he died as a martyr on the battle field). Winning
the contest gained Mawlabakhsh the discerning attributes of rajkufu; various princely honours related to the status of a nobleman,
which significantly raised his social status. It enabled him to marry a royal descendant of Tipu Sultan. Later, Mawlabakhsh wedded
twice more, both Hindu women; one member of a Brahman family, and a lady of the Kshatriya. See also DJK 1973:17; Slomp 2007:62.
87 HIK e.a. 1979:25; MK in ZIK 2001:18-19; Mehta in ZIK 2001:163-165; Miner in ZIK 2001:191. While being a guest of Calcutta s
Maharaja J.M. Tagore, an elder relative of Rabindranath Tagore, Mawlabakhsh was inspired by a similar initiative of his brother S.M.
Tagore (1840, a musicologist and nationalist. Like S.M. Tagore and others concerned with the preservation of )ndia s music


academy of Baroda, which he directed until his death, and for which he devised a series of musical
instruction books. This music academy, the Gayan Shala, and its music education-reforming purposes
featured perfectly in modernising efforts of the new Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwar (r. 1875-1939) of the
Gaekwad dynasty (r. 1751-1949). Unlike traditional gharanas, which transmitted knowledge within
musical families or to one or more carefully selected students, the Gayan Shala was unique for being free
of tuition and open to all, regardless of caste, creed, and gender.88
Being unwilling to relate his musical education to the gharanas of the gurus he learned from,
Mawlabakhsh displayed his musical talent and scholarly aspirations in a widely respected and very
successful way, aiming at the preservation, promotion, and presentation of classical Indian music: he was
aware of a perceived degradation of music in contemporary Islamic culture , and committed to the
consolidation of an Indian national music on the basis of European principles and procedures.



thoughts and achievements clearly exerted a major influence in the life of Inayat Khan.90
The influence of )nayat Khan s father Mashayk Rahmat(u-llah) Khan (ca. 1834-1910) can also be
considered profound, albeit on a more moderate level. 91 Rahmat Khan was also a respected singer of the
Hindustani dhrupad genre, and known for his purity of tone. 92 He was born in a family of Punjabi Muslims
which traced its Pathan lineage to the mystic Jum`a Shah, who was revered by Muslims and Hindus alike.93
It was a saint-musician with a similar popularity among people of varying faith including musical students
and mystical adepts, Sayn Ilyas, from whom Rahmat Khan received his musical instruction. But although
he received both a musical and mystical training from this teacher, Rahmat Khan chose to develop into an
Ustad, i.e. one who masters his music and accordingly is allowed to teach others; not into a mystic, too.94
According to sources, saintly intervention at the tomb of Mu`in al-Din Chishti in Ajmer guided Rahmat
Khan s steps to the (ouse of Mawlabakhsh in Baroda. It happened when he was touring on his own after
having received full instruction from his teacher. In Baroda, he did not only found a kindred spirit in
Mawlabakhsh, but also (twice) a father-in-law.95 Rahmat Khan performed regularly at the Barodan court,
traditions, Mawlabakhsh responded to a wave of nationalist sentiments in the music scene due to a variety of factors: the corrupting
cultural influence of the British presence, the import of Western technological inventions for recording and playing music, and an
increasing social demand to preserve and study Indian music by consolidating knowledge in the new medium of textbooks and
manuals while embracing the best Western innovations in any field had to offer. Mawlabakhsh s notational system was based upon
Western staff notation, but adapted and attuned to the various tones and scales of Indian music. Farrell 2004 is an excellent work on
such developments within and surrounding the Indian music tradition with regard to its encounter with the West.
88 HIK e.a. 1979:299-301 see also Appendix C, no.
of the present thesis, remark of )nayat Khan starting with )f music falls into bad
hands.. until the good from the bad. ); Arnold in Arnold 2000:4, 14; MK in ZIK 2001:7-8, 121; Mehta in ZIK 2001:163. Like
Mawlabakhsh, Inayat Khan stressed this, while noting the beneficial and moulding effect of music on maturing children. Cf. DJK
1973:30. The Gayan Shala still exists; it is nowadays known as the Faculty of Performing Arts of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of
89 ZIK 2006:53.
90 HIK in Soefi Gedachte 1982:8-11; DJK 1973:36-37; MK in ZIK 2001:3, 44, 50-51, 120-122; Mehta in ZIK 2001:163-167; Miner in ZIK
2001:182-183; ZIK 2006:53. It certainly did influence the other male family members, too. The Mawlabakhsh khandan could
therefore be considered as an independent (although short-lived) musical pedigree and a dynastic lineage which lasted from 1833
till 1972. Cf. MK in ZIK 2001:3.
91 MK in ZIK 2001:86; Mehta in ZIK 2001:164. For biographical accounts of Rahmat Khan, see e.g. HIK e.a. 1979:30-32, 55-56; MK in
ZIK 2001:52-58; Slomp 2007:61-62. For spherical, additional reading, see MMK 1982:3-11. Also: Appendix B, figure 2.
92 MMK 1982:8, 20. The latter remark refers to Musharaff Moulamia Khan exact words singing on the note, which relates to an ideal
as phrased by e.g. the Marathi writer N.S. Phadke (1894: Faithful purity of notes, the perfect correctness of raga , and the
clever execution of laya i.e. rhythm patterns [..] are indeed wonderful forms of artistry, which mark the first-rate performance of
classical music. Cf. Phadke, N.S., Wither )ndian music? in Triveni, July, 1960. See also Siddiqi 2000:26.
93 MK in ZIK 2001:55-57; Slomp 2007:61.
94 MK in ZIK 2001:55-57. Mahmood Khan addresses biographical mistakes appearing in older sources related to this subject. Rahmat
Khan advised his children to be attentive and to learn from mystics in general, but not to imitate or follow them. See e.g. HIK in Soefi
Gedachte 1982:7-8; MMK 1982:10.
95 DJK 1973:17; MMK 1982:6-7, 9-10; Slomp 2007:61. Mawlabakhsh offered Rahmat Khan residence, and invited him to live within
the household as a son-in-law. Upon the unexpected death of his eldest daughter Fatima Bi (or -Bibi), Mawlabakhsh purposefully

where he also worked as a distinguished music teacher of the Indian and British elite. Moreover, he
functioned as an arbiter to the society of musicians, where he would often settle a dispute among the
musicians and singers.


1.2 A wandering musician

The (specialist) contemporary reader will easily deduct )nayat Khan s profound interest in mystical
poetry, music (theory) and song from the ample authoritative (biographical) documentation dating from
his years in India; documentation, which is partly based upon a variety of musical sources. These sources,
and especially the latter, not only offer helpful insight into the scarcely-documented historical context of
musical genres as they were in his time, but also shed light upon the apparent brightness of )nayat Khan s
musicianship and the way he communicated his scholarly insights and understanding of the perceived
relationship between mysticism and music as issued in the realm of age-old Indian scholarship.97

From student to scholar

)nayat Khan s biographies contain various remarks and anecdotes which lend themselves for
hagiographical reading.98 Debating, and imitating singers, musicians, and other artists was what Inayat
Khan is said to have loved especially as a child; other favourite pastimes were acting, writing stories, and
drawing.99 He mastered various languages to varying degrees: liturgical Sanskrit, Persian to read poetry,
and Arabic for praying. He developed a good speaking proficiency in English, and later in the West also
learned French for simple conversation. His mother tongue was Gujurati, but he also mastered Marathi,
the court language of the ruling Gaekwar dynasty, and Hindustani.100
)nayat Khan s parents are said to have observed their son s early eager interest in Hindu and
Muslim poetry and mysticism with cautiousness, as both could be paths to tragedy and sorrow, leading
away from a practical, happy, and normal life, in Rahmat Khan s words101 But when Mawlabakhsh
acknowledged his grandson s profound passion for


poetry and its age-old musical-

philosophical discourse, a Marathi poet was attracted to further acquaint Inayat Khan with poetry, and a
married his second daughter Khatidja Bi (or Bibi, 1868-1902) off to Rahmat Khan. Inayat Khan was born as the eldest child in this
second marriage, like his younger brothers Maheboob Khan, Karemat(u-llah) Khan (1892-1900), and Musheraff Moulamia Khan
(1895-1967). For spherical accounts on )nayat Khan s mother and paternal grandmother see e.g. MMK 1982:22-26.
96 DJK 1973:17; MMK 1982:9, 20. Musharaff Moulamia Khan s account does not state if this was in relation to the Gayan Shala.
97 Bor 1994:4, 6-7; Mehta in ZIK 2001:167. See DJK 1973:30-40 for an elaborate spherical account. A trustworthy biochronological
survey is found in MK in ZIK 2001:80-95.
98 Slomp 2007:52-54. For example, his mother s pregnancy of him was already shrouded in a mystical realm. Cf. Slomp 2007:61.
99 Slomp 2007:62. Inayat Khan still enjoyed staging his own plays with his Sufi students at later age, in the West. See e.g. Author
unknown, The Complete Works 1925 I: January to May 24 and Six Plays c.1912-1926 (Hardcover) Original Texts: Lectures on Sufism,
s.l.,2013 as announced by Omega Publications, an independent publishing company tuned to classical Sufi publications and the
publications of Hazrat Inayat Khan, his son the late Pir Vilayat Khan, and the latter s son Pir Zia Inayat Khan. Their website
notes: Most readers of Inayat Khan's work will be familiar with the three plays published by the International Headquarters of the
Sufi Movement in 1939: "The Bogey Man," "the Living Dead" and "Una." This volume now brings together two previously
unpublished works:"Omar Khayyam" and "Tansen"; a treatment for a play which he never completed, "Rama"; and "Ameen - the
Faithful Trustee" which has long been out of print. Suluk Press is an imprint of Omega Publications.
100 Slomp 2007:55-58. (industani is made up by Urdu and (indi, which share each other s vocabulary to a great extent. But whereas
(industani designates the (indu (indi as the (industani of the east written in the Devanagari script from left to right, the Muslim
Urdu is referred to as the (industani of the west and written in the Persian-Arabic alphabet in the Nastaliq script from right to left.
According to Mahmood Khan, )nayat Khan and )nayat Khan s brother Maheboob Khan wrote all their life mainly in Gujurati in the
Hindi Devanagari script. He notes that only their cousin-brother Muhammad Ali Khan is known to have written letters in Urdu in the
Nastaliq script, but Mahmood Khan is convinced that Inayat Khan mastered Urdu as well. )nayat Khan s Personal communication
with Mahmood Khan d.d. 22-08-2013. Paragraph 2.1.1 proposes that Inayat Khan wrote Urdu in the Nastaliq script as well.
101 DJK 1973:19-20; HIK e.a. 1979:45-46, 55; HIK in Soefi Gedachte 1982:7-8; Slomp 2007:62-64. Quote cf. MMK 1982:10.

scholar with regard to Sanskrit.102 Instruction in these subjects ran parallel to )nayat Khan s music
education, which had already started.
From early youth onwards, Inayat Khan received his musical training from the senior male
members of the household in accordance with the age-old, generally exclusive method of musician
families known as guru-shishya shiksa parampara, by which a male student learns at the feet of a master
by example and imitation.103 Mawlabakhsh instructed Inayat Khan to sing a wide range of vocal music in
the classical Hindustani and Karnatak traditions, and taught him the meandering melodies of raag (ragas)
of both traditions on the northern rudra vina (also known as bin, a plucked zither) and on the southern
Sarasvati vina respectively. Rahmat Khan trained Inayat Khan to sing and perform songs from the dhrupad
genre as well. Additional vocal skills were taught by )nayat Khan s maternal uncle Murtaza Khan

1924), who mastered the classical styles of both traditions as an acknowledged vocalist, too. Ala al-Din
Khan (1869-

, )nayat Khan s other maternal uncle, not only imparted his knowledge of both

(industani and Western music to )nayat Khan, but fanned the flames of )nayat Khan s latent interest in the
West. The latter manifested in )nayat Khan s attention for English, Western dress, Western music (theory),
and a variety of Western musical instruments (such as violin, piano, and harmonium) -not always to the
contentment of his family.104
Inayat Khan had access to the Barodan court when he grew up. This was not only due to the special
position of his grandfather and father, but also to his own merit: aged nine in 1891, Inayat Khan was
granted a musical scholarship and rewarded with a pearl necklace by the Maharaja of Baroda for his
rendition of a hymn to the Hindu god Ganesha, created by the great Karnatak musician, composer and
music theorist Diksitar (17351817).105
From 1897 onwards, Inayat Khan started teaching music at the Gayan Shala, informally. He would
have considered to found a music academy similar to the Gayan Shala somewhere else himself, in order to
introduce the Mawlabakhsh system of notation, theory, and teaching, seeking a way to honour his
grandfather s legacy, or, perhaps, achievement beyond the latter s greatness. 106 In 1899, almost eighteen
years old, he was officially installed at the Gayan Shala as one of its teachers; soon after that, as one of its
DJK 1973:18-19, 163; MK in ZIK 2001:101; Mehta in ZIK 2001:169; Slomp 2007:55-58. DJK mentions private teachers . Slomp
discusses DJK s remarks. See Van Donzel
. )ndian languages and dialects are discussed in Arnold in Arnold 2000:5-6. See
also Appendix A, map 2.
103 MMK 1982:27-31; MK in ZIK 2001:121-122; Mehta in ZIK 2001:163. This tradition is referred to as sina ba-sina ta`lim; face to
face instruction, literally meaning breast to breast instruction.
104 HIK e.a. 1979:26-27, 48-50, 63; DJK 1973:22-23, 65; Mehta in ZIK 2001:163; ZIK 2006:52, 55-57. Slomp 2007: 61. Murtaza Khan, a
professor at the Gayan Shala, received his own instruction in both styles from his father Mawlabakhsh, and succeeded Mawlabakhsh
as director of the Gayan Shala and as its principal singer in 1897 upon Mawlabakhsh s death in
. Sent abroad by the Maharaja
Gaekwar in 1892, Murtaza Khan s younger brother Ala al-Din Khan obtained his degree in Western music from the then recently
founded royal Music Academy of London as presumably the first Indian to do so. Upon his return to Baroda in 1897 after travelling
through France, Germany and Italy to gain more insight into Western music, he did not only bring Western music and Western
instruments along, but many stories and Western suits for Inayat Khan and his other fascinated nephews. Ala al-Din Khan functioned
as the Band Master of Baroda State and as its Music Superintent of both Indian and Western music. He started to emphasise the name
of his paternal family lineage as a last name, using Rahmat Khan Pathan or Mawlabaksh Pathan after his return from the West. Last
names were considered a Western novelty, but by choosing to refer to the warrior-roots of his Pathan ancestors he manifested a
strong patriotic stance. Inayat Khan also referred to these roots at some period in time. See Appendix B, figures 3 and 4.
105 HIK e.a. 1979:57; MK in ZIK 2001:81. Later he also composed and dedicated a songbook to the Maharaja. Cf. HIK e.a. 1979:64.
More to this in paragraph 2.1.1. )nayat Khan s biographies and the biochronological survey found in MK in ZIK 2001:81-95 include
many references to and examples of )nayat Khan s acknowledged musicianship in his early youth. See Appendix B, figure 5, where
Inayat Khan can be seen playing jaltarang: water bowls.
106 MK in ZIK 2001: 101. Inayat Khan and his uncle Ala al-Din Khan apparently felt challenged by Mawlabakhsh s stature, something
which was no problem for [..] Murtaza Khan; for he became his father s heir and successor, representing his person and position,
music and style, family honours and landed interests in all the plenitude of his substantial, highly impressive self. It was up to the two
younger protagonists, wajib (morally obligatory) on them, to fulfil their ancestral dharma in their own way. Cf. MK in Z)K
: .



music professors.107 Between 1897 and 1903 Inayat Khan frequented many a court in order to perform,
making name as a young and enthusiastic albeit respected musician whose concerts were often preceded
by short introductory lectures, emphasizing the most sacred and divine aspects of Indian music as found
in the ancient literature.


Between 1903 and late 1907, Inayat Khan found a royal patron in one of the world s richest
contemporary rulers: the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mahbub Ali Khan Asaf Jah IV (r. 1866-1911), who
wrote poetry and had mystical inclinations himself. The Nizam honoured Inayat Khan initially by giving
him an emerald ring, which he took off from his own finger. He gave Inayat Khan a purse of golden coins as
well, and publically declared him Tansen al-zaman, the modern Tansen : an honorary reference to the
legendary musician at the court of the Mughal emperor Akbar.109 He did not offer him a position.110 When
the Nizam asked )nayat Khan to tell him the secret of the magical effect of his music, )nayat Khan replied:
As sound is the highest source of manifestation it is mysterious in itself. And whosoever has the knowledge
of sound, he indeed knows the secret of the universe. My music is my thought and my thought is my emotion.
The deeper I dive into the ocean of feeling, the more beautiful are the pearls I bring forth in the form of
melodies. [..] My music is my religion, therefore worldly success can never be a fit price for it and my sole
object in music is to achieve perfection.


In Hyderabad, Inayat Khan would also meet the man whose face appeared in his dreams for a while:
Hazrat Sayyid Mohammad Abu Hashim Madani (s.a.-1907), a renowned Muslim shaykh, scholar and
Chishti Sufi of the Nizami branch who would initiate Inayat Khan into the essential teachings of the main
Indian Sufi orders of their day.112 Inayat Khan dedicated devotional poetry and song to his Murshid.113

DJK 1973:29. This address was a Western novelty, as music in India was traditionally taught by an Ustad to an individual student;
not, to a school class or group of students.
108 Bor 1994:13; Mehta in ZIK 2001:167; Slomp 2007:65-67. Images of Inayat Khan give an impression of his evolving musicianship;
see Appendix B, figures 9 to 10.
109 HIK e.a. 1979:287; Bor & Harvey 1994:17; Simms in Arnold 2000:48; Wade in Arnold 2000:303; MK in ZIK 2001:83; Mehta in ZIK
2001:162, 166; Slomp 2007:65-67. Akbar was renowned for the eclectic synthesis of elements from various cultures, arts, and
architectonic styles flourishing under his reign as the Mughal style , alongside his attempts to create a super-religion, the din-illahi.
Spherical descriptions of the Nizam and/ or (yderabad and/or )nayat Khan s stay there are found in HIK e.a. 1979:68-71, 74-75, DJK
1973:37-40, 50-51, MMK 1982:86-89, and Slomp 2007:67-68.
110 According to Mahmood Khan, the Nizam did not offer Inayat Khan an official state position (mansab) cf. MK in ZIK 2001:83, but
HIK e.a. 1979:71 refers to the term in a slightly confusing context; it almost seems as if Inayat is asking the Nizam for a position.
111 HIK 1914:9-10; HIK e.a. 1979:
; Siddiqi
: . The first song on )nayat Khan s Calcutta Recordings of
is Shad Raho
Sarkar , the Nizam s jubilee song . Cf. Bor & Harvey 1994:17.
112 Subhan 1960:320-325; MK in ZIK 2001:84; Zia Inayat Khan, The Silsila-i Sufian : From Khwaja Mu`in al-Din Chishti to Sayyid
Abu (ashim Madani in ZIK 2001:269; ZIK 2006:59-63; Slomp 2007:42-44,61-62, 68-72; Genn, C.A., The development of a modern
Western Sufism in Bruinessen, M. van; Day Howell, J. (eds.) Sufism and the modern in Islam, New York, 2007, p. 261; Sedgwick in
Clayer & Germain 2008:190. As indicated by Genn and illustrated by Subhan, it was rather common in 19th-and 20th century India to
be affiliated to more than one teacher, and/or to follow the intrinsic teachings of two or more Sufi orders through one teacher. The
four main orders were the Chishtiyya, Suhrawardiyya, Qadiriyya, and the Naqshbandiyya. Genn apparently overlooked the fact that
Inayat Khan received training in various Sufi teachings through one teacher. Sedgwick wrongly notes that )nayat Khan followed for
some time a shaikh of the Madaniyya, a major tariqa of the time italics of the author , even though as Sedgwick s footnote shows
he has been in e-mail contact with (then Pirzade) Zia Inayat Khan. The latter even told him that Sayyid Abu Hashim Madani was a
Chishti. Descriptions of the relationship between Inayat Khan and his teacher and the instruction that Inayat Khan are found in HIK
e.a. 1979:75-81; DJK 41-51; ZIK in ZIK 2001:317-319; ZIK 2006:59-63; and Slomp 2007:68-75. Figure 8 of Appendix B features a
photo of this Sufi teacher.
113 HIK & DW 1996:9-13, 42-43. Reference in MK in ZIK 2001:106 and Slomp 2007:69.


In the four years that Inayat Khan resided in Hyderabad, his scholarly aspirations flourished as much as
his gentleman musicianship and mystical journey unfolded. He published a series of music textbooks and
still pursued the idea to found a music academy in line with the Gayan Shala of his grandfather.114
Between late 1907 until 1910 Inayat Khan actively toured the subcontinent, but resided in
Calcutta. There, he did not only teach music and interact with other specialists in his field on the state of
Indian classical music just like his grandfather had done in the past;115 he was also contracted to realise
over thirty recordings of a wide range of classical and traditional music styles.116

Travelling the Indian subcontinent

In 1893, Mawlabakhsh was invited to represent Indian music at the World Exhibition in Chicago, but was
unable to attend due to a prolonged illness. Inayat Khan, eager to go, was considered too young to take his
place, being only eleven years old.117 That same year, Inayat Khan accompanied his uncle Murtaza Khan on
a journey to Pathan, where sages from different places and of different mystical orders met in the house
of a well-known citizen who had invited Murtaza Khan.118
The death of Mawlabakhsh in 1896 was a great blow for the then 14-year old Inayat Khan.119
Distracting his son from grief, Rahmat Khan allowed Inayat Khan to accompany him on his journey to the
court of Kathmandu in the independent kingdom of Nepal, responding to a courtly invitation to join an
assembly of )ndia s finest musicians. There, Inayat Khan witnessed some of the best exponents of classical
music on the Indian subcontinent of that time. Later he would reminisce on the blunt praising and
flattering of Rajas by many musicians merely seeking royal favours.
Not obliged to attend school and free to spend his time in the hours that his father taught music at the
court for one year, Inayat Khan explored Kathmandu and roamed its natural surroundings. In town he
befriended an old Punjabi Sufi who was an advisor to one of the Rajas at the Nepalese court; he also felt
intensely drawn to an old, silent muni (i.e. a sage) who meditated in secluded retreat in the wilderness. He
often sang for this sage, and played the vina.120 The sage trained him in the mysticism of sound, turning
their connection into one of key importance, as these secrets of sound and silence and the mystical power
of music [would come to] pervade (azrat )nayat Khan s whole development and later work.


Between 1897 and 1900 Inayat Khan mainly studied at the Gayan Shala in Baroda. The year 1900
is marked by the unexpected death of Inayat Khan s younger brother Karamat Khan, followed by the
deaths of his mother and )nayat Khan s newly-wed cousin-bride, the only daughter of his uncle Ala al-Din
MMK 1982:57; MK in ZIK 2001:83-84, 101-102. Inayat Khan would still have pondered upon this plan in Calcutta after 1907. Cf.
DJK 1973:63. Paragraph 2.1 addresses the various music textbooks.
115 DJK 1973:62-63; MK in ZIK 2001:84-85, 110-112. Apparently he faced neglect and criticism due to a variety of reasons, initially.
116 DJK 1973:51; MMK 1982:65; Mehta in ZIK 2001:166-167; ZIK 2006:67; Slomp 2007:75-77. These recordings will be addressed in
more detail in paragraph 2.1.3, since the songs and their poetry are related to the content of the music manual and music textbooks.
117 Farrell 2004:147; Slomp 2007:61-62, 65. Inayat Khan asked his mother permission to attend the World Exhibition in Paris (year
not mentioned, but this must be in 1900), but did not go in order not to hurt his mother by his absence. Cf. HIK e.a. 1979:50. It might
well have been the case that Inayat Khan s younger brother Karamat Khan had unexpectedly died by then; see below.
118 ()K e.a.
: . )nayat Khan s younger brother Maheboob Khan came along on this journey as well. The same page relates of a
journey within the greater kingdom of Gujarat, to the court of Raja Kasri Singh.
119 MK in ZIK 2001:102; Mehta in ZIK 2001:164. Murtaza Khan succeeded his father as head of the Gayan Shala.
120 HIK e.a. 1979:61-63; HIK in Soefi Gedachte 1982:11; MK in ZIK 2001:82; Mehta in ZIK 2001:166. On their way to Nepal, they
visited the tomb of the above-mentioned Tansen in Gwalior. They also visited Benares (present-day Varanasi), a city located at the
Ganges. Over 2700 years old, it is considered the most holy city by Hindus and Jains. Inayat Khan is said to have experienced the visit
to Benares intensely; it was to his heart the first and great pilgrimage in his life. Cf. ()K e.a.
: . )nayat Khan s view on music
with regard to Islam and Islamic legislation in this time can be found in e.g. HIK e.a. 1979:61.
121 MK in ZIK 2001:103. Mahmood Khan addresses three biographical accounts on this subject.


Khan. It is said to have caused Inayat Khan to turn to ascetism and dervish-like Wanderlust. Aged eighteen,
he left Baroda for Madras and Mysore in the south of the subcontinent for his first musical tour, where he
successfully traced, explored, and replaced the musical footsteps of his grandfather. In 1901 Inayat Khan
remarried in Jaipur, but his second wife died within the same year. Again he left Baroda, possibly
travelling in remembrance of his grandfather s journeys to Hyderabad via Bombay.122 Whereas Inayat
Khan dismayed the way in which some musicians at the Nepalese court had plainly sought to please their
patrons in order to enjoy their rewards, he was struck (and shocked) by noticing in Bombay a different
stance and approach to music by musicians and their audience altogether.123 Settling in Hyderabad in
1903, Inayat Khan resided there until late 1907, when he received his murshid s blessing and ijaza to
instruct others at the latter s deathbed.124
Shortly thereafter, Inayat Khan left the court of the Nizam and Hyderabad itself and embarked on
a series of eclectic pilgrimages in search of inspiration and guidance. While roaming the subcontinent, he
continued to lecture about Indian music prior to his performances. As noted above he resided in Calcutta,
but often travelled by a royal call, being offered residence and full facilities to travel offers, which Inayat
Khan did not accept, as he wanted to remain free and independent. )nayat Khan s trips until 1910 include
destinations like (again) Madras, Mysore, and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) in the south, and Calcutta
(present-day Kolkota), East-Bengal (present-day Bangladesh), and Birma (present-day Myanmar) in the
east.125 Family concerns drew him to Baroda, until his father Rahmat Khan died in the first half of 1910.126

Impetus revisited: from tour to blessing and sacrifice

Inayat Khan left India for New York at 13 September 1910 in the company of his younger brother
Maheboob Khan and cousin-brother Muhammad Ali Khan (1881-1958).127 Together they continued their
practice in the way they were accustomed to in India:128 they offered music lessons, and performed music
prior to and after )nayat Khan s lectures about the history and divinity of Indian classical music once they
had access to the academic circuit all over America, although similar performances were also enabled by
Indian or India-oriented institutions.129
122 HIK e.a. 1979:64-65; MK in ZIK 2001:83, 105. HIK e.a. 1979 does not mention the subsequent loss of )nayat Khan s brides at this
point; it notes his mother s death as the reason for his first trips to Madras and Mysore, and a lack of musical challenge and/ or
position at the Gayan Shala (since his two uncles held the most principal functions) as a reason for his departure to Hyderabad via
Bombay. Mahmood Khan informed me about Mawlabakhsh s residence in (yderabad. Personal communication with Mahmood Khan
d.d. 25-08-2012.
123 HIK e.a. 1979:67-69; ZIK 2006:53; Slomp 2007:66-67. Increasing Western influences are held responsible for the gradual
degradation of Indian music as a means of public entertainment rather than a sacred art for its own sake (i.e. of the divine) enjoyed
in private concerts for a select audience; a trend noticed and responded to by Mawlabakhsh and his contemporaries decades earlier.
Inayat Khan addressed this subject among students in the West as well. Cf. Farrell 2004:148-149.
124 MK in ZIK 2001:84-85; ZIK 2006:63-67; Slomp 2007:74. The blessing referred to will be concisely addressed below.
125 DJK 1973:51; MMK 1982:65; Mehta in ZIK 2001:166-167; ZIK 2006:67; Slomp 2007:75-77. An intended journey from Birma to
Japan could not be realised. Cf. comment of MK in ZIK 2001:70. See Appendix A, map 3, for the Indian subcontinent in ca. 1909, and
Appendix B, no. 11 to 12 for images of Inayat Khan in this time.
126 DJK 1973:64; MMK 1982:54-56; MK in ZIK 2001:86, 112.
127 ZIK in ZIK 2001:267; ZIK 2006:68. This day is commemorated as (ejirat Day , one of three annual celebrations among Sufis
related to )nayat Khan s mysticism. Zia )nayat Khan addresses its significant Muslim context and discusses its conceptual meaning as
[o]ne of the two essential foundation myths of the Sufi Order. Cf. Z)K
: . (ejirat Day is officially commemorated, as is Inayat
Khan s birthday or Viladat Day each th of July. The third, unofficially added, is )nayat Khan s urs or death anniversary on February
as Visalat Day . These terms relate to the Arabic words hijra, wilada and wisala and are similar in meaning.

HIK e.a. 1979:282.

Subhan 1960:236-237; DJK 1973:77, 81; HIK e.a. 1979:183-184; Farrell in Arnold 2000:563; Farrell 2004:150; Slomp 2007:86-88;
Horn 2010:577. A Barodan teacher arranged their first lecture-perfomance in New York at Colombia University, through which they



Joined by a Brahman tabla player, Rama Swami, they presented themselves in an official ensemble called
The Royal Musicians of (industan , supposedly the first )ndian ensemble to tour and perform )ndian
classical music in the West.130 As such they initially backed the invented oriental dances of the rather
popular American dancer Ruth St. Denis, which granted them a somewhat ambiguous but additional
income next to the modest remittances they received from Baroda. 131 Spring 1911 arose an opportunity
more suited to their status as gentleman musicians who were accustomed to introduce their
performances with a lecture by Inayat Khan about the history and divinity of Indian music. They engaged
in talks about an opportunity to participate in an orchestrated oriental stage play. It proved impossible in
the end due to the unexpected death of its initiator Henry B. (arris, Ruth St. Denis manager; he died at the
sinking of the Titanic in April 1912. It was with regard to this enterprise that Inayat Khan s youngest
brother Musharaff Khan had come over from India to join the ensemble. In the course of events, however,
Inayat Khan, Ramaswami, his brothers and cousin-brother left America for London in 1912 in order to
attend an international music conference.132
Orientalism prevailed at the European continent in intellectual circles, among painters, artists and
musicians, in the entertainment industry, and in popular culture in general.133 )nitially, The Royal
Musicians of (industan seemed well-received in the classical music scene in London. They met again their
friend Rabindranath Tagore, who cooperated with musicologist Fox Strangways on the latter s The music
of Hindustan in those days.134 Mr. Fox Strangways advised Inayat Khan to move to France in 1913 in order
to find more people interested in their music. However, increasing anti-Indian and anti-Muslim
sentiments seem to have played a role in this as well. 135
In Paris they found especially musicians, artists, and fin de sicle aristocrats among their audience, and an
ambiguous counterpart for their earlier collaboration with Ruth St. Denis: they collaborated with the
Dutch oriental dancer Mata Hari (Margareta Gertruida Zelle, 1876-1917).136 Within a year they were

got in touch with the head of its music department. One of )nayat Khan s American vina students would become his wife: Ora Ray
Baker (1892-1949), known as Amina Begum or just Begum, i.e. Lady . Inayat Khan and his wife got four children: daughter Noor-unNisa (1913-1944), son Vilayat (1916-2004), son Hidayat (1917-present), and daughter Khair-un-Nisa (1919-present). See Appendix
B, figures
for relevant images. Slomp incorrectly notes that Eddy Baker, founder of the Christian Science movement
would be a relative of Ora Ray cf. Slomp 2007:86 (likely basing himself upon HIK e.a. 1979:183, perhaps 228 as well), but this
movement was founded by Mary Eddy Baker (1821-1910), who was not a relative as demonstrated by Horn 2010:577-578. Van
Mourik Broekman 1949:126-152 contains incorrect reference to Mary Baker as a much older sister of Ora Ray.
130 DJK 1973:69; Miner in ZIK 2001:177; Farrell 2004:149-152. For a spherical overview see DJK 1973:66-81. They were not the first
Indian musicians in the West, but likely the first who purposefully toured around. See Appendix B, figure 14.
131 Farrell 2004:150-152, 154; Horn 2010:121-122. The cooperation with St. Denis lasted until Spring 1911, when Inayat Khan
apparently could no longer agree to the debased nature of their cooperation and did not want to fulfil a request of Ruth St. Denis to
grant her a certificate which would prove her )ndian dances authentic. )nayat Khan s uncle Ala al-Din Khan, who seems to have
supplied the family stipend, was not particularly content with the ad venture of his cousins; )t was frivolous to undertake such a
journey without some scholarly or social purpose, as well as potentially shameful publicly and commercially to proceed as
musicians. Cf. (orn
132MK in ZIK 2001:86-87; Farrell 2004:150; HIK 2006:67-68; Slomp 2007:84. Accounts on Maheboob Khan, Musheraff Khan, and
Muhammad Ali Khan are found in HIK e.a. 1979:113-114; 115; and 116respectively. See also Musheraff Khan s own account on
this period. Cf. MMK 1982:65-78, 92-111. Allahdad Khan-i Mawlabakhsh (also Allahbaksh or A.M. Pathan the younger, 1907-1972) a
younger cousin-brother was to join them in the West after 1927 if Inayat Khan had not died in 1927. Cf. MK in ZIK 2001:61-62, 114.
133 Farrel 2004:144-147, 153.
134 HIK e.a. 1979128. See also Farrell 2004:152-153. Inayat Khan contributed to its content and told Fox Strangways that the practice
of Indian music was much more worthwhile to understand its nature than a book. The music of Hindustan appeared in 1914 (cf.
, but )nayat Khan s name was not mentioned among its contributors. Cf. Slomp 2007:85.
135 HIK e.a. 1979:128-133, 179-180, 233; DJK 1973:84; Slomp
: . Aside the fact that )nayat Khan s music did not much
appeal to the general English public at that time, the English secret service was after him. They shadowed him because of his Indian
Muslim background, his nationalist stance and sympathy for Gandhi, and the meetings organised by him and his brothers centring on
notions of spiritual liberty and a universal brotherhood of man. See Appendix B, no. 22 for a painted image of Inayat Khan with
additional description.
136 Farrell
. A nice image of Mata (ari with The Royal Musicians of (industan in France in
is found in (orn
: 88.

invited to come to Russia to perform. There, spending the winter between 1913 and 1914 in Moscow, they
were surprised to found themselves starting their tour in Maxim s , a nightclub. But they also interacted
with local Russian musicians and composers in order to render Indian music in Western harmony, and
jointly worked on the score of an Oriental play including dance, written by Inayat Khan and entitled
Shiva. )nayat Khan felt at ease in Russia and found much response for his mystical-musical views. He
even thought about settling in Russia, and considered the possibility to convey his mystical insights
musically to Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918) of Russia.137 Still, they returned to France in 1914 as Inayat
Khan was to attend the musical congress in Paris in order to represent Indian music. 138 Subsequently, The
Royal Musicians of (industan cooperated in a new opera production of the Lakm of the French
composer Delibes (1836-1891), and in the dramatic production Kismet, but it seems their musical
contribution was not appreciated in the latter. 139 Meanwhile, they took their chance to learn more from
Western music.140 With the outbreak of World War I, Inayat Khan and his family members moved to
London, only to return to France in 1920. 141 In these London years, the mystical context would take hold
over the musical realm of )nayat Khan s public appearance, 142 even though his brothers and cousinbrother continued to perform on their own and jointly.143
Among the well-known creative geniuses whom Inayat Khan befriended and/or worked with in Europe
and Russia were the French composers Edmond Bailly (1850-1916) and Claude Debussy (1862-1918),144
the Russian composer and pianist Scriabin (1872-1915),145 the Polish composer, pianist, politician, and
president-to-be Paderewski (1860-1941).146 He met the Lebanese mystic poet and painter Khalil Gibran
(1883-1931) in the company of the Dutch author Roland Holst (1888-1976).147
Most (semi-)scholarly sources148 address )nayat Khan s migration to the West in terms of the
blessing given by his Sufi teacher on the latter s death bed, usually interpreted as a Sufi injunction
prompting Inayat Khan to migrate to the West: Fare forth into the world [...] and harmonise the East and
the West with the harmony of thy music. Spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad, for to this end art thou

HIK e.a. 1979:135; Farrell

. Shiva is based upon the Sanskrit play Abhijnanasakuntalam or The Recognition of
Shakuntala written more than two thousand years ago by Kalidasa. Pianist P. Sear notes that the music was played on )ndian
instruments, but two Russian musicians, Sergei Tolstoi [a son of the well-known author Tolstoi, AJDDB] and Vladimir Pohl,
transcribed the music for piano, and published it under the title
(indoo Songs and Dances. The arrangements have been heavily
Westernised, and as such sound scarcely more exotic than some works of Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Stravinsky. Nevertheless,
Inayat Khan was apparently consulted on the harmonisations, and these pieces form a fascinating sidelight of pre-revolutionary
Russian piano music. In their directness of expression, the pieces are sometimes stylistically reminiscent of the work of Rebikov.
Sears also offers a description of the songs. In 1993, a string quintet of the Academy of Music in Moscow performed four songs of the
score as arranged for strings in 1914 by the afore-mentioned Vladimir Pohl; in 2002, the music was used by the Modern Dance group
of Alexander Shishkin at the Scriabin Museum in Moscow.
138 HIK e.a. 1979:139; DJK 1973:98-101.
139 HIK e.a. 1979:129; Farrell 2004:153.
140 Farrell 2004:153-154; De Groot in Grijp 2002:686. Maheboob Khan studied composition with Edmond Bailly (mentioned in the
main text in a while), and made himself familiar with a wide range of European songs, just like Muhammad Ali Khan, who developed
a career of his own in this regard. Farrell does not mention Muhammad Ali Khan s own career but focuses on Maheboob Khan. De
Groot focuses on Muhammad Ali Khan and mentions his performances in The Netherlands.
141 HIK e.a. 1920:152.
142 HIK e.a. 1979:139-143, and further. DJK 1973:103-122 is a good account for details in this period.
143 DJK 1973:140, 159; Bor & Harvey 1994:4.
144 HIK e.a. 1979:129; Slomp 2007:85.
145 HIK e.a. 1979138.
146 DJK 1973:140.
147 DJK 1973:149-153.
148 A selection: DJK
; (ermansen, M. Common themes, uncommon texts: The Sufi movements of (azrat )nayat Khan
1927) and Khwaja Hassan Nizami (1878in Z)K
; Farrell
; Slomp
: ,
-79; Genn in Van
Bruinessen & Howell 2007:261.


gifted by Allah, the most merciful and compassionate.


Venturing forth from this point of departure,

scholars generally consider )nayat Khan s journey to the West as prompted by a Sufi mission, in which his
music was merely a cover or a means to attract followers. 150 But even if that seems plausible with regard
to )nayat Khan s initially especially Chishti Sufism-based activities in the West and his attempts to
establish what became known as the first transnational and international Western Sufi movement in
history open to all regardless of caste, creed, and gender (conform the principles of Mawlabakhsh s Gayan
Shala) in (finally) a universal setting beyond his own Islam-oriented views,151 the question rises whether
or not such a view must be considered as an anachronism, due to later biographical adjustments in line
with the expectations, projections and reasoning of his Western followers.152
However, whether or not this interpretation and its ad hoc projection on immediate and purposeful Sufi
activities in the West is correct, as in my view rightfully questioned and elaborately addressed in only few
scholarly sources,153 biographical evidence makes clear that until 1922 Inayat Khan regarded his presence
in the West as part of a grand tour justified by his scholarly lectures to make sure not to be considered as
a mere public performer, intending to return to India whenever chance occurred. 154 As the reader may
remember from paragraph 1.2 of the previous chapter, Inayat Khan often expressed his desire to travel to
the West in order to perform and teach Indian classical music, learn more about Western music, and get

149 DJK 1973:66; MK in ZIK 2011:107; ZIK 2006:64-67; Horn 2010:100-106, especially 103-104. All four sources address other,
slightly differing interpretations and translations of the varying biographical accounts as well.
150 Farrell 1994:148, 154; Farrell in Arnold 2000:563; Siddiqi 2000:24, 28; Groot, R. de, Oriental identities in Western music in
Groot, R. de, Schoot, A. van der (eds.), Redefining musical identities at the waning of modernism, Rotterdam/ Arnhem, 2007, p. 93-94.
151 Sedgwick in Clayer & Germain 2008:190; Horn 2010:104-105. The coming into being of the Sufi Order and its expansion into a
movement is elaborately addressed in ZIK 2006, especially pp. 64-192. Extracts of highly interesting correspondence between Inayat
Khan and his first initiate and representative in America, Rabia (Ada) Martin cf. ZIK 2006:64-84 (esp. 72-79) do not only address the
nature of the traditional (Muslim) Sufi training Inayat Khan gave to this first student, but also show a different development than the
accounts as presented in HIK e.a. 1979. A recent critical study of the myths surrounding this subject is found in Horn 2010: 98-118.
)nayat Khan s views on the prophet Muhammad and )slam are e.g. expressed in his The unity of religious ideals,
London/Southampton, 1921, pp. 211-235, 262and in his Review of religions in HIK e.a. 1979:215-240. There exists a text of
Inayat Khan on the Prophet Muhammad which will become available in an annotated publication by Omega Publications; personal
communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 25-08-2012. Another source relates of the influence of classical Persian and Indian Sufism
upon )nayat Khan s mystical thought; The Sufi path of love in )ran and )ndia in Z)K
-266, esp. 222-224 and 259-266. Pir
Zia Inayat Khan wrote extensively about the line of Chishti succession, linking its representatives to those of normative Islam in ZIK
in ZIK 2001:267-321. An interesting article addressing Chishti Sufism, a contemporary Chishti Sufi sheikh with whom Inayat Khan
was befriended (Khawaja Hasan Nizami, 1878, )nayat Khan s link to him and their respective mystical outlook versus
(normative) Islam and religious trends among Muslims in India in their era is Hermansen in ZIK 2001:322-353; see ZIK 2006:59-60,
75-78 and Horn 2010:111-118 as well. (ermansen mentions )nayat Khan s non-proselytizing approach whereas at the same time
she speaks of his Sufi mission in the West italics mine of which the object was not formal conversion to )slam. Cf. (ermansen in
ZIK 2001:333. See also Inayat Khan, The unity of religious ideals, London, 1921, pp. 309-310; HIK e.a. 1979:179-180; an extract from
Yurup men Chishtiyya tahrik , the diary account of Khawaja Hasan Nizami on Inayat Khan with regard to the expansion of the Chishti
succession lineage, dating to circa 1933 cf. Hermansen in ZIK 2001:351-353 as included in Appendix C, no. 3; and Horn 2010:98-118,
especially 99-100, 102, 105-106.
152 Clear is the general lack of a critical approach to available sources. Especially the still recent article of Sedgwick in Clayer &
Germain 2008 is exemplary in this regard; Sedgwick seems only (and rather randomly) to have consulted an online version of the
non-scholarly HIK 1979. His article wholesales unnecessary (biographical) mistakes and incorrect assumptions. Even though it also
offers some correct understanding and plausible speculation in the realm of )nayat Khan s Sufi efforts in the West, ) do not
recommend this article. Moreover, the pages of the source he consulted addressing Inayat Khan s journey to the West cf. ()K e.a.
1979:121-173 read as if at the time of their respective recording Inayat Khan (or more likely his editors, for their sake) sought to
project a purposeful planning and development of Sufi activities back in time, whereas earlier biographical accounts of his Indian
years in the same source reveal more of a chance development due to meaningful encounters.
153 MK in ZIK 2001:106-109, 112; ZIK 2006:64-71; Horn 2010:98-106.
154 MK in ZIK 2001:107-109. Once in the West, as for instance during their tour in Russia between late 1913 and 1914, Inayat Khan
and his family members made plans to travel to India over land but could not do so because of the increasing (diplomatic) turmoil
which would lead up to the outbreak of World War I. Mahmood Khan addresses the financial consequences of the Russian period,
when they gave up their Barodan remittances with the thought to return home soon. See also HIK e.a. 1979185-187. Because of
WWI, Inayat Khan could not travel home in 1916 to attend the first all-Indian music conference organised at the Gayan Shala in
Baroda. Inayat Khan contributed to the music conference in Baroda by sending a written address, in which he expressed his views
and thoughts on, concerns about, and perceived solutions to the status and position of contemporary Indian classical music. Cf. MK in
ZIK 2001:109, 113-117; Farrell 2004:154. See also ZIK 2006:94; Horn 2010:119, 122.


acquainted with Western culture like his uncle Ala al-Din Khan had done i.e. years prior to )nayat Khan s
meeting with and the death of his Sufi teacher, and, thus, the latter s blessing. 155
Some critical remarks are at place as well with regard to the notion circulating among scholars
and Sufis alike that Inayat Khan sacrificed his musical career and music in general for mysticism (i.e. the
Western Sufi cause); slowly from the first war years spent in London onwards, 156 but more profound
when the London-based transnational Sufi Order evolved into a serious international movement in the
early 1920s.157 Inayat Khan performed a few times in France in the Spring of 1920 during short visits
prior to subsequent residence, and sung at those occasions, too; and so he did on his way home to France
from America, Summer 1923.158 His last official public performance took place in Paris in November that
same year; the last praising review of his music appeared in a Dutch chronicle in 1924. 159
In his first biography, published in London in 1916, Inayat Khan had stated: Music, being my very
religion, was much more to me than a mere profession, or even than my mission, since I looked upon it as
the only gateway to salvation,


which makes one wonder how one so devoted to music could possibly

give it up. Biographical sources indicate that )nayat Khan s many unforeseen years in the West, his
extensive travelling, and the ongoing adjustment to the preferences of Western audiences and his (mainly
Theosophy-inclined)161 followers played a part in this process and took their toll on the time Inayat Khan
had available for both his private and public music practice, let alone for his family.162 Inayat Khan no
longer opened his lectures with musical incantation, and stopped performing on the vina and singing
publicly. A main reason is that the widening circles of Western initiates could not use it for contemplative
and meditative purposes, especially )nayat Khan s British leading followers. 163 He seems to have
continued his music practice though, albeit privately.164

155 HIK e.a. 1979:301. See also paragraph 1.2, and the final paragraph of the newspaper article from The Mysore (erald , November
28, 1907 as included in Appendix C, no. 2. Similar statements or references to this are found in HIK 1979 pp. 286, 303, 305, 313, 314,
316-318, et cetera. See also DJK 1979:120; Slomp 2007:79. Sedgwick cleverly questions the validity of the above-mentioned
injunction but states subsequently that he sees no reason of what prompted )nayat Khan s migration to the West, thus showing the
weakness of his research by overlooking ample documentation in this regard -perhaps only partially available in the online version
of HIK 1979 as consulted by him. Cf. Sedgwick in Clayer & Germain 2008:191
156 DJK 1973:112. Indian music, and the singing and reciting of poetry of Rumi and Saadi were in 1916 still part of the individual
training of initiates.
157 The notion referred to is based upon an undated account of Inayat Khan, included in Appendix C as no. 4. Cf. HIK e.a. 1979.
Reference to this is found in e.g. HIK 1994:3; Bor & Harvey 1994:22; Siddiqi 2000:24; Mehta in ZIK 2001:173-174; De Groot in De
Groot 2007:96; partly in Meymandi 2010:49. More to this below.
158 DJK 1973:124, 144.
159 DJK 1973:140. Referred to is a review by the Dutch author and journalist Henri Borel (1896-1933) in De Kroniek.
160 Cf. MK in ZIK 2001:119.
161 Many of )nayat Khan s contemporary followers in the West were affiliated to Theosophy. Those who came to function in the top of
the organisational hierarchy of the Sufi Order purposefully stripped the Sufism Inayat Khan presented of most of its Muslim
characteristics, and sought his approval to implement doctrine-like features involving religious pluralism and sensational
spirituality. See e.g. Sedgwick in: Clayer & Germain 2008:183-185, and De Jong-Keesing 1973:107,118. These features resemble
those of the (organisational) realm of Theosophy as advocated by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891). Theosophy advocates
that humanity is to be regarded as a universal brotherhood in a religious, spiritual and ethnic sense. Many theosophists were
interested in spiritism. See e.g. Mourik Broekman 1949:35-83, and Radtke 2005:16-19. A Dutch work, originally in Persian but from
English translated into Dutch, equals Muslim Sufism to theosophy. This is Maneri, Sh., Theosofie in den Islam. Brieven van een Sufi
Leeraar, Shaikh Sharfuddin Maneri. Of: Makhdum-Ul-Mulk, s.l., 1916. A study of religious and spiritual trends in Europe in the first
half of the 20th century can be found in Van Mourik Broekman 1949. To this: Johnson 1995.
162 DJK 1973:122; MK in ZIK 2001:115; Mehta in ZIK 2001:173-175; Hermansen in ZIK 2001:351-353.
163 MK in ZIK 2001:113; Mehta in ZIK 2001:174. Tagore was known for similar incantations prior to lectures. Cf. DJK 1973:140.
164 Beek, W. van, Hazrat Inayat Khan, New York, 1983, p. 104 cf. Mehta in ZIK 2001:175. Mehta refers to Amina Begum s account to
prove that Inayat Khan continued his music practice privately instead of giving music up altogether, as phrased by Inayat Khan
himself in his own (also not dated) account. Mehta does not offer a date for either account, which renders his reasoning unsuccessful.
Mahmood Khan stated that Amina Begum s account seems recorded in London in 1915, whereas )nayat Khan s account is likely
recorded there between 1917 and 1920 (i.e. either in the early or formative years of the short-lived Sufi Order). Intriguingly, Amina
Begum s memoirs do not appear in HIK 1979. Mahmood Khan informed me that they were included in five typed, luxuriously
designed biographies of the 1930s, the so-called Almgren version. Personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. -05-2013.


Mystical lyrics, musical expression
Hazrat Inayat Khan was much more than a pioneering Sufi mystic.
First and foremost he was a highly gifted musician-poet-composer.


This chapter features an introduction to and examples of poetry and lyrics from )nayat Khan s
publications on music (theory) and his music recordings dating back to his years in India, and from two
English translations of mystical Hindustani poetry of Inayat Khan himself and others as appeared later in
the West. In order to provide a contextual background for the discussion of these works, some attention
will be paid to the general reception of Sufi poetry in the West. A collection of aphorisms and poetry
expressed by Inayat Khan in the West is concisely addressed as well.
So far, )nayat Khan s lyrical repertoire has not received much attention of scholars, nor has it been
extensively discussed in specific relationship with regard to either its significance within the discourse of
Sufi poetry or )nayat Khan s views on the age old Indian doctrines on the mysticism of sound and music. It
seems that the subject of )nayat Khan s lyrics and poetry has only been addressed in passing in relation to
)nayat Khan s accomplishments with regard to his musical career in )ndia. 166 Furthermore, I only found
references to Inayat Khan as a missionary of sound (i.e. as a musician with a spiritual mission)167 in
comparison to the role similarly played by the more popular Indian Hindu poet, musician, and philosopher
Rabindranath Tagore, )nayat Khan s friend and contemporary.168

Early Indian examples


Music textbooks and the Musiq-i minqar

Like his grandfather Mawlabakhsh and fully in line with developments in the latter half of the 19th
century,169 Inayat Khan actively rendered his musical insights into music textbooks and a treatise on
music theory. In his youth, Inayat Khan offered the Muslim community leaders in Baroda a music textbook
in Hindustani, the Balasangitmala, which he had written especially for Muslim girls. It was not paid
Dutch musicologist, world music professor, Indian music specialist, and acknowledged musician Joep Bor at the cover of ZIK 2001.
See also Mahmood Khan in ZIK 2001:3, where he refers to Inayat Khan as a poet-philosopher and musician-mystic.
166 As far as I know there exist three eloquent, relevant articles. The matter is touched upon and looked into in Mehta s essay in ZIK
2001:160-175 (especially 167with specific attention paid to the roots of )nayat Khan s musicianship and his musical
accomplishments in India, but Mehta does not offer poetry examples. Next, it is referred to by Miner in ZIK 2001:176-203 (especially
186-187, 198-200), with (only) two lyrical examples given. Bor & Harvey 1994:4-28 (especially 23-27) present some of the poetry of
the song lyrics in translation, of which three pieces are by Inayat Khan. Bor and Harvey partially explain the musicological realm of
the songs in styles and other musicological characteristics. Omid Safi pays attention to )nayat Khan s poetry from the historical
perspective of Persian and Indian Sufism, but includes only three English examples from Inayat Khan s Gayan (which will be
addressed in paragraph 2.1.3). See Safi in ZIK 2001:220-266, esp. 221-224, 259-260, 263-266.
167 Groot in De Groot e.a. 2008:93, 97.
168 De Groot in Grijp 2001:685-686; De Groot in De Groot e.a. 2008:93-98; Farrell 2004:148-149; DJK 1973:37. De Groot refers to
)nayat Khan s poetry, but Farrell does not mention the realm and important role of poetry with regard to )nayat Khan s musicianship;
he merely refers to the connection between Inayat Khan and Rabindranath Tagore, quoting Inayat Khan on the increasing Western
attention for Tagore s poetry. Other contemporary Indians travelling to the West generally did so for educational purposes. Indians
known in the West for a missionary attitude are e.g. Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902),
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Shri Aurobindo (1872-1950), and Sir Mohammad Iqbal (1877, who all aimed at an inspiring
contemporary revival of time-honoured values for their own communities, while simultaneously convincing the West of the abiding
greatness or superiority of their religious, philosophical, and mystical systems. Cf. MK in Z)K
169 See also paragraph 1.2. Farrell 2004 is an excellent source in this regard.


attention to, apparently because he was too young to be heard by the educational authorities.



early zest for gender equality in music instruction seems inspired by his grandfather s reformist efforts,
due to which free musical education had been implemented for boys and girls alike. 171 Inayat Khan also
composed a whole songbook and included lyrics transcribed in Urdu, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati. It was
dedicated to the Maharaja of Baroda, and called the Sayaji Garbawali.172 Inayat Khan subsequently worked
on Hindustani manuals for violin and harmonium, the Inayat Fidal Shikshak and the Inayat Harmonium
Shikshak.173 These four music textbooks were all used within the Gayan Shala, and officially published a
few years later in Baroda and Bombay in

by name of Prof. )nayat Khan Rahmat Khan Pathan. 174

A bit more ambitious effort was a Hindustani publication meant for use by a more general public
beyond the Gayan Shala. This book, the Inayat git ratnavali

A jewelled garland of songs by )nayat

presents seventy-five songs and their poetry, and covers a wide range of classical and popular music
styles. )t offers detailed music notation in the notational style as developed by )nayat Khan s grandfather
Mawlabakhsh. It also contains some songs composed and written by Inayat Khan. 175
An even more detailed scholarly work in Urdu was written by Inayat Khan while he resided in Hyderabad
between 1903 and 1907, but it was only published in 1912 in Allahabad after his departure to the West in
1910.176 This was the Musiq-i musiqar

The beak of the musiqar bird , which might have been intended

to further promote his grandfather s educational system outside the realm of the Gayan Shala.177 Dr. Allyn
Miner, the Indian music specialist and sitar-player who conducted extensive research on the latter work in
close cooperation with Inayat Khan s grandson Pir Zia Inayat Khan,178 notes that in it are obvious
the ecstatic spirituality, scientific realism, eclectic interest in human behaviour, ambition, and talent at
communicating his ideas which characterized the work he did in his later public life. One also senses the
frustration or dissatisfaction that he felt at the circumstances, musical and other, in which he lived in India.
And here is expressed his curiosity about, and admiration of, the West. 179

HIK e.a. 1979:57. The exact year is not mentioned.

See paragraph . . on Mawlabakhsh s activities as well. This is interesting, because the darbars organised by Mawlabakhsh were
not frequented by professional female singers. Moreover, the women and girls at the (ouse of Mawlabakhsh lived secluded, and
were not allowed to cultivate any music whatsoever. Cf. Bor & (arvey
: . Still, Siddiqi notes that Mawlabakhsh s opinion was
very much in keeping with certain strands of )ndian thought whereby the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati, is also the goddess of
Music. Being learned and being musical are on and the same thing in India and in many great families music was taught to children
with a view to character building, rather than as a means of earning money. Cf. Siddiqi
: . This view echoes related remarks
mentioned in paragraph 1.1.1.
172 HIK e.a. 1979:64. No date mentioned either, but this seems to have been after his uncle Ala al-Din Khan returned from Europe.
These songs were sung at the Navarat festival held at the Lakshme Vilas Palace in the presence of the Maharaja.
173 HIK e.a. 1979:63.
174 MK in ZIK 2001:101; Mehta in ZIK 2001:166-171. See the pages of Mehta referred to for the exact titles.
175 Mehta in ZIK 2001:167. Pages 167-171 offer a detailed discussion of the Inayat git ratnavali. The name of Ala al-Din Khan appears
as Dr. Ala al-Din Khan Mawlabakhsh Pathan in the preface of Inayat git ravali. He is mentioned as the instigator of the publication.
)nayat Khan thanks his other maternal uncle Murtaza Khan as his music teacher cf. Mehta in Z)K
. Mehta mentions that
(industani was the distinct regional Urdu-Hindi dialect spoken or sung by practicing musicians and enjoyed by their audiences.
176 MMK 1982:57; Mehta in ZIK 2001:166-167; Slomp 2007:56, 68. The years involved are contested. According to HIK 1979:68,
Inayat Khan would have written the work in the first six months of his stay in Hyderabad, whereas Miner in ZIK 2001:186 mentions
that he wrote it in 1907 when he was twenty-five. Siddiqi incorrectly mentions 1913 as the year of publication. Cf. Siddiqi 2000:26.
On the same page she refers to it as )nayat Khan s most important publication on music, but when describing )nayat Khan s first
months in Hyderabad on page 27, she merely notes that he wrote a book , seemingly not identifying this book with the work she
earlier referred to.
177 MK in ZIK 2001:101. Miner notes that Inayat Khan drew on other sources of his day as well. Cf. Miner in ZIK 2001:191.
178 Miner in ZIK 2001:176-203. This introductory article is of key importance. The publication of the annotated translation was
initially expected in the summer of 2012, but still faces delay (late May 2013). In ZIK 2001:178 is mentioned that the Sangeet Natak
Akademi (the last word of its name is written as such) in New Delhi will publish the work, but according to Miner, Omega
Publications will be responsible for its publication. Personal communication with Allyn Miner d.d. 14-08-2012.
179 Miner in ZIK 2001:177, 202-203. See also DJK 1973:47-48.



According to Miner, )nayat Khan s writing style conveys a dignified formality and reverence for both
Islamic tradition and modern thinking. He pays high tribute to his patrons the Nizam and the Prime
Minister, Sir Kishan Parshad, and includes in his book several ghazals which they had composed.



book includes pictures of Inayat Khan, his father, the Nizam and the Prime Minister, several charts and
hand-drawn illustrations, including the legendary musiqar bird and twenty dance positions.


The first half of the book presents )nayat Khan s principles and ideals with regard to )ndian music and its
state, and contains interesting entries related to (speculative) music theory drawing both from Sanskrit
and Islamic Arabic traditions.182 Included are 484 ragas by name as known from the classical Hindustani
and Karnatak traditions, and elaborate explorations of the concept of rhythm in classical music, Sufi
qawwali, and human life in general. 183 The notation system of Mawlabakhsh is extensively addressed as
well.184 The second half is dedicated to practice: Inayat Khan discusses a variety of twenty-three song
types ranging from classical to light-classical and regional genres, and offers thirty-nine ghazals in Persian
and Urdu with musical notation in the style of Mawlabakhsh. Six of these also appear on )nayat Khan s
gramophone recordings of 1909.185 Moreover, thirty-six instruments are discussed in detail, and
compositions for popular instruments are included in music notation. The last chapter of the work
addresses dance.186
One passage in the Minqar-i Musiqar is highly relevant in the context of the present thesis. Miner
introduces the subject, saying that Inayat Khan relates how music is not only of divine origin, but also
universal: sound sur) and rhythm (tal) are integral features of the world, evidenced in the soundproducing capabilities of objects and the rhythmic character of every human act.


Inayat Khan:

Consider that in your own body the movement of the pulse, the beating of the heart, the passing in and out
of breath, and the sensation and movement of all the limbs are never empty of sur and tal. )ndeed, creation s
every activity confirms the validity of my claim. If we cast our eyes upward, there is above all the beguiling
charm of the lovely wink of eternity. The original manifestation was that of sound, which is Kun - Be! All
things and beings are its manifestation.


It can be argued that Inayat Khan promoted and further worked upon the scholarly work of his
grandfather Mawlabakhsh, while aiming at surpassing his grandfather s accomplishments on his own

Miner in ZIK 2001:186.

182 Miner in ZIK 2001:187-190, 192. For some reason it contains no explicit reference to the notion of nada brahma, i.e. God is
sound, nor to the Sufi notion of sound unlike )nayat Khan s later work, The mysticism of sound and music. See chapter three.
183 Miner in ZIK 2001:194.
184 Miner in ZIK 2001:196. Mawlabakhsh s system was successful in western India because it was usable in both Devanagari and
Nastaliq scripts, and thus applicable to Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Urdu. Miner considers it possible that it was used in school
teaching all over North India by the 1930s next to another important system, prior to later standardized systems.
185 Miner in ZIK 2001:187.
186 Miner in ZIK 2001:201.
187 Miner in ZIK 2001:189. Paragraph 3.2 will address similar views of Inayat Khan in more detail.
188 Idem. Miner included subsequently the translated poetry of a ghazal of )nayat Khan: The noble Sufis are the swimmers in this
ocean of Truth. The sound Kun still echoes in their ears. They trash their arms and legs in deep waters, plunge into annihilation
(fana), and safely wash up on the shore of immortality (baqa , followed by more verses. ) address the meaning and context of Kun!
in paragraph 3.2.3. By chance I encountered online two renditions of this ghazal (of 2010 and 2011) by the Pakistani Ayeda Naqvi.
When ) noticed English subtitles to its Urdu lyrics, ) remembered the poetry from Miner s introductory article. See Appendix C, no. 1.
I contacted Ayeda Naqvi by mail on 26-10-2012 in order to learn more about her rendition, but did not receive a reply.


account. However, it may be more accurate to state that Inayat Khan, like his grandfather, followed a trend
in the age-old tradition of Indian scholarship on music and its related (speculative) music theory.189

Calcutta recordings

Having settled in Calcutta as a music teacher after 1907, Inayat Khan was contracted in 1909 to record
both classical and popular musical pieces of various genres, and compositions of his own to gramophone
recordings at the label (is Master s Voice ; a popular brand of the Gramophone Company, which was the
Indian counterpart of the London-based EMI company.190 The contract enabled Inayat Khan to record
thirty-seven pieces on 26 and 28 September 1909, of which thirty-one remain at present day. Twenty-four
recordings per contract year were to follow if Inayat Khan had not left India for the West. 191
Inayat Khan brought a set of the recordings with him to the West, but they disappeared in France
during Inayat Khan s stay in England in the years of World War ). 192 Since the distribution of the
recordings was restricted by a stipulation in his contract which prohibited their inclusion in catalogues for
promotional purposes and airplay on the radio, the recordings seemed lost in history until ca. 1993, when
the Australian Indian music specialist Michael Kinnear retrieved a set in virtually mint condition at the
archive shelves of EMI in London. 193 Kinnear offered them to his Dutch colleague Joep Bor,
aforementioned. He happened to know about the quest of some Dutch Sufis related to the Soefi Beweging,
who long endeavoured to retrieve the recordings. As a result of their joint efforts, a limited edition of a
double CD set featuring thirty-one of )nayat Khan s gramophone recordings was published in 1994.194
One of these Dutch Sufis was Alim Vosteen, who told me that some Sufis perceived the speed and height of
the voice as unnatural. Thus, he adapted the original recordings, and rendered the voice of Inayat Khan
lower and the performance less fast based upon a recording of


which renders )nayat Khan s voice

Ger Storms, head of the Dutch Katwijk-based publishing company Panta Rhei (which

published the CD sleeve accompanying the 1994 double CD set) informed me that EMI confirmed the 1909

Simms in Arnold 2000:42- . This trend highlights the social, intellectual, and practical boundaries of literary and applied
musical activity since
, from when a theoretical approach of topics like acoustics and tuning systems, instrument structure and
categories, aesthetics, the cosmological and spiritual significance of music (in Western terms, speculative music theory), and melodic
and rhythmic principles raga and tala has increasingly been linked with aspects from contemporary musical performance such as
the practical conventions of musical form, instrumental technique, melodic ornamentation, improvisation, and concert structure.
Moreover, these descriptions were often consolidated in the form of more or less comprehensive instruction manuals for various
instruments supposedly so from the th century onwards.
190 Bor & Harvey 1994:5-7; Siddiqi 2000:24; Farrell 2004:114-143. The Gramophone Company had opened its first Indian branch in
Calcutta in 1901, and witnessed a steady increasing demand for gramophone recordings all over the subcontinent. Initially, only the
British and Indian elite could afford the luxury of a gramophone. Farrell points out that the intentions of the (mainly Western)
principals ordering, selecting, and enabling the recordings show especially a commercial interest, whereas a genuine interest in
Indian music was merely present among the few. Farrell, surprisingly, does not refer to )nayat Khan s recordings. Other recordings
related to )nayat Khan s brothers and cousin-brother and/ or Inayat Khan are not addressed here, but more information can be
found in Vosteen, A., (onderd jaar muziek van de Soefi Boodschap. Een muziekmonument voor Murshid en de Metgezellen in Soefi
Gedachte, 2010. As I received the content of this article over the internet, I cannot refer to the related page numbers.
191 Bor & Harvey 1994:4, 28.
192 Bor & Harvey 1994:5.
193 Bor & Harvey 1994:6-7. This restriction seems to account for the fact that Inayat Khan did not became more known throughout
India, and that his musical accomplishments were gradually forgotten once he had moved to the West.
194 Bor & Harvey 1994:5-7. See Appendix C, nos. 19-21 for the front and back cover of the CD sleeve and an overview of the songs.
195 The adapted recordings are known as Inayat Khan R. Pathan, CD Indian classical recordings 1909
right speed & quality , Sufi
Archive Recordings SAR 1909 0926 CD 1 (private & non-commercial), Productions Alim Vosteen, The Hague, s.a. and
Inayat Khan R. Pathan, CD Indian classical recordings 1909 right speed & quality , Sufi Archive Recordings SAR
(private & non-commercial), Productions Alim Vosteen, The Hague, s.a. The other recording referred to contains an
invocation, song (to which more below), and speech of Inayat Khan, available as Hazrat Inayat Khan, CD The recording of his voice
1925, Sufi Archive Recording SAR
private & non-commercial , Productions Alim Vosteen.


recordings as original, thus rendering the correct vocal pitch and number of 78 rotations per minute. 196
Personally, I consider the fact that Inayat Khan was much older in 1925, and that he had gained weight,
which may have influenced the nature of his voice. In addition, the chosen pitch of 1909 may have been
The poetry of six ghazals featuring in )nayat Khan s

Calcutta recordings had already

appeared in )nayat Khan s Minqar-i Musiqar in musical notation.198 Interestingly, the Persian poetry of one
of these songs, the Song of Asif also features in )nayat Khan s

Hindustanic lyrics.199 The Calcutta

recordings also feature some of )nayat Khan s own verse and compositions, which are naturally highly
interesting; four songs of which both the poetry and music were written by Inayat Khan are included in
the present thesis to acquaint the reader with his music. 200
The limited (for extremely time-bound) possibilities of these early Indian gramophone recordings render
musical pieces strikingly different from their original lengthy nature and improvised performance, which
is normally attuned to those attending, the surroundings, and the moment of the performance. 201
Therefore, the reader must bear in mind that the recordings are not representative of the original
renditions of these songs. With regard to the songs selected for the gramophone recordings, Inayat Khan
had to carefully prepare his performance: he had to render songs which could last half an hour up to two
hours within less than three minutes.202

Inayat Khans lyrical heritage in the West

As noted in the introduction to this chapter, Rabindranath Tagore and Inayat Khan have been compared
with regard to their similar activities and the perceived missionary nature of their presence in the West.
The reason Tagore reached a broader audience and wielded more fame with his poetry than )nayat Khan
might be found in Tagore s non-Muslim background, as European philosophers and artists were generally
more receptive to religious and spiritual traditions from South-East and East-Asia introduced as fields of
scholarly study since the late 18 th century in Europe , while )slam was generally considered with hostility
as a rival religion .203 With regard to )nayat Khan s Muslim background, the latter stance reportedly
hindered him in the West, even though his universal mystical views were generally well-received.204

Personal communication with Ger Storms d.d. 28-08-2012.

For the latter remark see Miner in ZIK 2001:199 as well.
198 Miner in ZIK 2001:186-187, 198. These six songs are the Kafi thumri Kuchh ajab khel hainge is pak parvard in (industani, the
ghazal-i-Assif Jab uske kamka na mere kamka hai dil in Persian, and the tarana Behag Dani dar dar dem in (industani which
correspond with the 1994 double CD set as 6, 10, and 13 of CD 1), and the ghazal-i-Momin Naavak aandaj jidhur didye janan honge
in Persian, the Sindhura hori ghazal Tore yiyamen kapat re khandaiya in (industani, and the Khamma(ch) dhrupad Laag rahi to so
lagan in (industani which correspond with the 1994 double CD set as 4, 7, and 8 of CD 2).
199 This is the above-mentioned ghazal-i Assif; song 10 on CD 1 of the 1994 double CD set. The poetry was written by )nayat Khan s
patron the Nizam of Hyderabad; As(s)if was his pen-name. See also Appendix C, no. 19; the image originally appeared on the
gramophone record sleeve of that particular recording.
200 See Appendix D. Two songs have been taken from the first CD, which contains 16 songs, and two from the second CD, which
contains 15 songs. The musical context of these songs could unfortunately not be referred to in more elaborate remark. Useful
sources are Bor & Harvey 1994:22-27; Miner in ZIK 2001: 199-200; Van Lohuizen in Soefi Gedachte 27-31.
201 Bor & Harvey 1994:5-7.
202 See also Bor & (arvey
: ; Lohuizen, (. van, Your Master s Voice. De dubbel-cd met de stem van )nayat Khan in Soefi
Gedachte (maart) 1995, pp. 25-31; Miner in ZIK 2001:199. One song could last from half an hour to an hour or two.
203 Groot in De Groot e.a. 2008:98.
204 See paragraph 1.2.3 as well.




It is helpful to realise that the history of Sufism and Sufi poetry in present-day Europe is entwined with
the gradual arrival of Muslim renegades and freed slaves from the Moroccan, Mamluk, and Ottoman
sultanates in the Middle Ages. Groups of Sufis organised themselves in Muslim Spain and the Balkans
according to models and modes known from classical (Persian) Sufism, which became increasingly
popular throughout the Muslim world.205 Some scholars consider this classical Sufism to have been of a
rather humanist nature, and quite open to religious pluralism.206 An early Western interpretation thereof
was presented publicly in the second half of the 18th century in Germany in a theatre play which promoted
a spiritual understanding of religious pluralism.207 Some decades later, the German poet Goethe (17491832) was known for reading the Persian poetry of Hafiz in a German translation; the German philosopher
Hegel (1770-1831) for being profoundly inspired by Rumi.208 In 1812, the British Major-General Sir John
Malcolm (1769-1833) published his personal findings on Sufism in his History of Persia. This account was
based on his missions in Persia in 1801, 1806 and 1810. Malcolm considered Sufism as an independent,
universal trend; not as connected to Islam.209
This historical context partly explains how the lyrical Sufi publications by (name of) Inayat Khan in the
West could be appreciated while at the same time specific Islam-related characteristics of his universal
Sufi teachings were less well-received.210 An additional factor of importance is that the period between the
turn of the 19th century and the first half of the 20 th century was characterised by a strong increase of the
interest among a American and European intellectual elite in (Middle) Eastern spiritual traditions and
mysticism in general.211 Scholars distinguish various factors to explain this increase of interest, and the
somewhat ambiguous relationship between Europe and the Orient in the modern period. 212
2.2.1 The Diwan of Inayat Khan
)n the midst of World War ), in

, a collection of )nayat Khan s own poetry was published as The Diwan

of Inayat Khan by the newly-founded, London-based Theosophical Publishing Society related to Inayat
Khan s short-lived Sufi Order there.213 Jessie Duncan Westbrook214 had helped Inayat Khan to render the

Sedgwick in Clayer & Germain 2008:183. See also paragraph . . Siddiqi s remark that )nayat Khan was the first to bring Sufism to
the West is therefore not correct; see Siddiqi 2000:24.
206 Sedgwick in Clayer & Germain 2008:188.
207 Sedgwick in Clayer & Germain 2008:183,185. This play is Nathan der Weise, written by G.E. Lessing. It was published in 1779.
208 Radtke, B., Die unertrgliche Nettigkeit des Seins. Auch eine Konfession in: Neue kritische Gnge. Zu Stand und Aufgaben der
Sufikerforschung, Utrecht, 2005, pp. 3,17.
209 Sedgwick in Clayer & Germain 2008:185-186; Lambton, A.K.S., Major-General Sir John Malcolm (1769and The history of
Persia in Iran (vol. 33, British Institute of Persian Studies), 1995, pp. 97-109 through JSTOR.
210 See the Introduction and paragraph 1.2.3.
211 De Jong-Keesing 1973:94; Kse 1996:143; Roald 2004:27. Roald mentions that Tor Andrae (o.1947) and Geo Widengren, both
famous psychologists of religion, were much interested in Sufism. Kse refers to Nicholson, R.A., The mystics of Islam, London,(1914)
1963. In 1913, Inayat Khan had already published an account on Sufism in Russian, and its English translation in 1914. See the
related remark in paragraph 1.2.3 as well.
212 Kse 1996:154-155; Sedgwick in Clayer & Germain 2008:186-188. Sedgwick notes that one factor is based in Europe s selfimagining as ordered and excessively materialistic. Derived from the idea of a materialistic West was not only a sense of
differentiation, but also a milleniaristic fear, related to the perceived rise of normlessness and social alienation due to the doom of
escalating inter-European conflicts and the increase of rationalised bureaucratisation. The late-Romantic preference for original
individual experience over the adherence to established, organised religion played its part, just like the so-called displacement of
God , due to which individuals considered their own human capacities to outdate the image of a transcendent, omnipotent God.
Another factor of importance is that the Orient was considered chaotic and sensual, and ultimately spiritual. This was expressed in
the various arts as well, in e.g. Oriental themes and imagery in literature, poetry, and the visual arts.
213 HIK e.a. 1979:137, 141; ZIK 2006:85-86. In 1915, the Sufi Order published four works through its publishing department, the
Theosophical Publishing Society, also known as Sufi Publishing Society. The first work was The Confessions of Inayat Khan, an
autobiography, of Inayat Khan in cooperation with lyricist/writer Regina Miriam Bloch. Previously, in 1914, the Theosophical
Publishing Society had published the first English edition of )nayat Khan s A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty.


Persian and Urdu poetry of himself and others into English verse. Inayat Khan s own preference for a
mystical approach of Islam and pluralist stance to religion in general manifests as much in the poetry he
favoured of other writers as in his own lyrical heritage, alongside many a remark in the content of his
published lectures in the Sufi Message series. The content of )nayat Khan s poetry in this collection of
twenty-one pieces varies from conversations between Inayat Khan and/or a Sufi adept and his Sufi
teacher to traditional symbolic themes pertaining to mystical poetry involving e.g. Saqi as the cup-bearer
pouring the divine wine, God the Beloved , imagery from nature, and the illusion of knowledge, material
wealth, life and death. Included are also two poems devoted to mother- and childhood.215 Duncan
Westbrook notes in her foreword as the writer is a musician, in these Songs we hear the voice of the
singer who seeks through ecstasy to obtain Divine Wisdom, relating to )nayat Khan s musical-mystical
background.216 One piece, much interesting with regard to the thesis s subject, speaks of the legendary
singer Tansen.217 Inayat Khan referred to Akbar and especially Tansen often in his lectures; ample
reference is found throughout the many volumes of )nayat Khan s work.218

Songs of India and Hindustani lyrics

As well in

, the Sufi Publishing Society published )nayat Khan s Songs of India rendered from the

Urdu, Hindi, and Persian. Like The Diwan of Inayat Khan, it was rendered into English verse with the help of
Duncan Westbrook.219 Unfortunately, this work is generally unavailable at present, both digitally and in
print.220 According to Allyn Miner, who seems to have access to the work likely due to her research on
)nayat Khan s Minqar-i Musiqar, both )nayat Khan s Songs of India and his Hindustani lyrics include a
collection of the sung poetry in lyrics and musical notation as he already had published in India in the
Minqar-i musiqar.221 That latter aspect is extremely interesting, as it may provide another opportunity to
learn about the (favoured) styles in Indian classical- and popular music at that time. It may as well have
served the scholarly purpose of preservation of music traditions and the education of others, which would
be in line with the theme of )nayat Khan s Musiq-i Minqar as observed by Miner, but then suited to a
prominently Western readership.222
)nayat Khan s third lyrical publication dates from

. Again in close cooperation with Duncan

Westbrook, Inayat Khan published a wide range of popular (sung) poetry from the 18th and 19th century,

214 The English poet Jessie Duncan Westbrook was already established as a translator of Urdu and Persian poetry with her corendition of the first fifty Persian ghazals of princess Zeb-un-Nisa (1637/9-1702), daughter of the Mughal emperor Awrangzib
(1618-1707, r. 1658-1707). It was first published in 1913 in cooperation with M. Lal. See e.g. the e-book.
215 Inayat Khan had developed a deep reverence for his own mother and motherhood in general. He considered the child as most
pure, still emanating its divine origin cf. HIK 1982:11. The titles featuring in The Diwan of Inayat Khan are as follows: 1. To my
Murshid 2. Saki . The Sufi 4. Oneness of Allah 5. The kiss 6. A caravan 7. Mother 8. The infant 9. Satan and Rahman ,
10. The graveyard 11. Self-warning 12. Tansen 13. Ruzak 14. The nargis 15. Kismet 16. Shah Baz 17. The lion s cub 18.
Dialogue between Murshid and Mureed 19. The dream of life 20. Consciousness 21. Death.
216 HIK & DW 1996:5.
217 HIK & DW 1996:32-33. The 1996 edition is the first Indian edition of The Diwan of Inayat Khan. Only Tansen is mentioned. )n
Storms we find Tansen and Mian Tansen , mian being derived from the Persian miyan, which in Urdu designates the respectful
address of an elder male person, much like Sir . Cf. Van der Meer & Bor
-106, esp. 104; Storms 1985:29,38,50.
218 See Appendix C, no. 4. For instance, a part of the story as rendered in this particular poem is addressed in Music, the first part of
The mysticism of sound and music in a chapter on the psychological influence of music. The story mentioned there relates only of the
visit paid to the mystic by a humbled Akbar and Tansen; reference to a story in which Tansen is requested by Akbar to sing raga
Dipak (or Deepak) is mentioned in the note given at page 98 of HIK 1991:97-98.
219 ZIK 2006:86.
220 Even Mahmood Khan could not inform me about its content. Personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 15-08-2012
221 Miner in ZIK 2001:186-187, 198-199; personal communication with Miner d.d. 14-08-2012.
222 Miner in ZIK 2001:198; personal communication with Allyn Miner d.d. 14-08-2012.


entitled Hindustani lyrics.223 It contains forty-six complete poems of twenty-seven authors, mentioned by
their takhallus, a pseudonym or pen-name.224 Fragments of some of their poems, nineteen in total, are
included as well.225 The background of these poets is diverse: among them are rulers, mere poets, soldiers,
legalists, and mystics. Still, they all write as Muslim mystics stressing an immanent view of God, clearly
despising rigid religious institutionalisation.226 Themes differ just as much, ranging from traditional
mystical, metaphorical subjects to secular love stories, from religious to royal elegies, from odes to nature
to dedicational pieces to the prophet Muhammad, to the court and its ruler, institutions, and patronage. As
noted above, one song featuring )nayat Khan s music and the poetry of the Nizam of Hyderabad was
included in the 1909 Calcutta recordings; the poetry appeared as well in Hindustani lyrics.227

The Gayan collection

A collection of personal notes of Inayat Khan currently known in one joint publication as The dance of the
soul - Gayan Vadan Nirtan appeared previously in separate publications as well. 228 Its content would not
have been edited,229 unlike the various volumes of the Sufi Message series. A few days before his death in
India, the 5th of February 1927, Inayat Khan would have said of the individual collections Gayan and Vadan
that they are the Koran of the present time.


The late Dutch scholar and author Elizabeth Keesing

(1911-2003) remarked that these two works reflect the full gamut of moods experienced by Inayat
Khan.231 Thus said to represent the essence of )nayat Khan s Sufi views, much of the content of this work is
of interest to the subject of this thesis as it presents the lyrical expression of Inayat Khan s mysticism
whilst addressing music in various concepts as well.232
The dance of the soul is divided into three parts, entitled by the Sanskrit concepts of gayan, vadan, and
nirtan, which correspond with vocal music, instrumental music, and movement or dance. 233 In The dance
of the soul, gayan is explained as
music; vadan as the

singing', suggesting celestial voices, the unstruck music as origin of all

divine symphony', the performing of which is the purpose of creation in which

every soul takes a part; nirtan as

the dance of the soul, the expression of the beauty within as a

HIK & DW 1919. This work is still albeit scarcely available in print (1919, 2010) but also as an e-book. I consulted the e-book.
These poets are, in alphabetical order as listed in the work itself, Abru, Amir, Asif, Dagh, Fighan, Ghalib, Hali, Hasan, Insha, Jurat,
Mir, Mir Soz, Mir Taqi, Momin, Mushafi, Muztar, Nasikh, Sauda, Shamshad, Taban, Wali, Yakrang, Zafar, Zahir, and Zauq. The name of
the author or his pen name often appears in the final verse of a poem, and can be regarded as a signature to it.
225 Hindustani Lyrics contains an introduction, a glossary of foreign terms and concepts found in the poetry, and references to other
works of Inayat Khan and related to Sufism already published. A concise history of the Urdu language and its Sanskrit, Persian, and
Turkic influences is offered in the introduction as well, like remarks on the backgrounds of the poets featuring in this collection.
Fragments are included of the poets known by the names Arzu, Ghalib, Hatim, Mazhar, Mir Dard, Mir Soz, Mir Taqi, Sauda, and Taban.
Most of them were known for their own collections of poetry.
226 As noted by Duncan Westbrook in the )ntroduction (no page mark).
227 ) do not have access to the content of )nayat Khan s Songs of India but found out about this through Alim Vosteen s article. Cf.
Vosteen in Soefi Gedachte 2010. Since Hindustani lyrics seems not to contain any poem of Inayat Khan himself, no poetry example is
included in this paragraph.
228 To my disposal is the second Indian edition, Inayat Khan, Hazrat, The dance of the soul Gayan vadan nirtan, Delhi, (1993) 1997.
229 As mentioned by the publisher on the inside sleeve of the book cover.
230 Stam s.a.:139. Mureed and secretary Kismet (Dorothea) Stam was the only person to accompany Inayat Khan to India. Mahmood
Khan questions her rendition of this anecdote, and considers it possible that Stam interpreted )nayat Khan s words in a different
context than Inayat Khan meant to express. Personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 25-08-2012.
231 DJK 1973:112, 133. She is renowned among followers of Inayat Khan for e.g. her biography of Inayat Khan. After 1975, she
published under the name Elizabeth Keesing. She also published work outside the realm of )nayat Khan s Sufism. Cf. this page, which
offers a concise biography as well.
232 The size restrictions of this thesis do not allow further exploration beyond the general description of its characteristics below.
233 Mehta in ZIK 2001:173; Rowell in Arnold 2000:20. These terms are also rendered as gita (vocal melody, divided in pitch, rhythm,
and text), vadya, and nrtta. Together these make up the broad Indian concept of sangit(a)or music.



mystical dance which every human being performs.


These three parts are divided by various

categories denoting terms as used for musical and lyrical expression in Hindi, Urdu and/or Persian as
listed in the overview below, and described by Inayat Khan in English as follows:235
1. alapa extemporization; God speaking to man; a divine word in the form of advice
2. alankara ornamentation; the fanciful expression of an idea


3. boula the words of a song; a great idea in a few burning words

4. chala - a theme; an illuminated statement




5. gamaka that which comes from the heart of a poet, keyed to various notes


6. gayatri sacred chants; prayers

7. raga modulation; the outpouring of the soul calling upon the Beloved God
8. sura a note; God speaking through the kindled soul
9. tala rhythm; a rhythm formed by comparison
10. tana trill; the soul speaking with nature





It is interesting to see how Inayat Khan linked these terms, common in musical practice, to the realm of his
personal spiritual outpouring in aphorisms, poetry, and musically recited prayers.245 The Gayatri
sections of the collection comprise several prayers, of which especially two are highly relevant with
regard to )nayat Khan s musical-mystical views; these are Saum and Salat.


Inayat Khan translated or

HIK 1997:viii. )t is also the title of the collection of )nayat Khan s sayings first published in
, based on content from )nayat
Khan s notebooks; Notes from the unstruck music from the Gayan of Inayat Khan. Cf. Graham e.a. 2002:330. See also HIK e.a. 1991:282.
235 HIK 1997: ix. Additional explanation from a musicological perspective is offered in the footnotes.
236 In classical music, an alaap is a purely melodic introduction to a raga unfolding its theme and mood without any rhythmic
accompaniment. Cf. Storms 1985:43; Baghchee 1998:324.
237 Baghchee explains this term as a general term used to refer to melodic ornaments but also used for graded musical exercises
using fixed note patterns. Cf. Baghchee
238 Words or syllables of the song text, transcribed as bol in Baghchee 1998:326.
239 Given as chalan, literally movement or gait ; also described as short ascending or descending patterns of a raga, a pattern of
melodic movement. Also used to refer to the style of character of the rhythmic movement. Cf. Baghchee 1998:327.
240 Explained by Bagchee in two ways: ornamentation in general and shaking sounds produced by using the diaphragm. Cf.
Baghchee 1998:328.
241 Storms refers to it as a complex concept which has been in continuous development throughout the ages, still is, and perhaps will
be continuously developing. In a simple explanation, Storms notes that it is a frame for melodic (vocal) improvisation, with the
remark that ragas are in fact the only style of classical Indian music, as Indian music theory has been and still is solely dedicated to
the performance and characteristics of ragas, Cf. Storms
translation mine . Baghchee explains it as a melodic form in
Indian classical music consisting of particular scale notes, having an identifiable melodic shape and with an associated mood. Cf.
Baghchee 1998:333.
242 In Arabic, sura commonly denotes a Koranic chapter'; it also means 'picture', 'image'.
243 Storms: rhythm, rhythmic cycle and structure, a period/ tempo/ time scale; a frame for rhythmic improvisation. As noted by
Storms, the concept of tala is as complex as that of raga. Cf. Storms 1985:25, 56-58 (translation mine). Baghchee simply phrases it as
the metric cycle characterized by a recurring pattern of subdivisions. Cf. Baghchee
244 Baghchee renders is as tan, a fast melodic figure taken at least at double the speed in khayal and instrumental performances. Cf.
Baghchee 1998:335.
245 Mehta in ZIK 2001:174-175. In Appendix D, song 4, the last line of poetry of )nayat Khan s Parsi s Popetti Song refers to this. See
as well Miner in ZIK 2001:200. More to this below.
246 Saum and Salat, are included in Appendix C under number 5. Other prayers included in the Gayan Gayatri section are
Khatum , a prayer added to the first two as a sealing prayer based upon khatm, Arabic for seal ; Dowa , based upon the Muslim
supplication known in Arabic as a du`a; Nayaz , a short prayer for healing and purification based upon the Urdu rendition of the
Persian niyaz, also a supplication prayer; and Nazar , a thanks-giving prayer based upon the Persian rendition of the originally
Arabic nadhr, meaning vow. See HIK 1997:73- ; Dayers, W., De Gayatri van (azrat )nayat Khan in: De Soefi-gedachte (maart),
1995, pp. 20-23. Saum and Salat were initially given by Inayat Khan to early Sufi initiates together with specific purification
breathing exercises, and sung and/or musically recited daily by himself and his family. Cf. Inayat-Khan, Hidayat, Once upon a time
Early days stories about my beloved father and mother, Groningen, 1998, pp. 20, 35, and Appendix C, no. 6. A curious little booklet
containing Nayaz (spelled as Nayar), Nazar, Saum and Salat, which offers visualised instructions for movement and gestures to
accompany the lyrics is by name of Soefi Stichting Inayat fundatie Sirdar, Sufi prayers for mureeds, Den Haag, 1975. See also Inayat
Khan 1998:49 and Graham e.a.
: for )nayat Khan s later reference to Saum and Salat.


composed these and other prayers to be used for meditative contemplation by Sufi initiates within the Sufi
Movement.247 Headed by a Hindu term, Inayat Khan used a lot of Muslim Sufi terminology and concepts
with a background in classical (Persian) Sufism throughout these prayers. He also entitled his prayers
accordingly. The nature of his prayers resembles the awrad (plural, sg. wird) of Sufi orders in general in a
way, although at the same time their content seems suited to appeal to the frame of reference of Western
devotees with a background in Christianity. 248
A significant aspect of the nature of Saum and Salat is that they are based upon two old Indian Hindu
hymns. )t seems that Saum is based upon a (indu song to the sun entitled Bibhas, since part of )nayat
Khan s English lyrics appear in a song with that title which would be often performed by Inayat Khan, his
brothers and cousin-brother. Maheboob Khan composed the piano music.249
Contrary to what seems to be the case, the meaning of the prayer titles does not equal the ritual
prayer and the fasting ritual respectively, i.e. two of the five pillars of Islam. Here, Saum is the
transcription of the Arabic sawm, meaning fast ing . But fasting in India and throughout Central Asia is
referred to with the Persian rozah.250 Similarly, the majority of Muslims in Central Asia refer to the prayer
ritual with the Persian namaz as incorporated in the Urdu language, instead of with the Arabic salat. The
term salat, in )ndia at least, is used in its context of a prayer, i.e. a general one, whereas its plural form
salawat usually comes to the fore to extend blessing to others and pay homage to the various prophets
preceding the Prophet Muhammad; more precisely, the blessing of the Prophet Muhammad in its
rendering as salawat al-nabi in both the ritual prayer and the closing verses of devotional Sufi songs
during the sama.251 Moreover, in Salat )nayat Khan added the representatives of (induism and
Buddhism, and included reference to those human relationships which allow for internal growth by their
potential for developing unconditional love, devotion and/or selflessness.
After 1921, Saum and Salat were institutionalised by the Theosophist London initiates of Inayat Khan in their Universal
worship ritual, equally devised by these initiates. The prayer Khatum is likely dated after
. Personal communication with
Mahmood Khan d.d. 25-08-2012; also ZIK 2006:78. In ZIK 2006:72-78 is found an overview of the various traditional elements of
(Chishti) Sufi training which Inayat Khan taught early initiates to practice. These are clear in Cf. HIK 1914 as a whole as well,
especially pp. 40-44, 48-50, 53-56. See also Inayat-Khan 1998:32- for )nayat Khan s daily schedule which seems to date to the
1920s) with reference to his daily physical, spiritual and musical exercises as included in Appendix C no. 7. Inayat-Khan 1998:37
contains a description of )nayat Khan s early zikr gatherings in the West.
248 Awrad are compendia of Sufi prayers or prayer-like litanies, which are usually passed onto younger generations of Sufi devotees
as part of their instruction to ponder upon and to commemorate the heritage of a particular Muslim Sufi order. In prayers of Sufi
orders with a more strict affiliation to Islam, distinguishing features are the names or attributes of God and Koranic phrases. See
Nassr, N., Michael Frishkopf: Thus spake the reed flute in Al-Ahram Weekly (no. 864), Cairo. 27-09/03-10 2007; Renard, J., The A to
Z of Sufism, Plymouth, 2005, p. 144; and Dayers in De Soefi-gedachte 1995:20. The link to Christianity mentioned is mine, not Dayers.
249 See Soefi Gedachte 1982:31-33. Professor R.C. Mehta, former head of the Faculty of the Performing Arts of the Maharaja Sayajirao
University in Baroda, may provide more information in this regard. Personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 25-08-2012.
250 Dayers in: De Soefi-gedachte 1995:20. Dayers notes that this resembles the (historical) meaning among Indian Sufis. It would
address one s purposeful effort to direct attention from the outside world to the world within. Moreover, Inayat Khan played with
words; in this example he would have enjoyed the sound of sawm resembling the pronunciation of the English word psalm . This is
confirmed by Mahmood Khan. Personal communication 23-08-2012.
251 Dayers in: De Soefi-gedachte 1995:20-21. A parallel can be drawn with the practice of e.g. Egyptian Sufis, among whom the salawat
al-nabi features as a fixed part in the closure of Sufi songs sung by munshidin, singers of the inshad dini, a Sufi genre of devotional
music involving religious chanting. Cf. Van Oostrum, A., Mystiek en muziek in de islam: een introductie in: Buitelaar, M., Ter Haar, J.
(eds.), Mystiek: het andere gezicht van de islam, Bussum, 1999, p. 107. Inayat Khan considered the sama a beautiful, integral aspect of
Sufism: Musicians sing at this meeting the words of inspired poets either verses in admiration of the beauty of the ideal, or of the
qualities of the ideal, or of the longing of the lover, his pain, his appeal; and sometimes the verses explain the fine laws of Nature, of
life; the difference of God, the Perfect Being, and man, the imperfect individual. Sometimes the verses explain the nearness of man to
God and the perfection of Godhood in man. [..] The verses and songs of these musicians become a reality to them; and as man in
general is touched and moved by external conditions in life, so they are touched and moved by the world they have created in their
imagination, which is helped by the verses and music. Cf. Inayat Khan, Hazrat, The unity of religious ideals, London/Southampton,
s.a., p. 195. The notion of Perfect Being corresponds with the Sufi concept of al-insan al-kamil (in Persian, Urdu and Turkish insan-i
kamil), which often symbolises the Prophet Muhammad, but which may also generally refer to one who has obtained spiritual
perfection. Personal communication with Mahmood Khan d.d. 24-08-2012. See as well Baldick, J., Mystical Islam An introduction to
Sufism, p. 84; Renard 2005:266.


Notions from The mysticism of sound and music
Hazrat Inayat Khan regarded his essential teachings as all part of that phenomenon of sound, in which
music encountered every other aspect of manifested life in which tone and rhythm, expansion and
contraction, breathing and pulsation, vibration and silence all had their parts to play.


Analysis of the source material

This third chapter addresses publication details and modestly discusses selected chapters from The
mysticism of sound and music, Inayat Khan s main work on music and mysticism, which never seems to
have been subject to thorough comparative scholarly analysis despite the still increasing Western
scholarly attention for classical Indian (Sufi) music.253 Its relevance within and relatedness to the
scholarly field of speculative music theory will be concisely addressed as well.254

Various publications

As a confusing amount of different versions and publications of )nayat Khan s The Mysticism of sound and
music is available in print and online as well, 255 it seemed useful to provide the reader with some
background information about the version consulted for this thesis. This is the revised edition of 1991,
published by Element as volume II in the series A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty. It is divided in six parts,
namely Music , Aphorisms , The mysticism of sound , Cosmic language , The power of the word , and
Phrases to be repeated.


Of the parts containing various chapters, I have chosen to highlight what I

MK in ZIK 2001:103.
For instance, Burckhardt Qureshi 1986 is still regarded as an authoritative work on Sufi music on the Indian subcontinent,
covering contemporary Pakistan and India; Baghchee, S., NAD: Understanding raga music, 1998 addresses raga music in great detail;
Arnold 2000 is a voluminous work of reference with articles glossing Indian music, music history and (speculative) music theory;
Farrell 2004 addresses important aspects of these same topics with regard to the encounter between the West and Indian music; Van
der Meer & Bor 1982 may be accredited for being the first Dutch scholarly introduction to Indian music and dance, whereas Storms
1985 still provides the Dutch non-specialist reader with a very well readable popular-scholarly introduction.
254 See paragraph 3.3. The sources mentioned in the previous footnote all refer to the age old connection made between the mystical
and musical aspects of Indian music theory throughout the ages. An important source which contains much reference to Inayat
Khan s views is Berendt 1987. I had almost overlooked a short reference to this work in Simms in Arnold 2000:56, through which I
found it. Berendt s work was published by East-West Publications London/the Hague (The Netherlands), a company which also
published much of )nayat Khan s work.
255 Other publications of this work entail those of publisher Barrie and Rockcliff/ Barrie Book Ltd., London, 1960 (with subsequent
reprints by the Dutch publishing company Uitgeverij Servire BV); publisher Motilal Banarsidass The mysticism of music, sound and
word, the second volume in the series entitled The Sufi message of Inayat Khan, Delhi, 1988; and of publisher Shambhala (Dragon
Editions) The mysticism of sound and music, revised edition, part of The Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Boston/London, 1996).
The latter seems to be an exact reprint of the 1991 edition. All were published in association with the International Headquarters of
the Sufi Movement in Geneva, Switzerland. Online, one can consult this website on )nayat Khan s Sufism which apparently contains
the 1988 Indian edition of the work as part of the series The Sufi message of Inayat Khan. Some lectures of The mysticism of sound and
music are found in Graham e.a. 2002. This is part of a critical text series generally entitled Complete works, published by the Nekbakht
Foundation in Sursnes, France, which aims at dispersing lectures delivered by Inayat Khan at a textual level closest to the most
trustworthy stenography and stripped from later editing. The Nekbakht foundation was founded by )nayat Khan s main of three
secretaries, the Dutch initiate Ms. Sakina Furne, who worked for him since 1922. She was re-named Nekbakht by Inayat Khan
shortly before he left for India in 1926. She clinged to her first Sufi name Sakina, but named the foundation after her second Sufi
name. The foundation s aim is to preserve and disperse )nayat Khan s Sufi teachings. See Graham e.a
:X. DJK notes that Inayat
Khan was accompanied on his trips by an administrator and/or secretary from 1920 onwards. Cf. DJK 1973:127.
256 Except the second and sixth part, these parts consist of various chapters each, which are listed in Appendix C, no. 7. The 1996
edition as published by Shambhala contains exactly the same content list as the 1991 edition of Element, whereas the one of 1988 by
Motilal Banarsidass consists of four parts only, namely The mysticism of sound , Cosmic language , Music , and The power of the
word . This latter publication seems to resemble the
publication as well.


perceived as key notions from part , Music , in the paragraphs below, and to leave other relevant parts
out of consideration with regard to the degree of relevance to the thesis s subject.
The first publication of a booklet on the subject of music and mysticism of which the content was
dictated by Inayat Khan to secretaries appeared during his lifetime, in 1923, and was entitled The
mysticism of sound. It was announced in Western magazines as early as 1918, and it was intended as the
first of a series of three parts comprising of seven chapters each. Why the project was not carried on in the
way announced is not known.257 Only some 40 years later, the 1960 publication of Barrie and Rockcliff
appeared. This rendition was still based upon the 1923 booklet, according to a remark in the revised 1991
Element edition. The 1991 edition is in fact a revision of the 1960 publication.258 The main difference
between the 1991 and the 1960 edition lies in additional chapters in the 1991 edition, chapters which
were unpublished until then.259
The majority of sources upon which the 1991 edition of The mysticism of sound and music is based,
like the 1960 edition, comprise lectures and addresses delivered in English by Inayat Khan in the West
between 1914 and 1926.260 Most of these date from the years between 1921 and 1926, and were delivered
to audiences varying in their relationship to Inayat Khan; often he addressed pupils and students already
familiar with his teachings, for instance during the weeks of the so-called Summer School gatherings in
France (after 1922 in Holland, too) from 1921 till 1926, but some were public lectures, or introductions to
musical performances of previous years in de teens of the 20th century.261 In the 1960 edition, lectures of a
related nature were often combined, which caused omissions in order to prevent the repetition of similar
text.262 In contrast, the editors of the 1991 edition included the lectures in their original form, as to
preserve the nature of )nayat Khan s language, with the consequence of similar text being repeated often
more than once.263 Beyond lectures and addresses, the sources of the 1991 edition feature three articles of
Inayat Khan not published before: an early article from 1913 on esoteric music which appeared in The
Indian Magazine, an article from 1918 published in The Sufi addressing the influence of music upon the
character of man, and an article from 1921 as published in the magazine Sufism on the power of the

Approach to and characteristics of the part selected for discussion

Initially, I meant to discuss )nayat Khan s notions from three parts, which ) perceived to be of major
importance. These parts are part ) Music, part ))) The mysticism of sound, and part V The power of the
HIK 1991:viii. The names or publishing details of the magazines referred to are not given.
HIK 1991:316. The 1960 publication had several reprints by the Dutch publishing company Uitgeverij Servire BV. It contains a
Preface , a note called The Transcription of foreign terms , and a Prologue to the six parts of the book; furthermore, Notes , a
List of lectures and articles which are the sources of Volume )) , and an )ndex .
259 HIK 1991:vii-viii. Examples mentioned with regard to part
, Music , are The connection between dance and music , The
mysticism of sound and The mystery of sound , plus another chapter on The mystery of colour and sound .
260 HIK 1991:vii. The original documents, transcripts, and shorthand and longhand reports of which the edition comprises have been
preserved and could be consulted on request. An overview of locations where the lectures were given and the occasions related to
the lectures, plus source reference to the articles featuring in this work is included in HIK 1991:315-317.
261 DJK 1973:130; Slomp 2007:95, 122-123. The first long-term summer gathering of initiates and Inayat Khan was organised in
Wissous, France, in 1921. Subsequent Summer Schools were organised from 1922 until 1926 in Sursnes, France, where Inayat Khan
and his family resided those years. The first Dutch Summer gathering was organised in Katwijk, 1922.
262 HIK 1991:viii. Fragments based upon questions and answers discussed after lectures were inserted where they seemed fit.
263 ()K
:viii. Omissions were only made when this did not alter the nature of )nayat Khan s speech and subject, in their view.
264 The content of these articles correspond with the 1991 edition as follows: the content of the 1913 article became chapter II in part
Music; the content of the 1918 article is included in chapter X)X in part Music as well; and the content of the article of 1921
appears as chapter ), st text, of part V The power of the word.




word. )n the end, ) decided to focus on the first part only, and to address its content by categorising it into
three realms, namely that of 1) the musician, man, and society, 2) mystical praxis and theory, and 3) a
perceived divine origin.265 In order to still inform the reader about the content of the two excluded parts
and their relationship to part I, the characteristics of all three parts originally selected for discussion will
be concisely presented below.
Music , the first part of The mysticism of sound and music, contains some of the chapters not
included in earlier publications as referred to above. Its twenty-two chapters make up the largest part of
the book, and look at music from various angles: its manifestation in and/or through colour and sound,
and rhythm, with regard to the ancient Indian string instrument on which Inayat Khan played (both the
northern rudra vina and the south Indian Saraswati vina),266 Sufi music and dance, Indian music theory,
the human voice, and its influence upon man and the physical body. 267 True to the original publication of
, the third part, The mysticism of sound addresses the mysticism of sound in eight chapters,
starting with the so-called silent life, vibrations, harmony, name, form, rhythm, music and abstract sound.
Part five of the book. The power of the word , is dedicated to the origin, value, and effect of the word and
offers interesting views with regard to the repeated recitation of words and phrases known from general
Sufi dhikr (a continuous commemoration of the names or attributes of God, silently or aloud) and its
Indian counterpart, mantra(m) recitation.268 It comprises various lectures on this topic; five on its power,
one on the so-called sacred word, two on the word that was lost of which the second one was previously
unpublished), one more on cosmic language, one on the word in general. 269 The overlap with subjects
addressed in the other two parts becomes immediately clear, and is met more profoundly while reading
similar chapters.
3.2 Notions from part I, Music , from The mysticism of sound and music

The realm of the musician, man and society

Inayat Khan explains man-made music in line with the Indian concept of music or sangit(a), which
comprises singing (gayan), play or acting (vadan), and dancing or the expression through movement
(nirtan).270 It is said to be an emotional expression of beauty and rhythm, appealing to the mind as well; its

265 Other criteria for selection and categorisation could be applied. The personal choice for categorisation of multiple parts is based
upon the major overlap of themes expressed in these three parts of the book, and the repeated address of the same or similar
concepts throughout its many chapters. Therefore, a concise discussion of those views I perceived as key notions seemed more fit
with regard to both the scope of this chapter and the nature of the )nayat Khan s views than a minute discussion of each relevant part
by itself. A close examination of the excluded parts would have surpassed the boundaries of this chapter as well. Future research is
necessary to identify and compare similarities and differences in content.
266 See also the first chapter, paragraph 1.2.1. Interesting notes with regard to the importance of the vina in the Hindu pantheon,
reference to philosophical Indian treatises, and its use in 16th century North India are found in Wades in Arnold 2009(V):301.
267 Part ) Music is found in ()K
: -114. See Appendix C, no. 7, for its exact content.
268 Part ))) The mysticism of sound relates to ()K
; part V The power of the word to ()K
-304. See the
Appendix C, number 7 for an overview of their chapters as well. Mantra(m)s are known in Western popular culture among those
interested in yoga and New age trends. They form an ingrained part of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. See e.g. Bormann,
J.E., Oman, D., Mantram or holy name repetition: (ealth benefits from a portable spiritual practice in Plante, Th.G.; Thoresen, C.E.,
Spirit, science and health: How the spiritual mind fuels physical wellness, Westport (CT), 2007, pp. 94-112.
269 HIK 1991:ix. The latter lecture was taken out as a chapter of volume XII of the series A Sufi message of spiritual liberty, entitled
The vision of God and man. A lecture on the value of repetition and reflection was included as a chapter for the first time as well.
270 HIK 1991:9, 49-50, 66, 88, 105. Chapter 2 of the present thesis paid attention to )nayat Khan s collection of aphorisms and poetry,
of which the most recent English publication is HIK 1997. Inayat Khan notes that gayan relates to the human voice, of which he says
that the ancient Hindus considered it the foremost tool to tune to the divine. See HIK 1991 chapter XVIII (pp. 88- , The voice , and
chapter XIII (pp. 66The relationship between dance and music; to the latter also HIK 1991:2-3.


message and intrinsic nature is conveyed beyond language, and its reception is unbound by factors like
one s background, gender, status or education. This is due to the soul, which, in )nayat Khan s view,
responds to and resonates with the soul of the music involved, as it is made of the same refined energies.
A preference for certain music depends on one s age and the evolution of one s soul from denseness to
refinement. The latter is influenced by the realm of the mind, due to which people differ in their
inclinations, likes and dislikes, and the choices they make in life; also, they perceive either duality of
existence or the unity behind it.271 Due to this, people agree or disagree with each other, and feel attracted
or repulsed by others, objects, et cetera. This lack of harmony between people s views and understanding,
or disagreement, is described in musical terms by Inayat Khan as discord, dissonance, a lack of similar
attunement, harmony or resonance, which he explains as human expression relating to the varying pitches
to which people s souls are tuned, and the differing octaves to which people speak. 272
The act of playing music is an art sacred to Inayat Khan, and for him related to the divine, as he
believes that only in music God can be perceived free from all form and thought. 273 Much in line with
Indian tradition, in which music used to be performed by intuitive improvisation attuned to the
circumstances of hour, place and the mood of the people present, 274 Inayat Khan is a clear advocate of
music for a higher, sacred purpose. He expresses himself often negatively with regard to music made for
mere amusement and commercial purposes, which denies such circumstances and purpose, and which
usual seeks to comply with payment, fame, and/or the pleasing of others; it might be skilful, but is often
void of a lasting inspiring nature which makes one attune to and attract higher energies.275
Ample reference is found showing that Inayat Khan did not much appreciate jazz music; it would be
spoiling peoples delicacy of sense, although he understands why people like its rhythm. 276 In Inayat
Khan s view, the musician s compilation of rhythm and tone into sound and melody is something which is
created in response to the inspiration conceived: therefore, a composer of music performs his small part
in the scheme of nature as a creator, which makes his work no less than the work of a saint.


Inayat Khan ascribes to music healing capacities in the sense that it has a harmonising effect in
regards reaching beyond psychological and physical health: Music alone can be the means by which the
souls of races, nations and families, which are today so apart, may one day be united. [..] All the trouble in
the world and all the disastrous results arising out of it all come from lack of harmony.


But even

though man is influenced and tuned by his surroundings, he still can tune himself in spite of his

HIK 1991:7-8, 113. Inayat Khan mentions that e.g. children are naturally drawn to rhythmic music.
HIK 1991:18-19, 109.
273 HIK 1991:2,4, 12-14, 66. Inayat Khan considered arts in general (like poetry, painting, and sculpturing) as restricting because
these either contain form, refer to form, or make one remember, think of or visualise things and thus link to form, while man s
perception of its beauty, proportion and harmony still resonate with the soul. The depth of experience of beauty in the arts and
especially in music is related to one s inner development. More to this below.
274 MMK 1982:19-21; Siddiqi 2000:26.
275 HIK 1991:4, 7-8, 33, 48-49, 63, 66, 72, 81-83, 96-98, 100-102, 111. Inayat Khan notes that when a thing is made into an
amusement, it always degenerates. The quality of one s energy, prana, the life force running through man inherent to repetitive
breath, plays a role in this; the finer and higher one s energy, the more intense and influential the effect of one s expression in sound
(voice, speech, music) and deeds (behaviour, movement, work).
276 HIK 1991:51, 73, 82. Inayat Khan could not foresee that fellow Indian master musician Ravi Shankar would initiate a lasting
Western interest in Indian music by seeking collaboration with especially jazz musicians in the West. To this Farrell 2004:168-200,
and Hoyack s.a. (1947?):183.
277 HIK 1991:22-23, 95, 100-101.
278 HIK 1991:7, 13, 15, 62, 96, 103-108, 110, 114.





Inayat Khan considers the role of musicians in society therefore of great significance, but

their influence becomes even greater in his view when they are more conscious of their task and develop
both their soul s quality and their musical skills in accordance to that understanding. One s main aim with
regard to learning music should thus be to tune oneself, one s soul, one s own life to harmony, to the
highest perception of the divine, of God, since the quality or refinement of one s soul will naturally be
expressed in one s music, one s radiance, and will influence others and one s surroundings accordingly. 280

Selected notions with regard to mystical praxis and theory

On a higher level, music is the most important means to tune oneself to the experience of increased
awareness, thoughtlessness, and, ultimately, the divine of (and in) all, according to Inayat Khan; music has
the power to re-connect the individual with the All-encompassing. Re-connect, as man is made in the
image of God, and God is music in )nayat Khan s perception, based upon ancient Indian notions on abstract
sound which will be addressed in a while. What makes us feel drawn to music is that our whole being is
music: our mind, our body, the nature in which we live, the nature that has made us, all that is beneath and
around us it s all music.


The narrow and limited lower self of man is first transgressed and forgotten in the selfless pondering
upon this, and then transformed by the unfoldment of the soul, [and] the opening of the intuitive


Once that process of spiritual awakening is kindled, the dual nature of life generally

perceived by man based upon his limited experience of life gradually dissolves in the increasing
experience of unity and a sense of purposeful existence: The beauty of the whole creation is this, that
creation has worked in two ways; in one way it has expressed, and in the other way it has made itself a
mould [i.e. mankind] in order to respond. For instance, there is substance matter to touch- and there is a
sense to feel touch. There is a sound, and at the same time there is the sense of hearing to perceive the
sound. There is light, there is form, there are colours, and at the same time there are eyes to see them.


In this regard, music has been used in the past as a tool in meditation and religious and theoretical
contemplation by seekers on the way of spirituality and the esoteric cult of whatsoever conviction, but
especially within Indian Chishti Sufism: in the latter, music is called ghiza-e-ruh, i.e. food for the soul. 284
The effects and importance of the (un)conscious repetition of words, thoughts, and ideas are
themes of great significance in this context in )nayat Khan s views: the word is reflected upon the
universal Spirit, and the universal mechanism then begins to repeat it automatically. In other words, what

279 HIK 1991:54. This is due to one s inner capacity; an akasha in Hindu terms. Inayat Khan mentions five akashas, of which he
explains three; the body, processing food; the senses, receiving sensations through man s faculties; and the receptacle of life or
inner capacity which signifies one s ability to perceive the finer forces of life which are working within oneself. Cf. HIK 1991:35.
280 HIK 1991:7-8, 13-14, 21-24, 101, 110-11. Inayat Khan includes examples which show that ordinary man is generally able to
perceive the condition of others and objects by one s senses and intuitive faculties, by consciously or unconsciously tuning into the
level of harmony radiated. Thus, people perceive friendliness, anger, care or the lack of it displayed in e.g. one s turban tying, and
one s character by reading one s handwriting.
281 HIK 1991:12, 16, 20, 102. The voice is a tool in this. Cf. HIK 1991:88.
282 HIK 1991:4-6, 22-24.
283 HIK 1991:4, 17-18, 29-32, 40-41, 75,
. )nayat Khan s theories on music and sound also include reference to light and colour,
which he considers to have manifested after the realm of sound came into existence. He explains this as part of the perceived duality
of life, i.e. in the (in)audible and (in)visible aspects of life, or external and internal realm. See e.g. its chapter V) The mystery of
colour and sound and chapter V)) The spiritual significance of colour and sound. See also Siddiqi 2000:30.
284 HIK 1991:4-5, 21, 50-51, 56, 62. Concise chapters addressing the role of music among Sufis and dervishes are its chapter X The
use made of music by Sufis of the Chishti order and chapter X) The use made of music by the dancing dervishes. HIK 1914:52-53
explains )nayat Khan s views with regard to music among Sufis. Also there we find reference to it as soul-harmonising vibration.


man repeats, God then begins to repeat, until it is materialized and has become a reality in all planes of


Sound manifests by impression in interaction with other energies, and can be made visible;

hence the common notion you become what you think in daily speech, and the attention paid by Sufis and
exponents of other convictions and trends who make use of dhikr and mantra(m)s.286
Pondering upon music s characteristics and value with regard to the teaching realm, Inayat Khan
notes that all learning has its essence in music, and that music has a natural charm, [..] a magical

it is


the level of its experience and effect increasing with the increased

contemplation on it, and the practice of it. 287 )nayat Khan: There is nothing in this world that can help one
spiritually more than music. Meditation prepares, but music is the highest for touching perfection.


Therefore, those who do not only master musical skills but nourish their soul s development as well, have
a certain responsibility towards their fellow man: their music has the power to not only bring about
harmony within themselves, but within those exposed to it as well.289 Pursuing this idea into (spiritual)
education and instruction, Inayat Khan proposes that music could be an excellent alternative for religious
instruction, as it could serve the development of the soul into refinement much better by its formlessness;
there are, supposedly, no dogmas involved. Yet, he warns, music cannot merely replace religion, because
souls differ and each soul vibrates and attunes to that which fits his nature, and absorbs in accordance, to
grow. Moreover, manifestations of both music and religion differ in their quality, and the essence of what
they might yield is received and internalised by man depending on his stage of inner evolution.290

Notions pertaining to a perceived divine origin

To explain the divine origin and nature of music, Inayat Khan relates to the ancient Vedic notion nada
brahma, i.e. God is sound, while referring to later traditions and convictions which similarly stress that
the word of God is responsible for and equal to creation in various metaphysical ways. Music, understood
as ultimate sound, vibrations of both an audible and inaudible nature, gave birth to, encompasses and
pervades the whole of the limitless creation known to mankind by its limited experience. 291
HIK 1991:ix, 21, 36-37. The quote is from Suggestion by word and voice , Summer
according to a note in its Preface.
HIK 1991:21, 28, 36-37, 43, 50-51, 75-78. Those active in the more occult realm of hypnosis and magic make use of this
knowledge: Inayat Khan says that those who master sound can charge people and objects with a certain magnetism for e.g.
purposes of healing, instruction, manipulation, or destruction according to their command , and exert influence accordingly. Inayat
Khan warns for the consequence of applying this law to gain for selfish purposes: the only one object worth striving for [is] the
essential object of life, namely God. It is only when the science of words is being used for the attainment of truth, that is: for the
attainment of God, that it is being used in the right manner. To use it for any other purpose whatever, is just like paying out pearls to
buy pebbles. Cf. ()K
: . Berendt offers an intriguing angle to this subject from the viewpoint of speculative music theory: The
words for poet, singer, and magician go back to the same linguistic root not only in Latin but in many other languages. Quite
often they all have the same meaning, which makes sense when one considers the magician s main tool, language or more precisely:
the word. More than magic potions or charms, more than gestures or magic herbs, it is the word that becomes effective as sound and
as mantra. In this aspect, too, the sound possesses the effective power: in the world religions as logos and mantra, for magicians and
shamans as magic word or formula, with all imaginable intermediate stages and shadings from one extreme, the divine word that
creates the world, to the other, the shaman s sounds that produce magic for love or for hunting. Cf. Berendt 1983:53-54. It is also
picked up in popular culture: a few years ago, a hype based on the law of attraction was ignited by new age publications based upon
Rhonda Byrne s film The secret of 2006, of which a book edition selled millions of copies worldwide. Its principle is based on the
purposeful use of magnetic frequencies to attract what is desired.
287 HIK 1991:4-5, 9, 14, 20, 74, 104. Inayat Khan refers to hallmarks of various convictions, prophets of religious traditions, mystics,
philosophers, and poets, and mentions their subsequent links with music in support of his views. He also notes the effect of music on
animals, and includes some anecdotes in this regard, like the use of a certain raga to charm snakes. Cf. HIK 1991:74.
288 HIK 1991:99.
289 HIK 1991:7.
290 HIK 1991:4, 8, 21-22, 99, 111. See also DJK 1973:112.
291 HIK 1991:5-6, 9, 16-17, 24, 27, 31, 34-35, 39, 54, 62-67, 75, 104. Examples throughout the chapters include John 1:1- : In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and reference to the Koranic sura Yasin
: -83,
featuring kun fa-yakun commonly explained as that God commanded the universe to be, and it came into being. Inayat Khan refers



Inayat Khan notes for instance that the material sound of instruments, or of the voice produced by the
human organs of sound, is really the outcome of the universal sound of the spheres, [the latter] which can
only be heard by those in tune with it. [..] The whole framework of this world is the instrument of


Referring to the ancient Vedic understanding of the five elements, which are water, fire, air,

earth, and ether, Inayat Khan emphasises that these be understood in their broadest meaning and capacity
of varying essence and manifestation, due to which they manifest in different colours and sounds. These
elements lay at the basis of the South Asian scale of five notes, by which ragas are composed.293
Life as we witness it, including nature, animal life, human beings, and the celestial bodies, is
perceived by Inayat Khan as (and in) the inspiring beauty of its underlying divine manifestation. Life is
expressed by the quality of the energy it comprises of, which is radiated in light and colour, and/or by
movement in one way or another, as in a molecular dance; by rhythm, which also consists of vibrations.
Everything vibrates at a certain speed to a certain pitch and therefore at a certain level of consciousness or
awareness according to the nature and stage of the development of its life force energy, scaling from
extremely dense matter to extremely refined energy: 294 Colour and sound are the language of life. Life
expresses itself on all different planes of existence in the form of colour and sound, but the outward
manifestations of life are so rigid and dense that the secret of their nature and character becomes buried


God however, in )nayat Khan s immanent Sufi view, is manifest in any form and every aspect of creation,
and can be perceived by both the physical and the inner eye. Each human being who opens up his (her)
eyes to this, would come to see that behind all manifestation is the flawless, harmonious, and blessing
spirit of God the Beloved, which is unconditional love, ultimate wisdom and measureless beauty. 296 Inayat
Khan: Why is music called the divine art, while all other arts are not so called? We may certainly see God
in all arts and in all sciences, but in music alone we see God free from all forms and thoughts. In every

at some point to mysticism as the law of vibration. Cf. HIK 1991:104. Reference to )nayat Khan s understanding of nada brahma is
also found in Van der Meer & Bor 1982:34. To compare with a similar concept in the bhakti tradition, see e.g. Groot, R. de, Verliefd op
de Donkere. Leven en liederen van Mirabai, Amsterdam, 1998, pp. 103-107, esp. 106-107.
292 HIK 1991:10, 12-14, 66. Those who hear the music of the spheres are in a state described by )nayat Khan as anahad nada
among Yogis and sawt-e-sarmad among Indian Sufis. Inayat Khan explains the latter part of the quote above with regard to how the
voice is created by the interaction of organs, bones, and muscles in the human body, and by how the wind rustles through the leaves
of trees; there is a certain urge, followed by its interaction with its surroundings, leading to an impression upon the surroundings,
due to which the urge manifests in sound.
293 ()K
: . )nayat Khan s explanations of )ndian music and of the origins of its theory can be found in various chapters; chapter
VIII The ancient music ; in chapter X)) The science and art of (indu music as well as in chapter XVII The effect of sound on the
physical body.
294 HIK 1991:3, 9, 13, 18, 32, 53, 61-62, 66-68, 69. Inayat Khan notes that developing and understanding proper rhythm in emotions,
thoughts, and feeling is a prerequisite for gradual inner learning and tuning oneself to the higher self, to God; the deepening
perception and understanding of life, and the refinement of outward expression follows accordingly, naturally. Persian Sufi discourse
is familiar with this concept. The Iranian-American female Muslim translator, clinical psychologist, and author on Sufism and the
Koran, Laleh Bakhtiar, refers to rhythm as the primary expression of creation: Macrocosmically and microcosmically, nature has
disposed itself in rhythm. Only through rhythm is one able to escape the prison of time. Nature contains continual repetition,
inspiring man to imitate her in mode of operation through an open-ended, continuous movement system. Cf. Bakhtiar, L., Sufi
expressions of the mystic quest, (1976) 2004, pp.106. Bakhtiar s concise treatise seems rather scientific: music is discussed in line
with architecture in a way difficult to comprehend for the non-specialist reader. According to Bakhtiar, both music and architecture
were considered vitally important in the traditional Persian education system. Bakhtiar s remarks on scale and modes can be
compared with Rowell in Arnold 2000:28. Interesting remarks in the context of rhythmic modes and cycles with regard to the sama
are found in During, J., The symbolic universe of music in )slamic societies , in Danielson, A. e.a. (eds.), The Garland Encyclopaedia of
world music (vol. 6: The Middle East), New York/London, 2002, pp. 177-188, esp. pp. 181-184..
295 HIK 1991:29. See also its pp. 30-33, 42-43.
296 HIK 1991:2-3, 29-31.

other art there is idolatry. Every thought, every word has its form. Sound alone is free from form. Every
word of poetry forms a picture in our mind. Sound alone does not make any object appear before us.


Inayat Khan calls music in its ultimate understanding both the picture and divine art of the Beloved. God is
not only the source and goal of man, but also the Great and Only Musician who created a musical
symphony in which each and every molecule plays its own particular part, in which man s spiritual role is
to realise that the whole universe is one symphony in which every individual is one note.


The more one

is attuned to one s higher self, and thus, closer to God, the more harmonious the sound, the quality, the
radiance of the soul becomes; likewise, its impression on others and its surroundings becomes more
profound. For God is also the divine Giver, Saqi; in the context of )nayat Khan s Sufi views the one who
pours out the divine wine of inspiration by which man creates beauty in life through music and the other
arts, craftsmanship, and by the dedication to one s work and profession. 299

A note on speculative music theory

A short description of two of the main musical icons of India and two practical examples of the reach of
Inayat Khan s views serve in the context of this paragraph to draw the reader s attention once more to the
inseparable musical realm of )nayat Khan s mystical views and the place The mysticism of sound and music
occupies in the field of speculative music theory in its Indian context.
To start with, the Hindu god Shiva is one of the best known musical symbols. He is known as the creator,
preserver and destroyer of the universe and, in one of his many appearances, as the god of music, theatre,
and dance in the form of the Lord of Dance or Nataraj (nata meaning dance, raja meaning lord . The
meaning of his particular position is described as follows:
Encircled by symbols of universal continuity a halo of flames, space, and time- Shiva stands poised in the
perfect equilibrium of a mystic dancer. The small hourglass-shaped drum in his uplifted right hand
represents the audible space that fills the universe, which causes sound to issue forth at the first moment of
creation. Shiva appears as the essence of ordered movement and the ultimate embodiment of rhythm.


We certainly remember that Inayat Khan used the concepts of gayan, vadan, and nirtan as issued in his
collection of aphorisms, poetry and prayer lyrics, as we pointed to in the previous chapter.
The second hallmark of the Indian classical music tradition is the vina. Descriptions of this instrument
feature in the earliest Indian treatises on music. In the Hindu pantheon, various Hindu gods and goddesses
are depicted with (some kind of) vinas, notably Parvati the wife of Shiva , Ganesh Shiva s elephantheaded son and a patron of the performing arts), and Narada (the bringer of music from heaven to

HIK 1991:2. See also note

. Perhaps De Groot based himself upon this remark of )nayat Khan when he said To him, other arts
are tied to thought and form, and therefore easily conduce towards idolatry. In this we hear at one and the same time his Muslim and
Hindu backgrounds, his rejection [of] and consequently extraordinary sensitivity to idolatry, as well as the concept of Nada Brahma
[italics of the author] sound as a creative principle. Cf. De Groot in De Groot
: . The remark his rejection [of] and
consequently extraordinary sensitivity to idolatry seems out of place for in my view its hinting at a traditional rejectionalist stance
found among certain orthodox Muslims who oppose any figurative form of art.
298 HIK 1991:110.
299 HIK 1991:2- , , ,
. See his Prologue as well.
300 Wade in Arnold 20001(V):301. See the image featuring in Wade in its original location at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


earth ,


but also the goddess of knowledge (learning) and music, Sarasvati.302 Moreover, the vina

became a symbol of wandering Hindu mystics who used it as accompaniment when performing devotional
songs which addressed Krishna and other gods.303
Two practical examples function to illustrate the influence of )nayat Khan s musical-mystical
views. First, a hallmark of Western speculative music theory which contains ample reference to Inayat
Khan s insights with regard to music and mysticism is Nada brahma -The world is sound. Music and the
landscape of consciousness. It was written by the late German author, music journalist, jazz specialist and
producer Joachim-Ernst Berendt (1922-2000).304 An exemplary remark with regard to the influence of his
views among musicians is related to the renowned Dutch organist and composer Daan Manneke (1939present). It is poignant with regard to )nayat Khan s statements at the end of paragraph 3.2.1 in the
present thesis:
All who know Daan Manneke, be it as a composer, an organist, conductor, teacher, or a friend are struck by
the radiance of his profound passion, which impresses his every act and his outlook on life. To him, the
spiritual and material are one and the same. [..H]e considers matter as the result of vibrations of the subtle,
inaudible sound the result of a process in which the spiritual manifests in material condensation.


The content of The mysticism of sound and music is convincingly located in the scholarly field of
speculative theory, a field of study which is supposed to have started in India in the 6 th century and was
known as a similar genre in Europe in the Middle Ages. This field of study is characterised by a focus upon
philosophical, spiritual, and cosmological aspects of (Indian) music, perceived as being inextricably
entwined.306 In the 20th century, an increasing amount of contributions to the discourse on Indian music
theory was made by both Indian and Western scholars. 307 Scholarly standards vary among the authors
involved just like the intended readership; some works clearly promote personal convictions.308 Inayat
Khan is mentioned in this latter regard as an author whose publications contain his personal glosses on
important traditional speculative doctrines from written and oral sources,
and writings remained influential among speculative authors through the


while his presentations

s and to this day.


Rowell in Arnold 2000:20; Wade in Arnold 2000:307.

Wade in Arnold 2000:307; Siddiqi 2000:27.
303 Wade in Arnold 2000:3007. This was at least the case in the north of the subcontinent. In Mughal-style paintings of some Muslim
courts in the 16th and 17th century, the vina symbolized the religious expression of (indu holy men. Storms
: -78 contains an
interesting concise Dutch account.
304 It was published in 1987 through East-West Publications, a press agency previously active in London and The Hague, which
published many publications by name of Inayat Khan as well.
305 Translation mine. The Dutch text is from Professor Dr. Rokus de Groot and reads Wie Daan Manneke kent als componist,
organist, dirigent, leraar, vriend, wordt getroffen door de gloed van zijn bezieldheid. Zijn doen en laten spiegelen zijn levensvisie.
Voor hem bestaat er geen tegenstelling tussen spiritueel en materieel. Net als de soefi Inayat Khan vat hij materie op als het resultaat
van vibraties van subtiel geluid, in een proces van condensatie van het spirituele. Cf. Book cover of Leeuw, G. van der, Arts, W. (eds.),
Daan Manneke, componist van de ruimte, Breda, 2009. It turned out that Mr. Manneke experienced music from a spiritual level
already early in life, especially when he was singing. He was inspired by )nayat Khan s views as well as by mystical concepts in the
poetry of the Flemish priest, poet, mystic, and musician Guido Gezelle (1830-1899). Personal communication with Daan Manneke
d.d. 30-09-2012
306 Simms in Arnold 2000:53. Simms notes that a work of the legendary muni (sage) Matanga entitled Brhaddesi, stood at its basis.
Prem Lata Sharma locates this work in ca. the 6th century. See Sharma, P.L. Brhadessi of Sri Matanga Muni (KMS no. 8, 10; vol. I 1992
and vol. II 1994.
307 Simms in Arnold 2000:53.
308 Simms in Arnold 2000:53. Simms notes for instance the difference between Western and Indian scholars with regard to source
references and knowledge of earlier works.
309 Simms in Arnold 2000:53.
310 Simms in Arnold 2000:53. In order to be able to confirm or question this statement, the works of the authors mentioned should be
looked into, as Simms does not provide the reader with more information.




The role of music in the mysticism of Inayat Khan has generally been overlooked by the majority of
scholarly sources addressing Inayat Khan and his mysticism. Aside from few eloquent yet often concise
exceptions of which some are not or not easily accessible, the subject is hardly assessed. Even though the
majority of sources generally refer to his musicianship and/or musical accomplishments, most sources fail
to identify music in its broad Indian conception as derived from ancient Indian (speculative) music theory,
Indian classical music, and the Chishti Sufi tradition as the currents which de facto mark his mysticism in
both a practical and literal regard. Anyone who critically conducts research on this topic can only conclude
that publications (by name) of Inayat Khan are suffused with musical terms and concepts derived from
Chishti Sufi terminology, Sanskrit, Persian and Hindustani (i.e. Hindi and Urdu) used for musical and
lyrical expression, and that it grounds on the ancient Vedic concept of nada brahma, God is sound.
)n my view, it is very clear that )nayat Khan s years in the West (including Russia) testify both of
an approach to and a way of life which he was already familiar with in India as a young adult. His personal
knowledge of Hindu and Sufi mysticism and his honorary rank as a professor in music enabled him to
author on speculative music theory and to teach music in general, whereas he manifested his eloquent
gentleman musicianship by touring around and ensuring media coverage of both aspects of his public
appearance. This combination proved a respectable way for Inayat Khan to tread upon the path of his
ancestors whilst avoiding the risk of being discredited by the derogative notion of paid public
musicianship. But although The Royal Musicians of (industan were initially well received in America and
in the classical music scenes of the day in Europe and Russia, Inayat Khan soon had to seek another way to
present, promote, teach, and thus preserve Indian music and its related philosophy in the West if he
wanted to be successful and surpass the realm of intellectual and artistic orientalism and its echo in
popular culture in general. Biographical evidence leaves room for speculating that Inayat Khan intended
to launch a series of elaborate publications on music and mysticism in the West fully suited to a Western
readership. A difference between )nayat Khan s activities and efforts in )ndia and the West in this regard is
that he gathered large numbers of devoted followers in the West along the way and established an
organised form of Sufism adjusted311 to Western preferences and mindsets, due to which he had little time
left for his musical practice and career. It seems that his later lecture-teachings and their embodiment in
publications (in time by his name) would come to function as an alternative tuning fork for the spiritual
exercise through music as known from traditional Chishti Sufism up to present, both for initiates and a
general readership. Taking into account relevant biographical remarks and the nature of )nayat Khan s
mystical views, if we reconsider )nayat Khan s own words on his sacrifice of music, we may arrive at a
point on a more metaphysical level, resounding in the Sufi notions of fana or self-annihilation and baqa,
subsequent spiritual rebirth through the experience of oneness with God: namely, that Inayat Khan
dissolved in his passion, became one with it, and subsequently lived his life in wholehearted service to
what he would experience as his purpose in life: tuning souls to harmony, while privately continuing his
music practice as an integrated aspect of his personal mystical experience.

Cf. DJK 1973:144.


The first chapter of this thesis made clear that )nayat Khan s views on music and mysticism did not appear
out of the blue or in a vacuum. It presented the reader with a contextual grid, which not only outlined the
multi-religious and multi-cultural history of the Indian subcontinent, but also glossed noteworthy
developments with regard to the coming into being of a syncretic musical-mystical trend and an eclectic
)ndian Sufism. Relevant related features of )ndian classical music were addressed as well. A discussion of
ancestral influences showed that )nayat Khan s ancestors were long familiar with music and interreligious
mysticism in general, and with patronised musical activities and Muslim (Chishti) Sufism especially. In
addition, biographical sources convincingly underpin the fact that )nayat Khan s maternal grandfather
Mawlabakhsh and Inayat Khan s father Rahmat Khan were already well-familiar with (and strongly
influenced by) a perceived relevance and interrelatedness of music and mysticism in the age-old Indian
context. These men, along with )nayat Khan s maternal uncles Murtaza Khan and Ala al-Din Khan in a
more confined musical regard, helped to develop, shape and direct )nayat Khan s own musical aspirations
and ideals; Mawlabakhsh especially. An explanation for the latter s prominent influence is found in the
ample biographical reference showing )nayat Khan s admiration for his grandfather s astounding musical
and scholarly accomplishments. The Mawlabakhsh khandan or (ouse of Mawlabakhsh may thus be
regarded as the initial focal point where sparks of music, mysticism, poetry and philosophy, religious
tolerance, and a keen interest in the West and Western music were kindled and ignited from )nayat Khan s
early life onwards. )nayat Khan s forming and teaching years at the state patronised Gayan Shala as
established by Mawlabakhsh are another major influential factor with regard to both his musical and
scholarly development. Traces of its importance can be discerned throughout )nayat Khan s life story, his
musical scholarship, and the realm of his organised Sufism.
Based upon the research conducted so far as presented in chapter two, I have come to the
conclusion that there is an inextricable connection between the content of )nayat Khan s general music
textbooks, his more scholarly manuals, and his music recordings, which links these to his lyrical
publications as appeared in the West. Beyond the emphasis on elements drawn from Sanskrit and Arabic
speculative music theory, this is a musical approach to mysticism (or: a mystical approach to music),
ultimately expressed in the foremost means of the majority of Sufis worldwide and especially that of the
Chishti Sufis, namely (sung) poetry and music.
By connecting the distinct art of poetry with the more abstract art of music and later even more
profoundly with his mysticism, Inayat Khan treaded a path tread upon by Indian mystic-musicians alike
for ages. What started by clever attempts to capture his personal understanding and experience of life by
re-phrasing the poetry of songs of others as a boy at the darbars organised by Mawlabakhsh, the
aesthetical and mystical dimension of )nayat Khan s poetry would become deeply inspired by his
encounters with both famous exponents of Indian classical music and Hindu and Muslim mystics in his
teens. The years under the guidance of the Sufi teacher Sayyid Muhammad Abu Hashim Madani, the
Muslim Chishti Sufi scholar who imparted his understanding of the teachings of at least the main major
Indian Sufi orders of the day to Inayat Khan further influenced the mystical depth of Inayat Khan s lyrics
and musicianship.
Except from what is mentioned in the second chapter, not much else is known about the Songs of India and
the Hindustani lyrics, the reasons behind their publication included. As far as I know, no information is

provided in )nayat Khan s Diwan, nor in his Hindustani Lyrics, or in any other biographical source.
Remaining questions arising in this regard pertain to the intended readership (laymen or specialists),
whether or not these were publications on request (i.e. by Inayat Khan himself, the Sufi Order, or another
party), and if Inayat Khan indeed intended a series of lyrical works in English based upon the nature of his
Indian publications and recordings. The latter would make sense, as the latter comprise of a similar nature
as his works in the West. I suppose more light will be shed on this topic when the English annotated
translation of )nayat Khan s Minqar-i Musiqar will become available.
In chapter three, the selected chapters of The mysticism of sound and music generally presented
the reader with a multifaceted summary of )nayat Khan s theories as known from the Musiq-i minqar,
although reference to the Vedic concept of nada brahma and elements known from Chishti Sufism are not
visible in the Minqar-i musiqar. Exemplary references to other religions, convictions, and cultural, social
and scientific trends are part of The mysticism of sound and music as well. In it, Inayat Khan offers the view
that since man resonates with the shapeless aestheticism (or beauty) of essential sound, i.e the sonorous
abstract realm of music (the ultimate rhythm, and, thus, vibration of the energy by which creation exists),
this notion can be used to focus upon and to attune to in order to increasingly harmonise oneself by
transgressing the limited, lower empirical self, thereby gradually arriving in higher spiritual dimensions
within oneself in which one ultimately feels (more) whole, centred, knowledgeable and dissolved at the
same time in a sense of limitless being for being (re)united with God, in order to arrive at a subsequent
spiritual breakthrough from out the experience of unity with all existence which remind me of the
general Sufi concepts of nafs, marifa, fana, and baqa respectively.
Scholars consider )nayat Khan s The mysticism of sound and music an important contribution to the
Western discourse of speculative music theory from the 1960s onwards; moreover, its content has been
influential among musicians in the West ever since. Still, it is virtually impossible to discern the value and
originality of )nayat Khan s contribution to the field of speculative theory within the scope of the present
thesis, as further research is necessary in order to locate, address, and understand the views expressed in
The mysticism of sound and music in a broader context with regard to both the Musiq-i- minqar and its
position within Indian scholarly discourse on music theory.
Thus having attempted to answer the main question posed in this thesis, it has become clear that
a much more thorough investigation of the content of the various lyrical and musicological publications
(by name) of Inayat Khan is necessary to assess it on a more profound scholarly level. This could be
realised by looking into previously unpublished source material, as there remain sufficient accounts and
sources of (and related to) Inayat Khan which have not yet been scholarly investigated; by addressing
available sources which shed light upon the way Inayat Khan initially trained his students in the West with
regard to the role of music therein; and, perhaps, by relating these findings to the teachings and insights of
contemporary Indian exponents who were also influential in the West with their music, poetry and
philosophy such as )nayat Khan s friend and contemporary Rabindranath Tagore, and/or to the discourse
of speculative music theory, in order to place the subject in a larger context.



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Inayat Khan [EMI CD NF 150129-130 double CD set, The Gramophone Company], Calcutta, 1994
Inayat Khan, Hazrat, Pyaromir Maheboob Khan, CD Sufi songs. Music by Pyaromir Maheboob Khan and others; to poems
of Hazrat Inayat Khan and others, Ces, (ADD GEMA), 1998
Soefi Stichting Inayat fundatie Sirdar, Sufi prayers for mureeds, Den Haag, 1975
Website offering sung version of Ajab shaan hai by Ayeda Naqvi in 2010 edition (26-102012)
Website offering sung version of Ajab shaan hai by Ayeda Naqvi in 2011 edition (26-10-2012)
Website Dr. Allyn Miner (22-05-2013)
Website Faculty of Performing Arts - Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (30-05-2013)
Website offering image of Wade s Nataraj at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (30-05-2013)
Website Omega Publications
Website Omega Publications on 2013 Complete Works edition containing plays of Inayat Khan (31-05-2013)
Website offering clip of four songs of )nayat Khan s Shakuntala arranged for strings (31-05-2013)
Website offering clip of the Modern Dance group of Alexander Shishkin (31-05-2013)





1. Present-day India [Arnold 2000(V):3]

2. Main languages of present-day India [Arnold 2000(V):6]


3: The Indian subcontinent in ca. 1909 [via this link]



1.Mawlabakhsh [HIK e.a. 1979:400]

2. Rahmat Khan [HIK e.a. 1979:401]

3. Murtaza Khan [HIK e.a. 1979:

4. Ala al-Din Khan [HIK e.a. 1979:404]

5. Inayat Khan playing the jaltarang, Baroda, 1896. [De Jong-Keesing 1973:23]

6. Staff members in front of the Gayan Shala, Baroda, 1900 [De Jong-Keesing 1974:29]

7. Second row l-r: Rahmat Khan, Murtaza Khan, portrait of Mawlabakhsh, Ala al-Din
Khan, Inayat Khan. First row: young Musheraff Khan. [Bor 1994:14]

8. Sayyed Muh. Abu Hashim Madani

[HIK e.a. 1979:406]

9. Inayat Khan, Madras, 1902 [DJK 1973:31] 10. & 11. Inayat Khan, Hyderabad, 1903 & s.l., ca. 1905 [DJK 1973:43; Bor 1994:7]

13. Inayat Khan, San Francisco, 1911

12. Inayat Khan, Hyderabad, ca. 1907-1908 [Bor 1994:18]

[HIK e.a. 1979:122]


14. The Royal Musicians of (industan in America, 1911-1912 [HIK e.a. 1979:417]
L-r: Ramaswami, Muhammad Ali Khan, Musharraf M. Khan, Inayat Khan (seated highest), Maheboob Khan.

15. Inayat Khan, Moscow, 1913-1914 [HIK e.a. 1979:136]

16. Inayat Khan in the 1920s. Photo via Alim Vosteen.


17. Inayat Khan with his family in Sursnes, France

L-r: Noor-un-Nisa, Khair-un-Nisa, Maheboob Khan,
Inayat Khan, Hidayat Khan, Musheraff M. Khan,
Amina Begum, Vilayat Khan [HIK e.a.1979:466]

18. )nayat Khan s tomb at his darga in Delhi.

Picture as found in the hallway of the Sufi Temple Murad Hassil in
Katwijk, The Netherlands. Eric Roose

19. Back of the CD sleeve [HIK 1994:32]

20. Front of the CD sleeve [HIK 1994:1]

21. Back of the CD, song overview [HIK 1994]


22. Inayat Khan, 1914 (HIK e.a. 1979:129, 132; Duncan Westbrook
Painting by M.H. Thurburn. The Arabic reads:
bi-smi-llah ar-rahman ar-rahim
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
alla-hu akbar alla-hu akbar la ilaha illa allah
God is Great(er); God is Great(er); there is no god but God
alla-hu akbar wa li-llah al-hamd la ilaha illa allah
God is Great(er), and thanks be to God; there is no god but God
muhammad rasul allah
Muhammad is the messenger of God
The handwriting below the image is of Inayat Khan. It was noticed in an
early edition of The Diwan of Inayat Khan of 1915. The Indian publisher of
the 1996 reprint inserted a full-colour copy of the original image with
)nayat Khan s handwriting. In Arabic or Persian script it reads inayat
khan, then in English Blessings )nayat Khan , and below this in Persian
khak-i-pai-sufiyan. The latter renders in English (I am nothing more than)
dust below the feet of the Sufis.
The Oriental structures in the background recall the image of Persian
tombs like in the city of Qum, but their seemingly white, marble-like
appearance seems more Indian than Persian. The Taj Mahal, a famous
tomb complex, is for instance finished in white marble. Inayat Khan is
known to have been much interested in both the Taj Mahal and its related,
adjacent paradise-like garden. He would have considered that this
complex radiated the ultimate aesthetic representation of Sufi thought. He
projected musical meaning to its measures and design.
Cf. personal communication with Eric Roose, specialist of Islamic
architecture, 19-08-2009. Remarks of Inayat Khan late 1926/ early 1927
noted by Kismet Stam relate to this. See Stam s.a.:126-127.



1. Newspaper article from The Mysore Herald , November 28, 1907 (HIK e.a. 1979:299-301, below without the
diacritical marks rendered in the original source)
Professor )nyath Khan on )ndian music.
On Friday the 22nd instant Prof. )nyath Khan delivered a lecture on the Theory of )ndian Music in the Rangacharlu Memorial Hall at
7 p.m. The following is a text of his lecture.
Chairman and Gentlemen,
Fortunately I have had the honour of giving a performance of my music before H.H. the Maharaja a few days ago and I am glad for
having now an opportunity of delivering a short lecture on the theory and practice of music.
Before talking of the theory of music I must define what theory is. Theory is the result of experience gained by practice. As the
world is subject to changes, theory and practice cannot naturally remain constant. It is said that many centuries ago Mahadeva
taught music to Bharata muni, and it is believed that the earliest theory and practice was organized by Bharata muni and is therefore
called Bharata school. Some time after thus three different modes of theories and practices were formed, one after another, in India,
which are known to this day after the names of their organizers, viz. Krishna School, Hanumat School and Narada School. These
Schools differ very little from each other. In Modern times only two of these are existing, the Bharata School in the North and
Hanumat School in the South of India. However, from time to time changes took place in the modes and, as far as I know, the
difference in time has made the modern scale quite different from the ancient one. The few northern musicians have, no doubt, made
great progress in the practice of music. But their negligence towards the theory of music has made it quite lame, and I may say that
the roots have almost been lost. The people must care a little about it though it is not cared for by the professors. There is no gain in
the quick tans [tanas or tan, i.e. a fast melodic figure taken at least at double the speed in khayal and instrumental performances cf.
Bagchee 1998:335, AJDDB]or a few beautiful shakes in the performance. But on the contrary music is preferable according to the
Hindustani saying which means that most honest merit is preferable to beauty. The preference depends upon the knowledge of the
audience. When many of the professional musicians do not possess the theoretical knowledge of the art, how can others be in touch
with it? And when such is the case, we cannot expect any benefit from music except as an amusement, which is fitly considered as a
loss of time.
The ancient books on the science of music are the only ones that are in existence. Very few important books are found on the
principles of modern music and even these few are not appreciated by many on account of their ignorance of the art. There are no
new instruments of music invented for centuries in India, except the one sitar invented by the famous Ameer Khusru and that too
before a century.
Now coming to the point of practical music. It is known that at [p. 300] the earliest age of music four kinds of songs were sung
in Sanskrit; viz. Chandas, Prabanda, Geeta and Cavitwa. After the age of Sanskrit, Dhawroo, Dhurpad, Dhuva and Matha were
introduced into the Prakrit language. During the Mohammedan reign the famous Ameer Khusru adopted the former arrangement of
songs in Urdu and organized them under different names viz. Koul, Kalbana, Nakshegul and Tarana [tarana, i.e. a rhythm oriented
vocal genre using vocables, solfege syllables or drum syllables as text performed in a medium or fast tempo cf. Bagchee 1998:335,
AJDDB]. The fourth change took place during the present reign. Dhurpad, Khial, Tappa and Tumri are at present in the north and
Kruti, Pallavi, Astapady and Javadi in the south of India. There is a great deal to be done for improving the practice of music; but this
cannot be done until and unless the younger generation of India are trained systematically in the science of music. In Western
countries music is not abused as it is done in India, because they do not use it as an adjunct for accomplishment. Music is particularly
used in the Military Department as a guide at the parade, certain commands are given by the aid of music which give relief to the
soldiers and cheer them up when on march. At the time of war music makes the army jolly and spirited. In Western life music is
considered as one of the necessary subjects to be acquired. They have got so many societies to improve the art. Schools, Colleges and
Universities for the purpose of imparting musical education exist. Special books, magazines and newspapers are published on the
subject. Improvements of instruments are used in the whole world, and they are making a food profit in the sale of musical
instruments. On the other hand our music is attaining its lowest depths. It is partly due to the negligence of the musicians towards
the theory, and partly to the jealousy that exists among their brother musicians and their unwillingness to give free instruction to the
students for fear that they may outshine their teachers.
In this critical state of music I am proud enough to say that my patron, His Highness the Maharaja Siyajee Roa Gaekwar of
Baroda, deserves special thanks as he established free music schools in all the Districts of his state, where boys and girls are taught
systematically and annual examinations are held in it. This is not merely for the benefit of the state but also for that of the country.
This establishment at first was organized at Baroda under the instructions of my grandfather, the famous Prof. Moula Baksh and
after his death they are supervised by his son, Dr. A.M. Pathan L.R.A.M., L.L.C.M. [NB abbreviations of Licentiate of the Royal
Academy of Music and Licentiate of the London College of Music respectively, AJDDB] his who was trained in England and has
passed the highest examination in music. His Highness the Gaekwar has still great zeal for the advancement of this art. So far as I can
judge, I can be proud to say that His Highness the Gaekwar of Baroda leads in taking a great interest for the improvement of Indian
As soon as I learnt that music is taught in the Government Schools of Mysore, I visited a few of those. No doubt the object is
admirable. The instruction of systematic music according to the notation is very important in the course of training. It will be highly
beneficial if the Mysore Educational Department takes into consideration to get one or two energetic native scholars [p. 301] trained

in the music of Baroda. They will not only be useful in organizing the scheme here but also they will practically exhibit the
connection that exists between Hindustani and Karnatak music. >>
I visited many important Districts in India and I am on my way to the rest of the parts. After finishing my tour in India I intend
to visit foreign countries if life permits. My sole object of travel is to admire the works of God by appreciating music as exists in the
different parts of the civilized world, and thus come into close touch with God s high powers. Besides, ) have my better and superior
interest to do good to my fellowmen and enable them to improve by means of this Art; and I wish to realize this object of picking up
foreign music and giving them to my friends. I hope to find my salvation only in this satisfaction of mankind by means of
performances. With these few words ) beg your permission to commence with the other events of the evening.

2. Ajab shaan hai [Miner in ZIK 2001: 187-188 cf Inayat Khan, Minqar-i musiqar Allahabad Press, 1912, p. 8.]

Ajab shaan hai, mast e saut e azl kee..

Na parwah rahay, oos ko thal kee na jal kee

Marvelous is the state of one intoxicated by the sound of pre-eternity

His milieu is neither land nor sea

Oosi sur kay, dhiyaani hain roz e azl say

Kay maaray hooay, hain pia kay charan kay

This devotee of sur has been, since the day of pre-eternity,

fallen at the foot of the Beloved.

Khudaee karain kar kay dikhlaayain dum main

Agar dair main hon kay hon ya haram main

By practicing godliness, it manifests in the soul,

whether ) find myself in an idol s temple or the Ka`ba s precincts.

Inayat sada kay fidayee hain saaray

Parhain hain azl say pia kay duwaaray

Inayat has sacrificed his whole being to sound,

prostrate since pre-eternity at the Beloved s door.

Jo oos ka hai waisa hee hona hai laazim

Mijaz aur haqeeqat hain baahim mulaazim

All that he requires is mere coarse meal;

the phenomenal and the Real are inseparably linked.

Inayat karo bus bhee tum aur yeh baat

Haqeeqat kay charchay, tumhaaree yeh awqaat

Inayat, enough of you and this matter,

The talk of Reality and these circumstances of yours.

Illahi karam ho, kay zara ho khursheed

Karam ho to ho jayay, sar sabz umeed

The Sun is just a minute particle of God s kindness;

Where there is kindness, hope blossoms forth.

3. Newspaper article from The Bombay Samachar , Saturday 20th July 1907 [HIK e.a. 1979:281-284, below
without the diacritical marks rendered in the original source]
Professor )nayat Khan s speech on music at the Framiji Cawasji )nstitute (all, in aid of the Victoria School for the Blind:
Professor Inayat Khan, follower of the famous musician of Baroda the late professor Moulabux- delivered a speech on music and
also presented his talent for singing before a great crowd of music lovers gathered at the F.K. Institute Hall.
To begin with, Mr. Manekshah Jehangir Karani, the organizer of this function, introduced to the audience the famous professor Inayat
Khan, his brother Mehboob Khan the famous pianist and Mr. Mohammed Alikhan the excellent bagpipe player and also praised their
respective arts. He further said that the motive of the function was not to make any profits but rather to propagate a knowledge of
music among the general public and to help the cause of an important organization.
Mr. Karani specially praised professor Inayat Khan for his profound knowledge of Hindu music acquired under the guidance of the
late professor Moulabux, his fame among the people of [p. 282] Baroda, Madras and many a royal court and also spoke about the
number of medals and honours bestowed upon him.
Soon after the speech was over, the maestro s brother, Mehboob Khan, the famous pianist, skilfully played a number of English
tunes. This won him the admiration and applause of the audience especially since the piano is not widely known among the Islamic
community. Thereafter, professor Inayat Khan came on to the stage and delivered the following speech on music.
The word music, he said, is very often defined as a knowledge of singing only. However, the word possesses a three-fold
meaning i.e. singing, playing the instrument and dancing [Inayat Khan refers here to the Hindu word for music, sangit, AJDDB]. In
English vocabulary, these three arts have three different names altogether, but seeing their close relation to one another the great
Hindu scholars attributed just one name to signify all three. Now the art of singing being the most important, depends mainly on
voice (sound) and the element of time. Voice, is the gift of God and therefore possesses a divine quality.
No one has ever seen or known God but his presence is felt throughout the objects of his creation. In the same manner, the existence
of voice cannot be seen or known but can only be heard by the ear. And music possesses a strange power of attracting and winning
the hearts of man. What is really attracting your attention towards me at this moment is my voice. If man were not to possess the gift
of speech, he would still be at the animal stage and therefore would not have developed music. Like in the case of man, even lower
animals make use of sounds in order to attract attention towards themselves. For example, a sheep or a calf would continuously
make sound in order to get his mother s attention. )t is a noted fact that pets are trained to understand certain sounds i.e. calling

them by certain names, the master s whistle, etc... Well, the importance of sound does not end there really speaking, all the
developments and changes in the dealings of man are based on the existence of sound. If sound did not exist, man would not have
been able to communicate ideas and feelings and as a result mental relations and intelligence would not have developed. There
would have been no scope for development at all. The other substance or reality of the knowledge of music depends upon the timelimit or rhythm which like sound is the foundation of human relations and developments. Without sound it is impossible to
communicate; so also the spacing in time of the sounds is necessary to distinguish the meanings of words and phrases. In other
words, rhythm is the foothold for sound. As it would be difficult to maintain an object upright on irregular ground, so also if the rules
of rhythm are not followed, music would fall into pieces. In the case of conversation or speeches, if space and rhythm are not kept,
the meaning might change or a wrong interpretation [might be] given. Likewise the main substances of music sound and rhythmare considered to be the basis of human mental relations and evolution.
[p. 283] Music consists of seven parts to which five more are added to make twelve. These are called ascending, descending,
pure, shrill and soft notes. The main parts or notes are further sub-divided into twenty-two parts called shrutis [i.e. micro-tones,
also used in the sense of pitch, interval or intonation cf. Bagchee 1998:335, AJDDB]. A certain number of these notes and shrutis
arranged in a particular manner and played repeatedly, ow with emphasis on certain notes, in either an ascending or descending
order is called a raga or tune. A raga which contains five notes is called Khadav or Odav i.e. the Kalyan raga is Sampurna,
Sohni raga is Khadav and Hindol raga is Odav. Besides the choice of notes, their ascending and descending order can explain the
difference in ragas and for both of them a group of seven notes has been selected. Inspite of their similarities, different ascending and
descending importances makes it easy to distinguish them from the other.
After having discussed briefly the meaning of ragas , ) will now say a few words on the importance of music. The modern
world considers the divine art of music as holy because man makes use of it in religious ceremonies. Indians are well aware that the
Christians use the organ while praying. In a situation like that of death, a band is played while the body is being transported to the
place of cremation. Among many Hindu communities it is a custom to sing holy songs and play musical instruments in their temples
too. Even the Parsis chant their prayers. )n our community, we too chant the Qur an, and the person who recites the book in a
melodic voice following the Arabic tradition, is known as Qari . It is therefore clear from this fact that the Islamic community is
neither against nor does it prevent the development of music as is generally believed.
If music falls into bad hands, its value diminishes and it may even be despised. This is not the fault of the divine art. The
knowledge and the art of music flourished once upon a time in India but gradually it was misused by insignificant people to earn a
living and hence it started loosing its greatness. This state of affairs grieved my professor the late Moulabux who therefore devoted
himself to a deep study of music and discovered a system of stable notations to preserve a certain standard in this domain. Hence
any new song written in the same manner under this system and played or sung after a certain amount of practice would not lead to
any confusion or change of form. European music too has been preserved in the same manner and songs are sung and played even to
this day without any changes. The same can be said of the system discovered by the late Moulabux which is the foundation on which
the progress of music depends.
Positive results can only be obtained if the art of music is widely spread, not, however, in an unpractical fashion as it prevalent today
but in the manner prescribed above. I shall be [p. 284] most happy to help in every way I can regardless of any personal gains.
Talking about the progress made by music, I am reminded of an incident related to a question asked to me. I was giving a lecture on
music and I was asked as to why simple songs found in a play for example are more liked and enjoyed by people than songs requiring
skill. In support of the above question it was also made known that the main motive of music was to amuse and entertain certain
people and therefore only those songs which pleased the people were considered to be the best. To this question I answered that it
was wrong to consider those songs best which pleased only certain people. In support of my answer I gave a very common example if a chang or whistle or a drum is played before a child and then a song from a play, the child will certainly like the former. The
obvious reason is that the choice depends upon the intellect of the child. Similarly skilful songs please few people only. Hence one
should not draw the conclusion that they are inferior. Most of the people who listen to songs have practically no knowledge of the art
and it is not surprising that they cannot distinguish the good from the bad.
Recently in Europe, it was difficult to sing German songs; besides, they are not easily accessible; therefore they are not
appreciated by the ordinary people. However the English songs are easy to understand and so they are more liked by the people;
French and Italian songs are very easy and therefore liked best by the people. This is a fact if we were to take into consideration any
literature of a cultured nation. Really speaking there are a very few people who read good books and understand them but there are
many who read ordinary books and praise them.
I will draw your attention to an important fact regarding the singing of songs to others. Due to the absence of a standard
system among ragas , a similar type of raga is sung differently in different parts of India. Moreover there is also a great difference in
the arrangement of the tune; i.e. the system of songs is different in Madras and only a musician would be able to find out the
difference. The music of Madras is a part of Indian music but, however, it resembles English music to a certain extent.
As certain men are bestowed with certain gifts, so also the different parts of India have their peculiar specialities and singing styles;
i.e. the Dhumri [thumri, a light-classical vocal and instrumental musical genre cf. Bagchee 1998:336, ADDB] in Punjab, Bhajans or
devotional music in Kathiawar, Garbas in Mewar, Kirtans in Karnatak, (ori [i.e. a light musical genre similar to thumri whose
lyrics relate to the Holi festival. Cf. Bagchee 1998:329] in Purab, Ghazals in (yderabad.
At the end of his speech, professor Inayat Khan sang different ragas Barwa, Mandu, behag, Kafi etc. In a low and melodious voice he
sang nearly fifteen songs and showed his immense talent and control over rhythm and time by playing different tunes in different
ways. Mr. Mohammedali Khan played bag pipes for a short time. As a token of gratitude, professor Inayat Khan was offered a gold
medal by friends and the public. Amidst thunderous applause, Mr. Karani announced that after deducting the expenses, a sum of Rs.
240/- collected would be given to the Victoria School for the Blind. The national anthem was sung at the end of the function.
(Translated from Gujerati.)

4. Extract from Yurup men Chishtiyya tahrik , the diary account of Khwaja Hasan Nizami on Inayat Khan with
regard to the expansion of the Chishti succession lineage, dating to circa 1933 [Hermansen in ZIK 2001:351-353,
below without the diacritical marks rendered in the original source]
Professor Inayat Khan
He was the disciple of a Chishti dervish. His musical artistry was much appreciated in Europe and America and in this context he
began giving lectures on Sufism. That is, he took the subjects about which his songs were speaking and let people understand the
ideas in English, which for the people of Europe and America were very touching and amazing.
Once he found that the reception for Sufi ideas was becoming broader he established a society by the name of the Sufi
Order according to the taste of Europe and America. It issues a monthly magazine and he began to send me his books and the
magazine. He got married in France [NB the Muslim marriage was contracted there; the civil marriage was sealed in London, AJDDB]
and thousands of men and women became his disciples. In the large cities he established study circles where at appointed times men
and women would hold joint zikr sessions and they would also perform the zikr out loud. Sufi Inayat Khan did not attempt to change
anyone s religion nor did he teach changing one s faith. (is mureeds remained in their own ethnic and religious milieu while
performing the Chishti zikr and practices.
In about 1920 one of the lady disciples of Sufi Sahib visited India and at the order of her murshid came to see me. I
arranged a lecture for her at the Sangham Theatre which was attended by approximately 1000 Hindus and Muslims. >>
My well-known friend, Shaykh Muhammad Ihsan al-Haqq of Meerut, was especially impressed by her and he established a Circle of
Unity and Love to spread the mission and distribute his books.
[p. 352] The coming of Sufi Sahib
One day he was sitting in a room of the Arabic Wing of my house drinking tea. Looking out of the small window he remarked, This
house and this place draw me, and my heart feels love and intimacy here. ) answered, You could stay here; ) could have this place
vacated for your occupancy. (e was silent upon hearing this and he merely thanked me. He spoke very little and for this reason I did
not want to interfere with his silence; then he departed for Delhi.
After fifteen days his travelling companion, a European lady disciple sent a servant to inform me that Sufi Sahib had
passed away with pneumonia and had left instructions that I should be informed. I went with brother Shaykh Ihsan al-Haqq, whom I
have already mentioned, to Tilak Lodge [where )nayat Khan resided in Delhi, AJDDB] and had Sufi Sahib s body brought back to my
house with me, and I had a grave prepared for him at the very place which he had liked while drinking tea and he was buried there.
Hi starveling companion, the lady disciple, kept her burqa on so I never saw her face.
Two years later his wife and four children together with his brother and uncle came from Europe and had his tomb
permanently constructed. His relatives had come from France where Sufi Sahib had many disciples. They requested that since so
many European and American disciples had asked that Sufi Sahib s remains be brought and buried there, they wanted to put his
corpse in a casket and take it to Europe.
After reflecting on this request I agreed because I felt that there would be a lot of spiritual benefit for Europe and America
though it. Thus after two years we opened the tomb and while I lifted the filling stone with my own hands ) saw that Sufi Sahib s
corpse, even after two years, had not decayed at all and was in the same condition. The hair of his head and beard, as well as the skin
of his face and chest had not decayed. [p. 353] We placed the body in a solid wooden casket with scent and replaced the casket in the
same grave until the body could be transported to France on obtaining permission from the French government. But after that no
instructions came from Sufi Sahib s relatives, so the casket still remains buried where it was originally.


5. On Inayat Khans sacrifice of music (HIK 1991:xi, 182)

[xi] I gave up my music because I had received of it all I had to receive. To serve God one must sacrifice the dearest thing, and I
sacrificed my music, the dearest thing to me. I had composed songs, I sang, and played the vina. Practising this music I arrived at a
stage where I touched the music of the spheres. Then every soul became for me a musical note, and all life became music. Inspired by
it I spoke to the people, and those who were attracted by my words listened to them instead of listening to my songs.
Now, if I do anything, it is to tune souls instead of instruments, to harmonize people instead of notes. If there is anything in my
philosophy, it is the law of harmony: that one must put oneself in harmony with oneself and with others. I have found in every word
a certain musical value, a melody in every thought, harmony in every feeling, and I have tried to interpret the same thing with clear
and simple words to those who used to listen to my music [italics mine]. I played the vina until my heart turned into the same
instrument. Then I offered this instrument to the divine Musician, the only musician existing.
Since then I have become His flute, and when He choses He plays His music. The people give me credit for this music which, in reality,
in not due to me, but to the Musician who plays on (is own instrument.
[182] ) would have been most happy sitting with my vina in my hand in some corner in the forest, in solitude and nothing better
would I have asked. There came a time when I could not have sufficient time to keep up my musical practice, which was too great a
loss for my heart to sustain. Yet I had to bear it, for every moment of my time was absorbed in the work. I especially yearned for the
music of India, the fluid with which my soul was nourished from the moment I was born on earth. But for my music the soil of India
was necessary, the juice of that soil for me to live on, the air of India to breathe, the sky of India to look at, and the sun of India to be
inspired by. It is just as well that I gave up my music when in the West, for if I had kept it up I would never been fully satisfied with it,
although the sacrifice of music for me was not a small one. [..] In the West I often felt homesick; especially when my longing for
solitude showed itself I felt very uncomfortable under all conditions, inspite of all in the West that I loved and admired. My brothers
being with me in the West gave my longing soul a great consolation, for they represented India to me. But even they, in their interest
in Western music gradually lost their own, which completed the absence of Indian music in my life

6. Murshids daily schedule [Inayat-Khan 1998:32-35]

The many various types of Sufi activities in which Murshid was involved, differed very much, according to the diversity of
circumstances experienced within the frame-work of the great number of centres, which were visited all through the year.
During the summer months, however, Murshid was practically always at home; and he could therefore arrange his daily schedule
more conveniently than during other period in the year, when his time was so very tightly limited by the various obligations to which
he was committed in the work for the spreading of the Message.
When Murshid was at home in Fazal Manzil, the (ome of Blessings , his daily schedule was approximately as follows:
The early morning hours started, for instance, with physical exercises, and of course with the purification breaths and the advanced
pranayama practices, besides also fikar, kasab and shagal. After a small breakfast, Murshid sat at the piano, accompanying himself,
while doing vocal exercises, and singing several different Ragas. He also emphasised the specific rhythms of the Talas with the help
of a Tabla, or sometimes just with the clapping of the hand. One of the most usual Talas was for instance the following one: DA DA
When asked to explain the secret value of vocal techniques, Murshid told us that singing is in fact a most powerful breathing exercise,
both physically and spiritually. Seen from a physical point of view, it is obvious that more breathing discipline is required than even
with esoteric breathing practices. Besides this, the inhaled air is channelled at the level of the different chakras, before finally
reaching in the direction of the vocal chords, and then out, through the mouth as in the purification breaths. Seen from a spiritual
point of view, the voice carries away, along with its flow of sounds, the negative vibrations of the ego; whereas in turn, the Divine
Prana of the Universe is being inhaled in charges of magnetism, radiating in all the chakras of the singer. [33] Murshid also played
sometimes on the Vina, in the morning, after his vocal exercises, in order to keep his fingers and his voice in practice, as he always
said; although very unfortunately, he hardly had any time to play to an audience during the last years.
[33 photo, 34 photo] [35] Later in the mornings, Murshid gave interviews for about two hours of more; and in the afternoons, he
gave lectures, mureed s classes, and occasionally also initiations, or special committee meetings to which the National
Representatives were invited. Many hours were also spent, in dictating inner teachings and sayings.
)n the evenings, there were either collective interviews or higher classes specially given to senior mureeds, in Murshid s Oriental
Room. Many of these teachings have never been written down, and are therefore not available. However, some important indications
like those regarding more advanced esoteric practices, such as the very fast rotating Zikar, as well as indications concerning the
kasab, shagal, and amal practices, were carefully noted by Murshid himself in his very private notebook.
At the end of the day, Murshid gathered his family around him in the large room of Fazal Manzil, where all together in unison recited
the three prayers, Saum, Salat and Khatum, with movements.
After the prayers, we all sat cross-legged on the floor, and chanted together the four singing Zikars, with the rotation
movement; making a short pause between each one of the four variations of Murshid s specific Zikar raga. A gong was utilised to
emphasis the rhythmic patterns; whereas the voices were attuned to an Indian hand-organ or to a tuning fork.


7. Poem Tansen [HIK & DW 1996:32-33]

TANSEN, the singer, in great Akbars Court

Won great renown; through the Badshahi Fort
His voice rang like the sound of silver bells
And Akbar ravished heard. The story tells
How the King praised him, gave him many a gem,
Called him chief jewel in his diadem.
One day the singer sang the Song of Fire,
The Deepak Rg,312 and burning like a pyre
His body burst into consuming flame.
To cure his burning heart a maiden came
And sang Malhar,313 the song of water cold,
Till health returned, and comfort was as of old.
Mighty thy Teacher must be and divine,
Great Akbar said, magic indeed is thine,
Learnt at his feet. Then happy Tansen bowed
And said, Beyond the world s ignoble crowd
Scorning its wealth remote and far-away
(e dwells within a cave of the (imalay.
Could ) but see him once, desired the King
Sit at his feet awhile, and listening
Hear his celestial song, I would deny
My state and walk in robes of poverty.
Then said Tansen, As you desire, (uzoor,
)ndeed t were better as a slave and poor
To come; for he, lifted above the things
Of earth, disdains to sing to earthly kings.
Long was the road, and Akbar as a slave
Followed Tansen who rode towards the cave
(igh in the mountains. At the singer s feet
They knelt and prayed with supplication sweet: Towards thy shrine, lo, we have journeyed long
O (oly Master, bless us with thy song!
Then Ostad, won by their humility
Sang songs of peace and high felicity,
The Malkous Rga314 all ecstatic rang
Till birds and beasts, enchanted as he sang,
Gathered to hear. O er Akbar s dreaming soul
He felt the waves of heavenly rapture roll,
But, as he turned to speak his words of praise
Ostad had vanished from his wondering gaze.
Tell me, Tansen, what theme is this that he holds
The soul enchanted, and the heart unfolds
)n high delight; and, when he knew the name
Tell me, again he said, could you the same
Theme sing to lure my heart to paths untrod?
Ah no, to thee ) sing, he sings to GOD.

312 Raga

Deepak is known as the raga of fire, which is believed to ignite fire when sung. Storms 1985:38.
Malhar would cause instant rain fall when sung. It is related to water and the rainy season. Bor & Harvey 1994:22.
314 Raga Malkous (or Malkauns) is usually sung in the middle of the night. Bor & Harvey 1994:22-23.

313 Raga


8. Prayers from the Gayatri [Hazrat Inayat Khan, The dance of the soul - Gayan vadan nirtan, 1997, pp. 74-77]

Praise be to Thee, Most Supreme God,
Omnipotent, Omnipresent, All-pervading, the Only Being,
Take us in Thy Parental Arms,
Raise us from the denseness of the earth.
Thy Beauty do we worship,
To Thee do we give willing surrender,
Most Merciful and Compassionate God,
The Idealized Lord of the whole humanity.
Thee only do we worship; and towards Thee alone we aspire.
Open our hearts towards Thy Beauty,
Illuminate our souls with Divine Light,
O Thou, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty!
All-powerful Creator, Sustainer, Judge and Forgiver of our shortcomings,
Lord God of the East and of the West, of the worlds above and below,
And of the seen and unseen beings,
Pour upon us Thy Love and Thy Light,
Give sustenance to our bodies, hearts and souls.
Use us for the purpose that Thy Wisdom chooseth,
And guide us on the path of Thine Own Goodness.
Draw us closer to Thee every moment of our life,
Until in us be reflected Thy Grace, Thy Glory, Thy Wisdom, Thy Joy and Thy Peace.

Most gracious Lord, Master, Messiah, and Savior of humanity,
We greet Thee with all humility.
Thou art the First Cause and the Last Effect,
the Divine Light and the Spirit of Guidance, Alpha and Omega.
Thy Light is in all forms, Thy Love in all beings:
in a loving mother, in a kind father, in an innocent child, in a helpful friend, in an inspiring teacher.
Allow us to recognize Thee in all Thy holy names and forms;
as Rama, as Krishna, as Shiva, as Buddha.
Let us know Thee as Abraham, as Solomon, as Zarathushtra, as Moses, as Jesus, as Muhammad,
and in many other names and forms, known and unknown to the world.
We adore Thy past; Thy presence deeply enlighteneth our being, and we look for Thy blessing in the future.
O Messenger, Christ, Nabi, the Rasul of God!
Thou Whose heart constantly reacheth upward, Thou comest on earth with a message,
as a dove from above when Dharma decayeth,
and speakest the Word that is put into Thy mouth, as the light filleth the crescent moon.
Let the star of the Divine Light shining in Thy heart be reflected in the hearts of Thy devotees.
May the Message of God reach far and wide, illuminating,
and making the whole humanity as one single Brotherhood in the Fatherhood of God.


9. Content list of Inayat Khan, Hazrat, The Mysticism of sound and music (vol. II of the series A Sufi Message of
Spiritual Liberty, revised edition), Shaftesbury/Rockport, 1991
Part , Music

Music 1: Ville d Avray, France, -08-1922

Music 2: Paris, France, 05-12-1922
Music 3: Suresnes, France, 29-07-1922
Esoteric music
The music of the spheres 1,2
The mysticism of sound
The mystery of sound
The mystery of colour and sound 1, 2
The spiritual significance of colour and sound
The ancient music
The divinity of Indian music
The use made of music by the Sufis of the Chishti order 1,2
The use made of music by the dancing dervishes
The science and art of Hindu music
The connection between dance and music 1,2, 3
Rhythm 1,2
The vina 1, 2, 3
The manifestation of sound on the physical sphere
The effect of sound on the physical body
The voice
The influence of music upon the character of man
The psychological influence of music
The healing power of music
Spiritual attainment by the aid of music

Part , Aphorisms
Part 3, The mysticism of sound
The silent life
Abstract sound
Part , Cosmic language
Voices 1,2
The magnetism of beings and objects
The influence of works of art
The life of thought
The form of thought
The ego
Mind and heart
Intuition and dream
Part 5, The power of the word
The power of the word 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
The power of the sacred word
The word that was lost 1, 2
Cosmic language
The word
The value of repetition and reflection
Part , Phrases to be repeated



Inayat Khan, The complete recordings of 1909. 31 classical songs from the legendary Sufi musician Hazrat Inayat Khan,
EMI CD NF 150129-130 double CD set, The Gramophone Company, Calcutta, 1994

This CD contains four songs featuring Inayat Khan s own poetry and composition. The English translation of these songs is from
Harunnisa Khanim Mawlabakhsh, who also transcribed the original lyrics.

1. Kamli wale tope sabkuchhvare [CD 1, number 4; Hindustani poetry set to raga Purvi (Purabi) in the vocal genre of khayal
(khiyal/khyal) ]
The night s one half has passed already.
Dear Blanketed One, Thine is all experience,
To Thee do sacrifice and devotion reach at once,
Let me share Thy heavy load,
And let me tune my instrument,
Since it is for )nayat to do whilst singing and playing.

2. Din yahi bite jate hai [CD 1, number 15; Hindustani poetry set to raga Malkous (Malkauns)]
The days are just passing uselessly,
And finally, those lacking wisdom remain with regret.
Childhood is spent in play and playfulness,
Youth goes on in the search of (external) perfections.
Once handsome feet start weakening,
Then observing all that, they become afraid.
And so, days just keep passing aimlessly.
Then, having gathered a full bag of sinfulness,
When death s angel s noose is falling around the neck,
When they come to taste the fruit of sin,
Then they become ashamed of themselves.
Such property and wealth by which they are misled,
Faces swollen in trivial self-righteous pride,
This fraternal company and those links of relationship,
All those are to be withheld, remaining here, just here,
Where the days are merely passing by.
Please do thou understand: all is false, God s name alone is real.
They say that when Inayat sings, his eyes are filled with tears,
And so the days go wandering on.

3. Surile suron me kahe hai zamana Qasida-i )nayat

[CD 2, number 12; Hindustani poetry to his own composition]

)n such beautiful tones, time and the world have made it clear:
Muhammad s countenance is the image of Divine truth.
It is of this, Thy vision, that all our comfort derives.
This ocean of beauty is our Messiah.
An adorning belt girded so clingingly, all this embroideryCome now, it will be as well to let it all go!
) am bound up with renunciation s ascetics, the yogis
There (in renunciation), is what endures: our linkage with Divine Being
Inayat: To the suras of the Arabs do intone the melody.
Come, give up now this over-extension in the world s deception.

4. )s wakt bahar hai sakiyen man ek daur sharab chalado na - Parsi Popetti (Papeti) i.e. New Year song, part 2 [CD 2, number
15; Hindustani poetry to his own composition]]
May the mercy of our dear Lord God bestow generosity on the mistress of the house,
And upon me, a tray s full tablecloth of food .
May he do to the Elder Uncle (Taw) every possible favour and you,
Do you recite the songs of New Year s time
Some pay attention to their friends; some invite the entire locality.
Some remind the postman in this way: Just let this message arrive at once .
A continuously blessed New Year!
Remain forever a full moon of favours!
May the sovereign, the serene (Zarathustra) remain the divine support
And favour of this mansion, seat of graciousness
This is the prayer )nayat sings.



"Sometimes the interval between the disconnected notes is filled by a middle note forming a consonant chord.
For instance the discord between husband and wife may be removed by the link of a child, or the discord
between brothers and sisters may be taken away by the intervention of the mother or father. In this way,
however inharmonious two persons may be, the forming of a consonant chord by an intervening link creates
harmony. A foolish person is an unpliable note whereas an intelligent person is pliable. The former sticks to
his ideas, likes, dislikes and convictions, whether right or wrong, while the latter makes them sharp or flat by
raising or lowering the tone and pitch, harmonizing with the other as the occasion demands. The key-note is
always in harmony with each note, for it has all notes of the scale within it. In the same way the Sufi
harmonizes with everybody whether good or bad, wise or foolish, by becoming like the key-note."315
)nayat Khan focussed on the concept of harmony in both a musical and mystical realm, since for him this
proved to be a perfect means to attune himself to the divine. Indian Chishti Sufis generally consider music
gizah-e-ruh, food for the soul. Recent food for thought which I processed myself was the realisation that
Indian music is not harmonic.316 To me, both notions have become part of my personal story.
Initially expected to be ready in 2010, my thesis work faced much delay for two reasons; much
confronting personal discord in the last quarter in 2009 which left me completely out of key, and a shift of
angle of the present thesis early Spring 2010, due to which I had to read myself into a new and other type
of discourse than that of Islam and Muslim Sufism with which I was familiar. It is with immense gratitude
that I look back at this period now, for far beyond the struggle I experienced, these circumstances and
their consequences offered me a way to rise above my circumstances. Late May 2010 I transformed into
the proud mother of Djanna, my wonderful daughter. Her consonant presence is an incredible blessing,
and gently forced me to truly tune to heart. Moreover, I got slightly acquainted with (and tremendously
inspired by) the incredible Indian music traditions, which made me address the present thesis subject
from a different place in myself.
I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to the municipality of my home village Heerde, for
their consideration to offer financial support without immediately forcing me to work, in order to enable
me to continue and finish my studies while mothering my child as peacefully as possible with regard to the
unexpected single parenthood I became faced with. Without their generous understanding and continuous
support, the present thesis might not have been finished.
While I sincerely regret the fact that I could not stay in touch with dear friends as much as I
wanted to the past few years, many of them patiently helped me to meet my challenge. I especially wish to
thank Luba and Bram Krol for cherished hospitality; Jan Mahmood Beerenhout, Armien Cassiem, Ali
Sayed, and Peter Gobets for kindly bringing relevant sources to my attention; Yanwar Pribadi for living up
to what inspired him; Annemarie van Sandwijk for being both a cherished link to the library of Leiden
University and an incredibly understanding friend; Aicha Ahamri for being an inspiring example that


HIK 1991:138.
Storms 1985:15. Western music is harmonic. See also HIK 1914:52-53; DJK 1973:36-37; Storms 1985:23-24; Berendt 1983:33.

newborn mothers can finish their studies; Jenia Gutova for sharing her uplifting travel accounts; Gustavo
Pazos Conde for igniting my passion to write about music and mysticism in the first place, Sandeep
Srivastava to fan its flames, and Mohammed Benzakour for keeping the fire burning through trying times;
Fatima Ballah, Mirjam Edel, Doaa Ibrahim and Hamdy Mohamed for bearing patiently with me, their
adopted family member; and Mehran Razaghi for supporting me on this journey by all possible means
after all. I thank my brother, Jaring Drst Britt, for being instrumental in changing my course from Egypt
to India; and, with utmost respect, I thank my parents, Hanna Woudsma and Frits Drst Britt, for every
single thing they have done to help me succeed, and for being there, all the time, unconditionally.
On a professional level, Alim Vosteen generously provided (and inspired) me with musical sources and
numerous scans related to Inayat Khan at a time in which this thesis was not yet dedicated to Inayat
Khan s musical mysticism. Furthermore, I wish to thank Professor Dr. R.C. Mehta, Dr. Allyn Miner, and
Professor Dr. Joep Bor for offering outstanding scholarship on )nayat Khan s )ndian musical legacy. Ger
Storms, head of the Dutch publishing company Panta Rhei extended unexpected material support by
disclosing )nayat Khan s generally unavailable original music recordings.
Finally, I am much indebted to Shaykh al-mashayk Mahmood Khan. His astonishing encyclopaedic
knowledge of his uncle s music and mysticism, never ending enthusiasm, kind words, and unshakeable
belief in my aspirations and capacities further kindled my hope and perseverance to always offer my best
in the given circumstances.
May the content of this thesis positively contribute to the scholarly discourse in its field, and may
it serve as a small stepping stone for future research, as a vast territory of )nayat Khan s musical-mystical
legacy is yet to be studied. The reader is warmly invited to reflect on the content of this thesis, and to bring
flaws and mistakes to my attention by using the e-mail address featuring on the title page.
I leave the final words to Hazrat Inayat Khan:
Inayat, whether every phrase falters or not,
The divine melody will resound until the Day of Resurrection.
What form can be more beautiful than ours?
Still, with all our delicate beauty, we mingle with dust in the end.
As many dances as the stars and the peacocks have,
all of these movements are just ringings of the Truth.



Miner in ZIK 2001:203. Miner notes that these lines are among the final verses of )nayat Khan s Minqar-i Musiqar.