Cultural Interaction: In Quest of Tolerance and Harmony
Professor A.B.Abul Hasnat
Here are eloquent records of history and literature to confirm an embittered relation, mainly political and religious, between the Arab World and Christendom. But apart from all, there was a sustained, though not comprehensive, an effort of positive mutual exchange not to be sneezed at by the highbrow scholars. For the number of reasons and in a number of ways two or more cultural system come in contact with each other causing an adventure of ideas dictated by the forces of history. These cultural systems, initially alien and unrelated, are destined to meet and they prove receptive to each other causing mutual enrichment.
This tiny story of encounter applied to the history of the growth of the civilizations in the East and the West in a conjunction of the West alike. What we know of the culture of the west in a conjunction of the various forces of history related to the East and other parts of the globe; equally so is the growth of the East. If we leaf trough the arresting pages of the cultural history of the east and the west, we can find that neither part of the globe can boast of a sustained record of superiority over the other. It was always story of stimulation and reception. We can apply this theory of reciprocity to the middle Ages of European history where both critical and creative mind of the west were related to the wonderful development of the Eastern civilization vastly superior and scientific attitude which proved salutary for profound enrichment of the native soil an extensive application of the Arab scientific imagery in Chaucer and his contemporaries. It is of courses no less true of English literature in general and poetry in particular.
We can address in this connection a few words on the impact of perso-Arabic literature on India has initiated and honored different system of cultures, and after arranging some initial meeting and understanding among the systems. India demonstrated the wonderful capacity of assimilation without rejecting the essential common elements. The destiny of India history takes us to the discovery of an epic expansion in the story of her assimilation with perso-Arabic culture and literature. It is a grand union of transcendence with immanence, an utter tune of Swami Vivekananda; the bold message of Vedantic mind and Islamic body and the gift of the heart is the greatest gift of Islam to human civilization, a gift which is disfigured and vilified in its tragic misinterpretation by some terror-mongers all over the world. Equally absorbing is the story of cultural fusion attempted in Majmaul Bahrain (mingling of two oceans –the Upanishad and Sufism) of prince Dara Shikoh in line with the massive movement of cultural assimilation in the Mughal period in the history of India. His famous Persian translation of some of Upanishads (1657)know as Sir Al - Asrar (Mystery of Mysteries: Asrar is the plural form of Sir ), was again translated by Anquetil du Perron in Latiin and French for the First time in any European language (1801-02).
Dara was an unconscious tool of history for being instrumental to the European journey of the Upanishad which opened to German philosopher Schopenhauer as also to poets like words worth and Shelley a new vista of thought and wisdom, as suggested by Raymond Schwab in his monumental history of East-West cultural encounter. There is yet another picture of cultural synthesis, and this is in Kashmir, equally fascinating. Sheikh Nuruddin was the founder of Rishi order of Sufis (the phrase itself is the symbol of the highest cultural synthesis, rishi is being the name of venerated sages in ancient India ) in Kashmir. Like Lalla Ded, a Shiva Mystic of the fourteenth century, Nuruddin criticized forms of degraded social behavior. The verses attributed to Lalla by some and Nuruddin by some other revered attention: We are the progeny of the same parents, then why should we differ. Let Hindus and Muslims (together) adore God alone, we came to this World like partners; we ought to share our joys and sorrows together. We may take note in this connection of a unique approach to religious and cultural synthesis. Eknath, the Marathi poet of Western India (1533-99),like Kabir was critical of much hypocritical practical practices in Hindu and Muslim society. In this context his interesting dramatic piece Hindu –Turk Samvad; may be examined to demonstrate the nature of unity and synthesis in some slice of time Indian history in a limited scope permitted by the further study of socio-cultural relationship.