By: Dubagunta Sankaraiah
When I was in Shirdi once, I requested Sri Sivanesan Swamiji to explain the meaning of Baba’s oft-repeated ‘Anal Haqq’ (also written as ‘Anal Huq). He called a Muslim Fakir who was reading the Quran in the Chavadi to explain its significance and meaning to me.
The fakir quoted a Persian mystic, teacher, and poet, Mansur al-
Hallaj who says in a verse: ‘Ain iimaan hai Ana ‘l-Haqq ka tarana
lekin/Hai yahi kufra agar deeda-eMansurna ho’ – It’s quintessential
faith/devotion if one proclaims Ana ‘l-Haqq. But the same can be ranked blasphemous if uttered by someone who’s not as evolved as Mansur is. Such is the metaphysical and devotional impact of the ecstatic proclamation, Ana ‘l-Haqq, the equivalent of Upanishadic ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, meaning, ‘I am the Truth’, or ‘I am God’.
Before describing Sai Baba’s proclamation, ‘Ana‘lHaqq’, it is imperative to understand the import of ‘Aham Brahmasmi.’ This term is used in yogic philosophy to describe the unity of Atman, the individual self, and soul, with Brahman, the Absolute. It is typically translated as ‘I am Brahman’, or less literally as ‘I am divine’. It reflects the ultimate goal of yoga–union with the higher Self. Yoga itself means ‘union’.
Mansur al-Hallaj was a Sufi saint and there’s no denying that all Sufis were heavily influenced by Eastern or Oriental mysticism. Here the objective is not to compare but to understand the universality of mysticism, which goes beyond all the conventional or organized man-made faiths. But the magnanimity of Advaita, non-dualism, of Vedantic philosophy was not fully intelligible to Islam, at least in the 10 th century and early Sufism.
According to early Sufi theories, only God has the right to
say ‘I’; the utterance ‘I’ is, in itself, blasphemy. Ana ’lHaqq was later generally understood as meaning ‘I am God’, for‘Haqq’ had become a frequently used equivalent of ‘God’,especially in the non-Arabic areas. Hence, Ana ’l-Haqq was interpreted as the most daring expression of man’s essential unity with God, and a key expression in the mystical poetry of Iran, India, and Indonesia.
Sufi mystic Rumi held that Ana ’l-Haqq was an expression of perfect selflessness; the mystic had completely forgotten himself in God, as in the case of Sai Baba, so that his ‘I’ was a sign of Divine grace.
Aham Brahmasmi or Ana ‘l-Haqq is the supreme level of faith where ‘I’ gets completely dissolved. There remains no difference between the creator and creation. It also suggests that we have the capacity and capabilities to become God, and there’s no impudence in it.
All mystics believe that there is no barrier between the individual self and the Universal Soul. All are its parts. Every creature has the element/s of divinity and in Akbar Ilahabadi’s words: ‘Har zarra chamkta hai Anwar-e-Ilahi se’ – every particle has the pulchritude of divine effulgence.
Al-Hallaj annihilated his ego, the last of human attributes to go, and self to merge into cosmic
consciousness. Only a faithful of his level can empathize with his state of ecstasy when he
proclaimed, ‘I’m the Truth’. The Persian mystic could see godliness everywhere and in every breath. In fine, ‘I’m the Truth’ is the endpoint, where spirituality and metaphysics lose into each other and get dissolved into the vastness of divinity. Don’t Sufis say, ‘To be God is to be good and vice versa?’