If love makes the world go round, it's no surprise that Sufi music dedicated to divine love is a hit. This music links Iran, Pakistan, Kashmir, Punjab, Bengal, Delhi and Lucknow, not to mention the interest it has generated in the West.
Sufi music fires the spiritual and sensual imagination all at once, for love per se is the subject of this traditional, purifying, unifying poetry, music and dance. Love for the divine equates with love for one's beloved and lo, Sufi music rocks!
"Film music has taken a lot from the Sufi spirit," points out Dr Nishi Pandey, who finds the "spiritual essence of Sufism percolating to its music. Sufi lyrics in film songs like Kajra re kajra re where the verses go beyond addressing the lover as a woman, and Chaiyya Chaiyya with lyrics such as 'Main hawa pe dhoondhu uske nishan' are great hits because of the message of love communicated in spirit by great Sufi seers."
The inner spaces of every human being crave for the divine touch, and music can reach those spaces
Brijendra Srivastava, a singer in Lucknow who sings traditional Sufi numbers like Ho Channa Ishq Bada Harjai, claims that "Sufi music in Lucknow is different from the popular Punjabi strains that tie up with western bands to rock the world. We still keep the traditional folk music pulsating at places like Dewa Sharif and Khamman Peer's dargah among other places in and around Lucknow."
It is people like film-maker Muzaffar Ali who truly understand the soul of the music. "The Sufi message of love for the divine gets diluted if the music is rendered with a view to making money out of it," says he.
"The inner spaces of every human being crave for the divine touch, and music can reach those spaces. Commercial music does not always touch the inner core, whereas Sufi music in which each word is backed by experiential joy that the saint chooses to share with others, fulfills a quest for God – the source of joy."
It is the Sufi spirit that will finally bring the people of Kashmir together, or India and Pakistan together for that matter. This music transgresses boundaries, cultures and languages to touch every heart, he sums up.