The Gathas represent teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan to the mureeds, particularly for the early stages of the path.
They are ordered under seven headings: Superstitions, Customs and Beliefs; Insight; Symbology; Breath; Morals; Everyday life; Metaphysics. Each subject is treated in three stages, each consisting of 10 sections. They may be considered as a course, preferably to be followed under the guidance of an initiator.
However, apart from forming a philosophy in its own right, this book may serve as excellent guide even for study and practice by the reader on his or her own.
The present version was carefully compiled and prepared for publication by pupils and close associates of Inayat Khan. The original language and style of the lessons has been kept pure and unaltered throughout this text, even more so than in some of the earlier volumes.
THE present volume is the first of a series including all the works intended for publication of Hazrat Inayat Khan (Baroda 1882-New Delhi 1927), the great Sufi mystic who came to the Western world in 1910 and lectured and taught there until his passing away in 1927.
A new edition of this series, which was published for the International Headquarters of the Sufi Movement in the West in the '60s, is now made available in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. In this way Hazrat Inayat Khan's inspired and universal vision of the Sufi Message returns to his own beloved country, where it originated and where interest in it is growing.
This book and other volumes of this series have not been written down by the author. They contain his lectures, discourses and other teachings as taken down in shorthand and other handwriting. When preparing for publication great care was taken, not only to avoid distortion of their intent and meaning, but also to leave intact, as far as possible, the flow of mystical inspiration and poetical expression which add so much to their spell, and without which a significant part of his message would be lust. Al though speaking in a tongue foreign to him, he moulded it into a perfect vehicle for his thought, at times somewhat ungrammatical and unusual, but always as clear and precise as his often difficult and abstruse subjects would allow.
It goes without saying that neither in the present nor in the previous edition anything has been altered which would involve even the slightest deviation from the author's intention and no attempt has been made to transform his highly personal and colorful language into idiomatically unimpeachable English. Already so much is necessarily lost by the transfer of the spoken word to the printed page that every effort has been made, as it should, to preserve the Master's melodious phrasing, the radiance of his personality, and the subtle sense of humour which never left him.
Hazrat Inayat Khan's teaching was nearly all given during the years 1918-1926. It covers a great many subjects, several of which were grouped in series of lectures and taken up again some years later. Certain subjects may cover nearly the same ground as others; stories and examples which abound in most of his works are met again elsewhere; and much of what he taught one finds repeated in several places. This was intentional, as repetition belonged to Hazrat Inayat Khan's method of teaching: it is for the student to become aware of the subtle differences in each context. For these and other reasons it would be difficult to follow a rigid system in publishing Hazrat lnaya r Khan's works; a chronological grouping of his lectures would be very unsatisfactory, and a stringent classification according to subject-matter hardly feasible.
The complete series contains fourteen volumes. The last volume is the Index. This edition is the first one to present an index to the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan.
Each volume is complete in it, and therefore may be read without any necessity to study following or previous ones. However, one may get a spiritual and mental appetite to continue reading. One will find that a meditative way of reading will convey not only the words but also the spiritual power emanating from them, tuning mind, heart and soul to the pitch which is one's own.
It was already announced earlier that as the world nowadays is more open for the understanding the mystical thought, many deeper lectures which Inayat Khan originally intended only for his disciples would be published in the near future. It is appropriate that this edition of The Gathas of Inayat Khan can now be brought out.
These Cathas are, with few exceptions, unpublished teachings given to his disciples in the early 1920's. In his understanding and consideration of the individual's needs and responses Hazrat Inayat Khan presented each of the seven subjects of The Cathas in three stages, each stage consisting of ten lessons. Whilst in the training courses of the Sufi Movement The Gathas have been offered in a slightly different order, the editors have chosen to publish them in accordance with the research made by Nekbakht Furnee and Sirdar van Tuyll van Serooskerken, whose records indicate Inayat Khan's own publication intentions, and who together with other pupils and close associates of Inayat Khan compiled and prepared this version.
Of particular interest is the inclusion of the questions of some of his mureeds and the answers by the master relating to some of the teachings. No attempt has been made to change the order of words or what might appear to be repetition for the purpose of producing conventionally acceptable syntax. No conjecture has been made as to the few missing words in Questions and Answers. In some cases alternative spelling has been used to conform to the first twelve volumes of the Sufi Message.
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