It is indisputable that the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Prophet, were the centre-point of his writings. Yet the imprint of the influence of the Indian philosophies, and literature are very much visible on them. The hallowed visionaries, saints, and philosopher of India, has a deep influence on him. It may even be said that the mental infrastructure that existed in him was structured from the depths of the Indian thoughts.
It was during the time when he was doing the research for his thesis, that he had the opportunity to study Sanskrit language and literature. He was already well acquainted with the finer elements of Indian philosophy. Great Indian minds like that of Bhartruhari, Sree Sankara, Badarayana, Lord Buddha, and Vishwamitra, had already attracted his curious mind. He was deeply moved by the insights that already existed within the deep folds of the Indian thought schools. It was this background that possibly inspired Iqbal to create a novel stream in Urdu poetry that had the blend of both Indian as well as Islamic literature.
In a touching poem, he describes the tragic ineptitude of India to revere its own great men.
Iqbal sings in Bang –e-Dira.
‘The nation could not care less about Goutama’s message.
It did not know the price of its unique pearl!
Poor wretches! They never heard the voice of truth:
A tree does not know how sweet its fruit is.
What they revealed was the secret of existence,
But India was proud of its fancies;
It was not an assembly hall to be lit up by the lamp of truth;
The rain of mercy fell, but the land was barren.
Alas, for the Shudra, India is a house of sorrow.
This land is blind to the suffering of man.
The Brahmin is still drunk with the wine of pride.
In the assembly halls of foreigners, burns Gautamas’ lamp.
But ages later, the house of idols was lit up again
Azar’s house was lit up by Abraham!
Again from the Punjab the call
Of monotheism arose.
A perfect man roused slumber”.
It is in the Quran that every people, generation and nation has had the messengers of God, in different ages, to lend them spiritual guidance. India also had them. India has had many saints, and other blessed persons who delivered spiritual solace. Lord Buddha and Sree Krishna are among them. Lord Krishna’s name will live on forever, and he will be worshipped likewise. In this view, his views were shared by other Islamic scholars of that time like Moulana Hasrath Mohani, who was a reputed authority on the Holy Quran, and the sayings of the Prophet.
It was Iqbal’s confirmed conviction that Sree Krishna was the one of the messengers of God. He traced the visible miseries of India, to the fact that the messages of Krishna were being totally ignored. His beliefs went further to include even Sree Ram also. He envisioned Sree Ram as the ‘Spiritual Leader of the Indian Peninsula’. In his poem ‘The Call of the Caravan bell’, he wrote of Ram as the ‘Philosopher of the Easterners’.
Iqbal endeavoured ceaselessly to remove the misconceptions the Indians had about religion. Ali Sardar Jafri writes: “According to Iqbal’s beliefs, which has the authority of the Quran to support it, every religion, race and nation has received messengers of God i.e. prophets, in different ages to guide them. Gauthama Budha was one of them. Other contemporaries of Iqbal, like Moulana Hasrath Mohani, shared this belief and paid tribute Krishna as a prophet……… He was convinced that the fall of the Hindus was due to the fact that the teachings of Krishna were forgotten”.
Iqbal himself had great respect for Ram. He describes him as the spiritual leader of India (Imamal Hind). This poem was written after 1908, by which time Iqbal had renounced nationalism as a political creed (Indian Express daily. Sept 6, 1981). He delved deep into the wisdoms of the east and also of the west, and arrived at a new philosophy, which contained the strengths of both the spiritual and the physical. His new philosophy focuses on love, and the inspiring loveliness in submitting oneself to others. His philosophy envisaged religion as an entity that stood for love. In the absence of love, life turns equal to death. What he strove to convey is contained in his words: “Religion is to burn oneself completely in the quest, its commencement is in respect, and its culmination is in love”.
Iqbal was the messenger, and the propagandist, of the philosophy of love. It is a testimony to his calibre that he could invigorate his thoughts with poetic attractiveness. It is only natural that pure poetry embedded with the essential pleasantness of luxurious love, flowed out of his lips, and pen. There was no place for malice and cowardly communalism, to exist in the spaces between his words, and lines.
When he spoke of cultural unity, it had no element of communal and religious bigotry in it; only the inspiring thoughts of mutual love, and brotherhood. His original thoughts and creations stood beyond the reaches of any narrow boundaries. Beyond all this, there is a streak of honesty and an appeal to virtuous life that sparkles through the length of his writings. When he pleads for a meeting place of eastern and western thought processes, and the conjoining of the spiritual and physical aspects of human life, there is this theme of universal love and brotherhood, shining through.