Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan

"Hazrat" is an honorific; "Pir-o-Murshid" is an esoteric title, signifying the head of the Inner School of the Sufi Movement.

On July 5th, 1882, in Baroda, India, a child named Inayat was born into one of the most musical families in the country. Inayat's grandfather, Maula Bakhsh, known as the 'Beethoven of India,' had become a master of the music of both North and South India, a feat hitherto considered impossible, and had then, at the invitation of the Maharaja Khanda Rao, settled in Baroda where he founded 'Gayanshala,' the first musical academy of its kind in India. Maula Bakhsh drew about him many people of culture and refinement. Among his students and associates was Rahmat Khan, who came from a family of musicians, poets and mystics. Rahmat married Khatidja, the second daughter of Maula Bakhsh, and their first child was Inayat.

Inayat quickly showed great musical talent, and before he was twenty he was singing and playing the vina in the courts of royalty all over the subcontinent. Indeed, from a set of recordings Inayat made at the age of 27, modern musicologists are able to say that his vocal skill and musical understanding remain unequalled to this day. Called to something beyond worldly success, however, he at last met his Murshid, Abu Haimages/shim Sayed Madani and entered the Sufi path.

On September 13th, 1910,
destiny brought Inayat "from the world of lyric and poetry to the world of industry and commerce," sailing from Bombay first to America, and travelling thence to Europe. In this he was fulfilling the last words of his Murshid, "Fare forth into the world, my child, and harmonize the East and West with the harmony of thy music. Spread the wisdom of Sufism abroad, for to this end art thou gifted by Allah, the most Merciful and Compassionate." Companions on that journey were his brothers Maheboob Khan and Ali Khan, who left auspicious careers in India to share his hardships and his work. Within a year they were joined by Inayat's youngest brother, Musharaff Khan.

During the next sixteen years,
Inayat founded the International Sufi Movement and travelled widely, inspiring many and teaching the Sufi Message from California to Moscow. In America, he met the woman destined to become his wife and companion, Ora Ray Baker. Their first child was born in Russia, and the remaining three in England, where they sheltered during the First World War.

In the early 1920's,
the family settled in Suresnes, a quiet suburb of Paris, and here Summer Schools were held for the growing number of students. The lectures given here and elsewhere have subsequently been published under such titles as "The Unity of Religious Ideals," "In an Eastern Rose Garden," "The Mysticism of Sound," "Love, Human and Divine," and "Health, Mental Purification and the Mind World."

In 1926, Inayat returned for a visit to India, leaving his family in the West. After a brief illness, he passed away in Tilak Lodge, New Delhi on February 5th, 1927, at the age of 44. His Dargah or tomb, located near that of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, is now a place of pilgrimage for Sufis from all over the world.

For more on the life of Hazrat Inayat Khan, see
"Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan," East-West Publications, 1979.