Inspirations from Indian Heritage in Allama Iqbal Writings


Allama Iqbal gleaned from varied and often diverse fields- Islamic, western and Indian-and thus enlarged the boundaries of his vision and enriched the spirit of his thought .Dr Ajaz analyzed the impact of Indian heritage, culture and literature on Iqbal’s thought and poetry.
Iqbal has been hailed as the poet of Islam. There is not any denying the fact that Islam is the chief source of inspiration and a major influence on his thought but to say Islam was his only interest is a crying injustice to Iqbal.
Iqbal’s philosophy and poetry by largely sublime, intense and universal. Many studies have been made of Iqbal vis-à-vis such philosophical elites as Nietzsche, Fichte, Schopenhauer, Bergson and others. These studies, no doubt, augment our comprehension of the philosophies of western thinkers and also facilitate, quite considerably our understanding of the philosophy of Iqbal. Being an Iqbalian Scholar, I am afraid; these studies have been stretched too far of sometimes quite inadvertently, in misrepresentation and misinterpretation of his philosophy and poetry. It is however, not my intention to attempt here any critique of these studies but I would like to point out that these do no justice to Iqbal as no worthwhile attempt has ever been made to probe and bring out the influence of Indian thought on his writings.
Iqbal like many other poets and writers borrowed ideas and expressions from many sources. His wide ranging eclecticism is rather surprising. He gleaned from varied and often diverse fields- Islamic, western and Indian-and thus enlarged the boundaries of his vision and enriched the spirit of his thought. As I have already pointed out that the influence of Islam and western philosophy have been, to a great extent, thoroughly studied and sufficiently highlighted and this subject continues to be on the anvil of Iqbal scholars all over the world, but the Indian aspect- the Indianness in his art and thought, odd comments and references notwithstanding, has remained unstudied and un-probed. The past panorama of his writings, both his prose and poetry, carries an indelible imprint of various facets of Indian approach and Indian sensibility which should be visible to a discerning eye. Regarding the Indian influence on him, the first question that comes to our mind is whether Iqbal was familiar with various schools of Indian philosophy, Sanskrit language and Indian scriptures. Attiya Begum who was for long one of his associates especially during his stay in England and Germany between 1905 and 1907, equates his command over Sanskrit language with his command on Arabic and Persian. Abu Zafar Abdul Wahid in his essay ‘Iqbal, the growth of his mind’ testifies to his competence and proficiency in Sanskrit. Late Justice Javid Iqbal in the biography of his father-Zinda Rood-writes that probably Swami Ram Tirath helped him, learn Sanskrit and study the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta influence on Iqbal’s writings should be traced to his association with Swami Ram Tirath who was its greatest exponent in Iqbal’s time. Iqbal had a familiarity with Bhagwat Gita and was an admirer of Lord Krishna. Of Krishna, Iqbal says: Sri Krishna name will ever command respect and reverence in the speculative history of mankind as this man of great glory examined critically but most fascinatingly the philosophical traditions of his land and people and demonstrated the truth that renunciation does not mean the relinquishing of all action because action is the very law of nature and it is action alone that sustains and fortifies life’.
Iqbal was a great thinker and philosopher who advocated the philosophy of self, through his works such Asrari-Khudi and Ramuz-Bekhudi. He pays high tribute to Sri Krishna and considers him a great figure in the intellectual history of human race. Indian thought believes that Sri Krishna is the symbol of the Self and its awareness. Iqbal advocates that man must evolve from ego to higher ego. it is evident from the poem Aftab- a versified commentary of Iqbal on the Gayatri, that Iqbal picked up the secrets of the Vedas. He was among those thinkers who referred to ‘Nirguna Agni’- the mystic fire. Iqbal pays rich tributes to Vishwamitra, one of the famous seers of the Rig-veda. Iqbal names him as Jehan-Dost who possesses the vision of universal consciousness. Iqbal has recognized Sri Ram as ‘Imam-e-Hindi’ the leader of Indian spirit, Indian leadership and heroism. Similarly he pays rich tribute to Guru-Nanak, by addressing him as Mard-Kamil. The concept of Mard-e-Kamil carries much weight in spreading the message of universal consciousness of brotherhood and self-awareness. The vedantic philosophy carries conviction with Iqbal. Thought Shankara, Ramanuja and a host of others introduced vital changes in Indian thought, Swami Ram Tritha was instrumental in conveying the true spirit of Vedanta to Iqbal. Many works have been attempted in the sub-continent on various aspects of Iqbal’s philosophy. It is a happy sign that the researchers have realized slowly but increasingly the impact of Indian influence on the philosophy of Iqbal. Iqbal is not a poet of the Muslim world only; he received impressions from different sources. Islam, Indian and western thought also influenced his universal standards. He was influenced by the great Rumi, but he took certain features of his thought and assimilated them into the pattern of his own thought. Iqbal seems to have come close by the qualified monism of Ramanuja and Kashmir Shaivism-Pratibignya school of thought, though he has not referred to it anywhere. He is all praise for Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Gautam the Buddha, Guru Nanak, because they gave orientation and a new out look to humanity. Iqbal is a patriot, a lover of humanity who believes that Mard-e-Momin has a unique role to play in shaping the world affairs for universal brotherhood. He further believes that the advent of Mard-e-Momin or perfect man is not far off, but an imminent goal of evolution
—Dr. Ajaz Lone, is a postdoctoral research fellow at ICSSR, Delhi and can be mailed [email protected]

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