Love in a Time of Vitriol – Narratives of Inclusiveness

The closing ceremony of Apeejay Lit Fest 2017 took place at the iconic St. John’s Church which is situated at 2/2, Council House Street, BBD Bagh.

St. John’s Church was originally a cathedral. It was among the first public buildings erected by the East India Company after Kolkata became the effective capital of British India. St. John’s Church served as the Anglican Cathedral of Calcutta (Kolkata) till 1847 when it was transferred to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The octagonal Moorish style tomb of Job Charnock is also situated in the precincts of the church.

This Anglican Church became the venue for discussion on the topic “Love in a Time of Vitriol – Narratives of Inclusiveness.”

16003151_1199746623454441_5794533418278059030_nPicture:- Sukanta Paul

Along with other speakers, Hazi Syed Salman Chishty of Ajmer Sharif gave a brilliant talk on inclusiveness. Hazi Syed Salman Chishty comes from the dargah of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti which contains the domed tomb of the saint.

He belongs to the Chishtī Order, which is a Sunni Sufi order. The Chishti Order is known for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness. Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti is also known as Gharib Nawaz (Benefactor of the Poor). He served the poor of all sects.

“Prince Dara Shikoh (or Shukuh), the Sufi son of the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan, was able to affirm that Sufism and Advaita Vendantism (Hinduism) are essentially the same, with a surface difference in terminology.”

One of the cardinal belief of Sufis is divine love.

“The heart of a mystics is a blazing furnace of love which burns and destroys everything that comes into it because no fire is stronger than the fire of love”, says Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty.


Hazi Syed Salman Chishty  said that “A person who loves God, unconditionally loves his creation.”

At Ajmer Sharif “Logo ka Kheyalo ka bhi kheyal rakha jata hai”. i.e care is taken to respect the feelings of people also. That is why people of all sects are served vegetarian food at community langar instead of Beef or meat dishes traditionally eaten by Muslims.

Inside Dargah Shariff two big Deghs (pots) are installed for cooking Niaz (purely vegetarian food; cooked with rice, ghee, nuts, safron & sugar).

He also said that Sufis believed in the path of moderation.

He said that Sufi tenants remain within the hearts and minds of ordinary Indian populace, which makes India an inclusive society.

Though there was no visible direct evidence of positive impact of Islam on Indian culture, interactions between common Hindus and Muslims, Sufi and Bhakti saints created an environment for the emergence of a Hindustani culture, wherein we can witness the mutual borrowings from both cultures and development of an inclusive society.


The Festival closed with a mass candle-light vigil, poetry and music in solidarity with the ideal of an inclusive society. It included Bob Dylan’s song ” Blowing in the Wind “


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