Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan was the eldest son of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. He succeeded his father and during his fifty years as head of the Sufi Order International became an internationally-recognized spiritual teacher and master of meditation.
He was an avid student of many religious and spiritual traditions and incorporated the rich mystical heritage of East and West into his teachings, adding to it the scholarship of the West in music, science, and psychology. He initiated dozens of international interreligious conferences as well as convening spiritual and scientific leaders for public dialogues. He founded the Abode of the Message, a spiritual community in the Berkshires for over thirty years, and Omega Institute, a flourishing learning center.
He published many books on aspects of meditation and realization. His last book, In Search of the Hidden Treasure (2003), is an imagined congress of classic Sufi mystics commenting on contemporary and universal themes.
Shabda Kahn has been a disciple of Sufism since 1969. He is a direct disciple of Murshid Samuel Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), and he worked closely with the great American mystic Joe Miller. Shabda is currently the Pir (spiritual director) of the Sufi Ruhaniat International and the director of the Chisti Sabri School of Music.
After living in community with Baba Ram Dass in the East Coast, Shabda met Murshid Sam and moved to San Francisco in 1969. In the fall of 1970, Shabda had the good fortune to travel with Murshid Sam for five weeks as his personal assistant on the East Coast, which helped deepen his relationship with his teacher and the Path.
He received his name from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1971, after Murshid Sam’s passing.
In 1972, Shabda was initiated by Pandit Pran Nath, the Master North Indian Classical Vocalist and began the daily practice of Raga singing in the Kirana style. Pandit Pran Nath, a Sufi mystic, requested that Shabda carry on the 800-year-old oral transmission under the name of the Chisti Sabri School of Music. This has become an umbrella for teaching vocal music and performing Raga.
In 1984, Shabda became a disciple of the illustrious 12th Tai Situpa Rinpoche, a venerated Tibetan Buddhist incarnate lama of the Kagyu Lineage.
After Murshid Sam’s passing, Shabda was one of Pir Moineddin’s secretaries and helped lead the Wednesday night dance meeting, eventually taking over the meeting when Pir Moineddin’s health deteriorated.
As Pir Moineddin’s condition worsened, he requested that Pir Vilayat Khan initiate Shabda as a Sheikh. This occurred on February 5th, 1977, at the tomb of Hazrat Inayat Khan in India. In October 1997, at a Sufi camp in Maui, Hawai‘i, Pir-o-Murshid Hidayat Inayat Khan of the International Sufi Movement initiated Shabda as a Murshid.
Shabda has appeared in concerts ranging from Visions for a Perfect World at New York’s St John the Divine Cathedral, for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for New Music America in Chicago, at Delhi University Music School, and at Shivaratri Festival in New Delhi. He is one of a handful of Americans who have dedicated themselves to carrying on the legacy of the treasure of North Indian classical vocal music.
Shabda married his wife, Tamam, in 1976 and they make their home in San Rafael, California. They have two grown children, Ammon and Solomon, and many godchildren. Shabda has a regular zikr meeting in Marin County, California. Throughout the year, he travels the world, spreading the Sufi message of love, harmony and beauty. He brings warmth, humor and clarity in his efforts to help seekers on their path to awakening.
As Pir of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, he directs the Jamiat Khas, the leader circle of the Ruhaniat, directs its Board of Trustees and is the spiritual director for the Dances of Universal Peace, worldwide.
Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi lived from 1207 to 1273; born in Balkh, Afghanistan, and passing on from Konya, Turkey. He was a highly trained religious scholar and Sufi who threw away his books on meeting the sun of his life, the dervish saint Shems of Tabriz. Inspired by his love for him, he composed volumes of poetry now regarded as some of humanity’s greatest spiritual literature.
The Mevlevi Sufi Order follows the path he opened.
Samuel L. Lewis – known among his disciples as Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti, or Murshid “S.A.M.” – was an American Master of Sufi and Zen mystical traditions through whom a living stream of the Chishti-Inayati Sufi lineage poured forth to the hippies of the 1960’s and 1970’s in America. This branch of the Chishti-Inayati Sufi lineage has flourished in the years since, thriving as the Sufi Ruhaniat International.
Murshid Sam was a longtime disciple and Khalif (representative) of Murshida Rabia Martin, the first teacher initiated by Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. He personally received Inayat Khan’s blessings in six interviews with the Pir-o-Murshid during his post-WWI teaching tours in 1920’s America. Later in life, Murshid Sam wrote prolific, inspired commentaries on the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan, composed extensive mystical poetry, manifested the Dances of Universal Peace, created the Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society – now known as the Sufi Ruhaniat International – and passed an inspiring transmission of blessing and wisdom to the thousands who follow his open heart along the Chishti-Inayati Sufi path.
A more extensive overview of Murshid Sam’s life, written by his disciple Murshid Wali Ali, can be found here.