Andaz-Ehsaas — The Duality Of Form and Feeling

Runjhun Noopur
5 min readApr 1, 2024

Celebrating Life’s Dualities The Sufi Way — One Alphabet At A Time

Photo by Iulia Mihailov on Unsplash

Author’s Note : It’s been a couple of years since I did my last Sufi Celebration of Life series. It had an enormous impact on my life, sending me down a path of spiritual and mystical learnings that continue to define me. A sequel has been long due. But the timing never felt right.

Until now.

And so, from today, I commence a brand new journey where we explore the Sufi mysticism of dualities that surround us — from A to Z.

This series is about pairs and paradoxes that add meaning and chutzpah to our existence, ideas that occur in twos whether or not we notice, and almost ironical dualities that the Universe seems to love. At its core, this series is an excuse to take a pause and celebrate simple but profound Sufi ideas that are an inalienable but often unnoticed part of our daily existence. That we do it with the mystical Urdu poetry is just a delightful bonus!

Andaz — The form. Ehsaas — The feeling

If you Google Andaz, you will find that it has many meanings. From manners to mode to grace to elegance to even conjecture, Andaz is one of those Urdu words that changes forms and meanings as per its context. Andaz at its core is a form that changes shapes and hues like a chameleon.

Ehsaas on the other hand means feeling. Ehsaas is what Andaaz makes you feel. And because Andaz is contextual, Ehsaas is complicated.

Hain aur bhi duniyaa mein sukhan-var bahut achchhe
kahte hain ki ‘Ghaalib’ kaa hai andaaz-e-bayaan aur


There are many great poets in the world

But they say Ghaalib’s form of expression is something else

Andaz. Andaz defines not just how we talk or communicate but also how we make other people feel. Andaz defines how we express ourselves to the world.

Andaz is how we want them to see us.

Andāz apnā dekhte haiñ aaine meiñ vo

Aur ye bhī dekhte haiñ koī dekhtā na ho

— Nizam Rampuri

looking in the mirror they see their savoir-faire

while they make sure that nobody is watching

As a society, we are obsessed with Andaz, obsessed with how we project ourselves to the world, obsessed with how we are perceived.

The point of all forms of expression is to invoke an Ehsaas, a feeling, a response. We tailor ourselves to invoke an Ehsaas that we desire. This Andaz-Ehsaas duality dominates our every interaction, our every word, our every action.

It is impossible to deny the allure of being able to control the Andaz-Ehsaas duality. It is impossible to eschew the wish to make people feel what we want them to feel. This desire is the reason why making friends and influencing people is a thriving industry with countless gurus, books, videos, and tutorials.

There is nothing wrong with the desire per se. It is natural and in most circumstances, a very useful skill to cultivate. But there is a tiny catch.

Fikr o ehsaas ke tapte hue manzar tak aa
Mere lafzon mein utar kar mire andar tak aa


Come into this spectacle ablaze with feelings and worries

Drown beyond my words, drown into the depths of me

Our words, our Andaz is a gateway into the Ehsaas that we desire. But what we often forget is that it is also a gateway into our own Ehsaas, our feelings.

In our obsession to appeal to others, we often forget the self.

We forget the Ehsaas that is the most important — our own.

To be able to align our Andaz with other people’s Ehsaas is a tool and a skill. But when this tool becomes a compulsion, it leads to a dissonance that divorces our outer form from our inner feelings.

Apnī hālat kā ḳhud ehsās nahīñ hai mujh ko

Maiñ ne auroñ se sunā hai ki pareshān huuñ maiñ


I am unable to feel my own state of being

I have been told that I am in distress

Losing touch with your own Ehsaas is gradual. It sneaks onto you subtly and quietly. It becomes difficult to remember who you are until one day you forget, totally and irrevocably.

It may sound too dramatic, like a thing that happens in stories…and to other people. But the fact is we lose a little of ourselves every day. And the tragedy is we don’t even notice.

In more practical terms, surrendering to the Andaz-Ehsaas duality leads to an inevitable loss of our authenticity. It is a constant struggle to be someone we are not. The dissonance is exhausting and leads to unfathomable personality costs like constant stress and crippling burn-out.

Avoiding or getting rid of the Andaz-Ehsaas duality is impossible. We are social animals driven by an intrinsic desire to be a part of a world much larger than ourselves.

The trick is to control this duality instead of surrendering to it. To play the game that Andaz-Ehsaas lead us into but do it mindfully.

The trick is to take a moment, make an effort, and go out of our way to save our authentic selves.

It isn’t as hard as it sounds. But it is hard. Everything worthwhile is.

We have to design our individual strategies and our own tools that work for us. We have to recognize that no amount of influence is worth losing ourselves. But more importantly, we have to understand that it is possible to reap the benefits of Andaz-Ehsaas duality, to make it work for us without annihilating our true selves.

It is just a game. And if we try, we can all master the rules and play this game as we deem fit, and in a style that suits our authenticity. The how of this is a subject matter for some other piece, some other day. But for now, we just need to become aware and start extricating ourselves from this cycle. For now, we need to reclaim control.

Because the alternative, as the poet says, is certain death. Of not the body, but of our souls.

Maut kī pahlī alāmat sāhib

Yahī ehsās kā mar jaanā hai


It’s the first sure sign of death sir

the death of our feelings



Runjhun Noopur

Author. Entrepreneur. Emotional Sustainability Coach. Founder, Almost Spiritual.