The day I've died, my pall is moving on -
But do not think my heart is still on earth!
Don't weep and pity me: "Oh woe, how awful!"
You fall in devil's snare - woe, that is awful!
Don't cry "Woe, parted!" at my burial -
For me this is the time of joyful meeting!
Don't say "Farewell!" when I'm put in the grave -
A curtain I tis for eternal bliss. _ Rumi
While cleaning out my office drawers the other day I came across an old write-up of mine on Rumi, a personal favourite. I had written it on the occasion of his 800th birth anniversary three years ago. Anybody has read him?
To the uninitiated he’s the best-selling poet in the US, apparently more popular than Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson!! He’s the one who founded the order of the whirling dervish, which is considered a mystical order, despite their song and dance routine, a no-no in Islam.
Jellaluddin Rumi was a 13th century Persian sufi poet, but he was actually a preacher, a Moulânâ to the Persian-speaking communities of Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of India and Pakistan.
Although Rumi had found a captivated audience in the West since many years, thanks to the translation of his poetry by Prof Coleman Barks, his relevance has grown manifold post Sept.11.
It’s because despite being a preacher of Islam, he speaks of universal love. In his own words: "I am not a Jew nor a Christian, not a Zoroastrian nor a Moslem." Writing prolifically in an era savaged by battles and conflict, he spoke of nothing but love in his poetry:
The outcome of my life is no more than these three lines:
I was a raw material;
I was cooked and became mature;
I was burned in love.
He was born in Afghanistan and was a traditional Muslim cleric until he met Shams of Tabriz, a wandering dervish. Shams is said to challenge Rumi's religious perspective. One account says: On an autumn day, Rumi was sitting by a pool along with his disciples and books. Shams, whom Rumi didn’t know till then, came along, interrupted his discourse, and pointing to the books asked: “What are these?” Rumi replied: “This is some knowledge you wouldn’t understand.” Shams threw all the books into the pool and said: “And this is some knowledge you wouldn’t understand.”
A knowledge-proud theologian was challenged by a mystic. Soon, Shams became Rumi’s mentor. The love in Rumi’s poems essentially speaks of his love for God. To him the entire universe is suffused with the spirit of God.
Those who are interested in reading him I recommend Deepak Chopra’s The Love poems of Rumi.