Published:  01:05 AM, 08 November 2018

Rumi's quest for divinity

Rumi's quest for divinity

Masnavi of Rumi is an esteemed and classical book illustrating the spiritual and mystic ideas depicted by Jalal-Al-Din Rumi in his thoughtful exhortations and poems.

This book offers a substantial and lucid glance into the messages the greatest Persian mystic poet intended to convey to people of all ages and centuries through his evocative words and precepts. In particular, readers with eagerness to know about Rumi in a deep but incisive way will certainly find this text very luminous.

Acclaimed as one of the finest scholars and mystic poets of Persia, Jalal-Al-Din Rumi (1207-1273) expressed his thoughts in such a lovely and fascinating way that his writings have overwhelmed believers of all religions for hundreds of years and the illusion disseminated by his spiritual ideas bemuse millions of readers worldwide till today.

During the time while Rumi lived, monarchs, merchants, sages, theologians, peasants, common men and women of all beliefs used to meet him to hear his verses and sermons. He was a scholar of such a height that he could touch the heart of everyone that came across him with his profound words. The true essence of humanism lies in the sense of sacrifice. "We have learnt in order to give.

We have not learnt in order to take" said Rumi, reminding us of the higher importance of dedication to uphold humanity. Over the years Rumi became all the more popular with the western readers and impacted the western school of thoughts even several centuries after his death. Rumi's poetry has been so far translated into English by quite a few writers such as Coleman Barks, Robert Bly and A. J. Arberry.

Rumi's honor for other religions on some occasions made him face unfriendly questions from theologians of his time.One of them was Qonavi, a leading Muslim cleric of that period. He once confronted Rumi before an audience, "You claim to be at one with 72 religious sects, but the Jews cannot agree with the Christians, and the Christians cannot agree with the Muslims. If they cannot agree with each other, how could you agree with all of them?" Rumi answered to this, "Yes, you are right. I agree with you too."

Rumi was respected by the kings and noblemen of Persia, but still he was found more inclined to tailors, carpenters, shopkeepers or even vagabonds. He focused on illuminating the most overlooked people of the society with the light of divinity. There was a story about Rumi that, one day Rumi was absorbed in deep contemplation while his disciples were sitting close by. At that time a drunk pedestrian was staggering along that way, who insensibly stumbled over Rumi.

Rumi's disciples were enraged at this incident and they all stood up to teach the drunk fellow a good lesson, but Rumi raised his hand to stop them and said, " I thought this intruder was the one who was intoxicated, but now I see it's not him, but it's my own students who are drunk." This is how Rumi instilled tolerance into the hearts of his followers.

Rumi glorified wisdom and placed it on top of power and pomp. Rumi's love for wisdom with dignity, rather than for wealth is reflected through the following lines:"The worst of scholars are those who visit princes, and the best of princes are those who visit scholars. Wise is the prince who stands at the door of the poor, and wretched are the poor who stand at the door of the prince."

Looking for the emblems of God in ordinary surroundings like leaves, grass, rocks remain the quest of Rumi in all his poems and discourses and an identical tune is echoed in Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself" too in which we find Whitman seeking to find the image of the Creator by looking deeply into blades of grass.

Another frequently quoted saying by Rumi is "Don't grieve. Whatever you lose comes around in another form". This recalls the 'Universal Law of Compensation' by Ralph Waldo Emerson, another frontline American author of 19th century, who said, "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.

And for everything you gain, you lose something else." Rumi's mystic legacy is still going on through uncountable authors, analysts and readers from different countries and languages who have been seeking spiritual enlightenment from his disquisitions and poetry.

Rumi spoke of the intermingling of human body and soul into the entity of God like this "I don't exist, God is all. There is no existence but God. If I shatter into pieces, it's through the infinite grace of God's unlocking of Himself….I am nothing."

Divine thoughts, particularly components of mysticism were an exclusive aspect in the verses and discourses of Rumi and his constant quest for the shadow of God through humans and the natural phenomena that surrounds mankind resonates throughout Masnavi. God is not the unfathomable mark of a remote image.

Rather the presence of God is tangible through a delicate vision of human beings and their natural circumference--in broad terms this is the notion Rumi wanted to highlight. The reflection of God through the musings and actions of men and women is remarkably sketched in Rumi's rhetoric.

The writer is a literary analyst for The Asian Age

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