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The Mathnawi III-IV

The Mathnawi III-IV

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Published by: donneperth on Nov 21, 2010
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LITT.D., LL.D., F.B.A.
Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic and sometime Lecturer in Persian in the University of Cambridge
INTRODUCTIONWhile the First and Second Books of the Mathnawí were already accessible to Europeanreaders before the appearance of the present translation, the four remaining Books, comprisingmore than two-thirds of the poem, have hitherto been known very imperfectly. These containabout 17,500 verses, of which some 2000 were translated by Whinfield in his abridged version(Trübner's Oriental Series, 1880; 2nd edition, 1898); and so far as I am aware, this is the onlycontribution that has yet been made by a Western scholar towards the study of Books III–VI.Good as his renderings are from a general point of view, I cannot say that I owe much to them,since they are seldom precise enough to afford help in dealing with obscure and doubtfulpassages. Regarding the character and purpose of my translation I have nothing to add to whatwas said in the Introduction to the previous volume. Although, by itself, it may serve as a guideto the meaning of the text, its main function is to provide a sound basis for the commentarywithout which it cannot be fully understood. Growing familiarity with the author's thought andstyle has removed some difficulties and lightened others; but there are still many to be clearedup.For reasons which are set forth in the Introduction to vol.III, I consider the Qóniya MS. (G),dated 677 A.H., to be the most authoritative text of the Mathnawí. The text of the present editionfrom Book III, v. 2836, to the end of Book IV is founded on that ancient and admirable MS., andin the Appendices to vol.III I have recorded those readings of G which differ from the text of myedition in the First and Second Books and in the first half of the Third Book. The present volume,therefore, contains an Appendix showing what changes the adoption of these readings wouldinvolve in the English version of the corresponding portions of the poem. As it will be some timebefore the Commentary on the First and Second Books can appear, a few suggestions forimproving the translation of these Books are now brought together in a separate list.
In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.The sciences of (Divine) Wisdom are God's armies, wherewith He strengthens the spirits of the initiates, and purifies their knowledge from the defilement of ignorance, their justice from thedefilement of iniquity, their generosity from the defilement of ostentation, and their forbearancefrom the defilement of foolishness; and brings near to them whatever was far from them inrespect of the understanding of the state hereafter; and makes easy to them whatever was hardto them in respect of obedience (to Him) and zealous endeavour (to serve Him). And they (thesesciences) are amongst the evidences and proofs of the prophets, giving information concerningthe mysteries and sovereignty of God, (the knowledge whereof is) bestowed on the gnosticsexclusively, and how He causes the revolution of the Luminous Sphere appertaining to the
and the Pearl, (the Sphere) which rules over the vaporous globular sphere, even as theintellect rules over the bodies (created) of dust and (over) their external and internal senses; forthe revolution of that spiritual Sphere rules over the vaporous sphere and the gleaming meteorsand the radiant lamps (of heaven) and the fostering winds and the outspread earths and theflowing waters. May God benefit His servants thereby (by these sciences) and increase theirunderstanding! Now every reader understands according to the measure of his intelligence, andthe devotee practises devotion according to the measure of his power to exert himself (therein),and the mufti decides questions of law according to the amount of judgement he possesses, andthe alms-giver gives alms in proportion to his ability, and the donor is generous in proportion tohis means, and the recipient of generosity obtains (only) so much of his bounty as he (the donor)approves. But (nevertheless) he who searches for water in the desert will not be prevented fromseeking it by his knowledge of what is (contained) in the seas, and he will be earnest in seekingthe Water of this (spiritual) life ere he is cut off from it by preoccupation with the means of subsistence and hindered by illness and want, and ere (other) objects come between him andthat (goal) to which he is hastening, since none who prefers vain desire or is inclined to ease orturns back from his search or has fears for himself or feels anxiety about his means of livelihoodwill ever attain unto Knowledge, unless he take refuge with God and prefer his spiritual affairs tohis temporal and take from the treasure of Wisdom the great riches, which neither lose theirvalue nor are inherited like riches (of this world), and the majestic lights and noble jewels andprecious estates (of Wisdom), giving thanks for His bounty, glorifying His dispensation,magnifying His allotment; and unless he seek refuge with God from the vileness of (worldly)interests and from an ignorance (so blind) that he makes much of the little which he sees inhimself and makes little of the much and great (which he finds) in others, and admires himself onaccount of that (self-conceit) for which God hath not given him permission. But it behoves onewho hath knowledge and is seeking (God) that he should learn whatever he does not know, andteach (others) what he knows already, and deal gently with those of weak intelligence, andheither be made conceited by the stupidity of the stupid nor harshly rebuke him that is dull of understanding.
Such were ye aforetime, but God hath been gracious unto you.
Transcendent isGod and exalted above the sayings of the blasphemers, and the belief of those who attributepartners (to Him), and the imputation of defect (to Him) by those deficient (in knowledge), andthe comparison (of Him) by the comparers, and the evil conceptions of the thinkers, and thedescriptions (of Him) by those who vainly imagine. And to Him be the praise and the glory for thecomposition of the Divine, Lordly Book of the
, since He is the Helper to success andthe Giver of bounty, and to Him belongs the (power of) conferring abundant benefits andfavours, especially upon His servants, the gnostics, in despite of a party who desire to extinguishthe Lights of God with their mouths—but God will bring His Light to completion, even if theunbelievers are loth.
Verily, We have sent down the Warning (the Qur’án) and verilyWe will 
guard it. And whoever shall alter it after he hath heard it, surely the guilt thereofis upon those who alter it: verily, God is Hearing and Knowing. And praise be to God,the Lord of all created beings! 
O Light of the Truth, Husámu’ddín, bring (into verse and writing) this Third Book, for “threetimes” has become a
Open the treasury of mysteries; in respect of the Third Book leave excuses alone.Thy power flows from the power of God, not from the veins which throb because of (bodily)heat.This lamp, the sun, which is bright—it is not (made bright) by means of wick and cotton and oil.
The vault of heaven, which is so enduring, is not supported by any tent-rope or pillar.The power of Gabriel was not from the kitchen; it was from beholding the Creator of existence.Likewise, know this power of the
of God to be (derived) from God, not from viands andfrom trays (of food).Their bodies too have been moulded of the Light, so that they have transcended the Spirit andthe Angel.Inasmuch as thou art endowed with the qualities of the Almighty, pass beyond the fire of themaladies (of the sensual self), like Khalíl.
To thee also the fire will become
coolness and safety 
, O thou to whose complexion(constitution) the elements are slaves.The elements are the substance of every complexion, but this complexion of thine is superior toevery grade.This complexion of thine is of the simple (uncompounded) world; it has now gathered up(amassed and absorbed) the attributes of Unity.Oh, alas, the area of the people's understandings is exceeding narrow: the people have nothroat.O Light of the Truth, through the keenness of thy perception thy sweetmeat bestows a throat(even) on (one dull as) stone.
Mount Sinai in the (Divine) epiphany gained a throat, so that it quaffed the wine; but itcould not bear the wine.Thereby the mountain was shattered and cloven asunder: have ye seen a mountain amble like acamel?Bestowal of mouthfuls comes (to pass) from every clustered fruit-tree (well-to do person), (but)bestowal of a throat is the work of God alone.He bestows a throat on the body and on the spirit; He bestows a separate throat for every partof you.This He bestows at the time when you become Majestical and become void of vanity and deceit,
So that you will not tell the King's secret to any one nor pour out sugar before flies.The secrets of the (Divine) Majesty are drunk in by the ear of that one who, like the lily, hath ahundred tongues and is dumb.The grace of God bestows a throat on the earth, to the end that it may drink water and make ahundred herbs to grow. Again, He bestows on the creature of earth (the animal) a throat and lip, in order that it may eatits (the earth's) herbage in desire.

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