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MASNAVI e MA'NAVI
THE SPIRITUAL COUPLETS OF MAULANA JALALU-'D-DlN MUHAMMAD RUMI World famous Persian (Iranian) 13th century poet. Translated and Abridged by E.H. Whinfield Jalal-e-din Rumi was born at Balkh (Khorassan) in 1207 A.D. The city at that time flourished under the rule of Muhammad the Shah of Khwarazm. The family to which our mystical poet belonged had been settled in Balkh for several generations; it was highly respected and, according to his biographers, had produced a notable succession of jurists and divines. In 1219, Baha-e-din Walad, the father of Jalal-e-din Rumi, suddenly departed from Balkh with his family and journeyed westward. There can be no doubt that Baha-e-din fled before the terrible Mongol hordes which were already approaching his native city. Zarandeh was their first home in Rum (Turkey) and Konia, the capital of the western Seljuk empire, their final residence. Jalal-e-din, under the influence of Burhan-e-din Tirmidhi, became imbued with enthusiasm for the discipline and doctrine of Sufism. He devoted himself to imitation of his guide (pir) and passed through all the stages of the mystical life until the death of Burhan-e-din (1240). He in turn assumed the rank of shaykh and his ardent personality attracted disciples in Rum. In 1244, a wandering

dervish, known to posterity by the name of Shams Tabrizi, arrived in Konia. Jalal-e-din found in the stranger that perfect image of the Divine Beloved which he had long been seeking. He took him away to his house and for two years they remained inseparable. Meanwhile the disciples of Rumi, entirely cut off from their master's teaching and bitterly resenting his continued devotion to Shams alone, assailed the intruder with abuse and threats of violence. At last the dervish fled to Damascus but was brought back in triumph by the son of Jalal-e-din, Sultan Walad. Jalal-e-din, deeply agitated by the loss of his bosom friend, sent out people in search of him. Thereupon the disciples repented (towbe) and were forgiven. Soon, however, a renewed outburst of jealousy on their part caused Shams to take refuge in Damascus for the second time and again Sultan Walad was called upon to restore the situation. Finally, in 1247, the man of mystery vanished without leaving a trace behind. After the disappearance of Shams, Rumi composed an immense collection of mystical odes in the name of Shams and dedicated to his memory (Divan Shams Tabrizi). The next period (1252 - 1261) in Rumi's spiritual life is a fainter repetition of the last. For many years, Jalal-e-din devoted himself to Salah-e-din Zarkub, who as his deputy (Khalifeh) was charged with the duty of instructing the Rumi's followers. On the death of Salah-e-din, the poet's enthusiasm found a new and abundant source of inspiration in another disciple Husam-e-din ibn Akhi turk, whose name he has mystically associated with his greatest work, the celebrated Masnavi. During the last ten years of the poet's life this last beloved follower acted as his deputy, and upon his death in 1273 succeeded him as Head of the Mewlevi order. We must note that a platonic type of mystical love had been cultivated by sufis long before Rumi declared that he and Shams Tabrizi were two bodies with one soul. In this union of loving souls all distinctions vanish: nothing remains but the essential unity of love in which lover and beloved have merged their separate identities. In calling his lyrics the Divan of Shams, Rumi of course uses the name Shams as though Shams and himself had become identical and were the same person. The forms in which he clothes his religious philosophy had been fashioned before him by two great sufi poets, Sanai and Attar. Though he makes no secret of his debt to them both, his flight takes a wider range, his materials are richer and his method of handling the subject is so original that we can say the Rumi's literary works have a new style. In Jalal-e-din, the Persian mystical genius found its supreme expression. The words used by Dante in reference to the Divine Commedia would serve excellently as a description of the Masnavi: The poem belongs to the moral or ethical branch of philosophy, its quality is not speculative but practical, and its ultimate end is to lead into the state of felicity, those now enduring the miserable life of man. Rumi's mysticism is not doctrinal but experimental. He appeals to the heart more than to the mind.