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This is the translation of one of the world's greatest masterpieces

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.

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