Saturday, November 12, 2011

Flowing Rumi Connections from South Asia

"come with me ...on a moonlit night or in a soaked Asarh monsoon...hundreds and thousands of souls...searching their lost abode from where they have been displaced...the disciples dance whole night and only sound heard is HU HUHU meaning Allahu..." (this quote is from the speech condensed below)

Blogger's Note: Most the poets mentioned here so briefly are new to me. Yet, seeing links between these great painters - with their brushes of words and soul - and other beloved poet-guides is familiar water.

My deepest understanding says, 'Yes', here again - the same journey through a sea voyage...

I am still a happy newcomer to Rumi as well. Thus, I certainly invite and hope for comments with more references and poems.


Jibananda's "Today"

Always another path you seek: today I seek no more.

I found in that void on the far shore something to hold at last --

In my own heart, own mind...

Following Jibanananda's tragic death, Kolkata's leading Bengali daily newspapers carried this above poem, a fitting epitaph for one who spent a lifetime largely in service to the arts - while searching for truth and beauty. He has been mentioned as a major Bengladeshi poet inspired by Rumi. (translation credited to poet, professor A.K. Ramanujan)

A paper/speech -- by MUSTAFA ZAMAN ABBASI begins:

"I thank Allah...,the hosts of this symposium, the UNESCO ,for this lifetime opportunity to visit beautiful Turkey for the first time and pay my respects to Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi in Konya, where he is resting for more than seven hundred years...a pilgrimage for me. (on behalf of 140 million people of Bangladesh, who regard Rumi with high esteem, as his Masnawi is read in 200000 mosques of Bangladesh.)" *

The following is a condensation of the core of this paper - which I find to be a clarifying understanding of the universal yet particular. (As well as of the other poets influenced by him. Reading this, I got a glimpse into how a lover of Rumi can be - via Rumi - a lover of birthplace yet also so wide open to others around the world.


He is more than a great poet, one of our pathfinders.

Mowlana can be studied from various angles by scholars assembled from far and near. As folklorist and translator of Rumi to Bengali, spoken by 230 million I may let the audience know how his message is “spread over from California to Bangladesh,” to quote a line from Anna Maria Schimmel. I chose eight poets out of hundreds to prove my point.

RUMI CLAIMED BY ALL: Rumi runs in the blood of my people. Majority who live in villages having little or no access to literacy may not have read Masnawi or diwans , but stories and teachings imparted in mosques and khanqas become so deep routed in their psyche that they easily stream down to folk traditions in such a way as Afghans would like to own Jalaluddin as Balkhi and people in and west of Turkey as Rumi...

Nazrul Islam, the rebel poet of Bengal brought Ghazal style of poetry into our literature. He eulogized Rumi, Sadi and Hafiz and brought the breeze of Tabrez in to the lush green soil of Bengal, which was already abode of a thousand rural sufi poets...

(The scholars, writers, poets and those who paraphrase are then mentioned in this paper. Some of these are: R A Nicholson, A J Arberry, Anna Marie Schimmel, William Chittick, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Coleman Barks ,Ibrahim Ganard, John Moyne, Michael Green, Philip and Manuella Dunn,Camille and Kabir Helminski and many more...)

...To me, Rumi is remembrance. To me, Rumi is living every moment, a living of joy unto giving others the joy of breath...Take any of his couplets from Dewan or Discourses or Masnawi and one could ponder on or write a volume on each one...

...Any couplet of Rumi is sweet and has the capacity to enkindle a soul willing to give it a try. MACHER TELE MACH BHAJA, a Bengali idiom meaning frying fish with oil of the fish is true of any research on Rumi. It is a sure way to a simple man to see the way of Allah. Rumi was not a prophet, he had a book though...

...If you want to know what I mean, you will come with me to a mosque in rural haor area of Sunamganj where you cannot see anything but water and the small mosque or on bank of the river Padma in Sureswar mela or in mangrove forest of the Sunderbans or in the remote maiz bhandar darbar, on a moonlit night or in a soaked Asarh monsoon . The hundreds and thousands of souls assembled here on urs melas are frantically searching their lost abode from where they have been displaced. These dances are different. With long bamboos in hand, the disciples dance whole night and only sound heard is HU HUHU meaning Allahu...

...No where in the world I have seen such exotic movements by thousand participants .

The beauty of this scenario lies further in the acceptability of all faiths in same platform, the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims all in one forum. I do not recall any other place in the world where this sufi view of life has gained so much momentum .

Being neither an Emre, (Yunus Emre), spending forty years in devoted seclusion, nor a darbesh in a chilla for forty days,(like some present here today incognito),I did not have the opportunity to have meditation in a cave for forty years in Himalayan mountains with the sadhus, though born in that area.

But only a week of Sohbat(company) with Rumi one can be awakened.. Tawajjuh’ or gaze by the Shaikh scene changes dramatically . It is happening even today...

Hundreds of folk poets whom I met in seven decades of living in the folk festivals Melas, as they are called, recited profoundly meaningful songs with accompaniment of DOTARA and sometimes SARINDA ( an instrument of West Asian descent) and violin...

...Rumi says,I am not the author, I am the pen. Whatever he realized, mused upon, penned through, were from the Source. We sometimes run after picture presentations, sugarcoated short cut presentations, poeticity, real thing is breeze coming from Him...

One who witnessed the whirling darbesh dance, has seen only the incredible whirling, the dresses, the beautiful cap, the music, but could he enter the dance? Often not, that’s my guess. The ‘tourist’ thing has the outward Rumi. The inside thing is the Suhbat e Rumi...

Eight out of eight hundred

Fascination with Sufi spirituality of professional scholars as well as public has heightened to such an extent to produce breathtaking studies in the west. Eight out of around 800 sufi poets has been chosen to trace linkage with Rumi.

1. Shitalong Shah Fakir [1800-1889]

2. Fakir Lalon Shah [1774-1890]

3. Hasan Raja [1855-1922]

4. Jalaluddin Khan [1894-1972]

5. Abdul Halim Bayati [1930-2007]

6. Qazi Nazrul Islam [1898-1976]

7. Mansur ali [1855-1985]

8. Panju shah[1851-1914]

In translating and presenting these songs, mostly folk, I attempt to convey my deep admiration and involvement. These are poetries resembling the colored landscape with paddy fields oven like embroidered quilt, like the clouds of various shades in the monsoon sky, the bamboo flute of lost love under a kadam tree, suddenly flashes with the inner meaning of lost flutes inner cry as heard in Rumi. The folksongs of great rivers like The Padma, the Meghna, and the Jamuna merging with age long tears, sorrow and the melancholia of the Bengali people are the finest expressions of their spirituality hitherto unknown to any in the West...

Tagore’s Gitanjali’ (also connected) was a translation of 23 poems sent by W B Yeats and his friends to the Nobel Committee to fetch a Nobel Prize for literature for Tagore in 1941...(blogger, I am not sure of the connection quite yet.)...

Rumi's messages are for the ordinary. It is,simple, from beginning to the end, never complicated as someone would like to relate it now. In Masnawi we found him to be a great story teller. In the same traditions there are hundreds of Bayati (from the Russian word ‘bayat ‘meaning storyteller) in Bangladesh who have been addressing millions of rural population with simple stories. I have come across performers of ‘bichar’songs.The Bichar is evaualation or judging between two extremes like Marefat and Shariat, like War and Peace and so on...

Main theme of Rumis philosophical doctrine is Union with God. Rumi often refers to the following hadith qudsi: Neither My earth nor my heavens contain Me, but I an contained in the heart of My faithful servant. In the following passages he comments on this theme:

I gazed into my own heart

There I saw Him; He was nowhere else(diwan,p73)

O heart! we have searched from end to end: I saw in thee naught

Save the beloved..." (Diwan,p250)

The painting above is by one of my favorite painters Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910). A Light on the Sea, 1897. Oil on canvas. © Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

For more on the above condensed notes and poetry, dip into the following:

* Find more as I did in an intro to Bangal Poetry & Arts (as for decades celebrated both in Bangali and in the US) It's a somewhat "older paper" still popular - perhaps in need of some correction? Yet it touches upon the connection between these four poets see these notations here

JALAL UDDIN KHAN: exponent of Bhatiali from Brahmaputra

Jalaluddin Khan a famous Bhatiali singer and mystic from Brahmaputra river basin in Mymensingh, composed 2500 folksongs, some of which survived in published form namely,” Jalal geetika samagra” with 1200 Bhatiali and Murshidi songs, one is more beautiful than the other. Rumis reference is : SEARCH. As we open a computer it asks us to SEARCH. The same earning and search for Him is to be seen in this beautiful song.


What are you meditating on?

Search first when you are still here .

When you are deeply in meditation (namaz),

Your body is purity

When bird inside call you to come in

...You are a pilgrim

Know hearts kaaba first

...on your heart riverbed

Six madina already exist, why do you go far?

Open your eyes and watch angels already prostrating

Jalal gives good news, water of abehayat

Is inside...go to your eternal home

Last yet NOT at all least, get acquainted with Allama Iqbal. What a poet - what a human being! (and so much more.)

For just a bit of introduction and links to much more, go to my other blogsite, No More Crusades for a small post in honor of Allama Iqbal here

Here's just an excerpt from some Wikipedia history notes:

The Pas Cheh Bayed Kard ai Aqwam-e-Sharq (What are we to do, O Nations of the East?) includes the poem Musafir (Traveler). Again, Iqbal depicts Rumi as a character and an exposition of the mysteries of Islamic laws and Sufi perceptions is given.

Musafir is an account of one of Iqbal's journeys to Afghanistan, in which the Pashtun people are counseled to learn the "secret of Islam" and to "build up the self" within themselves.

Iqbal's final work was the Armughan-e-Hijaz (The Gift of Hijaz), published posthumously in 1938. The first part contains quatrains in Persian, and the second part contains some poems and epigrams in Urdu. The Persian quatrains convey the impression as though the poet is travelling through the Hijaz in his imagination. Profundity of ideas and intensity of passion are the salient features of these short poems. The Urdu portion of the book contains some categorical criticism of some of the intellectual and other movements...of the modern age. (At that time.)

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