Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Life without devotion is disgrace - Persian Poetry of Rumi

زندگی بے بندگی شرمندگی

When i was a small kid, I used to accompany my family to visit an uncle living in the then emerging and thriving colony 'Shad Bagh,' near Lahore Railways station across the 'Do Moria Pull - A bridge with two entrances)'. En route there was a mosque on which there was a big board displaying three words as written above. These were my father's favourite but I was too small to understand the literal meaning of these words.

And it was not many decades later when before proceeding on a year long course in Iran, I underwent a diploma level Persian language course at the National Institute of Modern Languages 'NIML' (now NUML after being elevated to the level of a university) that I came to know the true meaning of these three words:

زندگی آمد، برائے بندگی
زندگی بے بندگی شرمندگی

Zindagi Aamad Bara'ay Bandagi
Zindagi Be Bandagi Sharmindagi

Life is only for devotion.
Life without devotion (worship or total submission) is disgrace


And more so, it dawned on me that these mystical words flowed from the mind and pen of none other than one of the great Persian language poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى‎) - also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی).


Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic, was born in Wakhsh (present-day Tajikistan) and rose to be highly revered poet and religious scholar.

Rumi drew spiritual aspiration from one of the great name in the mystic world Shams-i-Tabrīzī or Shams al-Din Mohammad. It is said that one day Rumi was reading next to a large stack of books. Shams Tabriz, passing by, asked him, "What are you doing?" Rumi scoffingly replied, "Something you cannot understand." On hearing this, Shams threw the stack of books into a nearby pool of water. Rumi hastily rescued the books and to his surprise they were all dry. Rumi then asked Shams, "What is this?" To which Shams replied, "Mowlana, this is what you cannot understand."

So this the level of these two great names in poetry and spiritual world and both are revered til  today by Iranians, Turks, Afghans, Tajiks, and other Central Asian Muslims as well as the Muslims of the Pakistan and India. However, the name of Shams-i-Tabrīzī should not be confused with Shah Shams Tabrizi buried in Multan, Pakistan. 

Now with this background (or if you want to read more about these two spiritual personalities, hit on the highlighted links for details given in Wikipedia), I came to understand the true meaning of the three words which did not make sense to me in my childhood and I wondered then as to why my father liked these three words so much. Since my father knew Persian very well, he must have known the background, which I learnt many years later in my life.

Read the full poetry of Rumi given here in under and see how beautiful spiritual and mystic thinking can be be. And you would also know the correlation between زندگی بے بندگی شرمندگی with the rest of the poetry:

تو کریمی، من کمینہ بردہ عم
لیکں از لطف شمار پروردہ عم


Too Karimi Mun Kamina Barda Um
Laikin Az Lutf E Shuma Parwarda Um

You are the gracious and I am the ignoble, standing at your door.
You are my cherisher.

زندگی آمد، برائے بندگی
زندگی بے بندگی شرمندگی

Zindagi Aamad Bara'ay Bandagi
Zindagi Be Bandagi Sharmindagi

Life is only for devotion.
Life without devotion (worship or total submission) is disgrace.

یاد اے او سرمایہ ایماں بو ند
ھر جگہ، از یاد او سلطاں بوند

Yaad E Oo Sarmaya E Eeman Bo'ad
Har Gada Az Yaad E Oo Sultan Bo'ad

Remembrance of him is the foundation of faith.
The beggars are like kings due to his remembrance.

سید و سرور محمد(صلی اللا علیہ وسلم) نور جاں
معتر او بھتر شفیع مجرمان

Sayyad O Sarwar Mohammad Noor E Jaan
Mehtar O Behtar Shafi E Mujrimaan

Mohammad (pbuh) was purified of worldly things,
he got this reward:
God said to him, Whatever direction you face your prayer,
My face is to that direction.
His soul like an eagle of Heaven as God called him Mercy for all the creations of God.

چوں محمد(صلی اللا علیہ وسلم) پاک شد از نار او دود
ھر کجا روح کرد وج اوللا بود

Choon Muhammad Pak E Shud Az Nar O Dood
Her Kaja Roo Karad Wajhullah Bood

There is no greater or better of all the prophets than Mohammad (pbuh).
He is the praise of God and therefore has been praised very much.
He is the reflection of God in the shape of a worshipper of God.

شھباز لاماکانی جان او
رحمت لل عالعمیں در شان او

Shahbaaz Lamakani Jaan E Oo
Rehmatal Lil Aalameen Dar Shaan E Oo

The friends of God are like God because God is their friend and in this way he who has seen his spiritual leader, sees God.
one who doesn't see his spiritual leader as God is not a true spiritual disciple.

معترین او بھترین انبیاہ
جز محمد(صلی اللا علیہ وسلم) نیست در ارض و سماں

Mehtareen O Behtareen E Ambiyaah
Juz Muhammad Naist Dar Arz O Samaa

There is no greater or better of all the prophets than Mohammad (S.A.W)*.
* SallaAllah-u-Alaih-e-Wasslam (Peace be upon him)

آں محمد(صلی اللا علیہ وسلم) حامر او محمود شد
شکل عابد،صورت معبود شد

Aan Mohammad Hamid O Mahmoud Shud
Shakal E Abid, Sorat E Ma'bood Shud

اولیاہ، اللا ہ اللا اولیاہ،
یعنی دید پیر، دید کبریاہ

Auliyah Allah O Allah Auliyah
Yani Deed E Peer Deed E Kibriyah

ھرکہ پیر او زات حق راہ یک نہ دید
نے مرید او نے مرید او نے مرید

Her Ka Peer O Zaat Haqra Aik Na Deed
Nai Mureed O Nai Mureed O Nai Mureed

مولوی ھر گز نہ شر مولائے روم
تا غلام شمس تبریزی نہ شد

Maulvi Hargiz Na Shud Maula E Rum
Ta Ghulaam E Shams Tabraizi Na Shud

Maulvi ( Rumi was also called Maulana / Maulvi Rumi for being a religious teacher as well )could never be Maula-i-Rum  (spiritual leader or Master)
if he had not devoted himself to Shams Tabrizi - The spiritual Master of Maulana Rumi (Rehmatullah-e-Alayeh)

The last verses are attributed by Rumi to his spiritual teacher and guide Shams Tabrizi - a great thing only great minds and hearts can do. Otherwise small people like us disregard any attribution to our elders and take all undue credit to show our false elevation in literature and spiritualism. And perhaps for this Tabrizi had told Rumi: 'Mowlana, this is what you cannot understand' - not intended for Rumi but for us......

Rumi's Poetry/Persian Text/Translation courtesy Sufi Music

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