Sunday, November 19, 2006


Recycling a very old post we did, aeons ago, in a different place, in a different avatar.

Born in the 13th century AD in Balkh, Afghanistan, Jelaluddin Balkhi's family fled the invading Mongols to Roman Anatolia (hence "Rumi") in modern day Turkey sometime between 1215 and 1220. Rumi was a Sufi sage, professor of religion, philosopher, poet all rolled into one. More about Rumi at the following sites:One of the most significant events in Rumi's life was his meeting the wandering dervish Shams of Tabriz (Shams-e-Tabriz is a term that seems to come up in various ghazals/qawwalis). Their encounter had a profound effect on Rumi and his friendship and association with Shams inspired much of his work. Shams's disappearance (some say murdered by Rumi's jealous son) was a bereavement which egged Rumi on to greater heights.

The following verses are from Coleman Barks' translation of Rumi and his book is quite well done.


We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That's fine with us. Every morning
we glow and in the evening we glow again.

They say there's no future for us. They're right.
Which is fine with us.


I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.

Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.


Come to the orchard in Spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts
in the pomegranate flowers.

If you do not come, these do not matter.
If you do come, these do not matter.


The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
nor is it bought with going to amazing places.

Until you've kept your eyes
and your wanting still for fifty years,
you don't begin to cross over from confusion.


Listen to presences inside poems,
Let them take you where they will.

Follow those private hints,
and never leave the premises.

Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.

"Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.

Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.

Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.

At any gathering I am there,
mingling in the laughing and grieving,

a friend to each, but few
will hear the secrets hidden

within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,

Spirit up from body: no concealing
that mixing. But it's not given us

to see the soul. The reed flute
is fire, not wind. Be that empty."

Hear the love fire tangled
in the reed notes, as bewilderment

melts into wine. The reed is a friend
to all who want that fabric torn

and drawn away. The reed is hurt
and salve combining. Intimacy

and longing for intimacy, one
song. A disastrous surrender

and a fine love, together. The one
who secretly hears this is senseless.

A tongue has one customer, the ear.
A sugarcane flute has such effect

because it was able to make sugar
in the reedbed. The sound it makes

is for everyone. Days full of wanting,
let them go by without worrying

that they do. Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note.

Every thirst gets satisfied except
hat of these fish, the mystics,

who swim a vast ocean of grace
still somehow longing for it!

No one lives in that without
being nourished every day.

But if someone doesn't want to hear
the song of the reed flute,

it's best to cut conversation
short, say good-bye, and leave.

Reminds us rather of a Hillaire Belloc nugget:

How did the party go in Portman Square?
I cannot tell you: Juliet was not there.

And how did Lady Gaster's party go?
Juliet was next to me and I do not know.


Sheetal said...

Ee post naaku chaala chaala nachindi.

I don't know how it happens but I have not encountered Rumi much - clearly this must be rectified.
Muzaffar Ali, who is quite obsessed with Rumi, is making a movie on him, did you know?

Ludwig said...

[sheetal] Santosham!

Rectify, rectify. Much to be gleaned. Also Hafiz.

What Should We Do about that Moon?

A wine bottle fell from a wagon
And broke open in a field.

That night hundred beetles and all their cousins

And did some serious binge drinking.

They even found some seed husks nearby
And began to play them like drums and whirl.
This made God very happy.

Then the 'night candle' rose into the sky
And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument
Said to his friend - for no apparent

"What should we do about that moon?"

Seems to Hafiz
Most everyone has laid aside the music

Tackling such profoundly useless

From: 'The Gift' translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Anonymous said...

I find this Rumi quite annoying, frankly. Stick to poetry or stick to philosophy. This fluffy cliched mixture is hmmm ... well suited only for this illequipped westerners seeking solace in so called eastern philosophy when there are true ones available.

- A rather opiniated reader :)

Ludwig said...

[rather opinionated anon :)] Different strokes for different folks, as long as you're not shooting the messenger! Personally don't think the Mevlana is a philosopher at all, in a modern sense. A mystic? (whatever that means!) Perhaps we shouldn't even try to see him that way. The "...was a Sufi sage, professor of religion, philosopher..." is an ages old copy-paste that crept in. As a pure poet, he's rather good, IMO.

> so called eastern philosophy
> when there are true ones
> available

Care to expand?


Shweta said...

Wanted to let you know that you have given much pleasure. Them words lived with me all day yesterday (it was such a day), came to say thanks and found more ! Oh! Joy!

Ludwig said...

[shweta] Thanks. Didn't quite realize that the Rumi-Hafiz cut-paste job would be quite so popular!

Anonymous said...

I liked the #5 verse the best - inspires me to read more of Rumi. Thanks for sharing.

Ludwig said...

[anonymous] Glad you like. Thanks for thanks.

Deski said...

Fruit - I suspect you like Rumi because he endorses your inactive and ungrammatical lifestyle.

"If you do not come, these do not matter."
"They say there is no future. This is fine with us." ...etc.

Highly fatalistic it seems...

Ludwig said...

[deski] Hooray. You exist!

> Fruit - I suspect you like Rumi
> because he endorses your
> inactive and ungrammatical
> lifestyle.

Yes, yes, truly, life for Ludwig is a constant process of finding definition and verification via the reflection of the Self's endorsement of the inactive (and ungrammatical? WTF!) in the Other (Mevlana Celaluddin - favourite words nowadays!)

> "If you do not come,
> these do not matter."

Oh, don't think we quite endorse that one, though. It does matter profoundly whether one comes or not.

> "They say there is no future.
> This is fine with us." ...etc.

This is spot on.

How goes in Pom land? Still nefariously raking in the moolah? Love to the missus. When coming desh?

Deski said...

Life goes on. Money flows.

> "They say there is no future.
> This is fine with us."

This is spot on agreed.

Nevertheless (always the more)... the more tricky question is... if there are many futures, which one to choose?

What has your poet to say on the subject?

Ludwig said...


> if there are many futures,
> which one to choose?

You're starting to sound like some Bene Gesserit type, machi...

> What has your poet to say
> on the subject?

Not sure. Most probably, "It don't matter..."

Lavanya said...

Hi Ludwig,

My sister-in-law aarthi recommended I read your blog. I'm highly entertained.
This is my favorite Rumi verse -
(I might have botched it but it's translated anyways)
"When I am with you, we stay awake all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Thank God for these two insomnias;
And the difference between them."

I watched a documentary on Sufism that had a segment on the whirling dervishes. One cute Turkish saint said, "Anyone can whirl. it ees naat harrrd". So my next life goal is to learn to whirl. Apparently there is some ambiguity about whether or not women can be taught traditional whirling :)

Anyways, let peace be peace.

Ludwig said...

[lavanya] Hi back, thanks for stopping by. The lawyer is recommending blogs and all nowadays, eh? Thanks also for the Rumi nugget. Is that from Coleman Barks' translation?

Cute, Turkish, and saint? Surely, not all 3 at the same time? Some paragon of piety and pulchritude he must've been. I'm sure he's keen to teach women to whirl. Although, if the latest Bollywood jhatkas and matkas are anything to go by, he's missed the bus!

In whirligig solidarity...

Space Bar said...

ah! rumi and hafiz! both favourites. so glad i discovered your blog.

Ludwig said...

[space bar] Glad you're glad. And the feeling is mutual, we must admit. A visit to "The Spaniard In The Works" revealed much that is interesting, especially vis a vis cinema... Will be coming back.

Space Bar said...

oh goody! :D please leave plenty comments. that way i'll feel someone actually has something to say about the stuff i write and i'm not talking into the deepest darkest bluest depths of space.

Ludwig said...

[space bar] Will do. Rest assured, you're not talking into the d. d. b. depths of s. Are you located in Hyd? Any idea where to lay one's slimy paws on the 'cool' type of movies? Apart from 'Cinema Paradiso', and the 2 film clubs?

Space Bar said...

ya, i'm in hyd. 'cool' films apart from these esteemed places - no. you mean you've got through all these resources already?!

(and you come to the hyfic, MI screenings?)

Ludwig said...

[space bar] Wunnderful, a localite. I've been to exactly one (or is it two) MI/hyfic screenings. One was a Gautam Ghosh film on Bismillah Khan, at the Prasad's preview thingy place. Haven't become a member yet, was waiting for the new year to roll around, for squeezing money's worth out of every last ill-gotten paisa.

'Cinema P.' remains a well-frequented hangout, although I suspect I am running out of stuff there. Last couple were 'Kung Fu Hustle', 'Being John Malkovich' and 'Donnie Darko' for New Years.

There's a DVD of Godard's 'Breathless' that I've been lusting after, but alack it only plays on DVD players that are UK/Europe compatible or something.

Space Bar said...

i can't believe cinema paradiso has some region one or two confgured dvd! how weird.

i missed the gautam ghosh film and unfortunately i'll be missing whatever they're showing on the 10th. can't remember what - lecture? something...

oh, btw: ranjit hoskote's reading at kalakriti art gallery, road ten, opp ofen, at 4.30 tomorrow (sunday, 7th). and vidya shah's sufi thingy at durgam cheruvu at 7 in the evning. also, jazz at ditto, on the 10th. (that's why, i think, i can't go for the MI screening! eureka!)

Ludwig said...

[space bar] Cinema P. does have those. So does the BC collection. Most of it, in fact. The times we live in...

Hopefully, we'll also miss the 10th thing, and hopefully for the same reasons as you. Inadvertently gatecrashed the Hoskote reading, when I went to pick up passes for Wednesday. Now to find some way of returning from Durgam Cheruvu in the middle of the night...