Sacred Texts Journals Islamic Articles


Selections from Rumi (II)

translated by Edward Rehatsek










VOL. IV.—1875

[Bombay, Education Society's Press]
{Reduced to HTML by Christopher M. Weimer, November 2002}

p. 185


From the Mesnavi of Jellâl-al-dyn Rûmi.

Had need not been for worlds, for earth,
Nothing the Lord of worlds would have produced.
This earth chaotic stood in need of hills;
Had this not been, He had not raised majestic ones.
Had there no need been of the spheres also,
Seven whirling ones from nought He had not made.
The Sun, the Moon, and all these stars
Could not shine forth if not for need.
Thus need the cause of all existences became.
The power also of man in need consists,
Then, needy man, be quick, proclaim your need,
That bounty's ocean may with mercy boil!
All mendicants distressed in the world
Their needs to all men do proclaim—
Their blindness, poverty, disease, and pain—
Mankind's pity with their needs to move.
No one will say:—"Give bread to me, O men!
Property and barns and stores I do possess."
God has witheld eyesight from moles
Because no eyes they need for their support;
They live and move deprived of vision,
At ease, though blind, in soil all moist;
By stealth alone they leave their domicile
Until their Maker frees them from that stealth,
With wings endows them,* makes them birds
Winging to heaven their angel-flights,
Alway to dwell in the rose-grove of thanks to God,
Like philomels to sing a hundred melodies:—
"O saviour from all wickedness,
Transforming hell to paradise,
A greasy ball with light thou hast endowed
And bones with hearing; O most bountiful!"
Does intuition with the human frame unite?
How do all things with names combine?
Words are but nests, the meanings are the birds,
Body the bed through which the spirit-river flows.
The surface of this mental watercourse
Is not without its chaff of good and bad repute:
It flows, but you would say it stagnates;
It moves but you would say it stays;
From place to place were there no motion
Whence these renewed supplies of floating chaff?
That chaff is but an image of the mind,
Assuming every moment a new shape;
Like chaff its likes and dislikes float away;
The husks upon the surface of this watercourse
Come from transmundane garden's fruits,—
The kernels of those husks in yonder garden seek.
The water from that garden to the river flows;
If you your life's departure cannot see,
Behold in the waters this floating of the plants.

p. 186


Translated from the Mesnavi of Jellâl aldyn-Rûmi.

All pride and pain with lust begins,
But habit will establish lust.
When custom has your humours fixed
Him you hate who draweth you away;
If you an earth-eater have become,
Who pulls your earth away your foe will be;
When idol worshippers to statues get attached
Him they hate who idols doth forbid.
When Eblis wished a prince to be,
Adam he feigned to despise:
"Was this a better prince than me,
Worshipped to be by one like me?"*
Dominion poison is, except to Him
Who cures all evils from the first;
Fear not a mountain full of snakes,
The antidote it certainly contains.
Give way to pride's dominion,
Who breaks it will your hatred earn;
No matter who would thwart your wish,
He will encounter darts of wrath.
Who means to weed my humours out
Usurps dominion over me.
Had he no evil pride in him,
Could fire of strife inflame his mind?
Had evil nature not got root,
How could the flame of opposition blaze?
Does he his foe conciliate?
Will he enshrine him in his heart
Because his evil humour has no root?
The ant of lust, habit a serpent made;
O kill the snake of lust at first,
Or else a dragon will your snake become;
But all mistake their snakes for ants!
Do you from sages take advice.

p. 219


From the Mesnavi of Jellâl-aldyn Rûmi, 3rd Duftur.

Man feeds on blood as embryo,
Believers thus by dirt get pure!
Whilst in the womb, man feeds on blood,
His warp and woof of blood consists;
When weaned of blood he milk consumes;
He morsels eats when weaned of milk;
But weaned of morsels Lokmân* he becomes,
Investigates things hidden and revealed.
Were one to say to embryos in the womb:—
"Without, there is a well-arranged world,
An earth quite joyous, long and broad,
Of blessings full, and various food;
With mountains, lakes, and prairies green,
Parks, gardens, cultivated fields,
The firmament so high and bright,
The sun, the moon, with hundred winds,
Zephyrs from north and south and west,
With gardens, banquets, nuptials,—
Its wonders cannot be described.
How tried you are in this darkness!
Blood you consume in this closet,
In dirt and misery confined;"
It would deny its state and case,
Reject this message with full force
As false, deceit, impossible.
It has no sense, but understanding blind
Its mind cannot conceive the thing,—
The negative mind hearing scorns.
Just such the crowd is in this nether world
When Abdâls moot the world beyond:—
"This world is but a narrow and dark well;
Without, the immaterial world exists."
Such words their ears will not accept,—
A hope like this is thickly veiled;
Present enjoyments plug the ear,
The eye is dimmed by interests;
Just as the embryo's greed for blood,
Which was its food in womb's dark cave,
Concealed from it the present world,
The body's blood to it endeared;
Thus, unaware of blessings all,
No other nourishment it had but blood.
Man's lust for joys of present life
Eternal joys has veiled from him.
Your greed for this deceitful life
From true life has removed you;
Be quite aware that lust is blinding you,
Concealing certainty from you.
Truth false appears to you from greed,
Which hundredfold is blinding you.
Oh, free yourself from greed, like all just men,
That you your foot on that threshold may place,
And saved be on entering the gate
From all terrestrial joys and griefs;
Your soul's eye bright and true will see,
Unsoiled by unbelief, the light of Faith.
   [The translator does not take it on himself to correct the
metre, when it happens to be faulty.]

Journals Islamic Articles


p. 185

* These lines do not allude, as might be supposed, to any metamorphosis which moles are supposed to undergo in nature, but embody a flight of poetical fancy.—E. R.

p. 186

* Qorân, II. 32: "And when we said unto the angels, Worship Adam; they worshipped, save Eblis, who refused and was puffed up with pride.

p. 219

* Lokmân, the name of a sage, stands here as the emblem of intellect.

The Abdâls are Illuminati.