Sunday, April 27, 2008
Who is Rumi?
To properly glorify the great souls, we must sincerely pray for their guidance and the guidance of Their Divine Lordships Who reside in Goloka. Therefore, I pray unto you, O great lover of the invisible, who the West has come to know simply as Rumi. I pray to my spiritual master, His Holiness Radhanath Swami, who has cleared away the darkness in my heart.
I am insignificant and blinded by material enjoyment; I have no qualification to speak about this great soul, but the bird rises in the sky as high as he can reach according to his ability. I will try to glorify Rumi to my best ability and become purified.
To understand Rumi, we must have some knowledge of the Sufi order. Some will say that Sufism is a denomination of Islam, while others will say that it is it’s own religion. Just like Christians will deny the Gnostics. Sufism is the mystical path on the road of Islam. Muslims as well as many other religions, believe after death they will return to the paradise of God. The practitioners of Sufism believe that you can achieve an intimate closeness to God while still living. Sufis generally teach in personal groups, as the counsel of the master is considered necessary for the growth of the pupil. They make extensive use of parable, allegory, and metaphor, and it is held by Sufis that meaning can only be reached through a process of seeking the truth, and knowledge of oneself. Although philosophies vary among different Sufi orders, Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such may be compared to various forms of mysticism such as Bhakti form of Hinduism, Hesychasm, Zen Buddhism, Kabbalah, Gnosticism and Christian mysticism.
Rumi was born as Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, on September 30, 1207. He was born in the Balkh, Afghanistan. Some argue as to exactly what village he was born in. His father was a great theologian, jurist and mystic who was nicknamed “Sultan of Scholars.” When the Mongols invaded Central Asia sometime between 1215 and 1220, his father with his whole family and a group of disciples set out westwards. On the road to Anatolia, Rumi encountered one of the most famous mystic Persian poets, Attar, in Iran's city of Nishapur, located in the province of Khor_s_n. 'Attar immediately recognized Rumi's spiritual eminence. He saw the father walking ahead of the son and said, "Here comes a sea followed by an ocean." He gave the boy his Asrarnama, a book about the entanglement of the soul in the material world. This meeting had a deep impact on the eighteen-year-old Rumi's thoughts and later on became the inspiration for his works. Baha' ud-Din, Rumi's father, became the head of a madrassa (religious school) and when he died Rumi inherited his position and succeeded him at the age of twenty-five. One of Baha' ud-Din's students, Sayyed Burhan ud-Din-e Muhaqqiq, continued to train Rumi in the religious and mystical doctrines of Rumi's father. For nine years, Rumi practiced Sufism as a disciple of Burhan ud-Din until the latter died in 1240-1. From then on started Rumi's public life. He became the teacher who preached in the mosques of Konya and taught his adherents in the madrassah.
On November 15, 1244, Rumi met the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi. This changed his life completely. Shams had traveled all over the Middle East searching and praying for friendship. A celestial voice asked Shams what he would give in return for such friendship. Shams answered, "My head." The voice told him about Rumi. On December 5, 1248, Shams disappeared. Some say he was murdered.
Rumi left the mortal realm on December 17, 1273. Above his tomb is written,
"When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men."
Throughout Rumi's life he wrote beautiful poetry that Shahram Shiva said "is able to verbalize the highly personal and often confusing world of personal/spiritual growth and mysticism in a very forward and direct fashion. He does not offend anyone, and he includes everyone. The world of Rumi is neither exclusively the world of a Sufi, nor the world of a Hindu, nor a Jew, nor a Christian; it is the highest state of a human being..."
Rumi also began the order named Mevlevi, also known as the Whirling Dervishes. To remember God they dance and perform music, a ceremony they termed Sema. The Sema represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to "Perfect." Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives at the "Perfect." He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.
I pray to Rumi that anyone who reads this will be filled with love.