Monday, July 25, 2011

Jalaluddin Rumi the Great Spiritual Master

My soul wants to fly away when your presence calls it so sweetly. 
My soul wants to take flight, when you whisper, "Arise."
                                               Jalaluddin Rumi

      Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet, an Islamic dervish and a Sufi mystic. He is one of the great spiritual masters and poetical geniuses of mankind and was the founder of the Mawlawi Sufi order, a leading mystical brotherhood of Islam. During his lifetime he produced a prolific range of inspiring and devotional poetry which encapsulates the Sufi’s experience of union with the divine. He loved mysteries and was impatient with those who think they have answers. He praised the commonplace and spitted upon fear which always brings human beings down.

Though Rumi was a Sufi and a mystic within the Islamic tradition but he was not an orthodox Muslim. His spiritual vision was sensual, celebratory, and pensive. To him and to his disciples all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching appeals to people of all faiths and none, awakening ideas that transcend all creeds and dogmas to inspire every soul. Many people around the world are today tapping into the universality of Rumi’s spirituality to find answers to the questions of life. According to him the essence of all religions is to reach God or the Truth, or the Absolute Reality. The religions are like different rivers flowing into the same Sea. They may have different ways, but the destination is the same. His doctrine was one of unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. The Love of God that leads to the lover forgetting himself in the love of the Beloved. As he said:

"Reason is powerless in the expression of Love.
Love alone is capable of revealing the truth of Love and being a Lover. 
The way of our prophets is the way of Truth. 
If you want to live, die in Love; die in Love if you want to remain alive. "

Rumi was born in 1207, in what is now know as Afghanistan. His father, Bahaduddin Walad, was a theologian, jurist and a mystic descended from the first caliph Abu Bakr (RA), while his mother was Mumina Khatun. It was a period of remarkable social and political turbulence. When Mongols invaded Central Asia, between 1215 and 1220, Rumi left Balkh with his family and a group of disciples. The migrating caravan traveled extensively in Muslim lands, including Baghdad, Damascus, Malatya, Erzincan, Sivas, Kayseri and Nigde. After performing pilgrimage in Mecca, they eventually settled in Konya, located in the present-day western Turkey. The great upheavals Rumi faced during his life is said to have influenced much of his poetry.

His early spiritual education was under the tutelage of his father Bahauddin and later under his father’s close friend Sayyid Burhanuddin of Balkh. Rumi following in his fathers ancestoral line became a scholar until his meeting with his spiritual friend and teacher, the wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz. In the first encounter between the two men, Shams showed Jalal al-Din that there were realms of knowledge and experience that remained closed to him. Both found that in one another’s company and guidance a door to spiritual realization had become unlocked, opening the way to love in the purest form a human being can know. The radiance of Shams’ presence was the radiance of God Himself.

But Shams’ companionship with Rumi was brief. Despite the fact that each was a perfect mirror for the other Shams disappeared, not once but twice and forever. For nearly ten years after meeting Shamsuddin, Rumi devoted himself in writing ghazals. He made a compilation of ghazals and named it Diwan-e-Kabir or Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi one of the masterpieces of Rumi. Rumi is also the author of six volume didactic epic work the "Mathnawi", called as the 'Quran in Persian' by Jami, and discourses, Fihima, written to introduce his disciples into metaphysics.

Rumi was a man of knowledge and sanctity before meeting Shams, but only after the alchemy of this relationship was he able to fulfill Sayyid Burhaneddin’s prediction that he would “drown men’s souls in a fresh life and in the immeasurable abundance of God… and bring to life the dead of this false world with… meaning and love.”

Rumi’s poetry is wide ranging and encompasses many different ideas but behind all the poetry the essential theme was the longing and searching for the union with the divine. Rumi was himself a great mystic. His outpourings of poetry were a reflection of his own inner consciousness.

If there is any general idea underlying Rumi's poetry, it is the absolute love of God. His influence on thought, literature and all forms of aesthetic expression in the world of Islam cannot be overrated. For Islamic readers, Rumi remains an important commentator on the Quran and a brilliant exponent of Sufi philosophy, the strain of Islam that stresses direct and ecstatic communion with Allah over Aristotelian questioning. Rumi, who was strictly educated in religious law and philosophy, is viewed in the Islamic world as a spiritual descendant of two other great Sufi writers, Sana'i and Attar. He shared with those two writers the goal of eliminating corruption from religious practice and institutions.

Rumi is revered by many as the founder of the Mawlawi Order of dervishes, better known as the Whirling Dervishes of Sufism, which is associated with Sama (Whirling dance). Through Sama or a turning movement, body posturing, mental focus, and sound, the dervish achieves ecstasy through union with God. Rumi believed passionately that music, poetry, and dance can be a form of zikr, remembering that there is no God but God, who is one.
For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine, and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. In the Mawlawi tradition, sama (Whirling dance), represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Perfect One. In this journey, the seeker symbolically turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth, and arrives at the Perfect. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey, with greater maturity, to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination with regard to beliefs, races, classes, and nations. 

Rumi departed from the world on 17th December 1273 AD, in Konya, Turkey. His funeral, which lasted 40 days, was attended by Muslims, Jews, Persians, Christians and Greeks. A tomb named Mevlana mausoleum was built in Konya, commemorating the great Sufi poet. A splendid shrine was erected over his place of burial, the inscription reads:

“When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, 
but find it in the hearts of men.” 

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