Mevlana Rumi/Balkhi and Hind-o-stan

“Hindus praise me in the terms of India
And Sindhis praise me in terms from Sindh.
Not for magnificats do I make them pure
They themselves become pure and precious.
We do not look to language or to words
We look inside to find intent and rapture.”
                                       Masnavi II: 1757 – 59.
Today while reading his work Fihi-Ma-Fihi, I was curious to know more about Rumi and this is what I found. I am sharing with you his background and his connection to India.
A short excerpt from Wiki about him
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī  was born to native Persian-speaking parents, originally from the Balkh city, in modern Afghanistan. Which was at that time a major center of Persian culture and Sufism had developed there for several centuries in confluence with Buddhism. The most important influences upon Rumi were the Persian poets Attar and Sanai and he expresses his appreciation: “Attar was the spirit, Sanai his eyes twain, And in time thereafter, Came we in their train.” It is said that Rumi encountered Attar in the Iranian city of Nishapur. Attar immediately recognized Rumi’s spiritual eminence. He gave the boy his Asrārnāma, a book about the entanglement of the soul in the material world. This meeting had a deep impact on the eighteen-year-old Rumi and later on became the inspiration for his works.He mentions in another poem: “Attar has traversed the seven cities of Love, We are still at the turn of one street”.
 Rumi’s father was a theologian, jurist and a mystic from Balkh, who was also known by the followers of Rumi as Sultan al-Ulama or “Sultan of the Scholars”. Baha’ ud-Din became the head of a madrassa (religious school) and when he died, Rumi, inherited his position as the Islamic maulvi. One of Baha’ ud-Din’s students, Sayyed Burhan ud-Din Muhaqqiq Termazi, continued to train Rumi in the Islamic theology and jurisprudence, especially that of Rumi’s father. For nine years, Rumi practised Sufism as a disciple of Burhan ud-Din until the latter died in 1240 or 1241. Rumi’s public life then began: he became an Islamic Jurist, issuing fatwas and giving sermons in the mosques of Konya. He also served as a Molvi (Islamic teacher) and taught his adherents in the madrassa.’

 It was his meeting with the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi in 1244 that completely changed his life. From an accomplished teacher and jurist, Rumi was transformed into an ascetic.On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. Rumi’s love  and his bereavement at the death of, Shams found their expression in an outpouring of lyric poems, Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. He traveled to Damascus in order to seek him, until one day he realized:


Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself!

“Sufis also came in contact with the Vedantic and Buddhistic ideas, especially in regard to their conception of Divine absorption. In Rumi’s Sufi poetry, there is a phrase in honor of the 9th century God-annihilated Persian Sufi martyr of Love, Al Mansoor Hallaj’s famous cry of ‘Ana ul-Haq’ which means ‘I am Truth’. In the Upanishads, there is ‘Aham Brahm Asmi” which means ‘I am the Truth’. Samsara and Karma lead the being into reincarnation until one realizes the non-duality and ceases to identify with the ego as recorded in the Upanishads.”
This finds resonance in his words
I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and became human.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as human.
Reborn, I will soar with the angels above.
And when I sacrifice my angel soul
I shall be more than mortal mind can know.
Oh, let me not exist!
For non-existence proclaims in organ tones:
‘To Him We All Shall Return.’
– Masnavi  III: 3901-3906.

Rumi is said to have written the following verses for that distant land in the east known as Hindosthan or today divided into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  He writes


The old Hindu Sage has come over
To pay a visit to our Sufi Convent.
Bestow upon him and the entire Hindustan
The very best of your hospitality.
God’s grace touched the old Hindu Sage
And out of sheer joy and gratitude,
The Hindu Mystic went into wild ecstasy,
Jumping up and down like a fish.
From those beautiful Hindu black eyes
And those long Hindu black hair,
Learn o inhabitants of Hindustan
The art of being a Hindu!
If God has bestowed
Life, knowledge, and intellect 
Upon the Hindu Gentlemen,
Then He must have also bestowed
Beauty, virtue, and coquetry
Upon the beautiful Hindu Princesses!
The Hindi Dagger of separation
Is undoubtedly very sharp.
But the Hindi Love is
Even more sharper!
For the Hindus,
The word Hind-o-stan is praiseworthy.
For the Sindhis,
The word Sindh is praiseworthy.

Rumi, the homesick Indian Elephant:

My soul is a Hindu[1]
and my heart, a Sufi Convent.
Out in the open,
there is no war and peace
between us.
I’m like that homesick Indian elephant
Who constantly dreams of Hindustan,
And no longer pays attention to his driver.
The elephant remembered Hindustan
And the flames of his Love for God
Started raging high upward.
Last night,
Our elephant was again dreaming of Hindustan.
Out of nostalgic madness,
The elephant was tearing up the veil of night
Until the break of dawn.
Out of sheer nostalgia,
The elephant remembers Hindustan
And then at night,
His memories manifest themselves to him.
Mark and wound my head
So like that Indian elephant
I don’t dream about the beautiful
Gardens of Hindustan.
A donkey will never dream of Hindustan!
Because a donkey has never been separated
From Hindustan.
A blurred vision and a burning heart like the sun
Are like that Indian elephant
Who constantly dreams about Hindustan.
It was the mere sign of a vision of Hindustan
Which made the homesick Indian elephant
Wake up and go completely crazy.
Is your elephant also dreaming about Hindustan?
Because you’ve also ran away
From the circle of your lifelong friends!
You could find more reading material at:
 Rumi on Blog (Most of the translations are from this blog)
and here 
There have been very few people who have moved and transformed as many hearts as Jalaluddin Rumi. In the world of the Sufis, Mevlana Rumi is the emperor. His words have to be understood not as mere words, but sources of deep silences, echoes of inner and the innermost songs. He is the greatest dancer the world has known. Twelve hundred years have passed since he was alive. In his meditation, the meditator goes on whirling for hours — as long as the body allows him; he does not stop on his own. When whirling a moment comes that he sees himself utterly still and silent, a center of the cyclone. Around the center the body is moving, but there is a space which remains unmoved; that is his being. A few people I love immensely. Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi is one of them, and the reason I love him is that he was not life-negative, but life-affirmative. And the meditation that he has found and which has continued for seven hundred years among a small stream of mystics was the meditation of a certain kind of dance. His followers are called whirling dervishes.

He is one of the most significant poets who are also mystics. That is a rare combination; there are millions of poets in the world and there are a few mystics in the world, but a man who is both is very rare to find. Rumi is a very rare flower. He is as great a poet as he is a mystic. Hence, his poetry is not just poetry, not just a beautiful arrangement of words. It contains immense meaning and points towards the ultimate truth. His words have to be understood not as mere words, but sources of deep silences, echoes of inner world and the innermost songs. He is the greatest dancer the world has known. You just do not read is as any other book; It is not entertainment, it is enlightenment! 

There is a great Sufi book — I would like to call it the greatest book in the world because nothing is written inside it; it is absolutely empty! It is almost twelve hundred years old, and the first man who purchased it was Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.  The message is to move from words to emptiness and from sound to silence. It is calledTHE BOOK OF BOOKS.”


We finish with his words about the search for the truth, he says 

On the seeker’s path, wise men and fools are one.
In His love, brothers and strangers are one.
Go on! Drink the wine of the Beloved!
In that faith, Muslims and pagans are one.

[1] Professor A.R.Momin explains the historical origins of the word Hindu:

It is interesting to note that the word Hindu is of Persian origin. The Persepolis and Naqsh-e-Rustam inscriptions of Emperor Darius (d. 486 B.C.) refer to the frontier regions of the Indus as Hindush. The term was later used in Arabic geographical and historical sources.


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