“At thirty-four Rumi was an acknowledged leader of men. His life was the life of a learned orthodox professor addressing vast audiences on religion, jurisprudence and morals. He lived simply, studied deeply and lectured eloquently. His circle of disciples was already becoming unwieldy.”
She was directionless. She had no ambition in life. She did not know where life was taking her or that she would ever be able to find the way.
She had depersonalized a very long time ago. She was destructive and was caught up in a storm. She was a tormented soul, wandering the earth waiting for her story to finish. Existing for the sake of existing.
“While Rumi was fully occupied with his work of reform, there appeared suddenly on the scene a ‘weird figure, wrapped in coarse black felt.’ He had an ‘exceedingly aggressive and domineering manner’. So sudden and pervasive was his influence that the cool, self-possessed professor of theology left his lectures only to become an humble devotee of the sage. With his appearance in Rumi’s life, there came a complete change which can only be explained by considering the man who brought it about, i.e. Shams-i-Tabriz.”
As it would happen, in her abyss, a torch was shone. That was her first light. It was very dim but she held onto it and followed it believing that it will get her out of her storm.
She obediently let it guide her.
It talked of places that she had never known existed. She learnt about these places and their history and culture.
It talked to her about being selfless, opening up her heart to the possibilities in life.
It talked of the great philosophers who came and went. She found her place among them, closing in on the distance and time.
It talked of love and poetry.
It talked of the lessons of life and taught her to live.
It talked of her history, her identity, her roots and her ideologies. She was able to reconcile with her identity. She found her place in the history.
She became a devotee. She found her story.
Tabriz had arrived.
“But Rumi had been completely enthralled by Shams. He did what he bade him do. He is reported to have said: ‘When Shams-ud-din first came, and I felt for him a mighty spark of love lit up in my heart, he took upon himself to command me in the most despotic and peremptory manner. “Keep silent”, said he, “and speak to no one.” I ceased from all intercourse with my fellows.”
She was dead and she came back to life. She found her wings. She was able to navigate through life. She started to live. She was high on reverence. She had nothing but gratitude for the one who saved her.
“Don’t hate”, said he. She ceased to feel hatred.
“For Rumi it brought the dawn of a new world, a living, pushing force, an Élan vital, a divine sympathy, a feeling which penetrates the very essence of things”
She loved her newly found knowledge of the world. She went higher and higher in her devotion. She loved selflessly.
Those who had seen her transform were awestruck. They thanked God. They told her that they secretly knew she would end up dead in her suffering. They did not believe that she had the will to live now. They did not believe that she was the same hateful person with a heart the size of a pea, now filling their ears with the language of love. She acknowledged the power of her transformation. And she devoted herself further.
“Shams was away from Rumi and the agony grew till it became unbearable.” “Rumi was in a terribly perturbed state of mind after his violent separation from Shams who seemed completely to have robbed him of all his composure and peace.”
Her dedication to her muse came to a sudden halt. Her reverence started to falter. She had reached the highest heights and had tasted the love of life. But, a dark energy that was formed within her engulfed her devotion. She tried really hard to kill it. She could not see beyond it.
Tabriz had stripped her off every lesson he had taught her. Dignity, self-esteem, love – these were just words now, empty and essenceless.
“The whole of Damascus was surprised at a great man searching so desperately for an obscure person who was not known to many in that town. Nobody could therefore help him in his quest. Rumi was completely disappointed till he cried out in despair: ‘How long will you evade me from corner to corner and from alley to alley?’”
She felt aimless. She wandered again. She emptied her knowledge reservoir but there was no peace. She imposed self-exile for long hours. Her mind was an explosive ground.
Tabriz was right here. She felt confused. Wasn’t Tabriz meant to leave and then she searches for him? Tabriz was right here. She left. She had to. It did not make sense. Why was her life deviating from Rumi’s life? What did Rumi have to say about it? She called upon him. Rumi was silent. She felt betrayed.
“Rumi failed to find Shams but he found something greater. It dawned upon him, as it would dawn upon the restless soul of a prophet, that what he was searching for was his own immortal self.”
She was yet to find that “something greater”.
“Life and work of Rumi” – Afzal Iqbal