RUMI VIEWED IN BENGALI SUFISTIC TRADITION - BY MUSTAFA ZAMAN ABBASI

 RUMI VIEWED IN BENGALI SUFISTIC TRADITION

 

A PAPER BY MUSTAFA ZAMAN ABBASI
 

1

California to Bangladesh

 

I thank Allah swt ,the hosts of this symposium, the UNESCO ,for this lifetime opportunity to visit beautiful Turkey for the first time and pay my respects to Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi in Konya, where he is resting for more than seven hundred years .It is a pilgrimage for me .And also on behalf of 140 million people of Bangladesh, who regard Rumi with high esteem, as his Masnawi is read in 200000 mosques of Bangladesh. He is more than a great poet, one of our pathfinders.

 

Mowlana can be studied from various angles by scholars assembled from far and near. As folklorist and translator of Rumi to Bengali, spoken by 230 million I may let the audience know how his message is “spread over from California to Bangladesh,” to quote a line from Anna Maria Schimmel . I chose eight poets out of hundreds to prove my point.

 

2

RUMI CLAIMED BY ALL

 

Rumi runs in the blood of my people. Majority who live in villages having little or no access to literacy may not have read Masnawi or diwans , but stories and teachings imparted in mosques and khanqas become so deep routed in their psyche that they easily stream down to folk traditions in such a way as Afghans would like to own Jalaluddin as Balkhi and people in and west of Turkey as Rumi,meaning RomanAnatolia.

 

Bengal was ruled by Muslims from Turkey and West Asia for a long time .Persian language left no less than 17000 words in Bengali spoken and written vocabulary. Qazi Nazrul Islam, the rebel poet of Bengal brought Ghazal style of poetry into our literature. He eulogized Rumi, Sadi and Hafiz and brought the breeze of Tabrez in to the lush green soil of Bengal, which was already abode of a thousand rural sufi poets.

 

Dao shei Rumi Hafiz

Shei jami khayyam shei tabrez: : Qazi Nazrul Islam

 

God give us back our Rumi and Hafiz

Give us once more Jami Khayyam and same Tabrez.

 

Coming back to Anna Maria Schimmel, the adorable lover of Rumi and Islam,she points out in her paper “Moulana Rumi: yesterday , today and tomorrow”(Georges Leve Della Vide conference , May 8-10, 1987), the position of Rumi in Bangladesh in this manner. “When I received the notification that I had been elected to receive the Levi Della Vide Medal and that the topic of the conference would be Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi, I happened to be in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Immediately, it struck me that it was an especially meaningful place in which to receive this good hews, because it showed that Mowlana s influence extends over most of the world , from California to Bangladesh:”

Rumi belonged to Balkh or Wakkas, in present day Tajikistan or he belonged to Konya ,Turkey or Persia or in the Chishtia Tariqat of Sufism in India ,Pakistan and Bangladesh. But as days passed clearer picture of Rumi s shining heart dawned in the eyes of the West through the scholarly works of R A Nicholson, A J Arberry, Anna Marie Schimmel, William Chittick, Seyyed Hossein Nasr,Coleman Barks ,Ibrahim Ganard,,John Moyne, Michael Green , Philip and Manuella Dunn,Camille and Kabir Helminski ,and many more.. After reading’ I am wind you are fire “(Schimmel, Boston ,1992 I wandered so many times in my dreams to meet the Mowlana in Konyas “al-qubbat al hadra”, the green dome. Through many readings of this masterpiece and reading of “the Triumphal Sun(also by Schimmel), I embarked on my journeys to world of Rumi .The scholars mentioned made this possible .This is the right forum for me and others to express our grateful thanks to them. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

3

RUMI IS REMEBRANCE: 2007

 

Is it possible to remember a person, a poet, a philosopher? Yes, if I could remember what he said. Every breath can be a remembrance of Him, of where I came from where I will arrive at the end of the journey.

To me, Rumi is remembrance.

To me, Rumi is living every moment, a living of joy unto giving others the joy of breath.

 

4

Way of Allah swt: Where Bangladesh stands
 

To write on Rumi is both difficult and easy Take any of his couplets from Dewan or Discourses or Masnawi and one could ponder on or write a volume on each one.

The name of Allah is the sweetest. The name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(p.b.u.h) is sweeter than honey. Any couplet of Rumi is sweet and has the capacity to enkindle a soul willing to give it a try. MACHER TELE MACH BHAJA, a Bengali idiom meaning frying fish with oil of the fish is true of any research on Rumi .It is a sure way to a simple man to see the way of Allah. Rumi was not a prophet, he had a book though. In words of Moulana Jami:
 

MONCHE GOTER WASHF ALI JANED

NEST PAIGHAMBAR OLO DARD KITAB
 

The way of Allah is simple. It is the straight path and the surest. Prerequisite is a simple soul. You want to go? Come along. This is the way. No crookedness on the way .If you like Rumis poetry, it is outer garb, rhymes, imagery, meter rhythm are only outside things. Soul of Rumis poetry is the Quran.
 

My treatise may not be like others, more inward looking than outward. If you want to know what I mean, you will come with me to a mosque in rural haor area of Sunamganj where you cannot see anything but water and the small mosque or on bank of the river Padma in Sureswar mela or in mangrove forest of the Sunderbans or in the remote maiz bhandar darbar ,on a moonlit night or in a soaked Asarh monsoon . The hundreds and thousands of souls assembled here on urs melas are frantically searching their lost abode from where they have been displaced. These dances are different. With long bamboos in hand, the disciples dance whole night and only sound heard is HU HUHU meaning Allahu. This resembles refrains of a azan based on a Uzbekistan melody Maqam . No where in the world I have seen such exotic movements by thousand participants .The beauty of this scenario lies further in the acceptability of all faiths in same platform, the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims all in one forum. I do not recall any other place in the world where this sufi view of life has gained so much momentum .

 

5

Sohbat e Shaikh : Sohbat e Rumi

 

Being neither an Emre, (Yunus Emre), spending forty years in devoted seclusion, nor a darbesh in a chilla for forty days,(like some present here today incognito),I did not have the opportunity to have meditation in a cave for forty years in Himalayan mountains with the sadhus, though born in that area.
 

But only a week of Sohbat(company) with Rumi one can be awakened.. Tawajjuh’ or gaze by the Shaikh scene changes dramatically . It is happening even today. We may endeavour our own way. When my paper is read, even if one soul is awakened, my job will be done.
 

.When I leave this platform, you may not see me again. Hundreds of folk poets whom I met in seven decades of living in the folk festivals Melas, as they are called, recited profoundly meaningful MARFATI , MURSHEDI , SURESHAWARI and FAKIRALI songs with accompaniment of DOTARA and sometimes SARINDA ( an instrument of West Asian descent) and violin.*1
 

These are nothing but Rumi in Bengali. , Rumi is not mentioned anywhere. It is Allah swt saying in Quran sung by Rumi with all the stories and anecdotes which are not in Quran .

Rumi says,I am not the author, I am the pen. Whatever he realized, mused upon, penned through, were from the Source. We sometimes run after picture presentations, sugarcoated short cut presentations, poeticity, real thing is breeze coming from Him. When I am in weekly Khanqah , I listen to the Shaikh, I get recharged. One who has not sat with the Shaikh and enjoyed his Sohbat ,he is with outwardly Rumi only. To quote Rumi here:

 

 

EK ZAMANE SOHBAT BA AULIA

BEHTARAZ SAD SALA TABAT BERIA

 

One who witnessed the whirling darbesh dance, has seen only the incredible whirling, the dresses, the beautiful cap, the music, but could he enter the dance? Often not, that’s my guess. The ‘tourist’ thing has the outward Rumi. The inside thing is the Suhbat e Rumi. Only one Nazr (gaze),in my case” Nazr e imam”(my Shaikh), is enough. Sixty years of devoted prayers and negation is only one nazr. Forty years of Imre and forty days of fajr prayer is one deep tawajjuh. The surest way to get a living man is to catch him alive and the surest way get to a dead man is also catch him alive i.e. to catch whatever was lively in him.


 

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Eight out of eight hundred

 

Fascination with Sufi spirituality of professional scholars as well as public has heightened to such an extent to produce breathtaking studies in the west.2*. Eight out of around 800 sufi poets has been chosen to trace linkage with Rumi.

 

1. Shitalong Shah Fakir [1800-1889]

2. Fakir Lalon Shah [1774-1890]

3. Hasan Raja [1855-1922]

4. Jalaluddin Khan [1894-1972]

5.Abdul Halim Bayati [1930-2007]

6. Qazi Nazrul Islam [1898-1976]

7. Mansur ali [1855-1985]

8 .Panju shah[1851-1914]

 

In translating and presenting these songs, mostly folk, I attempt to convey my deep admiration and involvement. These are poetries resembling the colored landscape with paddy fields oven like embroidered quilt, like the clouds of various shades in the monsoon sky, the bamboo flute of lost love under a kadam tree, suddenly flashes with the inner meaning of lost flutes inner cry as heard in Rumi. The folksongs of great rivers like The Padma, the Meghna, and the Jamuna merging with age long tears, sorrow and the melancholia of the Bengali people are the finest expressions of their spirituality hitherto unknown to any in the West. ’Gitanjali’ was a translation of 23 poems sent by W B Yeats and his friends to the Nobel Committee to f etch a Nobel Prize for literature for Tagore in 1941. Schimmel glanced on a 17th century mystic, namely Hajj Muhammad in his book named Nurnama, the “book of light”, in which problems of wahdat al wajud and wahdat ash shuhad and different types of light mysticism has been brought forth (Mystical dimensions of Islam :A.Schimmel pp 401).Bangladesh is a lush green beautiful country. Do visit us before tourists start arrive as in Turkey.

 

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SHITALONG SHAH FAKIR:Mad as M A D


 

The ever presence of Allah in all creations, as in Ibnul Arabi and Rumi appear in every folk poet of Bengal. The work by William Chittick on Ibnul Arabi and Rumi in Sufi Path of Wisdom and The self disclosure of God is amazing indeed. But no less interesting Wahdatul wajud is seen with a newer perspective in this beautiful work of SHOTALONG SHAH FAKIR , a mystic poet of Sylhet, who composed around 1000 songs .As he sang these he was in trance He fainted as the songs were composed.
 

TUBA:JANTAR DARAKHTE BAJEY

 

(SHITALONG SHAH realises that every creature, birds and plants are pronouncing Tasbih’ of Allah swt. He dreamt of a wonder tree in paradise. This is a tree named Tuba or touba meaning repentance whose leaves and branches replay the sounds of the instruments. The tree is on fire of Music. Taking inspiration from flute of Rumi and dancing darvesh, he writes:

 

The instrument is now played on the tree.

This tree taking shape of tuba

Look at its branches, you might hear

Music, its music in the tree

 

Tuba sways along with Pavan (winds)

But always in Tala ‘TITAL TITAL TAL, TAL Ranga Ranga’

Music is on the body of the tree

The celestial world dances

It is bewildering.

Dance style is that of Natabar (meaning Nataraj)

Music on body of tree

Tubas music has tunes in keeping with mood of passing winds

 

The tunes having many turnings,ups and down

I can hear Music all around the tree

Parrot sings in a rejoicing mood

‘Bulbul bulbul gulgul gulgul subul bulbul’

In every branch on the body of the tree

 

The violin sings too: susun cum chum ,charchahchar’

Sitar sings’:kinkina nong tarang tarang’

Tabla sounds’tal talatal chulak didang dang’

Rabab plays its departing melodies

Ruba is music

 

Shitalong Fakir says: O Rab! the tree

Totally submerged in submission unto you

The Tuba is ashiq and dewana for you.
 

8

ABDUL HALIM BAYATI: Sarinda man lost in Murshidi

 

Rumis messages are for the ordinary. It is, simple, from beginning to the end, never complicated as someone would like to relate it now. In Masnawi we found him to be a great story teller. In the same traditions there are hundreds of Bayati (from the Russian word ‘bayat ‘meaning storyteller) in Bangladesh who have been addressing millions of rural population with simple stories. I have come across performers of ‘bichar’songs.The Bichar is evaualation or judging between two extremes like Marefat and Shariat , like War and Peace and so on.

 

ABDUL HALIM Bayati is one of such bayatis I met. He plays on the sarinda( a middle eastern musical instrument).Most of his songs are Marfati ,Murshedi and of Bichar origin of high spiritual value hitherto unknown to the West .The song which I translate below, is from his published book from Bengali Academy, Dhaka. It has 1000 songs. He was 77 before he died last month.


 

MARFATI

JAIYA DUB DIYO

Go, catch and dip into a man of your choice, the murshid’

Yours and his self would merge and combine into one

.He does not possess hands as such,

Neither tongue to speak

Does not have ears to listen, He is formless.

Give a form to the formless

Place a mercury on the back of the mirror and meditate

Eight rooms and fourteen stories in a human body

Purchance one opens the hidden room, therein

unseen picture, the boundless energy flowing

The entire celestial world is going round this.

Listen to the guru,

souls journey will unite the five atmas

This body , the abode of million tranferrred lights

Among million lotus bloomed there

Endeavour your best to catch your Murshid ,

Oh Halim ! go with one flower only.

 

Main theme of Rumis philosophical doctrine is Union with God. Rumi often refers to the following hadith qudsi: Neither My earth nor my heavens contain Me, but I an contained in the heart of My faithful servant. In the following passages he comments on this theme:

I gazed into my own heart

There I saw Him; He was nowhere else(diwan,p73)

 

O heart! we have searched from end to end:I saw in thee naught

Save the beloved

Call me not infidel, O heart, if I say”Thou thyself art He”(Diwan,p250)

Here the understanding becomes silent or (else) it leads into error, as the heart is with Him, or indeed the heart is He(I,3489)

DAMAN U GEER JUTAR BE GHUMA

TARAHI AAAZ AFTE AKHAR ZAM

(Go, turn to Allahs shades,i.e .the pirs who show you to clean your soul)

ANDRI WADI MARU BE EIN DALIL

LA UHEBBUL AFELI GO CHUN KHALIL

(To go up to the destination, you need someone to guide .Do not go for

Temporal go for the finer, the spiritual. )
 

9

JALAL UDDIN KHAN : exponent of Bhatiali from Brahmaputra
 

Jalaluddin Khan a famous Bhatiali singer and mystic from Brahmaputra river basin in Mymensingh, composed 2500 folksongs, some of which survived in published form namely,” Jalal geetika samagra” with 1200 Bhatiali and Murshidi songs, one is more beautiful than the other. Rumis reference is : SEARCH. As we open a computer it asks us to SEARCH.*3

 

The same earning and search for Him is to be seen in this beautiful song.
 

TALASH KORGA AGE TARE
 

What are you meditating on?

Search first when you are still here .

 

When you are deeply in meditation (namaz),

Your body is purity

When bird inside call you to come in

The components of the body, khak bad will vanish

Atash will be burnt and ruh (soul) on outer space


 

You are a pilgrim

Know hearts kaaba first

A lucrative place indeed on your heart riverbed

Six madina already exist, why do you go far?

Open your eyes and watch angels already prostrating

Jalal gives good news, water of abehayat

Is inside , few do know

Sipping sharaban tahura, go to your eternal home

Just one Namaz (prayer )one Roza( fasting ) suffices an Adam son.
 

10

HASAN RAJA, a zamindar turned mystic
 

Hasan Raja, a landlord and poet -mystic from Surma river valley of Sylhet was first mentioned by Rabidranath Tagore ,the greatest poet of Bengal In his kamala lecture in Paris, he mentioned about his high spirituality. Hasan Raja is probably the most popular sufi poet of Bengal . He left his landed zamindari in the call of His Lord .

 

HASAN RAJAE KOI


 

Hasan raja says.who am I ?

In and outside

manifest the merciful.

Marketplace of world my love is annihilated

Save you, nothing remains

The torments of love left me weary

I am now surrounded by my weary friends

 

I am You, YOU are ME

I am in constant fear of losing You .

I am totally mad

engaged in dance

As if caught by wild fire.


 

11

Qazi Nazrul Islam , an Asheq e Rasul
 

QAZI NAZRUL ISLAM , national poet of Bangladesh , is known to Turkish people as his works including poem on MUSTAFA KAMAL ATATURK , is translated into Turkish language *4

.He wrote 400 Islamic songs and HAMD O NAAT of the finest quality . These were sung by my father ABBASUDDIN AHMED (who had 700 records ).In the following ghazal is depicted the sufi trend of his thought after Rumi.


 

AHMEDER OI MIMER PARDA
 

When curtain of Mim is raised from AHMED

Lo! My cherished heart!

What do you see?

The all embracing Allah .

 

Once you know, mad you

become everything to the prophets do you sacrifice then

 

Beauty of this kind made a mad man of Hallaj

He left life saying

Anal huq, I am the truth

 

You will certainly know Him

Once you know your own self

Look at own mirror

Reflection of His Noor

 

12

MANSUR SHAH, a mystic in Mela

Hope is to awaken in myself that dormant awareness that God does not have to remain dormant. As when we go to the movie we find ourselves absorbed in a novel, living alongside the fictional characters, laughing and weeping with these, so can we pray in a vital present fashion. This is what we learnt from dil hujuri prayer of Rumi As beautifully expressed by MANSUR SHAH of Udibari Kushtia. While shooting a program for the Bangladesh television, on the bank of a river, I found hundreds of thousands of followers of MANSUR SHAH chanting his songs in a urs mela.He knew Arabic and Persian too and left behind few books .A few lines from his book (MUKTIR ALO. No festival in Bangladesh is complete without the spiritual songs of MANSUR SHAH.


 

PARO NAMAZ MAN DEL HUJURE

 

Prayer to be from inside , otherwise not acceptable

dont you know the sahih hadith

which reads la salata illa be hujri qalab

if mistaken ,bad luck for him

see in Sura Maun why a musalli has to go to hell

Jabadar zikre deldar fekre khana(rumi)Che hasil e namaje panjegana

Mansur says namaj begets Noor and

Throws out your worldly worries .

 

13

PANJU SHAH, the shade of Rumi
 

When reading” discourses “many a times, Rumi came in front of me and asked abruptly

Do you really have Iman (faith) to ask such questions? He emphasized that faith is more important than the rest and the soul of prayer more important than the prayer. It is true , desire to pray is important than prayer because prayer can be sustained and put to good meaning only by desire to pray.

PANJU SHAH, the famous mystic from Jhenida, Jessore had an intimate study of Rumi. He wrote in one of his poems:

Masnabi kalam paro (read the kalam in masnavi)

Apon muqam dhoro ( Search your own station)

Tabe bujhbi tar lila (Then only understand His manifestations)
 

14

FAKIR LAON SHAH ,GREAT BAUL POET

 

Fakir Lalon shah, the great Baul poet, recognized contributions of

Rumi and in one his songs we get:
 

TAFSIR HUSSAINI JAR NAM

TAI DHURE MASNAVI KALAM

VED ISHARAI LIKHE TAMAM

LALON BALE NAI NIJEY
 

translation

LALON has not said these

Its from Masnavis kalam

Written in parables only.

 

A famous song of FAKIR LALON SHAH : Barir kache arshi nagar

 

I have not seen Him even for a day:

Near my home there is mirror –city

And my neighbor dwells in it.

All around the village is fathomless water:

The water is boundless.

And there is no boat to take me across i yearn to see Him,

(but) how shall get to that hamlet? What shall I say about this Neighbor of mine?

He has no hands, no feet, no shoulders. No head.

One moment He is above the void:

The next moment He is afloat in the water,

If my Neighbor would but touch me, all the pains of death would go away.

He and Lalon are here indeed,

But we remain countless miles apart. Translation Brother James

 

Bengali is a beautiful language, a perfect abode of Masnavi. Bengali has many translations of Masnavi. The rhyme translation edited by Maniruddin Yusuf, 1966

A masterpeice:

 

SHUNO LO SHAJANI! EKI GO KAHINI SHUNAYE BANSHER BANSHI

FARIADE TAI FHATIA PARICHE BOROHO BEDANARASHI. KADIAN

BERAI JHAR JEDIN MORE ANILO KARI

AMAR BIDHUR SHUR-MURCHANE MURCHAYE NARONARI

 

15

CONCLUSION

 

Rumi s popularity from Bangladesh to California based on his universal appeal to all faiths is, still on the surface level. Opposite of LOVE i. e HATRED run supreme on big brothers mind. Poor Rumi lovers around the world watch helplessly bombing and killing of innocents and weep in silence in their prayer rags from Thailand, through India to Konya. All prayers will be answered on right time. That is the promise.*5


 

Notes

*1 MELA or folk festivals of Bangladesh: A thesis published by BANGLADESH SHILPAKALA ACADEMY JOURNAL 1981 by the same writer

* 2 The Munshidin of Egypt: Their world and their song 1989/Sufism, Mystics and saints in Modern Egypt 1995:Valerie J Hoffman.

*3 Rumi went in search of Shamsuddin to Damascus in vain. When he searched within his own soul and heard voice of Divine he exclamation was : Why should I search? I am the same as he is .His essence speaks through me”.

*4 KAZI NAZRUL ISLAM: GOZUYLE KEMAL PASHA, IN TURKISH PUBLISHED BY MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, EXTERNAL PUBLICITY WING ,BANGLADESH , APRIL 2006

*5 “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the guidance and forbid what is wrong, NO HURT CAN COME TO YOU FROM THOSE WHO ARE IN ERROR. The return of you is to Allah .Then He will inform you about all that which you used to do. “ SURA MAIDA 5:104


 

Presently Chairman

DIALOGUE ON CULTURAL POLICY

SILVERSPRING Rd 103/7B Gulshan

Dhaka 1200 Bangladesh

mabbasi@dhaka.net