Monday, July 15, 2013

[Sunlight] "The Story of Sahuri"



"The Story of Sahuri"*

A certain man was drumming at a certain gate to announce
the "Sahir"*: 'twas a court-house and the pavilion of a grandee.
(Whilst) he was beating his drum vigorously at midnight,
some one said to him, "O thou who art seeking (the means of)
Firstly, give this call to the "Sahir" at daybreak: midnight is not
the time for (making) this disturbance;
And secondly, observe, O man of vain desire, whether in fact
there is any one inside this house at midnight.
There is nobody here except demons and spirits: why art thou
trifling thy time away?
Thou art beating thy tambourine for the sake of an ear: where
is the ear? Intelligence is needed in order to know (thy purpose):
where is the intelligence?"
He replied, "You have said (your say): (now) hear the answer
from your (humble) servant, that you may not remain in be-
wilderment and confusion.
Although in your opinion this moment is midnight, in my view
the dawn of delight is near at hand.
In my sight every defeat has been turned to victory, in my
eyes all nights have been turned to day.
To you the water of the river Nile seems blood; to me it is not
blood, 'tis water, O noble man.
As for your saying, "There is nobody in this house and palace:
why art thou beating this drum?"--
(I reply that) this (Moslem) people are giving (large) sums of
gold for God's sake, founding hundreds of pious institutions and
And, like intoxicated lovers, gladly risking their property and
lives* on their way to (perform) the distant Pilgrimage:
Do they ever say, "The House (Ka'ba) is empty"? Nay, (they
know that) the Lord of the House is the Spirit invisible.
Do they (the pilgrims) ever say, "We are crying Labbayka
without (receiving) any response. Pray, why (is this)"?
Nay, the Divine blessing which causes (their cries of)
Labbayka is (in truth) a response (coming) from the One (God)
at every moment.
I know by intuition* that this pavilion and palace is the banquet
of the soul, and that its dust is an elixir.
I will strike my copper on its elixir unto everlasting in the mode
of treble and bass*.
That, from (my) playing the Sahir tune in this fashion, the
seas (of Divine mercy) may surge (and be roused) to scatter
(their) pearls and (lavish their) bounty.
Men hazard their lives in the line of battle and in fighting for
the Creator's sake.
One is like Job in tribulation; another like Jacob in patience.
Hundreds of thousands of people, thirsty and sorrowful, are
doing some sore toil for God's sake in desire (of pleasing Him).
I too, for the merciful Lord's sake and in hope of Him, am
drumming the Sahir-call at the gate."

-- Mathnawi, VI, 846-55, 861-78
Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"

*"Sahuri" -- the drum-caller for the sahir, in the early morning
during the month of Ramadan)
* "Sahir" -- The meal taken just before daybreak during the month
of Ramadan.
* "Lives" -- Literally, "body".
* "Intuition" -- Literally, "scent."
* "I will strike my copper, etc...." -- I.e. "I will strike every
chord (employ every means) in seeking spiritual transmutation, like
the lute-player whose plectrum moves up and down the
strings." The elixir was supposed to turn copper into gold.




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