Sunday 3 February 2019

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strongest pull of what you really love

If one was to ask an academician, Maulana Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī was the master of Love. However, for most people, Rumi was a mystic Sufi saint, whose lyricism and scholarly abilities have nurtured the future of thousand poets and artists in modern age. Rumi had always been a great scholar, teaching law and theology to his students. Being an erudite, his eloquence attracted many disciples, despite the fact that he was still in his early twenties. But the appearance of Shams transformed him into a devotee of music, dance and poetry. Albeit with his disappearance for the first time, Rumi immortalized Shams by celebrating him in his poetry as the embodiment of the divine beloved. History has it when Rumi and Shams met again, they fell at each other’s feet, not knowing who the lover was and who the beloved. Rumi named an entire collection of his odes The Works of Shams of Tabriz. Strangely, apart from researchers, little is known to the world of his lover, his companion in mysticism, his beloved disciple, Shams ad-Din of Tabriz. Some even wonder if he had been a real person, at all.

Shams, which literally translates to ‘the sun’, was a wandering dervish. A fireball, who had a remarkable curiosity and was a keen observer. Calling himself an interpreter of dreams, Shams had always known about his innate difference between himself and the rest of the world. He once asked his father to go back to his coop, if he wasn’t an ocean like him. Shocked at Shams behavior, his father was worried about his survival in the world. Little did he know that his son was anything but ordinary. Shams repeatedly claimed that he never had dream, instead he just had visions. These very visions were the beginning of his search for love and companionship. To him, ‘a good man was one thing, a lover something else’.

Long before Shams of Tabriz met the glorious Rumi, he was aware of his revered existence. Uncanny as it may seem, the search for his venerated companion made the dervish travel across the entire Middle-East, when he finally met Rumi, in Konya, to devour the sherbet of knowledge and to fill the void that had left his life incomplete. Such was his devotion that he was ready to sacrifice his head in return of the love that he was to receive. As for Rumi, Shams became a part of his dream. His longing grew stronger with each passing day. The finality of their meeting was that they were inseparable. The sohbet (conversation) between Shams and Rumi were endless, leading to the inevitable envy amidst their other loved ones. Their illuminating oneness is still a mystery to millions. They let themselves be drawn to each other, which paved the way for the most beautiful poems in the history of poetry.
“The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”

Interestingly, Huston Smith goes as far to compare Dante and Beatrice to Rumi and Shams. One might always wonder, why Rumi loved or was affectionate towards Shams to such an extent, that he paid no heed to anyone else. Perhaps, the answer is intertwined between the memories of those who claim, it always takes but a lover to find his beloved. It was Rumi’s eyes which found the spiritual magnificence in Shams.

For us millennials, perhaps the most difficult theory still remains. What really is love?
Is it as easy as what Shahrukh Khan narrates in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai?  Pyar dosti hai. Love is friendship. Some of us would surely cringe on that dialogue, and others perhaps would drool over its romance. Maybe we share secrets, ice-creams and coffee, trying to decipher love in letters written over WhatsApp statuses.

Or is Love as unconventional, complex and philosophical as we read through in Rumi’s quotes? Metaphysical, if one may call it. If we are to dive deep into them, we would find ourselves lost in the unnerving ocean of words and their countless meanings. The silence of love has been a matter of discussion between great scholars since time immemorial. Silence too is deafening, when there is a storm of separation between lovers, and perhaps the last conversation they ever share is through the silence of their brimming eyes. Rumi talks of this silence when lovers are drawn into union of love.

As for my part, to define something I am drawn to because of love, only reminds me of my father. The minute little things that he does make me feel the most cherished. Something as mundane as cutting nails becomes precious, if it is Baba who does it. His stories of struggle in Leh, Madras, Gujarat can keep me glued to him for eternity. I think, rice, dal and mashed potatoes are the tastiest if he feeds me. You may call it a stereotypical father-daughter emotional connect. Nevertheless, it is the stereotype I most admire.
To define the ‘pull of love’ in vaguely literal terms, can just bind it to shackles of chains, I believe. True essence of it, is rather subjective to each human. Let us then reminisce Rumi’s words, “Love is the religion and the universe is the book.”

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