Saturday, 28 February 2009

Story of the Reed

"The cry of the flute is indeed fire, not air; He who lacks fire, may he die in despair.

It's a blaze of love that sets the reed on fire; It's the yearning of love that wine boils in desire.

Only the sense-less can the hold the sense so dear; Where can ever the tongue find a better fan than ear."

These are excerpts from Professor Amir Zekrgroo's own translation of the Preface of Rumi’s Mathnawi, the "Ney-Nameh", or the "Story of the Reed" presented yesterday in the second of his series of lectures on ‘Rumi and his Mathnawi’. (Click here to access the original Persian and various English translation of the Ney-Nameh)

The story of the reed begins as a story of pain, the pain of separation from one's habitat and nature; a mythical way of expressing a lover's infinite longing for The Beloved. This represents the deep spirituality of the Sufis, who yearn for none other than God’s love and blessings.

For centuries, people have cut bamboo reeds to make flutes and pens for writing; the former emits the beautiful sound of the wind, and the latter the splendid art of beautiful writings. One is amazed then, how a thin and bland stick could be so useful and soothing.

Professor Zekrgoo contends, the reed symbolises the perfect man, who is hollow of ego and worldly desires. As Muhammad Iqbal once exclaimed: "the ego is partly free, partly determined, and reaches fuller freedom by approaching the Individual who is most free: God."

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