Thursday December 14, 2017

Rumi & Shams: Bonded in words and beyond

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By Akash Shukla

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.

Also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎‎) is popularly celebrated by the world as Rumi. A 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, theologian, jurist, and Sufi mystic, Rumi’s influence scales national borders and jumps ethnic divisions. TajiksTurksGreeks, IraniansPashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have hugely appreciated his spiritual legacy for seven centuries.

An Iranian Muslim Shams-i-Tabrīzī (Persian: شمس تبریزی‎‎) is celebrated as the spiritual instructor of Rūmī. He is remembered with great reverence in Rumi’s poetic collection in particular Diwan-i Shams-i-Tabrīzī (The Works of Shams of Tabriz).

The tale and tradition unfolds that Shams taught Rumi in seclusion in Konya for 40 days before fleeing for Damascus.

The tomb of Shams-i-Tabrīzī was recently nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Described as the ‘most popular poet’ and the ‘best selling poet’ in the United States, Rumi’s poems have been translated into several languages of the world and transposed into various formats.

Rumi & Shams: The tale untold

Meeting of Rumi and Shams was one of the grandest events that the planet ever saw. With their bond in deep friendship, categories of teacher and student, lover and beloved, master and disciple stood dissolved.

Rumi was born in the remote town of Balkh and this place is now in Afghanistan. He spent most of his life in Konya, Turkey. In the 13th century, it was a meeting point for many cultures at the Western edge of Silk Road. This was a place where Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and even Buddhist travelers mingled.

At the age of 37, Rumi became an accomplished doctor of theology. He was a venusian lover of the beautiful and the good, an artist and a scholar.

There was a wandering dervish monk, rough-hewn and sinewy. Known as a street bodhisattva who mingled with laborers and camel drivers, people called him Shams.

He attracted glamour in all spontaneity but when he did, he always slipped out of side doors. Many-a-time he left town. Shams never wanted followers or fame. Somewhere, he wanted to find one person vast enough in spirit to be his companion and then in the trail of his thought, he met Rumi in Konya.

One fine day, Rumi was riding a donkey through the marketplace. While he was besieged by many disciples, a stranger with drilling eyes stepped from a doorway and seized his bridle and challenged him: “Who is greater, Muhammad or Bestami?”

Given to the ecstatic communion with God, legendary Sufi master Bestami who cried out with mystic candor that he and the Supreme were one; while Muhammad was the founder of their tradition, the anointed one, but his greatness was lodged in his stature as messenger of God.

So, who was greater?

Rumi gave the approved answer, “Muhammad.”

On Shams’ counterview, Rumi reached on the verge to reply but he realized that this was no seminary debate about the mysteries.

In a not-so-impressive and nothing out-of-the-ordinary marketplace in south central Anatolia, he came face to face with the mystery. A doorway to eternity opened and in one pure outrageous act of faith, Rumi drove through. In an instant of mystical annihilation, fire met fire, ocean met ocean, and Rumi fell into pure being.

Rumi said, “What I once thought of as God I met today as a human being.”

The material world records and remembers this incident as Rumi tumbling from his saddle after the question and faints.

Lying on the ground when Rumi managed to regain consciousness, he answered, “Bestami took one swallow of knowledge and thought that was all. But for Muhammad, the majesty was continually unfolding.”

Shams not only gauged but also felt the depth of the answer and this was the one he had sought.

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org

The two began a series of months-long retreats into solitude where they entered into a deep communion of words and silences called sohbet. Who can say what transpired there? We can only guess that Rumi endured the refining fires of a deep spiritual purification.

But some of Rumi’s pupils witnessed their beloved teacher being strayed by ‘madman Shams’; their intrigue forced Shams to leave Konya.

Shams went into exile several times, but he always returned at Rumi’s behest. But on December 5, 1247, fanatics killed Shams and the body went missing. Rumi wandered for months in great pain and one day in Damascus, he realized there was no longer a need to search; Shams was ‘with him’ and ‘in him’.

With this final illumination, he began singing the spontaneous poetry of such beauty and perfection that is now loved and revered across the world as revelation.

When Rumi died, he was mourned by Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. While he underwent his spiritual entourage within the Islamic Sufism pattern, his whole life witnessed unrestricted universality of Heart.

I want to see you.
Know your voice.
Recognize you when you
first come ’round the corner.
Sense your scent when I come
into a room you’ve just left.
Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.
Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.
I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
more

All of this poetry can be heard as Rumi’s continuing conversation, an exploration of what it is to be together in God and with God.
So now listen with what Rumi called ‘The ear in the center of the chest’.

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When shall we see a Turkey-less Thanksgiving Day?

According to American Turkey Association, 44 Million Turkeys are 'enjoyed' on Thanksgiving Day

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Thanksgiving Day and Turkey killing go together
Thanksgiving Day and Turkey killing go together. Pixabay

Chicago:

Tomorrow (November 24) is the popular Thanksgiving Day in USA. Observed on the fourth Thursday of November, it is a much awaited holiday. It also kind of sets off the holiday season of the winters that ends with the celebrations of New year.

Thanksgiving Day has its roots in settlers (pilgrims) in Plymouth celebrating a feast after the successful harvest that season. That was in 1621. But the Thanksgiving has continued and today it is an occasion to express thanks and gratitude to one’s own blessings to life and opportunities and one’s beliefs in general. Thus, rightly so, Thanksgiving Day is the occasion to give alms and do charity. This is the day for people to come together as families and count the blessings and celebrate the life together. Thanksgiving Dinner thus is considered a very special feast.

44 Million Turkeys are 'enjoyed' on Thanksgiving Day
Picture of a Turkey . 44 Million Turkeys are ‘enjoyed’ on Thanksgiving Day. Pixabay

Thanksgiving and food go together. After all, supper is an occasion to meet, share and celebrate. Amongst all the food and beverages, Turkey is the unifying theme. Turkey is served on this day as a mark of Thanksgiving. How so ever painful it may sound, the stark reality is that Thanksgiving comes at the altar of turkeys. They are sacrificed so that we can celebrate thanksgiving. I read somewhere that 88 % Americans eat turkey on this day, according to a survey conducted by American Turkey Association. Looking at sheer numbers, 44 Million turkeys are ‘enjoyed’ on Thanksgiving Day.

 

 

Thanksgiving Day stands to symbolize a very beautiful human sentiment: Thankfulness in general and gratitude in particular. That is why it so bothers me to see how such a humane expression is oblivious to the cruelty that carries along with!

Will we ever observe a Turkey-less Thanksgiving Day?
After all, when turkey can get a Presidential Pardon, why not a Public Pardon?

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Thanksgiving Day Across the World

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated across the world and for each country, it has its own tale and tradition around food and days.

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Thanksgiving Day celebrations
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving Day. The name stands for itself as the day to give thanks and is celebrated as a national holiday in many countries like United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Grenada, Liberia while similarly named festival exists in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving holiday remains a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

America
The official date for the American Thanksgiving that exists today was set by President Roosevelt to be on the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November as decided by President Lincoln as thanksgiving date.
But their thanksgiving is surrounded by a debate over the nation’s first celebrations and the two places embroiled in this debate are New England and Virginia as both the places provide certain proofs of being the spot for nation’s first celebrations for Thanksgiving.

Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated in the true spirit of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. It is believed that due to the geographical differences from the USA, Canada’s Thanksgiving arrives on the second Monday in October as that is the close of their harvest season.

But in countries like Liberia, Netherlands, and Grenada, it is not just a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Liberia
In Liberia, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated to mark the freedom from black slavery by the U.S.A. The Thanksgiving day’s date remains on the first Thursday of November and has been a tradition since 1820.

Netherlands
Netherlands celebrate thanksgiving to mark to commemorate the Pilgrims who had migrated and became residents of the city of Leiden and died at Pieterskerk. To commemorate the hospitality, the thanksgiving, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the same as American Thanksgiving Day’s morning.

But there are some countries like the Philippines where the tradition of Thanksgiving only arrived with the Americans due to it being an American colony in the early 20th century but the tradition of Thanksgiving there had seemed to die down.

Food:
The American Thanksgiving seems to dominate the Thanksgiving menu when it comes to this holiday. Their famous turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes, and yams are signature dishes related to this day.

Black Friday:
Not only food, American Thanksgiving has also made Black Friday, an informal day following the Thanksgiving Day to mark the beginning of their country’s Christmas season sales and it has been in the history books since 1952 such that it has become a tradition of its own now.

Thanksgiving Day remains an occasion for many families to get back together and celebrate this holiday in the spirit of one while giving the rise to the excitement of upcoming Christmas also which remains barely a month away from Thanksgiving day.

Samridhi Nain is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

 

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2,648 illegal Migrants detained in Turkey

According to an official statement by Turkish General Staff , Turkish border guards rounded up 1,632 migrants attempting to illegally enter Turkey from Syria

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migrants
Turkey launches nationwide operation to detain illegal migrants (representative image) Pixabay

Turkey, November 9, 2017: A total of 2,648 undocumented migrants were detained in nationwide operations across Turkey, security force said on Wednesday.

Turkish border guards rounded up 1,632 migrants attempting to illegally enter Turkey from Syria, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement, Xinhua reported.

Some 171 undocumented migrants were found attempting to cross Turkey-Greece border illegally, according to the statement.

Another 575 migrants trying to illegally enter Greece and Bulgaria were held in northwestern Edirne province, a security official told state-run Anadolu Agency.

Gendarmerie caught 126 migrants, including 104 Afghan and 22 Pakistani nationals, from a bus at a checkpoint in Turkey’s central province of Sivas.

During another operation in northern Kastamonu province, security forces stopped an Istanbul-bound bus and held 121 migrants, including Pakistanis, Afghans and Senegalese. (IANS)