Monday February 19, 2018

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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Astounding Facts Related To The Holy Kumbh Mela

The Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years and between the Kumbh Melas at Haridwar and Nashik, there is a difference of around 3 years

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Kumbh Mela is organized periodically at one of the four places on rotational basis. Wikimedia Commons
Kumbh Mela is organized periodically at one of the four places on rotational basis. Wikimedia Commons
  • Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river
  • As per historic belief, bathing in holy rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins
  • The Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years

“It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvellous to our kind of people, the cold whites.”

These were the words from Mark Twain, after visiting the Kumbh Mela in 1895.

Kumbh Mela or Kumbha Mela is recognized by the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river. Traditionally, four Melas are widely considered as the Kumbh Melas and are held in Haridwar, Nashik, Allahabad and Ujjain.

Also Read: 10 Facts To Know About The Historical Meenakshi Temple

These fairs are organized periodically at one of the following places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik district, and Ujjain. The main festival site is located on the banks of a river: the Ganga at Haridwar. It is the junction where the Ganga, the Yamuna, the invisible Sarasvati at Allahabad, the Godavari at Nashik and the Shipra at Ujjain meets. As per historic belief, bathing in these rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins.

During the Kumbh Mela, the gathering of Bhakts by the banks of our sacred Indian rivers and is the greatest celebration in Hindu culture. Wikimedia Commons
During the Kumbh Mela, the gathering of Bhakts by the banks of our sacred Indian rivers and is the greatest celebration in Hindu culture. Wikimedia Commons

Heritage of India

First written evidence of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of the Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsang or Xuanzang (602 – 664 A.D.) who visited India in 629 -645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana. Kumbh Mela is a glorious heritage of India.

There are various sadhus or saints visit the Mela. The list includes Nagas, who do not believe in wearing clothes; Urdhwavahurs, who believe in putting the body through severe austerities; Parivrajakas, who have taken a pledge of silence; Shirshasins, who stand 24 hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads; Kalpvasis, who take bath thrice a day.

The Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years. Between the Kumbh Melas at Haridwar and Nashik, there is a difference of around 3 years, whereas the fairs at Nashik and Ujjain are celebrated in the same year or one year apart.

Also Read: 6 Lesser-Known Facts About Kamakhya Devi Temple

Upcoming Kumbh

The belief that originates from mythological times is, during a waging war between the demigods and demons for the possession of elixir of eternal life, a few drops of it had fallen on to four places that are today known as Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. the venue for Kumbh Mela is decided depends upon what position the Sun, Moon, and Jupiter hold in that period in different zodiac signs.

As per historic belief, bathing in holy rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins. Wikimedia Commons
As per historic belief, bathing in holy rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all sins. Wikimedia Commons

Magh Mela – Allahabad 2018 (Mini Kumbh)

The Magh Mela is also known as the Mini Kumbh. The Magh Mela is one of the greatest annual religious fairs for Hindus. Hindu mythology believes it to be the origin of the Magh Mela the beginning of the Universe. As a vital occasion for Hindus, the Magh Mela is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.

The Magh Mela is actually the other of Kumbh Mela. Hence, it is also known as mini Kumbh Mela.

Ardh Kumbh Mela- Allahabad 2019

After every six years, Ardh Kumbh Mela is celebrated in the month of January-February when Jupiter is in Aries or Taurus and Sun and Moon are in Capricorn during the Hindu month of Magha. In the year 2019, beginning from 15th January to 04th March; all this will once again be the centre of attraction.

Also Read: 8 Facts About Padmanabhaswamy Temple You Probably Didn’t Know

Facts related to Kumbh Mela have been compiled so that one can get a better understanding of this mega event.

  1. During the Kumbh Mela, the gathering of Bhakts by the banks of our sacred Indian rivers and is the greatest celebration in Hindu culture. Millions of pilgrims visit the four holy locations of the Kumbh Mela in order to bathe in the holy rivers and perform significant rituals.
  2. The place of Kumbh Mela changes in every three years between the four pilgrimage sites, which are – Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. All these towns have significant temples. The Mela returns to each location every 12 years.
  3. The origin of the Kumbh Mela dates back to the age when Gods used to reside on earth. It is said that the curse of Durvasa Muni had weakened the gods and they began to lose their powers. The Asuras ran amok through the three worlds and there was chaos everywhere.
  4. It is widely believed that those who take holy dips at the sacred locations during Kumbh Mela are eternally blessed by the power of the Gods. The sacred bath provides spiritual and material happiness and moves them towards the path of salvation.

    The Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, which occurs in 144 years, recorded an estimated pilgrim’s strength of 100 million devotees. Wikimedia Commons
    The Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, which occurs in 144 years, recorded an estimated pilgrim’s strength of 100 million devotees. Wikimedia Commons
  5. The festival is billed as the “biggest gathering on Earth”; in 2001 more than 40 million gathered on the busiest of its 55 days. The 2001 Kumbh Mela was remarkably conspicuous due to the planetary positions at the time, a pattern that repeats only once every 144 years.67.
  6. The Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, which occurs in 144 years, recorded an estimated pilgrim’s strength of 100 million devotees. The festival was acclaimed as the “biggest gathering on Earth”. The Guinness Book of World Records recognised the event as one of “The Best Managed” events of all times.
  7. An estimated amount of business earnings in Kumbh Mela is 12,000 crore rupees. Employment opportunities created during Kumbh Mela is approximately 65,000.