‘A Grave’s Only a Curtain’: Reading Rumi on His Death Anniverary
On Rumi’s 743rd death anniversary, rediscover the Sufi poet through his inspirational last poem.
Whirling dervishes have mesmerised me since childhood. The whole act, the aura and the attire has something magical about it. Revolving around one’s self and bending on the right hand using unexpected movements is called sama. And it is the means of reaching wajd – a trance-like state of ecstasy.
These whirls prodded me into reading Mevlana (or Jalaluddin Rumi), who introduced this form of meditation. The more I read Rumi, the more I started seeking the ‘self’ in myself instead of the ‘I’ in me. Reading him, I became reluctant to judge others because he wrote:
The fault is in the blamer, the spirit sees nothing to criticise.
‘Every Mortal Will Taste Death, Few Will Taste Life’
Mevlana’s powerful and positive words are both enigmatic and universal. Arguably the most widely read poet in the West, Rumi’s thoughts, words, poems and teachings are acknowledged around the world, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. UNESCO celebrated 2007 as the Year of Rumi. Centuries after his death, his words not only inspire but also heal. This is why his writing is extremely significant in today’s turbulent times.
On 17 December 1273, this great Sufi mystic passed away. He celebrated the profound mysteries of time, love, death and the essence of life. He wrote: “Every mortal will taste death, but very few will taste life.” 17 December is now known as Sheb-i Arus, meaning 'wedding night', or the night of one’s meeting with the beloved. Every year, this day is celebrated as the night of Rumi’s reunion with his beloved. Just before his death, he recited one of his most inspirational words. Here is the poem:
“When I die; when my coffin is being taken out
you must never think I am missing this world.
Don't shed any tears, don't lament or feel sorry. I'm not falling into a monster's abyss.
When you see my corpse is being carried,
don’t cry for my leaving.
I'm not leaving; I'm arriving at eternal love.
When you leave me in the grave, don't say goodbye.
Remember a grave is only a curtain for the paradise behind.
You'll only see me descending into a grave, now watch me rise.
How can there be an end? When the sun sets
or the moon goes down, it looks like the end,
It seems like a sunset, but in reality, it is dawn.
When the grave locks you up, that is when your soul is freed.
Have you ever seen a seed fallen to earth not rise with a new life?
Why should you doubt the rise of a seed named man?. . .
When, for the last time, you close your mouth,
Your words and soul will belong to the world of no place, no time.”
(Naved Ahmad is a Delhi-based blogger who identifies himself as a “writer by instinct, sports coach by profession and a harbinger of universality”. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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