As an educationist, engineer and peace activist, Dr K. Hussain has written papers for many journals and seminars which have been compiled into books. The book under review too is a careful compilation of articles on Jalaluddin Rumi'srelevant thoughts with correct renderings into English and addition of useful introductory notes on them. In this age of scientific and technological marvels, the author is reminding us of the legend of Rumi who stood for sublimity of the soul.
Jalaluddin Rumi was a mystic or Sufi who lived in the 13th century. He believed that Sufism is the purification of the heart. Sufism is also the process of experiencing God through abiding with spiritual values. It is ascension by means of divine knowledge. For the readers who are not familiar with Sufism, a little explanation is being given. It has four degrees?shariat (the law); tariqat (the technique); marifat (the divine knowledge) and haqiqat (the reality). It is at the final stage of haqiqat that the mystic passes away from the self to the higher truth. He becomes one with God: ?I am He whom I love and He whom I love is I. I become that which I love and that which I love becomes mine. We are two spirits in one body; to see one is to see Him and to see Him is to see me.? This is the stage when duality ends and unity begins, which is the stage of perfect man.
Jalaluddin Rumi possessed the intellect of a philosopher, the heart of a human, the soul of a Sufi, the pen of a poet, and the vision of a reformer. He stressed on love, ?for love is the hunger of human soul for divine beauty.? He said a lover is eager to not only find beauty, but to create beauty, to perpetuate beauty and to plant the seed of immortality. Without love, all life would come to an end, he said. Rumi'slabour of love was to explain tawhid, the unity with God and the existence of God in such a manner that even a child could understand.
Rumi has also thrown a flood of light on several concepts, such as risalat (prophethood), wahy (revelation); miraj (miracles); jabr-o-qadar (destination) and akhlaqiat (morals). To explain these concepts, Rumi used his technique of hikayat or fables. As he discerned the psychology of man, he made the kingdom of animals question whether man could claim any superiority over an animal'sbehaviour. He rightly asked through fables that has man, even at this stage of evolution, ?surpassed the fidelity of a dog, the gentleness of a cat, the industry of an ant, the calmness of a duck or the patience of a donkey? No wolf kills another wolf, no tiger kills another tiger, no animal preys on its own species. Can man, the Homo sapien, say the same thing about his own species??
A number of very interesting fables are told. One is about a donkey who was sold to an employee of a royal stable meant for horses. As soon as he saw the well-fed horses leading ostensibly a life of luxury, he complained to God, ?My Lord! What is my crime that I have to lead such a miserable life and am condemned to live forever, as a beast of burden, always starving and suffering? On the contrary, these horses in the royal stable are enjoying such a luxurious life.? Suddenly the sound of bugles was heard and the soldiers rushed into the stable, untethered the horses and riding them rushed to the battle-field. In the evening when the battered horses, some bleeding profusely, returned home, the donkey thanked God for letting him live, even it was in poverty but peacefully.
Rumi'sfables are like the Panchtantra tales of animals teaching a moral to humankind.
Further, the subject of origin of life on earth and the phenomenon of birth and death and rebirth and reincarnation of soul are regulated by the good and bad deeds done by man in previous birth according to Hindu philosophy. Similarly Rumi'smystic vision of life and his observations are natural sequences of birth, death and rebirth indicating a mystic fusion of science and spirituality. This book can be read to get information on what Sufism is.
(Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulpati Munshi Marg, Mumbai-400 007.)