Saturday, March 24, 2007
The quest for liberation and the path leading up to it has been metaphorised and expressed richly in various cultural traditions through music, poetry and dance.
Jalaluddin Rumi's mystical legacy, for instance, continues to inspire generations, transcending all ethnic boundaries, reverberating in every corner of the globe.
Rumi was a passionate musician who believed that music and dance were to be seen as spiritual disciplines in themselves, a perfect trigger to lead the soul to higher dimensions a concept and philosophy which led him to found the order of the Mevlevi, the dance of the whirling dervishes, the "Sema" or turning, the sacred ritualistic dance, which represents the journey of the seeker who turns to truth through love and abandonment of the ego.
Rumi's meeting with his preceptor Shams-i-Tabrizi, is considered the great catalytic point of Rumi's life, which converted him from an intellectual scholar to a passionate Sufi.
The intense call was evocatively penned by Rumi as "the drum of realisation of the promise is beating/ we are sweeping the road to the sky/ your joy is here today, what remains for tomorrow...". But Rumi also saw inner transformation as an arduous process, almost painful, since it required the death of the ego.
Rumi talks of the Islamic concept of Oneness: "What is Tawhid? To burn oneself before the One", says Rumi in his Mathnawi.
Man has to die unto himself to be one with that divine consciousness. The death of the ego stands at the heart of Rumi's thinking, and is quite physically embodied in the swirling movement of the sacred dancing he evolved as a measure to attain truth. Dance became a rhythmic expression of dhikr or remembrance. As Rumi would put it "...whatever there is, is only He/ your footsteps there in dancing/ the whirling... see... belongs to you/ And you belong to the whirling...", a kind of remembrance that the whole universe there is whirling around Him.
Equally magically, Rumi loved the "ney", the reed flute, and saw in it a metaphor for the seeker himself: "...listen to the reed, and the tale it tells, how it complains of separation...".
The wandering minstrel that he was, he saw music and dance not just as expressions of divine love, but complete 'paths' in themselves, in which the bliss of divine communion could be experienced easily.
The true spirit of the Sufi is musically sketched as "...we are the flute, our music is all Thine/ we are the mountains, echoing only Thee...". The ecstatic flight into the Divine was, for Rumi, best embodied in the path of music, "helping the seeker focus their whole being on the Divine... and in doing so the ego is destroyed and the soul resurrected".
In quintessential Sufi style, he reaches out by declaring his mission as one of love, where "...love's nationality is separate from all religions. The lover's nationality and religion is the Beloved".
Shahram Shiva cites this as the enduring legacy of Rumi, "...where the world of Rumi is neither exclusively that of a Sufi, nor that of a Hindu, Jew or Christian... it is the highest state of a human being, a fully evolved human being...". It is a testimony of the universality of his mystic-musical appeal that Rumi concerts are being organised worldwide in this International Year of Rumi.