Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Baba Taher Hamadani | MysticSaint and Poet

1.
More than a thousand hearts have You laid waste, More than a thousand suffer grief for You, More than a thousand wounds of Yours I've counted,
Yet the uncounted still are more than these.

Lord! who am I, and of what company? How long shall tears of blood thus blind my eyes? When other refuge fails I'll turn to You, And if You fail me, where shall I go?

I am that sea now gathered in a tear.
I am that universe now centered here.
I am that book of destiny which seems
To form a lonely dot of hope and fear.

If I am trapped in flesh and lust - I'm Thine
And though I doubt Thine ways, or trust - I'm Thine.
Whether to Christ I cling or Mazda's Wing
Behind these veils of dreams and dust - I'm Thine.

Whether I cling, whether I part- You know.
Whether I break or keep my heart - You know.
Whether I crown my head or drown my eyes,
You know my goal from end to start - You know.

I find my ill in You, my cure in You.
I part from You and then endure in You.
If knives would cut my tissues each from each,
My naked soul is e'er secure in You.

- Baba Taher, may God sanctify his soul

2.
Mystic, Saint and Poet Baba Taher Hamadani (1000-1060) is known as one of the most revered and respectable early poets in Persian literature. Most of his life is clouded in mystery. He probably lived in Hamadan, the capital city of the Hamedan Province in Iran.

Living in the first half of the 11th century A.D. Baba Taher was one of the great gnostics of Yaristan to which the gnostics dynesty of Kurdistan such as Eyn-ol-Quzat Hamadani, also a gnostic, belonged. He was known by the name of Baba Taher-e Oryan (The Naked), which suggests that he may have been a wandering dervish, a qalander. He was a "crazy saint" (madzhub), a dervish, or religiously inspired beggar, in bewildered condition he roamed the streets of Hamadan, the especially protected of God and the Prophet, the prefix Baba indicating the dervish, or kalandar condition, rather than prominence among the Sufi sect.

Legend tells that the poet, an illiterate woodcutter, attended lectures at a religious school, where he was ridiculed by the scholars and students because of his lack of education and sophistication. After experiencing a vision in which philosophic truths were revealed to him, he returned to the school and spoke of what he had seen, astounding those present by his wisdom.

Legend also has it that Baba Taher was a very simple and innocent man whom everyone mocked and made fun of in his town. He was not a poet to begin with. One very cold winter day, people of the town decided to make a fool out of him just for fun. They brought him to a frozen fountain and told him if he swim in the icy water, he will become a poet. Being innocent, he believed them. He took off his clothes and entered the icy water. Everyone started laughing at him as he was swimming in the cold water. He realized he was made fun of and was heart broken. He came out and, to everyone's surprise, a "true poet" was indeed born out of the icy water on that day. Hence, he is called "the naked". His poetry has touched many souls.

Baba Taher was major devotee of Shah Khoshin Lurestani (965-1026 A.D.), a Jāma or Dūn (God’s clothing, Avatara) in Yarsan, and was the master of the master of Ayn al-Quddat (1051-1084 A.D.), grand Sufi. Even if, Sometimes, Sufism and Yarsan have no obvious boundary in Western regions of Iran, but it can be said that Baba had been Sufi before his meeting with Shah Khoshin and after that his triaqah (path) is the synthesis of Sufism and Yarsan, as it is evident in a figure like Ayn al-Quddat Hamadani.

Baba Tahir is highly revered even now in Iran, where in Hamadan a mausoleum was erected for him during the 20th century. Many of his poems have been translated into English in E. Heron-Allen’s The Laments of Baba Tahir (1902), A.J. Arberry’s Poems of a Persian Sūfī (1937), and in Mehdi Nakhosteen’s The Rubáiyyát of Bábá Táher Oryán (1967).

3.
Sufi Aphorisms of Baba Taher


Attributed to him is a work by the name Kalemat-e qesaar, a collection of nearly 400 aphorisms in Arabic on Sufi themes, which has been the subject of commentaries, one allegedly by Ayn-al-Qoddat Hamadani.

- Knowledge (elm) is lightening and [divine] ecstasy (vajd) is burning.

- The end of reason is wondering (tahayyor) and the end of wondering is drunkenness (sokr).

- Heart is God’s instrument for balancing.

- There is nothing between soul and hereafter but one moment.

- Remembrance [of God] (zikr) is life of heart.

- Meditation (murāqiba) is certainty in knowledge (elm ul-yaqin) and [sacred] vision (muŝāhida) is certainty in eye (ayn ul-yaqin).

- He who desires God is separated from people, especially himself among them.

- Loving in truth is compulsory for all men.

- Sufism is a life without any death and is a death without any life.

- Knowledge is the guide to gnosis, and when gnosis has come the vision of knowledge lapses and there remain only the movements of knowledge to gnosis; knowledge is the crown of the gnostic, and gnosis is the crown of knowledge; whoever witnesses what is decreed by God remains motionless and powerless.

- Burnings are two types: burn by fire and by light; he who is burned by fire become ash without value, and he who is burned by light become lamp which is useful for men.

4.
Poetry and Quatrains


Baba Taher Oryan's mysticism, philosophy, and sentiments are captured in quatrains of simple and uniform metre. He was considered by his contemporaries as one of the most eminent, erudite mystics and sentimentalists of his time. He was one of the very first poets in the East to write rubaiyats. His poetry is written in a dialect of Persian, and he is most famous for his du-baytī (double distichs), exhibiting in melodious and flowing language a sincerity and spirituality with profound philosophical undertones.

har on baqē ke vāreŝ sar be dar bī
modāmeŝ bāqebun xūnin jigar bī
bebāyad kandaŝ az bix o az bon
agar bāresh hama la’l o gohar bī

When Trees to grow beyond their boundaries dare,
They Cause the Gardeners much anxious care;
Down to their very roots they must be pruned,
Though Pearls and Rubies be the Fruits they bear.

magar shēr o palanhē ey dil ey dil
be me dāyem be jangē ey dil ey dil
agar dastem rasa xūnet barējim
beuinim ta che rangē ey dil ey dil

A Lion or a Tiger thou might be,
Ever, O Heart, O Heart, at war with me;
Fall but into my hands, I’ll spill thy Blood,
That I may know what to make of thee.

xurāyīn cheh-rī-et afrūta tar bī
bejānim tir-i ishqet dūta tar bī
ze che xāl-i roxat zuni sīyāha?
har on nazdik-i khur bī sūta-tar bī

O may thy sunny face grow brighter yet,
May thy love’s arrow split my heart in twain;
Know thou why thy cheek’s mole is so black?
All things become burnt black close to the sun!

bē toe yikdam dilim xorram namuna
vagar rūyi toe vīinim qam namuna
agar dard-i dilim qesmat namāyand
dilē bē dard dar ālam namuna

Without thee my heart has no moment’s peace,
And if I see thy face my grief has fled;
If all men had a share in my heart’s grief;
No heart in all the world but would be sad.

bōra sūta dilun tā mā banālēm
ze dast-i yār-i bē parvā banalēm
baŝēm bā bulbul-i sheidā be gulŝan
agar bulbul nanāla mā banālēm

O Burnt-in-Heart, come ye and mourn with me,
Mourn we the flight of that most lovely Rose;
Vie we with the ecstatic Nightingale to the Garden,
And when she ceases mourning, we will mourn.

In a new rendition of Baba Tahir's poetry by David Pendlebury, titled The Ocean in a Jar: The Rubayat of Baba Tahir Hamadani, its written, "We are not looking here at some half-crazed ascetic, but at 'a man who for a time was both vessel and voice for an eternal and infinite mind'. Centuries before Jelaluddin Rumi, Hafez and Jami, we see clearly set out the preoccupations, themes and symbols that have characterised Persian poetry right down to the present day."

From that first day when you created us,
what have you seen from us but sin?
O Lord, by the truth of your holy Saints,
pass me by: turn a blind eye to what you see.

A Reviewer in Amazon writes: "This is a beautifully translated, clearly written and fascinating book. Having read the quatrains for the first time, I immediately began asking myself the impertinent question `What is Baba Tahir's poetry about?' and was helped by a sympathetic and informative afterword. In fact, I probably would have given up without the afterword.

The main emphasis of the quatrains seems to be on the heart. So, the quatrains could be read as 'food for the heart'. In this scientific age it seems almost provocative to use a phrase like `food for the heart' but, there it is. On the theme of the heart, it was not surprising to find two lines from a quatrain by Kalilullah Kahlili in the afterword:

My heart is, in all circumstances, my sustenance;
It is in this world of existence, my sovereign,
And when I am weary of the reign of reason,
God knows how grateful I am to my heart!

I feel grateful and fortunate to have found this book. Anyone who has read The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayaam (Omar Ali-Shah Translation), The Quatrains of Kahlilullah Khalili (Octagon Press), the first line of the Masnavi of Rumi (Octagon Press) or Sufi works translated by David Pendlebury will feel at home here."


[>] Download, The lament of Baba Tahir; being the ruba'iyat of Baba Tahir, Hamadani ('Uryan) The Persian text ed., annotated and tr. by Edward Heron-Allen, and rendered into English verse by Elizabeth Curtis Brenton via Archive.org (PDF)


#Further:
. Bio of Baba Tahir
. Baba Tahir via Golden Chalice
. Poems of Baba Tahir via Farsinet
. Amazon: The Lament Of Baba Tahir
Being The Rubaiyat Of Baba Tahir, Hamadani Uryan
. The Ocean in a Jar: The Rubayat of Baba Tahir Hamadani
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