In the preparation of this brief Composition much depended upon the kindness and generosity of certain Oriental scholars, who have allowed me to reprodue some of their translations from Jami. I have attempted to give their best work in so far as it tends to illustrate the mystical teaching of the last great poet of Persia.
Once more I am indebted to Mr. E.H. Whinfield for permission to quote from his translation of the Lawaih (Oriental Tranalation Fund, New Series, vol. xvi, Royal Asiatic Society, London). I have to thank Prof. Edward G. Browne for allowing me to use his beautiful translation from Yusuf and Zulaikha, which I have called "The Coming of the Beloved." This translation appears, in fuller form, in Prof. E.G. Browne's article on: "Sufiism" in Religious System of the World (Sonnenschein). The chapter in the present volume entitled "The Story of Yusuf and Zulaikha" originally appeared in the Orient Review, and I am indebted to the editors for their courtesy in allowing me to reproduce it here. I very much appreciate Mr. E. Edwards's kindly interest in my work, and for the valuable suggestions he has made from time to time. 1 tender my thanks to Messrs Kegan Paul for allowing me to make a selection from Yusuf and Zulaikha, translated by the late Mr. Ralph T. Griffith (Trubner's Oriental Series).
The translations from Salaman and Absal are by Edward FitzGerald, and those from the Bahdristan were originally published by the KamaShastra Society.
1. The life of Jami
Nur-uddin 'Abd-Urrahman Jami was born :in Jam 1 the 23rd of Sha'ban, 817 A.H. (Nov. 7, 1414 A.D .), and died at Herat the 18th of Muharram, 898 A.H. (Nov 9, 1492 A.D) Dr. Hermann Ethe gives Khasjird, near Jam}, as the birthplace of the poet; but as Jam himself refers more than once to the fact of Jam being his birthplace, we must give the poet the benefit of the doubt and trust to his good memory in the matter. The fact that Jam and Khasjird are in close proximity has probably given rise to confusion in the matter. It will be evident that the poet took his name from the first-mentioned town.
In 822 A.H. Khwajah Mohammad Parsa happened to pass through the little town of Jam, on route for Hijaz, A great concourse of people came out to do the holy man honour, and among them was the title boy, Jami, and his father. A pretly story is told of how Jami's father stated his son in front of Khwajahs litter. I do not think the little fellow laughed very much, as most boys would have done on such a joyous occasion, because Jami, writing on his impression of that day sixty years after, tell us that. "The pure refulgence of his (Mohammad Parsa' s) beaming countenance is even now, as then, clearly visible to me, and my heart still feels the joy I experienced from that happy meeting. I firmly believe that bond of union, friendship, confidence, and love, which susequently bound the great body of pious spirits to this humble creature, is wholly due to the fortunate influence of his glance, and most devoutly do I trust that the auspiciousness of this union may cause me to be ranked among the number of his friends" Jami seems to have had much faith in the contact with holy men, and he attached much importance to a certain Shaikh who took him on his knee as a child. This very estimable reverence for holy men and holy things must ever remain as one of the poet's finest characteristics. We can, however, never say of Jami that he was a man of wide sympathy. He was kind and generous towards the poor and needy; but he lamentably failed where, perhaps, he should have shone most, namely, among the literary men of his own period. He too frequently displayed a fighting spirit, where tolerance and a willingness to admit of another point of view would have shown to greater advantage.
Jami commenced his education at Herat. He strongly objected to the disciplinary methods of Instruction, was not studious as a boy, and preferred games rather than the study of books. But he was naturally clever, naturraly quick at absorbing knowledge with a minimum of labour. It is said of him that he used to snatch a book from one of his fellow students while on his way to school and excel them all when they were examined in class.
Jami soon left his instructor Mulla Junaid and became a pupil of Khwajah ' Ali al-Samarqandi. Jami was so brilliant a scholar that after forty lessons further instruction from his master was quite unnecessary. After attending a series of lectures by Qazi Rum, at Samarqand, he succeeded in getting the best of an argument with the learned professor who had given the lectures. It might have been expected that the defeat of an older man of letters than Jami would have produced ill- feeling; but quite the contrary was the case. Qazi Rum, before a large assembly, described Jami thus: "Since the building of this city, no one equal, in sharpness of intellects and power of using them, to young Jami, has ever crossed the Oxus and entered Samarqand." This was high praise indeed; but though it awakens our admiration, the fact that he dispensed with home- work" while at school, scanned his lessons while walking past the rose gardens, bettered his instructor in an argument, and in every way shone as a most clever young man, because he simply could not help being anything else, makes him not one whit dearer to our hearts if we expect from him something more than cleverness. Jami had not that greatness of soul whereby to counteract the deterrent effect his conspicuous success might have upon him. In these early days of too youthful recognition we find Jami infected with that disease commonly known as "swelled head," from which the poet never recovered. We see him too often as a little tin-god denying, with the exception of his father, all indebtedness to others for his noteworthy erudition-an absurd attitude for anyone to take. He remarks: "I have found no master with whom I have read, superior to myself. On the contrary I have invariably found that, in argument, I could defeat them all. I acknowledge, therefore, the obligations of a pupil to his master to none of them; for if! am the pupil of anyone, it is of my father who taught me the language" This blatantly conceited attitude is both disappointing and surprising when we remember first, that Jami was a professed Sufi, the follower of a teaching the tenets of which are the abandonment of self and the knowledge of God, only. Second, that Jami had a very decided sense of humour, strongly in evidence in the "Sixth Garden" of his Bahiir istiin, so delightfully entitled:
"Blowing of the zephyrs of wit and the breezes of jocular sallies, which cause the buds of the lips to laugh and the flowers of the hearts to bloom." From these two things alone we might have expected a finer and nobler character. We must be, however, content with the life of a great literary egoist, abandon sentiment, and remember only that he has left to posterity the most polished of Persian poetry.
Jami's acceptance of Sufism was brought about through a vision in which S' ad u-din appeared to him and said: "Go, O child! and wait on one who is indispensable to you." As this message was delivered by a spirit Jami appears to have taken no objection to the world "indispensable"; but on the contrary, obeyed the command and went to S'ad u- din for spiritual instruction. Under this holy man Jami lived the life of a rigid ascetic. So devoutly and so strenuously did Jami perform his penances that when S' ad u-din thought fit to lessen them and allow Jami to mix with society again, the poet found that he had lost his power of eloqunce, for which he had been so justly famed, and it was some considerable time before he regained his position as a great master of rhetoric.
I have already said that Jami showed a very strong liking for holy and pious men. Particularly might be mentioned Shams uddin Mohammad Asad and 'Ubaid ullah Ahrar The last mentioned alludes to Jami as the "flood of light", and to himself as the "small lamp." But Jami, nevertheless, was not very optimistic in his views regading other people. Alas," said he, "I can find no seekers after Truth. Seekers there are, but they are seekers of their own prosperity.
It was while making a pilgrimage to Makkah. that Jami suffered considerably from the mutilation of a passage from his Silsilah al-Dhahab, a passage purposely borrowed from Qazi Azad. The mutilation was performed by N’imat-e-Haidari, a native of Jam, who had accompanied Jam to Baghdad, had quarrelled, and left the little band and some Muslims of another order. The partially suppressed passage was shown to some of the Shi' a as the work of Jami, The poet and his followers met with a heated dispute from the people of Baghdad. Finally a meeting was called in the Madrassah of the town, A large number of excited people attended. The Hanafi and Shafi'i churches were represented, and in front of their respective representatives sat the Governor. When the Silsilah al-Dhahab was perused the piece of deception was discovered, namely, that the beginning and end had been suppressed, and a passage added likely to offend the people of Baghdad. Peace was once more restored. Jami, however, felt justified in punishing the originators of the plot. N'imat-e-Haidari had his moustache very unceremoniously cut off, and was commanded to forfeit a pious garb with the crushing remark: "It will be necessary for you to recommend yourself to some holy man of the day who, peradventure, may yet put you on the right way" This man's brother, who had also offended, was forced to wear a fool's cap and to ride on an ass with his head facing the animal's tail, amid the none too complimentary remarks of the Baghdad people.
Although Jami, in spite of the incident mentioned above, remained in Baghdad four months, he never forgot the insult, and expressed himself bitterly on the subject in some of his poetry.
We then find our poet continuing his journey to Makkah, and both on his way to the holy city of Islam and upon his return therefrom, he met with cordial receptions from the people, who came out to do him honour. On one occasion, however, while Jami stayed at Aleppo the Experor of Rum sent a messenger with a present of five thousand pieces of gold if Jami would consent to visit Constantinople. The messenger came to Damascus only to find that Jami had recently vacated it. The poet, hearing of the Sultan of Rum 's intentions, and wishing to avoid his munificence, took his departure to Tabriz. At this town Hasan Beg, the Governor of Kurdistan, made repeated overtures to try and percuade the poet to reside in his capital. But Jami, making the excuse that he wished to visit his aged mother, journeyed to Khorasan. Fate, however, ordained honours and showers of gold for the none too grateful or needy Jamil, and at Khorasan he was again the recipient of many costly presents.
Jami, probably wearied with the continual adulation which he had everywhere received, now retired from public life. At this juncture little is recorded of him, and here we must leave him with one anecdote which will serve to show his ready wit: "You (i.e. God) so occupy my whole thoughts and vision, that whatsoever comes into view from afar appears to me to be You." "What," said a sharp contemporary, "if a jackass were to come into view?" "It Would appear to me to be you?" was Jami's prompt reply.
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