Muhammad Iqbal.

The Secrets of the Self online

. (page 2 of 6)
Online LibraryMuhammad IqbalThe Secrets of the Self → online text (page 2 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


idea. The Prophet, when a little boy, was once lost in the desert. His
nurse Halíma was almost beside herself with grief, but while roaming
the desert in search of the boy she heard a voice saying:

‘Do not grieve, he will not be lost to thee;
Nay, the whole world will be lost in him.’

The true individual cannot be lost in the world; it is the world that
is lost in him. I go a step further and say, prefixing a new half-verse
to a hemistich of Rúmí (Transl. l. 1325):

In his will that which God wills becomes lost:
‘How shall a man believe this saying?’”

[8] Transl. l. 289 foll.

[9] According to the Tradition, “The true Faith is between
predestination and freewill.”

[10] Transl. l. 673 foll. In a note on “Our Prophet’s criticism of
contemporary Arabian poetry” (_The New Era_, 1916, p. 251) Iqbal
writes: “The ultimate end of all human activity is Life - glorious,
powerful, exuberant. All human art must be subordinated to this final
purpose, and the value of everything must be determined in reference to
its life-yielding capacity. The highest art is that which awakens our
dormant will-force and nerves us to face the trials of life manfully.
All that brings drowsiness and makes us shut our eyes to Reality
around, on the mastery of which alone Life depends, is a message of
decay and death. There should be no opium-eating in Art. The dogma of
Art for the sake of Art is a clever invention of decadence to cheat us
out of life and power.”

[11] _Ibid._ l. 537 foll.

[12] _Ibid._ l. 631 foll.

[13] _Ibid._ l. 1531 foll.

[14] Kor. ch. 23, v. 102.

[15] Transl. l. 1549 foll.

[16] _Ibid._ l. 323 foll.

[17] _Ibid._ l. 435 foll.

[18] _Ibid._ l. 815 foll.

[19] _Ibid._ l. 849 foll.

[20] _Ibid._ l. 893 foll.

[21] Man already possesses the germ of vicegerency, as God says in the
Koran (ch. 2, v. 28): “Lo, I will appoint a _khalifa_ (vicegerent) on
the earth.” Cf. Transl. l. 434.

[22] Writing of “Muslim Democracy” in _The New Era_, 1916, p. 251,
Iqbal says: “The Democracy of Europe - overshadowed by socialistic
agitation and anarchical fear - originated mainly in the economic
regeneration of European societies. Nietzsche, however, abhors this
‘rule of the herd’ and, hopeless of the plebeian, he bases all higher
culture on the cultivation and growth of an Aristocracy of Supermen.
But is the plebeian so absolutely hopeless? The Democracy of Islam
did not grow out of the extension of economic opportunity; it is a
spiritual principle based on the assumption that every human being is a
centre of latent power, the possibilities of which can be developed by
cultivating a certain type of character. Out of the plebeian material
Islam has formed men of the noblest type of life and power. Is not,
then, the Democracy of early Islam an experimental refutation of the
ideas of Nietzsche?”




PROLOGUE


When the world-illuming sun rushed upon Night like a brigand,
My weeping bedewed the face of the rose.
My tears washed away sleep from the eye of the narcissus,
My passion wakened the grass and made it grow.
The Gardener taught me to sing with power, 5
He sowed a verse and reaped a sword.
In the soil he planted only the seed of my tears
And wove my lament with the garden, as warp and woof.
Tho’ I am but a mote, the radiant sun is mine:
Within my bosom are a hundred dawns. 10
My dust is brighter than Jamshíd’s cup,[23]
It knows things that are yet unborn in the world.
My thought hunted down and slung from the saddle a deer
That has not yet leaped forth from the covert of
non-existence.
Fair is my garden ere yet the leaves are green: 15
Full-blown roses are hidden in the skirt of my garment.
I struck dumb the musicians where they were gathered
together,
I smote the heartstrings of all that heard me,
Because the lute of my genius hath a rare melody:
Even to comrades my song is strange. 20
I am born in the world as a new sun,
I have not learned the ways and fashions of the sky:
Not yet have the stars fled before my splendour,
Not yet is my quicksilver astir;
Untouched is the sea by my dancing rays, 25
Untouched are the mountains by my crimson hue.
The eye of existence is not familiar with me;
I rise trembling, afraid to show myself.
From the East my dawn arrived and routed Night,
A fresh dew settled on the rose of the world. 30
I am waiting for the votaries that rise at dawn:
Oh, happy they who shall worship my fire!
I have no need of the ear of To-day,
I am the voice of the poet of To-morrow.
My own age does not understand my deep meanings, 35
My Joseph is not for this market.
I despair of my old companions,
My Sinai burns for sake of the Moses who is coming.
Their sea is silent, like dew,
But my dew is storm-ridden, like the ocean. 40
My song is of another world than theirs:
This bell calls other travellers to take the road.
How many a poet after his death
Opened our eyes when his own were closed,
And journeyed forth again from nothingness 45
When roses blossomed o’er the earth of his grave!
Albeit caravans have passed through this desert,
They passed, as a camel steps, with little sound.
But I am a lover: loud crying is my faith:
The clamour of Judgement Day is one of my minions. 50
My song exceeds the range of the chord,
Yet I do not fear that my lute will break.
‘Twere better for the waterdrop not to know my torrent,
Whose fury should rather madden the sea.
No river will contain my Omán:[24] 55
My flood requires whole seas to hold it.
Unless the bud expand into a bed of roses,
It is unworthy of my spring-cloud’s bounty.
Lightnings slumber within my soul,
I sweep over mountain and plain. 60
Wrestle with my sea, if thou art a plain;
Receive my lightning, if thou art a Sinai.
The Fountain of Life hath been given me to drink,
I have been made an adept of the mystery of Life.
The speck of dust was vitalised by my burning song: 65
It unfolded wings and became a firefly.
No one hath told the secret which I will tell
Or threaded a pearl of thought like mine.
Come, if thou would’st know the secret of everlasting life!
Come, if thou would’st win both earth and heaven! 70
The old Guru of the Sky taught me this lore,
I cannot hide it from my comrades.

O Saki! arise and pour wine into the cup,
Clear the vexation of Time from my heart!
The sparkling liquor that flows from Zemzem - [25] 75
Were it a beggar, a king would pay homage to it.
It makes thought more sober and wise,
It makes the keen eye keener,
It gives to a straw the weight of a mountain,
And to foxes the strength of lions. 80
It causes dust to soar to the Pleiades
And a drop of water swell to the breadth of the sea.
It turns silence into the din of Judgement Day,
It makes the foot of the partridge red with blood of the
hawk.
Arise and pour pure wine into my cup, 85
Pour moonbeams into the dark night of my thought,
That I may lead home the wanderer
And imbue the idle looker-on with restless impatience;
And advance hotly on a new quest
And become known as the champion of a new spirit; 90
And be to people of insight as the pupil to the eye,
And sink into the ear of the world, like a voice;
And exalt the worth of Poesy
And sprinkle the dry herbs with my tears.
Inspired by the genius of the Master of Rúm,[26] 95
I rehearse the sealed book of secret lore.
His soul is the source of the flames,
I am but as the spark that gleams for a moment.
His burning candle consumed me, the moth;
His wine overwhelmed my goblet. 100
The Master of Rúm transmuted my earth to gold
And clothed my barren dust with beauty.
The grain of sand set forth from the desert,
That it might win the radiance of the sun.
I am a wave and I will come to rest in his sea, 105
That I may make the glistening pearl mine own.
I who am drunken with the wine of his song
Will draw life from the breath of his words.

‘Twas night: my heart would fain lament,
The silence was filled with my cries to God. 110
I was complaining of the sorrows of the world
And bewailing the emptiness of my cup.
At last mine eye could endure no more,
Broken with fatigue it went to sleep.
There appeared the Master, formed in the mould of Truth, 115
Who wrote the Koran of Persia.[27]
He said, “O frenzied lover,
Take a draught of love’s pure wine.
Strike the chords of thine heart and rouse a tumultuous
strain,
Dash thine head against the cupping-glass and thine eye
against the lancet! 120
Make thy laughter the source of a hundred sighs,
Make the hearts of men bleed with thy tears!
How long wilt thou be silent, like a bud?
Sell thy fragrance cheap, like the rose!
Tongue-tied, thou art in pain: 125
Cast thyself upon the fire, like rue![28]
Like the bell, break silence at last, and from every limb
Utter forth a lamentation!
Thou art fire: fill the world with thy glow!
Make others burn with thy burning! 130
Proclaim the secrets of the old wine-seller;[29]
Be thou a surge of wine, and the crystal cup thy robe!
Shatter the mirror of fear,
Break the bottles in the bazaar!
Like the reed-flute, bring a message from the reeds; 135
Give to Majnún a message from Lailá![30]
Create a new style for thy song,
Enrich the feast with thy piercing strains!
Up, and re-inspire every living soul!
Say ‘Arise!’ and by that word quicken the living! 140
Up, and set thy feet on another path;
Put aside the passionate melancholy of old!
Become familiar with the delight of singing;
O bell of the caravan, awake!”

At these words my bosom was enkindled 145
And swelled with emotion like the flute;
I rose like music from the string
To prepare a Paradise for the ear.
I unveiled the mystery of the Self
And disclosed its wondrous secret. 150

My being was as an unfinished statue,
Uncomely, worthless, good for nothing.
Love chiselled me: I became a man
And gained knowledge of the nature of the universe.
I have seen the movement of the sinews of the sky, 155
And the blood coursing in the veins of the moon.
Many a night I wept for Man’s sake
That I might tear the veil from Life’s mysteries,
And extract the secret of Life’s constitution
From the laboratory of phenomena. 160
I who give beauty to this night, like the moon,
Am as dust in devotion to the pure Faith (Islam) -
A Faith renowned in hill and dale,
Which kindles in men’s hearts a flame of undying song:
It sowed an atom and reaped a sun, 165
It harvested a hundred poets like Rúmí and Attár.
I am a sigh: I will mount to the heavens;
I am a breath, yet am I sprung of fire.
Driven onward by high thoughts, my pen
Cast abroad the secret of this veil, 170
That the drop may become co-equal with the sea
And the grain of sand grow into a Sahara.
Poetising is not the aim of this _masnaví_,
Beauty-worshipping and love-making is not its aim.
I am of India: Persian is not my native tongue; 175
I am like the crescent moon: my cup is not full.
Do not seek from me charm of style in exposition,
Do not seek from me Khánsár and Isfahan.[31]
Although the language of Hind is sweet as sugar,
Yet sweeter is the fashion of Persian speech. 180
My mind was enchanted by its loveliness,
My pen became as a twig of the Burning Bush.
Because of the loftiness of my thoughts,
Persian alone is suitable to them.
O Reader, do not find fault with the wine-cup, 185
But consider attentively the taste of the wine.

FOOTNOTES:

[23] Jamshíd, one of the mythical Persian kings, is said to have
possessed a marvellous cup in which the whole world was displayed to
him.

[24] The Sea of Omán is a name given by the Arabs to the Persian Gulf.

[25] The holy well at Mecca.

[26] Jalálu´ddín Rúmí, the greatest mystical poet of Persia (A.D.
1207-1273). Most of his life was passed at Iconium in Galatia, for
which reason he is generally known as “Rúmí,” _i.e._ “the Anatolian.”

[27] This refers to the famous _Masnaví_ of Jalálu´ddín Rúmí.

[28] Rue-seed, which is burned for the purpose of fumigation, crackles
in the fire.

[29] “Wine” signifies the mysteries of divine love.

[30] Majnún is the Orlando Furioso of Arabia.

[31] Khánsár, which lies about a hundred miles northwest of Isfahan,
was the birth-place of several Persian poets.




I

_Showing that the system of the universe originates in the Self and
that the continuation of the life of all individuals depends on
strengthening the Self._


The form of existence is an effect of the Self,
Whatsoever thou seest is a secret of the Self.
When the Self awoke to consciousness,
It revealed the universe of Thought. 190
A hundred worlds are hidden in its essence:
Self-affirmation brings Not-self to light.
By the Self the seed of hostility is sown in the world:
It imagines itself to be other than itself.
It makes from itself the forms of others 195
In order to multiply the pleasure of strife.
It is slaying by the strength of its arm
That it may become conscious of its own strength.
Its self-deceptions are the essence of Life;
Like the rose, it lives by bathing itself in blood. 200
For the sake of a single rose it destroys a hundred
rose-gardens
And makes a hundred lamentations in quest of a single melody.
For one sky it produces a hundred new moons,
And for one word a hundred discourses.
The excuse for this wastefulness and cruelty 205
Is the shaping and perfecting of spiritual beauty.
The loveliness of Shírín justifies the anguish of Farhád,[32]
The fragrant navel justifies a hundred musk-deer.
‘Tis the fate of moths to consume in flame:
The suffering of moths is justified by the candle. 210
The pencil of the Self limned a hundred to-days
In order to achieve the dawn of a single morrow.
Its flames burned a hundred Abrahams[33]
That the lamp of one Mohammed might be lighted.
Subject, object, means, and causes - 215
They all exist for the purpose of action.
The Self rises, kindles, falls, glows, breathes,
Burns, shines, walks, and flies.
The spaciousness of Time is its arena,
Heaven is a billow of the dust on its road. 220
From its rose-planting the world abounds in roses;
Night is born of its sleep, day springs from its waking.
It divided its flame into sparks
And taught the understanding to worship particulars.
It dissolved itself and created the atoms, 225
It was scattered for a little while and created the sands.
Then it wearied of dispersion
And by re-uniting itself it became the mountains.
‘Tis the nature of the Self to manifest itself:
In every atom slumbers the might of the Self. 230
Power that is unexpressed and inert
Chains the faculties which lead to action.
Inasmuch as the life of the universe comes from the strength
of the Self,
Life is in proportion to this strength.
When a drop of water gets the Self’s lesson by heart, 235
It makes its worthless existence a pearl.
Wine is formless because its self is weak;
It receives a form by favour of the cup.
Although the cup of wine assumes a form,
It is indebted to us for its motion. 240
When the mountain loses its self, it turns into sands
And complains that the sea surges over it;
But the wave, so long as it remains a wave in the sea’s bosom,
Makes itself a rider on the sea’s back.
Light has been a beggar since the eye first rolled 245
And moved to and fro in search of beauty;
But forasmuch as the grass found a means of growth in its
self,
Its aspiration clove the breast of the garden.
The candle too concatenated itself
And built itself out of atoms; 250
Then it made a practice of melting itself away and fled from
its self
Until at last it trickled down from its own eye, like tears.
If the bezel had been more self-secure by nature,
It would not have suffered wounds,
But since it derives its value from the superscription, 255
Its shoulder is galled by the burden of another’s name.
Because the earth is firmly based on self-existence,
The captive moon goes round it perpetually.
The being of the sun is stronger than that of the earth:
Therefore is the earth bewitched by the sun’s eye. 260
The glory of the plane fixes our gaze,
The mountains are enriched by its majesty:
Its raiment is woven of fire,
Its origin is one self-assertive seed.
When Life gathers strength from the Self, 265
The river of Life expands into an ocean.

FOOTNOTES:

[32] Shírín was loved by the Persian emperor Khusrau Parwíz. Farhád
fell in love with her and cast himself down a precipice on hearing a
false rumour of her death.

[33] Abraham is said to have been cast on a burning pile by order of
Nimrod and miraculously preserved from harm.




II

_Showing that the life of the Self comes from forming desires and
bringing them to birth._


Life is preserved by purpose:
Because of the goal its caravan-bell tinkles.
Life is latent in seeking,
Its origin is hidden in desire. 270
Keep desire alive in thy heart,
Lest thy little dust become a tomb.
Desire is the soul of this world of hue and scent,
The nature of every thing is faithful to desire.
Desire sets the heart dancing in the breast, 275
And by its glow the breast is made bright as a mirror.
It gives to earth the power of soaring,
It is a Khizr to the Moses of perception.[34]
From the flame of desire the heart takes life,
And when it takes life, all dies that is not true. 280
When it refrains from forming wishes,
Its pinion breaks and it cannot soar.
Desire is an emotion of the Self:
It is a restless wave of the Self’s sea.
Desire is a noose for hunting ideals, 285
A binder of the book of deeds.
Negation of desire is death to the living,
Even as absence of burning extinguishes the flame.
What is the source of our wakeful eye?
Our delight in seeing hath taken visible shape. 290
The partridge’s leg is derived from the elegance of its gait,
The nightingale’s beak from its endeavour to sing.
Away from the reed-bed, the reed became happy:
The music was released from its prison.[35]
Why does the mind strive after new
discoveries and scale the heavens? 295
Knowest thou what works this miracle?
‘Tis desire that enriches Life,
And the intellect is a child of its womb.
What are social organisation, customs, and laws?
What is the secret of the novelties of science? 300
A desire which broke through by its own strength
And burst forth from the heart and took shape.
Nose, hand, brain, eye, and ear,
Thought, imagination, feeling, memory, and understanding -
All these are weapons devised for self-preservation 305
By him that rides into the battle of Life.
The object of science and art is not knowledge,
The object of the garden is not the bud and the flower.
Science is an instrument for the preservation of Life,
Science is a means of establishing the Self. 310
Science and art are servants of Life,
Slaves born and bred in its house.
Rise, O thou who art strange to Life’s mystery,
Rise intoxicated with the wine of an ideal!
If thou art an ideal, thou wilt shine as the dawn 315
And be to all else as a blazing fire.
If thou art an ideal, thou art higher than Heaven -
Winning, captivating, enchanting men’s hearts;
A destroyer of ancient falsehood,
Fraught with turmoil, an embodiment of the Last Day. 320
We live by forming ideals,
We glow with the sunbeams of desire!

FOOTNOTES:

[34] Cf. Koran, ch. 18, vv. 64-80. Khizr represents the mystic seer
whose actions are misjudged by persons of less insight.

[35] _I.e._ the reed was made into a flute.




III

_Showing that the Self is strengthened by Love._[36]


The luminous point whose name is the Self
Is the life-spark beneath our dust.
By Love it is made more lasting, 325
More living, more burning, more glowing.
From Love proceeds the radiance of its being
And the development of its unknown possibilities.
Its nature gathers fire from Love,
Love instructs it to illumine the world. 330
Love fears neither sword nor dagger,
Love is not born of water and air and earth.
Love makes peace and war in the world,
The Fountain of Life is Love’s flashing sword.
The hardest rocks are shivered by Love’s glance: 335
Love of God at last becomes wholly God.
Learn thou to love, and seek to be loved:
Seek an eye like Noah’s, a heart like Job’s!
Transmute thy handful of earth into gold,
Kiss the threshold of a Perfect Man![37] 340
Like Rúmí, light thy candle
And burn Rúm in the fire of Tabríz![38]
There is a beloved hidden within thine heart:
I will show him to thee, if thou hast eyes to see.
His lovers are fairer than the fair, 345
Sweeter and comelier and more beloved.
By love of him the heart is made strong
And earth rubs shoulders with the Pleiades.
The soil of Najd was quickened by his grace
And fell into a rapture and rose to the skies.[39] 350
In the Moslem’s heart is the home of Mohammed,
All our glory is from the name of Mohammed.
Sinai is but an eddy of the dust of his house,
The sanctuary of the Ka’ba is his dwelling-place.
Eternity is less than a moment of his time, 355
Eternity receives increase from his essence.
He slept on a mat of rushes,
But the crown of Chosroes was under his people’s feet.
He chose the nightly solitude of Mount Hirá,
And he founded a state and laws and government. 360
He passed many a night with sleepless eyes
In order that the Moslems might sleep on the throne of
Persia.
In the hour of battle, iron was melted by his sword;
In the hour of prayer, tears fell like rain from his eye.
When he was called to aid, his sword answered “Amen” 365
And extirpated the race of kings.
He instituted new laws in the world,
He brought the empires of antiquity to an end.
With the key of religion he opened the door of this world:
The womb of the world never bore his like. 370
In his sight high and low were one,
He sat with his slave at one table.
The daughter of the chieftain of Tai was taken prisoner in
battle[40]
And brought into that exalted presence;
Her feet in chains, unveiled, 375
And her neck bowed with shame.
When the Prophet saw that the poor girl had no veil,
He covered her face with his own veil.
We are more naked than that lady of Tai,
We are unveiled before the nations of the world. 380
In him is our trust on the Day of Judgement,
And in this world too he is our protector.
Both his favour and his wrath are entirely a mercy:


2 4 5 6

Online LibraryMuhammad IqbalThe Secrets of the Self → online text (page 2 of 6)