Rumi’s ruminations

EducationWorld January 2020 | Books

Rooh-e-rumi: Seeking god is seeking love
Mamta Sehgal, Notion press
Rs.240, Pages 173

Much has been written about the famed 13th century Sufi and Persian poet Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, underlining the continuing relevance of his message centuries after he left the world for a better place. In this absorbing book, Mamta Sehgal highlights key themes of Rumi’s poetry and elaborates on valuable lessons that we can draw from them for individual betterment as also for effective change in society.

In the preface, Sehgal provides a brief introduction to Rumi’s life and poetry. From her, we learn that Rumi wasn’t just a Sufi mystic and poet: he was also an Islamic scholar, theologian and jurist. Although she admits that Rumi was a devout Muslim who took Islam seriously, “the depth of his spiritual vision extended beyond narrow sectarian concerns,” she says. Sehgal sincerely believes that Rumi’s wondrous work inspires one to attain the love of God and the beloved, and all of creation, and this, she believes, inspired her to write this book.

Rooh-e-Rumi weaves together more than 40 translated quotes from Rumi’s poetry that deal with a diverse range of issues relating to the spiritual path, faith in God, self-realisation, listening to the inner voice, following one’s heart, the wisdom to protect oneself from one’s own inclinations, and love. Sehgal translates, explains and elaborates these quotes in simple language, directly connecting them to the quest for inner transformation based on surrender to, and love of God. This way, she highlights the continuous import and relevance of Rumi’s message.

Here is a sample to illustrate the teaching method Sehgal adopts: “As you start to walk on the way, the way appears,” wrote Rumi.

Reflecting on this quote, Sehgal explains: “The most important thing in life is realisation that there is only one Supreme Power which is responsible for the well-being of every living being, that He is the reason for us to receive a human life and be on this earth. Only He knows the path of our life and what we are destined to face in our journey. When we surrender completely and pray to Him to keep us in His guidance, then He not only shows us the right way but also makes sure that we are able to walk on it with ease. He makes the journey so easy that we do not see the need for assistance from our fellow beings. His grace brings us out of difficult and confusing situations and shows us the right way.”

Based on a universal understanding of spirituality, this book, which illustrates the wisdom of Maulana Rumi, one of the world’s best-known sufi masters, is an inspiring and evocative spiritual guide. At a time when dualities and conflicts in the cause of religion abound, this book highlights the salience of taking the true spiritual path which transcends narrow man-made boundaries and is based on love and surrender to the One Creator of all.

“Spirituality is a true love for God. It is a continuous effort to attain Him and is transcendental to any religion, caste or creed and is for the entire humanity. God is universal and eternal and cannot be restricted to any religion. Thus, spirituality, to me, is not bound just by my own religion but is beyond that. I can relate anything and everything to God,” says Sehgal. “I can feel His presence in the morning sky, in the clouds, in the rain, in the plants, in the chirping of the birds, in the stars at night and precisely everything around me.”

Although eloquent, inspiring and sincere, Rooh-e-Rumi could have done with more careful editing, especially with regard to grammar and punctuation. Moreover, many of Rumi’s quotes are about love, and some readers might find that unnecessarily repetitive. A more diverse range of themes for the quotations might have been a good idea. Otherwise, this is a gem of a book!

Qalamdar

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