The Republic of Rumi: A Novel of Reality
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The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality

Chapter 9

Qalandar


By Khurram Ali Shafique

“When the self is strengthened by love it gains dominion over the outward and inward forces of the universe,” says Iqbal.

Power and Art

A governor’s entourage is passing through the streets in a city of medieval India. The valets are shouting at the people to get them out of the way. Unmindful of this is a Sufi, walking along the road, preoccupied with the discourses of his master. He fails to get off the road and receives the wrath of the governor’s staff.

The mentor of this poor man is Bu Ali, who lives in Panipat. He is a qalandar, one of the most mysterious sects of Sufis, whose origins are traced back to Mansur Hallaj, who had said, “I am the Creative Truth.” Now the Qalandar is enraged, and sends a message to the king. “Your governor has broken my servant's head. He has cast burning coals on his own life. Arrest this wicked governor, or else I shall bestow your kingdom on another.”

The king trembles in every limb. He arrests the governor. As an ambassador to the angry master he sends Khusrau, the legendary poet-musician, who was himself a Sufi. The master melts upon hearing sweet music.

“One strain of poetry bought the grace of a kingdom that was firm as a mountain,” Iqbal comments.

DISCUSS

  • How is the qalandar in this story different from the general concept of a Sufi?
  • Does Iqbal seem to be implying that the power you shall develop in the Garden shall be similar to that depicted in this story?

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Persian Text