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

Chapter 59

Simorgh


By Khurram Ali Shafique

The birds of the world set out in search of their king Simorgh whom no one had seen. Only thirty survived the journey through seven valleys to arrive at the palace. When the veils were lifted, each bird saw its own image: in Persian, si means thirty and morgh means bird, hence Simorgh was literally “thirty birds”. The collective ego is achieved when every individual discovers their individuality at the same time.

This story was written as The Conference of the Birds (Mantiqutair) by the great Persian poet Sheikh Fariduddin Attar (who lived around the same time as Nezami Ganjavi). It was a major influence on Rumi as well as Iqbal. The last poem in the Temple of David (Poem 60 of the second chamber), signifying the end of the Garden, is obviously reminiscent of the Simorgh.

Poem 75

I bow down before myself: temple or Kabah are no more.
This one is missing in Arabia, that one in other lands.

The petals of rose and tulip have lost their color and moisture;
The laments of birds have lost their melody.

In the workshop that is the world I see no new designs:
Pre existence has, perhaps, run out of blueprints.

The heavenly bodies no longer want to revolve:
Day and night are, perhaps, unable to move.

They have put up their feet before reaching their destination:
The earthlings have, perhaps, no breath left in their chests.

Either the Register of Possibilities has no blank pages left
Or the Pen of Fate has grown too tired to write.

DISCUSS

  • What could Iqbal possibly mean by bowing down before himself?

  • Is there something in the poem to show that this is some place outside the known time and space?

  • How does the poem relate to the welcome note where you were told not to negate yourself even if you denied God?

  • How does the poem relate with the concept of Simorgh?


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The five zones of the Garden can be seen as representing "five wisdoms", each explaining a different aspect of reality.