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

Chapter 60

The Fountain of Life


By Khurram Ali Shafique

Ferdowsi of Tus (935-1020) was arguably the greatest Persian poet. Picking up significant elements from history and folklore, he wove a tapestry that could enable the people of Iran to assimilate Greek and Arab legacies and lead the world to freedom and justice like their ancestor Cyrus the Great long ago. One of the stories used by him for this purpose was about Khizr’s discovery of the Fountain of Life (revisited later by Nezami Ganjavi).

What is the Water of Life? If each set of poems in the present chamber of the Temple of Modern David describes a particular zone of the Garden, then the opening lines of the first and the last poems in every set may be treated as “markers” of the beginning and the end of the corresponding zone, depicting what you shall observe when a new zone begins or ends.

Marker of the Beginning of Zone 1 (Poem 1):

Rise up! The hour is here that Adam shall appear:
The stars bow to this handful of dust.

Marker of the End of Zone 1 (Poem 15):

Greed is still acting its play of imperialism.
What new turbulence hides behind this embroidered screen?

Marker of the Beginning of Zone 2 (Poem 16):

Although the Angel dwells beyond the talisman of the skies
Yet his eyes rest on this handful of dust.

Marker of the End of Zone 2 (Poem 30):

The lord has made lustrous ruby from the blood of the hireling,
The peasants’ fields are desolate from the tyranny of the landlord—
Revolt! Revolt!
O, Revolt!

Marker of the Beginning of Zone 3 (Poem 31):

I know that the veils will be lifted one day,
But do not think that the soul will stop writhing.

Marker of the End of Zone 3 (Poem 45):

The luster of a handful of dust one day shall outshine the creatures of light:
Earth shall be transformed into heaven through the star of our destiny.

Marker of the Beginning of Zone 4 (Poem 46):

I did not delve deeper into the religious law than this,
That the one who refutes Love is an infidel and heretic.

Marker of the End of Zone 4 (Poem 60):

After a long time I hear the song of the camel-driver.
The treasures can be seized if one Joseph comes out of the Pharaoh’s prison.

Marker of the Beginning of Zone 5 (Poem 61):

Poor fool! You hope to win sympathy from the West?
The eagle does not grieve about the bird that’s in its clutch.

Marker of the End of Zone 5 (Poem 75):

I bow down before myself – there is no temple or Kabah left!
This one is missing in Arabia, that one in other lands.

This means that the Garden shall be born and reborn several times, helping you to see the process through which immortality is gained. The purpose of Joseph seems to be to facilitate this process while the process itself is the Water of Life. This is why the journey must be completed.

Fourth Wish

Now if you have made me boundless like an ocean,
Grant me the tranquility of a pearl as well as the tumult of the waves.

Sign of the End of Stage 4

The world is still a necessity for me on the road of high desire,
As my heart is still engaged in caravan, belongings and destination.

DISCUSS

  • Do the markers of the beginning and end of the first zone match with what you saw at those points in the narrative?

  • Does the marker of the beginning of the second zone match with what you saw upon entering this zone?

  • What forecasts can you make about the rest of the Garden now?

  • Each of the five sets in this part begins with a key word in the first couplet: (a) Adam; (b) Angels; (c) Soul; (d) Love; and (e) Civilization (implied in “West”). Does this signify anything?


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Through a deeper understanding of unity, life after death and noble deeds, the reader is offered reasons for continuing the journey even when Joseph has been found.