Silk Road Melody takes me on journey through unknown geographies of the heart. It always amazes me that the process of a project from conception to realization is completely unpredictable. I begin by creating it, and it ends by creating me.
So it has been with the journey along the silk route with Sufi poets. Rabia al Basri, Jelallaudin Rumi, Abdul-Qadir Bedil, Amir Khusrow and Sultan Quli Qutub Shah. I marvel that I dared to step into languages and realms I knew so little, yet these great poets opened up before me like vast landscapes of spirit, available for the wandering Sufi to enter and forge a path. But just as with the shifting sands of the desert, it was impossible to know which way was the way.
In this meandering I had the friendship and guidance of Mushfiq, like a true camel master, one who has traveled and knows the old ways, he read out the words of the poets and explained the meanings of the words. But hidden in the Persian and the Urdu were sentiments beyond language. These cannot be explained, but they can be danced and sung. They are to be discovered as we immerse our selves in the whirling.
Rabia-al-Basri was a slave, a female Muslim saint and a Sufi mystic. Born in 717 CE in Basra, Iraq, she was the one who first set forth the doctrine of Divine Love and who is widely considered to be the most important of the early Sufi poets. One of the many myths that swirl around her life is that she was freed from slavery because her master saw her praying while surrounded by light, realized that she was a saint and freed her.
and the eyes of men are closed.
Kings have locked their doors
and each lover is alone with his love.
Here, I am alone with you.My joy
My food for the journey
My journey’s End.
You are my breath,
My abundant wealth.
Without You — my Life, my Love —
I would never have wandered across these endless countries.
You have poured out so much grace for me,
Done me so many favors, given me so many gifts —
I look everywhere for Your love —
Then suddenly I am filled with it.
O Captain of my Heart
Radiant Eye of Yearning in my breast,
I will never be free from You
As long as I live.
Be satisfied with me, Love,
And I am satisfied.
Source: Doorkeeper of the Heart: Versions of Rabia. Translated by Charles Upton (at Poetry Chaikhana.com).