Introduction of Rumi”s Magnum Opus The Masnevi – Erkan Türkmen

Introduction of Rumi”s Magnum Opus The Masnevi

Erkan Türkmen

Virtually Rumi was neither a poet nor a philosopher. He does not like philosophers for they are trapped in the boundaries of sensual intellect. As for poetry, he used it for teaching divine secrets and love using parables.

Having six volumes his Masnevi covers more than 25620 couplets; all in the same metre (dum da dum dum; dum da dum dum; dum da dum). He began to write his Masnevi in 1250 and left it unfinished in the year 1273.

Since Persian was the literary language of the Turks, Iranian, Indian and Central Asia; Rumi wrote his Masnevi in Persian. It soon spread in the Eastern World. The main idea of Masnevi is the perfect man who loves all creations because of the Creator. Rumi gives different steps of man”s ascension towards the high stage of Godhead.

Masnevi begins with the following eighteen verses that give us the summary of his great work. I shall read them in their original form to give the harmony and magical effect of the verses:

Song of the Flute

بشنو اين نى چون شكا يت مى كند از جدا ئها حكايت مى كند

1- Listen to this flute while it is complaining, The story of separation from God it”s explaining.

كز نيستان تا مرا ببر يده اند در نفير م مرد و زن نا ليده اند

2- “Ever since I”ve been plucked from my real ground,
Men and women, all cry with my yearning sound.
(“Real Ground” the orginal ground where soul of man was happy being close to God, his creater and lover)


سينه خواهم شرحه شرحه از فرا ق تا بگويم شرح درد اشتيا ق

3- I want a breast torn away like mine with pains of separation,
Only to that breast I can tell the story of my lamentation.
(Here Rumi says “Not all can feel the pain of yearning if they they are unaware of God”s breath in them”)


هركسى كه كو دور ماند از اصل خويش باز جويد روزگار وصل خويش

4- If anyone from his own origin falls away,
He looks for a chance to find again his missing way.

من بهر جميعتى نالان شدم جفت بد حالان و خوش حالان شد م

5- In every company I cry and forever I moan,
Both the happy and the unhappy are moved by my tone.

هر كسى از ظن خود شد يار من از درون من نجست اسرار من

6- According to their own opinions people try to be my friend,
Little do they bother to discover my esoteric trend?

سر من از ناله من دور نيست ليك چشم و گوش را ﺁن نور نيست

7- However, my secret is not concealed from my painful cries,
But some fail to have the comprehensive ears and eyes”.
(To explain this verse I want to tell you the story of Majnun and his camel told by Rumi in his masnevi)

تن ز جان و جان ز تن مستور نيست ليك كس را ديد جان دستور نيست

8- The soul and the body are not from each other concealed,
But to many ears and eyes this fact is not revealed.

ﺁ تش است اين بانگ نى و نيست باد هر كه اين ﺁ تش ندارد نيست باد

9- The breath to the flute is not a simple blow, its fire,
He who has no such fire, let him perish and expire.

ﺁ تش عشقست كاندر نى ا فتا د جو شش عشقست كاند ر مى افتا د

10- It is the fire of love that has turned the flute demented,
And it the love-desire that keeps the wine fermented.
(In other words, it is love of God that keeps his lover restless in this world)

نى حريف هر كه ا ز يارى بر يد پردها ش پردهاى ما دريد

11- The flute is friend for those who loose their companions,
My chest is also perforated like the flute”s divisions.

همچو نى زهرى و ترياقى كى ديد همچو نى دمساز و مشتا قى كى ديد

12- Who has ever seen an antidote and poison like the flute?
Who can ever find a healing friend like the flute?

نى حديث راه پر خون مى كند قصهاى عشق مجنون مى

13- The flute is telling stories of dangerous ways and coils,
And the love stories of Majnun and his blood-stained toils.

محرم اين هوش جز بيهو ش نيست مر زبانرا مشترى جز گو ش نيست

14- The knower of this feeling is none but the insensible one,
As only an ear can hear the speaking of the tongue.

در غم ما روز ها بيگاه شد روزها با سوزها همرا ه شد

15- With our sorrows days have lost sense of time to pass away
Accompanied with pains they make us their prey.

روزها گر رفت گو با ك نيست تو بمان اى ﺁنكه چون تو پا ك نيست

16- If the days are passing by say, “Let them pass away”
Yet Thee! The Only Pious One with me, prolong Thy stay.

هر كه جز ماهى ز ﺁ بش سير شد هر كه بى روز يست روزش دير شد

17- If you are not fish, in water soon you will be tired,
If you have no daily bread, time shall be undesired.

در نيابد حال پخته هيچ خا م پس سخن كوتاه بايد و سلا م

18- For an immature man the stage of mature man is high,
So cut a long story short and say to him “Good bye”.
Note: In the above lines “the reed flute” (the Nay) means a Godly man who feels separation from his primeval homeland where God”s Presence protected and appeased him. It refers to the Quranic verse, “I breathed into him My Spirit” XV/28. Thus, it is the trust of God that man carries in him as God says in the Koran, “We did indeed offer the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains; but they refused it, being afraid of thereof, but man undertook it- he was indeed ignorant and foolish (33/72). It is this trust (breath of His Soul) that is within the body of man and is not concealed from him if he may bother to discover. However, many fail to discover it. “Fish” means the lover of God who is happy within the ocean of divine love; and he who is not, his time in this world is unbearable and without a prime goal.

Prof. Dr. Erkan Turkmen


24 October 2006

Mevlana Museum Necosia