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Artistic depiction of Rumi, from 1980 - WIKIPEDIA PHOTOS | Coastweek

Artistic depiction [left] of Rumi, from 1980 Collection of 'Poems of Molavi' with a preface of Ostad Jalal-al-din Homaii. Bowl of Reflections [right] with Rumi's poetry, early 13th century. Brooklyn Museum. PHOTOS - WIKIPEDIA


After 800 years, great mystic and poet, Rumi, is still making news

NEW DELHI India -- First, Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio was announced to be playing the 13th century Muslim poet Jalal-ud-Din Mohammad Rumi in an upcoming movie, writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.

Thousands protested on Twitter and social media saying this was ‘whitewashing’ the great Sufi master.

Producer Stephen Brown said DiCaprio was their first choice, while Robert Downey Jr was being considered for the role of Rumi’s Sufi master, Shams of Tabraiz.

The announcement generated a lot of controversy.

The producer was criticised for trying to "whitewash" an eastern mystic who was born in Afghanistan and lived and composed poetry in what was the Persian Empire.

Basically, the critics argue that Muslim actors were employed to play terrorists in Hollywood movies but white actors played mystics.

Sir Laurence Olivier played the Sudanese Sufi mystic leader, Mahadi, in the blockbuster movie ‘Khartoum’ in 1966.

Thousands of people have protested by signing a petition arguing that this is ‘Hollywood whitewashing’ for not giving Muslim actors positive roles and typecasting them only as negative.

Now the project is in limbo.

Second, the global cultural organization, UNESCO, invited Turkey and Iran to submit Rumi’s famous poem, Masnavi-ye Manavi, for its Memory of the World Register and ran into trouble as both countries claimed him as their own.

But an agreement was reached so that both could jointly claim him as Rumi lived in both these countries.

More trouble broke out as Afghanistan claimed him as it own because he was born in Balkhi, Afghanistan.

But the reality is that 800 years ago these countries did not exist as separate nations as all of them and many more were part of the great Persian Empire.

The poet and philosopher was born in Balkh in Afghanistan and known as the Son of Balkh.

For Afghans, who learn his poems in primary school, Rumi is "Maulana Jalaludin Balkh", or "Maulana" (our master), or simply "Balkhi".

Most researchers agree he was born in Balkh, Afghanistan in 1207 — though this too has been a subject of debate.

A few argue he was born just across the border, in what is modern day Tajikistan, in a region also known as Balkh.

Today, the Afghan town of Balkh is a small provincial settlement.

All three claim Rumi to be theirs: Iran has the direct link and claims the total legacy of ancient Persia claims Rumi; Turkey claims Rumi as he lived on Konya in Turkey until his death and Afghanistan claims him as he was born on its soil.

Afghanistan offered to register Rumi as joint heritage with Turkey; but made no mention of Iran.

But in 2007, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey came together with UNESCO to mark the 800th anniversary of his birth.

The dispute is still to be resolved.

Why is Rumi so famous?

Because of his poems that appeal to all ages and religions; because he talks about love and life and God in such simple terms that touch the heart; because he sang and danced and devised whirling.

In 2014, he was the best-selling poet in the US. He has 1.8 million followers on Facebook.

In 2007, he was described as the "most popular poet in America.

Rumi's love poems have been performed by Hollywood celebrities such as Madonna, Goldie Hawn, Demi Moore and Philip Glass.

Recordings of Rumi poems have made it to the USA's Billboard's Top 20 list.

An American poet, Coleman Barks, has translated poems of Rumi into English and his books have sold more than two million copies and translated into over 20 languages.

And still selling.

‘The Shakespeare of Persian poetry’, ‘The poet of joy and love’, ‘the poet for all times’ are some of the titles conferred on Rumi.

Even after 800 years, he is very much alive in the hearts and in the news!

The poem by Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi is beautiful, as always.

He has spoken only beautiful words.

He is one of the most significant poets who are also mystics.

That is a rare combination; there are millions of poets in the world and there are a few mystics in the world, but a man who is both is very rare to find.

Rumi is a very rare flower.

He is as great a poet as he is a mystic.

Hence, his poetry is not just poetry, not just a beautiful arrangement of words.

It contains immense meaning and points towards the ultimate truth.

It is not entertainment, it is enlightenment.

He is saying:

Outside, the freezing desert night.

This other night inside grows warm, kindling.

The outside is not the real space for you to be.

Outside, you are a foreigner: inside, you are at home.

Outside, it is a freezing desert night.

Inside, it is warm, kindling, cozy.

But very few are fortunate enough to move from the outside to the inside.

They have completely forgotten that they have a home within themselves; they are searching for it but they are searching in the wrong place.

They search for their whole lives but always outside; they never stop for a moment and look inwards.

Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.

We have a soft garden in here.

Don't be worried about what happens on the outside.

Inside, there is always a garden ready to welcome you.

The continents blasted, cities and little towns, everything becomes a scorched, blackened ball.

The news we hear is full of grief for that future.

These words of Rumi are more significant, meaningful, today, than they were when he wrote them.

He wrote them seven hundred years ago, but today it is not only a symbolic thing, it is going to become the reality:

The continents blasted, cities and little towns, everything becomes a scorched blackened ball.

The news we hear is full of grief for that future.

But the real news inside here is there's no news at all.

This last sentence depends on an ancient saying which says: No news is good news.

I was born in a very small village where the postman used to come only once a week.

And people were afraid that he may be bringing a letter for them; they were happy when they found that there was no letter.

Once in a while, there was a telegram for someone.

Just the rumour that somebody had received a telegram was such a shock in the whole village that everybody would gather there -- and only one man was educated enough to read.

Everybody was afraid: A telegram?

That means some bad news. Otherwise, why should you waste money on a telegram?

- Ch 11, Om Shantih Shantih Shantih

Come and join Kul Bhushan in a Rumi event with his poetry, dance and whirling on July 17th and 18th 2016 at Zorba
        The Buddha
, 7, Tropical Drive, Mehrauli-Gurgaon Rd, Ghitorni, New Delhi, Delhi 110030, Phone: 093120 80941.


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