Apr 28 2010

Hakim Sanai – The way to You

Published by at 7:51 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry

The way to You
by Hakim Sanai

English version by Priya Hemenway

The way to You
lies clearly in my heart
and cannot be seen or known to the mind.
As my words turn to silence,
Your sweetness surrounds me.

— from The Book of Everything: Journey of the Heart’s Desire, by Hakim Sanai Al-Ghaznavi / Translated by Priya Hemenway

/ Photo by Lel4nd /

I’m back! I’m still recovering from my injury, but I’m mostly mobile now and I can take all but the deepest breaths without much pain. And you know the old joke about how it only hurts when I laugh? Well, if I’m very careful, I can let out a little chuckle… 🙂

I can’t tell you all how much all of your get well wishes meant to me. I received so many emails and notes that I couldn’t respond to them all individually, but I read every one and was deeply moved. Some of you sent me poems. Others told me of your own injuries and recovery. A few suggested I switch to the gentler arts of yoga or tai chi, some even questioning how I can reconcile the martial arts with the spiritual path (one person’s quip: “less martial, more arty”). … Material for a future blog post, perhaps.

I’m glad to be back with all of you, sharing another poem…

Hakim Sanai

Afghanistan (1044? – 1150?) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Not much is known about Hakim Sanai, often just called Sanai or Sanai of Ghazna. Sanai is one of the earlier Sufi poets. He was born in the province of Ghazna in southern Afghanistan in the middle of the 11th century and probably died around 1150.

Rumi acknowledged Sanai and Attar as his two primary inspirations, saying, “Attar is the soul and Sanai its two eyes, I came after Sanai and Attar.”

Sanai was originally a court poet who was engaged in writing praises for the Sultan of Ghazna.

The story is told of how the Sultan decided to lead a military attack against neighboring India and Sanai, as a court poet, was summoned to join the expedition to record the Sultan’s exploits. As Sanai was making his way to the court, he passed an enclosed garden frequented by a notorious drunk named Lai Khur.

As Sanai was passing by, he heard Lai Khur loudly proclaim a toast to the blindness of the Sultan for greedily choosing to attack India, when there was so much beauty in Ghazna. Sanai was shocked and stopped. Lai Khur then proposed a toast to the blindness of the famous young poet Sanai who, with his gifts of insight and expression, couldn’t see the pointlessness of his existence as a poet praising such a foolish Sultan.

These words were like an earthquake to Hakim Sanai, because he knew they were true. He abandoned his life as a pampered court poet, even declining marriage to the Sultan’s own sister, and began to study with a Sufi master named Yusef Hamdani.

Sanai soon went on pilgrimage to Mecca. When he returned, he composed his Hadiqatu’l Haqiqat or The Walled Garden of Truth. There was a double meaning in this title for, in Persian, the word for a walled garden is the same word for paradise, but it was also from within a walled garden that Lai Khur uttered the harsh truths that set Hakim Sanai on the path of wisdom.

More poetry by Hakim Sanai

13 responses so far

13 Responses to “Hakim Sanai – The way to You”

  1. zoeon 28 Apr 2010 at 8:47 am

    You are Loved

  2. Somaiyahon 28 Apr 2010 at 9:48 am

    Welcome back Ivan.You were sorely missed.Glad to know u r better.
    n today’s poem is deeply beautiful:)

  3. maryann moonon 28 Apr 2010 at 10:14 am

    We’re all so happy that you’re recovering and that you can
    even laugh a little without too much pain!! Hurrah! And so, many blessings can surround you today

    Truly, God’s Love is not understood by the human mind
    but IS known by our heart. I’ve read that even in
    the womb, the embryo’s heart and its wisdom, its own
    heart-mind are created first. When we can allow all the
    thoughts that chatter within the human mind to just be released to stillness, then the loving words of God have a chance to whisper to our heart some truly sublime secrets.

  4. John Simpsonon 28 Apr 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Ivan, delighted to have you back and I hope in one piece!!

    I love this little poem as an absent father towards his child.

  5. lisaon 28 Apr 2010 at 1:58 pm

    What a great surprise to have a poem today! So happy you are feeling better! Take good care of you…

  6. Kathy Stewarton 28 Apr 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Wonderful to have you back and even better with such a poem of love. Keep healing and chuckling!

  7. Gerryon 28 Apr 2010 at 4:17 pm

    So glad you are recovering and thank you for the today’s poem. Your beautiful posts are spiritual sustenance for me.

  8. franon 28 Apr 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Perfect poem for a day of solitude and quiet work…happy to hear you are healing well. peace

  9. Nitaon 28 Apr 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Ivan,
    I’ve not been around for a while and didn’t realize you were too–hope you’re feeling better. Get well soon!
    Thanks as always for the great selections,
    Best regards to you and your wife,

  10. nasihaon 28 Apr 2010 at 11:51 pm

    sending you good wishes to hasten your recovery. This poem will keep me uplifted through the day because my words will turn into silence…

  11. aparnaon 28 Apr 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Ah, i love this, i love this Ivan……… coz JUSST yesterday I told you kinda strictly— that it’s full moon, …now come back!!!
    (A full moon without Ivan— ooooofffff!!! as bad as broken ribs!!)

    Really nice to have you back….. (now i can perhaps pay a little attention to Hakim Sanai…. 🙂

    Love and light,

  12. aftabon 02 May 2010 at 4:27 am

    oh very good words thanks dear for sharing these kind of poetry.

  13. its meon 07 May 2010 at 2:01 am

    glad to see you back =) and poem is really heart touching. have a nice day

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