Feb 27 2013

Gharib Nawaz – Riddle

Published by at 9:28 am under Poetry

Riddle
by Gharib Nawaz

English version by Peter Lamborn Wilson and Nasrollah Pourjavady

Lord,
      whose face is this
            reflected in spirit’s mirror?
                  Such beauty painted
                        on the inner screen–
                              who is he?
Each atom
      in all space
            is filled…
                  Who transcends the galaxies,
                        shows himself in every molecule–
                              who is he?
Sun
      in the costume
            of various specks of dust
                  sparks forth various rays
                        of light at every moment–
                              who is he?
Outwardly
      you appear in the meat
            of our existence
                  but he who is hidden
                        in soul’s marrow–
                              who is he?
In soul’s fete
      every now and again he sings
            a new song, melodies of peace
                  touching the veils
                        of the people of the heart–
                              who is he?
He who manifests himself
      upon himself
            makes love to himself
                  in the name
                        of lovers–
                              who is he?
How many times, Mo’in
      will you drag yourself and me
            between us?
                  He, the goal of I and thou,
                        is there — right there!
                              Who is he?

— from The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, Translated by Peter Lamborn Wilson / Translated by Nasrollah Pourjavady


/ Photo by Lady Dragonfly /

A riddle for us today–

Lord,
      whose face is this
            reflected in spirit’s mirror?
                  Such beauty painted
                        on the inner screen–
                              who is he?

The thinking mind, every eager for praise, says this is an easy riddle. Clearly the poet is speaking of God.

Having answered, the mind believes it can then dismiss the question and move on to the next puzzle. But answering the puzzle is not the same thing as solving it.

We are speaking of the mystic’s grand mysteries here, not to be neatly tied up in a conceptual answer, but to be witnessed, experienced directly. We don’t answer this question, we participate in it, we give ourselves to it, and thus know.

Each atom
      in all space
            is filled…
                  Who transcends the galaxies,
                        shows himself in every molecule–
                              who is he?

There is a riddle within a riddle here. How is it that the immense Eternal, transcending the vast universe, can still be discovered within the smallest mote of creation?

How is it that the great Unity is still found at the heart of every atom of separated reality?

Sun
      in the costume
            of various specks of dust
                  sparks forth various rays
                        of light at every moment–
                              who is he?

How does the One Light divide itself into every ray and glimmer? How is the radiant measure of time found within time?

We look without and see a world, a universe, expanses beyond the mind’s comprehension. Small patterns join into great tapestries, multiplicities form a unified vision. And the One is all that and more.

Yet– when we look within, into the heart of the smallest grain or the mirror of one’s own soul, and instead of smallness, we again see expanses! How can the individual contain that which contains the stars? An impossibility! Yet the mystic sees it is so.

The intellect, having quickly answered its question, is content — and remains blind. But the full awareness, fully engaged, sees the full mystery, and in its awe is unable to answer.

He, the goal of I and thou,
                        is there — right there!
                              Who is he?






Gharib Nawaz

Iran/Persia & India (1142? – 1236?) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Khwaja Mu’in’ud-Din Chisti, called Hazrat Gharib Nawaz (which means “Helper of the Poor”), was born in Persia (Iran). The dates of his birth and death are uncertain, but he probably lived from the mid 12th to the mid 13th century.

Gharib Nawaz studied traditional sciences and taught at the important Islamic universities of Bhukhara and Samarkand. He, however, yearned for a deeper, inner knowing and became a devoted student of a Chisti Sufi master from Nishapur. He studied with this master for twenty years, traveling with him throughout Central Asia and Arabia, conversing with many of the important Sufi figures of their day.

After going on pilgrimage to Mecca, Gharib Nawaz felt called to bring his teachings to India. He spent forty days in spiritual retreat at the tomb of a Sufi saint in Lahore, and then began his travels through India and drew an enormous following. As a mark of his influence, today the Chishti order is no longer numerous in Iran, but it is the most widespread Sufi order in India.

Hazrat Gharib Nawaz eventually became the eighth head of the Chishti order.

Gharib Nawaz died and was buried at Ajmer in India. His tomb has become an important pilgrimage spot for both Muslims and Hindus in India. It is sometimes even referred to as “the Mecca of India.”

More poetry by Gharib Nawaz

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Gharib Nawaz – Riddle”

  1. Chitraon 27 Feb 2013 at 6:04 pm

    LORD.. ofcourse. no matter what name people call him, its God
    He who has no religion, name or face
    he comes to the voice of a sincere heart only

    hello Ivan, thanks for a nice peom

  2. MILVIA ARBAIZA ROMEROon 27 Feb 2013 at 8:37 pm

    IVAN, THESE SUFI POETS HAVE ALWAYS RAPTURED MY HEART… I DIDN’T KNOW THIS GHARIB NAWAZ… SO THE PERFECTION OF THESE LINES HAVE ABSOLUTELY COMPLETED THIS DAY FOR ME: I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR SENDING THIS POEM PRECISELY TODAY: IT’S BEEN A DAY IN TOTAL PROPORTIONS, AND THIS GHARIB HAS REMINDED ME OF MILAREPA’S ENLIGHTENED POETRY WHICH I WAS PRECISELY READING JUST MOMENTS BEFORE OPENING YOUR E-MAIL… MAY GOD BLESS YOU IVAN, IN AS MANY WAYS AS YOU CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE!…

  3. Joanitaon 28 Feb 2013 at 12:39 am

    Dear Ivan,
    Thank you for this poem. But more so, for your ‘explanation’ of it – dawn-like, beautiful like the flowering of buds. Ah.

    I was enraptured and in awe.
    I read ‘But answering the puzzle is not the same thing as solving it.’ and went, hmm. and then I read, ‘We are speaking of the mystic’s grand mysteries here, not to be neatly tied up in a conceptual answer, but to be witnessed, experienced directly. We don’t answer this question, we participate in it, we give ourselves to it, and thus know.’, and all my thoughts from various tangled universes came together, and I Saw.
    Thank you for helping me see.
    Bless you for all the joy you bring. Bless you mountains.
    Joanita

  4. Sobhana Bardhanon 28 Feb 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Ivan,

    How are you?

    The poem is as beautiful as it is enigmatic, perhaps Then again so many of this world, earth are just as puzzling to us who know nothing possibly about many things And oh how beatifully you analysed, explained stanza by stanza that cannot be done by any My heartfelt thanks to you for making it even more interesting

    Thank you very much Ivan

    PS: I agree w/ Chitra… It’s God, creater of us & all

  5. Midon 01 Mar 2013 at 6:43 am

    A beautiful and uplifting poem, with Ivan’s usual sharp-eyed and large-hearted commentary, followed by these wonderful comments from other readers.

    What a wonderful way to start the day.

    Thank you all so much….

    Mid

  6. Djanion 01 Mar 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Yvan,hi Everyone.my internet connection was non existant those days and,suddenly it come back only for me to find myself right in the middle of this poetry to night, sublime,intense,unique.Thank you.I did’nt know him ,no limit to discovering..May G help us to discovering the good for us.

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