Farukh Dhondy unravels Rumi’s Sufi verse | books | Hindustan Times
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Farukh Dhondy unravels Rumi’s Sufi verse

Indo-British writer Farukh Dhondy hadn’t read Persion Sufi poet Rumi, until he was given a translated anthology of Rumi on a flight to Australia., “After reading the translation, I realized that this was all junk! It was just random writing by people – it was neither poetry nor Sufism.”

books Updated: Nov 28, 2011 06:23 IST

Indo-British writer Farukh Dhondy hadn’t read Persion Sufi poet Rumi, until he was given a translated anthology of Rumi on a flight to Australia., “After reading the translation, I realized that this was all junk! It was just random writing by people – it was neither poetry nor Sufism.”

Rumi was one of the greatest Sufi mystic widely read across the world. He was recently named the "most popular poet in America”.

Quite disheartened by what he read, Dhondy took it on himself to present a more accurate transalation of his poetry. I went to an uncle who reads Sufism in Persian, and asked him to interpret Rumi for me. I also picked up the devanagiri and urdu versions, during my search for the right meaning. Translating the verse into lyrical English was a learning curve for me because I learnt the history of Sufism, about Rumi in depth.”

While most people have heard about Sufi music, Kabir’s dohas, Meerabai’s bhajans, Dhondy feels that there’s a vague idea floating around about Sufism.

He illustrates further, “I have tried to bring out the philosophy of Sufism in the book. Though I have used a modern language, I haven’t tried to give it a modern context – I have stuck with the philosophical idea of Sufism that humans should be in the service of the higher being who is actually inside you. In India, the same idea comes to me in the Bhagwad Gita –you’re a drop in the ocean and our consciousness has distorted reality…if you lose this consciousness you can merge with the reality.”

The author, who is a staunch atheist, had an almost divine experience while translating the poems, “The first time I read the poems, I was stuck by their beauty and meaning. I have taken random bits from Rumi’s main works, Masnavi and Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi and translated them into English lyrical renditions. You can classify them as biblical and philosophical love poems - not the love of teenager but love of human beings for Gods, he says about his translation of Rumi’s poems.

After this divine rendezvous with poetry, does he see himself penning verses, “Hmmm… I have never written poetry as such, it’s even presumptuous to call your verse poetry, except love letters to girls in sonnet forms. Though, I can see myself writing translations of other Indian poets.”