Thursday, February 10, 2011


The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
  Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
  Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

When I first read this at 15 ..I was speechless..briefly thrown out of teenage into another realm.I thought who has written this...which mind has produced something so sncient and sacred.It was Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyam, another great Sufi. He taught for decades the philosophy of Ibn Sina in Nishapur where Khayyám was born and buried and where his mausoleum today remains a masterpiece of Iranian architecture visited by many people every year...and where I plan to go and sit under the Chinar trees which surround it.


Khayyam is simultanoeulsy a heretic and a mystic....admired and also  scorned. At one end of the spectrum there are night clubs named after Khayyám and he is seen as an agnostic hedonist. On the other end of the spectrum, he is seen as a mystical Sufi poet influenced by platonic traditions.

Fitzergald's Khayyam says "Enjoy wine and women and don't be afraid, God has compassion," He is painted as an atheist, hedonist ; a persian Byron.When Fitzgerald, a very talented poet, translated.Fitzgerald had no idea that Omar Khayyam was talking about God, not about a woman.

But was he really talking about wine and women??
The Rubayat is one of the most misunderstood and also one of the most widely read books in the world. It is understood in its translation, it is misunderstood in its spirit. The translator could not bring the spirit to it. Rubayat is symbolic, and the translator was a very straight Englishman, what in America they would call a square, not hip at all. To understand Rubayat you need a little bit of hip in you.

The Rubayat talks of wine and women and nothing else; it sings of wine and women. The translators - and there are many - are all wrong. They are bound to be wrong because Omar Khayyam was a Sufi, a man of tasawuf, a man who knows. When he talks of the woman he is talking about God. That is the way Sufis address God: "Beloved, O my beloved." And they always use the feminine for God, this should be noted. Nobody else in the world, in the whole history of humanity and consciousness, has addressed God as a woman. Only Sufis address God as the beloved. And the ′wine′ is that which happens between the lover and the beloved, it has nothing to do with grapes. The alchemy which happens between the lover and the beloved, between the disciple and the master, between the seeker and the sought, between the worshipper and his God... the alchemy. the transmutation - that is the wine. 

Rubayat is so misunderstood;  The Sufis call God saki. Saki is the woman in the pub who pours wine for the customers.  And Sufis call God “saki”Fitzgerald had no idea that saki means, to a Sufi, God. He simply translated literally that saki is a woman, and when Omar Khayyam says, “Saki, fill my cup full,” he thinks he is asking a woman to fill his cup full. And when Omar Khayyam says, “Even the wine is not so sweet as your kiss,” he is thinking of a woman; hence, his poetry becomes more romantic, more colorful.
But Omar Khayam was a celibate man and a mystic not a hedonist.He was not even married and was well versed in sufi tareeqa's and esoteric mysteries.

He often had to defend his views in front of the mullahs who frequently accused him of atheism.One hostile orthodox account of him shows him as "versed in all the wisdom of the Greeks" and as insistent that studying science on Greek lines is necessary.Orthodoxy detested Khayyám and he  came into conflict with religious officials several times, and had to explain his views on Islam on multiple occasions; there.
In fact, he even wrote a treatise entitled "al-Khutbat al-gharrå˘" (The Splendid Sermon) on the praise of God, where he holds orthodox views, agreeing with Avicenna on Divine Unity.

But Omar Khayyam was a man of contradictions ..startling contradictions.He was a mathematician, a great mathematician, a genius.He invented geometric algebra nd bionomial theorems.He was  amna of reason ..a deisciple of the greeks..who believed in using his reason to its uttermost, and then he was taken in...taken in the mystic myths.
I have always been amazed by the mixture of numbers and mysticism in his life..And the great mathematician became a drunkard, and the great mathematician started talking of wine, of drunkenness, and the great RUBAIYAT was born. One cannot believe, reading Omar Khayyam’s RUBAIYAT, that he was a great mathematician. One cannot conceive of what kind of mathematician he was, because his poetry is so pure. How can a mathematician attain to such purity of poetry? A mathematician is a logician, he functions through syllogism. He is very practical, he is very objective.

He does not allow his subjectivity to enter into his observations; he is very detached. And mathematics is the only perfect science in the world. All other sciences are so-so; mathematics is the only perfect science. How can a perfect scientist become a sufi? But now you can understand how it happened. When you come to the extreme point of your reason, and if you are still available, not closed — if you have not concluded, this way or that way, if you have not yet become a theist or an atheist, if you still have the awareness that reason remains inconclusive — then you will be taken in by his presence. He will appear as a master and will take you in. And then it can happen in a single moment. When one is standing on the boundary, then in a single moment one can enter into the unknowable.
Whichever lens you want to view him with ..his contradictions, his lack of conformity ot orthodoxy , his complexity..make him a fascinating mna and a great poet.

Khayyám, who stitched the tents of science,
Has fallen in grief's furnace and been suddenly burned,
The shears of Fate have cut the tent ropes of his life,
And the broker of Hope has sold him for nothing!


  1. Please see my parodic ballad on Khayyam "The Rubaicon"

  2. You have pointed the question about Sáki. She is a always present picture in the Gazels (from the persian sufi poet Hafiz - Shamz Ud Din Mohammed). I have read Omar Kháyyám, Hafiz and Jami and I´ve been happy - as I am happy with Rumi works. However I´ve been something confused with this question about the wine (forbidden in the Qu´ran). See: I´m a western and so I have not been shocked with this guidance in these persian poetrys, but,,, it´s Islam! Two years after I´ve read Kháyyám and Hafiz, a book of Ibn Arbi has fallen in my hands: Lubbu-l-Lubb and Sirru-s-Sirr (in a spanish translation: "El núcleo del núcleo" - "y El misterio del misterio»). In fourth chapter my doubts about "wine" have been fired, totally burnt...José Ricardo (Brazil)

  3. Ah, Moon of my Delight who know'st no wane, // The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again: // How oft hereafter rising shall she look //
    Through this same Garden after me? - in vain!. "The Moon of my Delight" it´s othing but The Light. "The Moon of Heaven" is the sky Moon ,meanning the time, temporal (bird-and-death). To our friend illusion and veils are over; He has got The Friend... The end. José Ricardo (Brazil)