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30

 

a fad for hearing stories of Perfect Masters. He knew the Koran by heart and hence was given the title of Hafiz. When he was 21 years of age, while passing by a big mansion, he saw a very beautiful woman on its terrace. He fell in love with her and longed to marry her. The girl did not even take notice of Hafiz in the street below. Hafiz was helpless and so he thought of gaining her by the 40 days' penance. He succeeded in his attempt, and on the 40th day Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and told him to ask for anything he wished. Gabriel's beauty was so overpowering that Hafiz forgot his beloved whom he wanted to marry. He thought that if Gabriel could be so beautiful, how much more would be the beauty of God? So he at once replied, "I want God! " Gabriel directed Hafiz to the Perfect Master Attar. Hafiz served Attar for 40 long years. He, so to say, broke his head at the feet of Attar. Attar still had no compassion for Hafiz! After 40 years of such hell on earth, one day Attar all of a sudden gave Hafiz God-realization. "

 

Describing this event in another context, Baba elucidated: "One of Hafiz ' couplets says, `The pangs of separation from the Beloved were as big as a mountain while my body had become as thin as a reed in that suffering. ' How could it be possible for a reed to support the weight of a mountain? But Hafiz says, `I bore it with the grace of my Master for forty long years. " All of a sudden the Master opened the door of Hafiz ' destiny and stood before him with a cup of two-year-old wine. He only took one gulp of the intoxicating wine and got God-realization. (In Persia wine that has been bottled and kept for two years is said to be very intoxicating.) Baba continued, "If a Master gets a whim, he can in a moment make a reed bear the weight of the mountain of the suffering of separation. A Qutub (Perfect Master) can shower his grace on anyone he wishes, irrespective of his readiness to receive it or not. If a Qutub can do this, just imagine about the powers of an Avatar and what He can do for His dear ones."  (Awakener, 10, Num. 4 p.2)

 

Baba further said, in concluding the first discourse cited above, "Powers have no importance. Hafiz says that the one who doesn't lay his life at the feet of the Perfect Master cannot know God. It is very difficult to become one with God. The Master's Grace makes it very easy, but to get his Grace is as difficult as trying to realize God by one 's own efforts. It becomes easy once one becomes a slave at the feet of the Perfect Master. Ages of restlessness get eased as soon as one surrenders one's life at his feet. This does not mean cutting off one's head and putting it at the feet of the Master. It means literal obedience. "

 

The Attar Baba refers to is apparently Mohammed Attar, a little-known Master who lived concurrently with Hafiz and has been linked with him in some accounts. Fariduddin Attar, the writer of the "Conference of the Birds" and other famous Sufi poetry, died before Hafiz was born. Unless Baba means that Hafiz's apprenticeship was symbolically to the spirit of the master Attar, it is this Mohammed Attar who was the poet 's Master.

 

One other well-known anecdote of Hafiz will suffice to explain the character of this Master-poet. It is said that he had an encounter with the tyrant-conqueror Tamerlane (though scholars contend that the date of the story is two years after Hafiz 's death). It seems that in one of Hafiz 's more celebrated ghazals, he compared the cities of Bakhara and Samarkand to the mole on his Beloved 's cheek. Unfortunately, the cities got the worst of the bargain, for Hafiz proclaimed he would trade them and all their riches just for this incomparable mole. When word of this reached Tamerlane, he had the old poet summoned, and demanded to know why Hafiz slandered the two prize cities in his dominion. The wrong answer and Hafiz would have been instantly beheaded. But the Master replied with a smile, that it was through such bad bargains as trading Samarkand and Bakhara for a mole, that he had been reduced to his present state of poverty! Tamerlane was delighted and pardoned the poet readily. Alas for Tamerlane, for he contented

 

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