The Painted Lion on the Flag

Mathnawi IV: 3051-3058

3051 The playful movements of the (painted) lion on the flag1 are
an informer of (the existence of) hidden winds.

(For) if there weren't the movements of those winds, the lifeless
lion would never jump into the air.

(And) because of that, you may know if the breeze is the east wind
or the west wind; this (movement) is the declaration of that hidden

The (human) body resembles the lion on the flag: thoughts make it
move, moment by moment.

3055 The thought which comes from the east is (gentle like) the
east wind,2 and the one which (is) from the west is (harsh like) the
plague-filled west wind.

The "east" of this wind of your thought is different,3 (and) the
"west" of this wind of your thought is from that (other) side.

The moon is inanimate and (so) is its place of sunrise, (but) the
heart's sunrise is the Soul of the soul of the soul.4

3058 The daytime sun is (merely) the shell and reflection of the
rising of a [Universal] sun5 which illuminates the inward

--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets of
Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with
gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1930 British translation)
© Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (, 8/19/99

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (3051) lion on the flag: this passage is very similar to that in Book
I: 603-605: "We (are) all lions, but lions (painted) on a flag; their
charge (forward) is (only) because of the wind, moment by
moment. (And) their charge (forward) is visible, but the wind isn't
visible. May that which is invisible never be lost (to us)! Our wind
(which moves us) and our existence is (part) of Your gift; our
being is entirely from Your bringing (us) into being."

2. (3055) the east wind: "The 'east-wind' is fikr-i rúhání [spiritual
thoughts], the 'west-wind' fikr-i nafsání [ego-driven thoughts].

3. (3056) is different: "i.e. different from the physical east."
(Nicholson, footnote)

4. (3057) the Soul of the soul of the soul: "The Universal Spirit which
reveals itself in all its glory to the heart of the Perfect Man."
(Nicholson, Commentary)

5. (3058) a [Universal] sun: Nicholson makes a reference to Book I,
119: "But there is nothing in the world (so) extraordinary as the
sun, (yet) the spiritual sun (is) everlasting, for it has no yesterday."
Also to I, 1127: "Again, the light of the light of the heart is the
Light of God, which is pure and distinct from the light of the
intellect and the senses."


3051 hast bâzî-hây-é ân shêr-é `alam
mukhbirê az bâd-hây-é muktatam

gar na-bûdy junbesh-é ân bâd-hâ
shêr-é morda kay be-jasty dar hawâ?

z-ân shenâsî bâd-râ gar ân Sabâ-st
yâ dabûr-ast în bayân-é ân khafâ-st

în badan mânand-é ân shêr-é `alam
fikr mê-jonbân-ad ô-râ dam ba-dam

3055 fikr k-ân az mashriq ây-ad ân Sabâ-st
w-ân-ke az maghrib dabûr-é bâ-wabâ-st

mashriq-é în bâd-é fikr-at dêgar-ast
maghrib-é în bâd-é fikr-at z-ân sar-ast

mah jumâd-ast-o bow-ad sharq-ash jumâd
jân-é jân-é jân bow-ad sharq-é fû'âd

3058 sharq-é khworshêdê ke shod bâTin for–z
qishr-o `aks-é ân bow-ad khorshêd-é rôz

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)