The High Station of Man (part two)

Mathnawi VI: 145, 148-162

145 (If) you won't say [what painted forms lack], I will
tell (you) clearly: reason, sense, prudent planning, and

. . . . . . .

148 What is soul? (It is) being aware of (the difference
between) good and evil, happiness with virtue and
benevolence, and weeping because of harm and loss.

Since the (quality of) inwardness is the secret and
essence of the soul,1 whoever is more aware is more
possessed of soul.2

150 Awareness is (due to) the influence of the spirit:
whoever has more of this belongs to God.3

Since there are awarenesses beyond this (bodily)
nature,4 these (sensual) souls (of ours) are (like) solid
minerals in that (Divine) arena.

The first soul is the manifestation of the (outward)
Court (of God),5 (whereas) the Soul of the soul is the very
manifestation of God.6

The angels were the whole intelligence and spirit [in
the creation]; (but then) a new spirit came7 (for) which
they were its body.8

When they inclined to that spirit (of Adam), due to
(their) good fortune, they became servants for that spirit, like the

155 (But) because Satan10 had drawn (his) head away11 from
(that) spirit,12 he did not become one with (that) spirit--
for he was (like) a dead limb.

Since he was not (one) with it, he did not become a
(devoted) sacrifice for it.13 A broken hand isn't submissive
to the spirit.14

(However), even if its "limb" is broken, the spirit is not defective,15
since (the limb) is in its power16 [in that) it can bring (it back) into

There is another secret. (But) where is another ear
(suitable to hear it)?18 Where is a parrot ready for that

For special parrots there is a (kind of) sugar (which
is) deep and profound. (But) the eyelids of common parrots
(are) closed from (the sight of) that (flavorful) food.20

160 A dervish (only) in appearance will never taste of that
pure (sustenance), (for) it is spiritual meaning, not (the
external) meters (of poetry).21

Sugar was not withheld from the donkey of Jesus,22 but
the donkey was choosing straw by (its) nature.

162 (For) if sugar had provoked joy for the donkey, he would
have poured a large weight of sugar in front of (his)

--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 1934 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (,5/24/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (149) Since the (quality of) inwardness is the secret
and essence of the soul: Nicholson translated, "Since
consciousness is the inmost nature and essence of the
soul..." The term Nicholson translated as "consciousness"
[makhbar] also means knowledge derived from evidence,
inwardness, interior, and the real inner state. According
to a glossary of terms in the Mathnawi (Gôharîn's "Lughât wa
Ta`bîrât-é Masnavî", volume 8, p. 256, where he cites this
line) it means, "Something inward, the opposite of outward."
The term Nicholson translated as "inmost nature" [sir =
sirr], also means "secret" and "inmost consciousness."

"(The term) 'makhbar' has the meaning of the knowledge
of a thing [khubrat], and 'khubrat' is said (to mean)
knowledge and awareness. It means, 'Since the secret and
essence of the soul is knowledge and awareness, whoever is
more awake and vigilant [mutanabbih] and aware is more
possessed of soul-- just like someone whose spirit is strong
and knowledgeable. (Since) the influence of the spirit is
(shown) by awareness, whoever is not aware lacks the
influence of the spirit." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

2. (149) whoever is more aware is more possessed of soul:
Nicholson translated, "the more aware one is the more
spiritual he is." 3. (150) belongs to God [allâhî]: Nicholson
translated, "a man of God."

4. (151) there are awarenesses beyond this (bodily) nature:
"It means, 'There are greater (realms of) knowledge and
secrets beyond the awareness and knowledge which are
(discernible) in this (bodily) nature." (Anqaravi,

5. (152) The first soul is the manifestation of the
(outward) Court (of God): "I.e. the unregenerate soul
belongs to the phenomenal world." (Nicholson, Footnote)
"i.e. the rudimentary ('animal' or 'intelligential') soul
that has not yet attained to real knowledge of God
(ma`rifah)." (Nicholson, Commentary)

6. (152) the Soul of the soul is the very manifestation of
God: Nicholson translated, "the Soul of the soul is verily
the theatre of (Himself)." And he explained: "I.e. the soul
of the perfect man is the mirror of the Divine Essence."
(Footnote) "i.e. the transcendental 'prophetic' soul, which
is the mirror of God." (Nicholson, Commentary)

"The intended meaning of 'the first soul' is a soul
which has no knowledge or awareness. And the intended
meaning of 'the soul of the soul' is the knowing and aware
soul. A soul which lacks knowledge and awareness is the
place for the manifestation of God Most High. In other
words, it remains in the station of worship and service (to
God). But the soul of the soul is a human being who has
knowledge and spiritual realization [`irfân]; who has become
the manifestation and mirror of the Names of God; who is the
gathering place of all (Divine) attributes; and who has
become His representative [khalîfa]." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

7. (153) a new spirit came: "The spirit of Adam."
(Nicholson, Footnote) "i.e. the spirit of Adam. All powers
in heaven and earth are subject to the Perfect Man [= a term
used in the sufi philosophy of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi (died, 1240),
which means the saint who reflects all the Names of God]:
their relation to him is that of body to its spirit.... Pure
though the angels were, they paid homage to the Divine glory
revealed in Adam." (Nicholson, Commentary)

Nicholson later changed his translation of this line, to
"...( but) there came a new Spirit of which they were the
body" (from, "...(till) there came a new Spirit...").

8. (153) (for) which they were its body: "I.e. to which
they [= the angels] were subordinate." (Nicholson, Footnote)

9. (154) they became servants for that spirit, like the
body: Nicholson translated, "they became subservient to that
Spirit, as the body (is subservient to the spirit dwelling
in it)." This is a sufi interpretation of the Qur'anic story
of how the angels were commanded by God to bow to Adam (in
obeisance, not worship) after God told Adam to tell the
angels "the names of everything," which He had taught him--
which the angels did not know. But Iblîs (meaning Satan)
"refused and was arrogant, and he was among the rejectors
(of true faith)." (Qur'an 2:30-34) According to the sufi
interpretation, these "names" were the Names of God. And
according to the Ibnu 'l-`Arabi school of sufism, which
both Nicholson and Anqaravi use (often excessively) to
interpret Rumi, the angels manifest only some of the Names,
but the Perfect Man (or completed Saint of God) contains all
of them. Ibnu 'l-`Arabi (died, 1240) wrote that in relation
to the macrocosmic "Great Man" [al-insânu 'l-kabîr], angels
are as the "faculties" or "powers" [quwwat] for it (FuSûsu
l-Hakîm, chapter on Adam). Rumi refers to the story of Adam
and the angels in a number of places (such as I:2647-2669).

"It means that those angels, who bowed (in obeisance) to
Hazrat-i Adam, were entirely intelligence and spirit, but
they had no knowledge or spiritual insight [ma`rifat] [= of
specifics]. Then after that new spirit... came, those
angels... became (as) the rank of the body for that new
spirit." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

10. (155) Satan: literally, "balîs." This is a contraction
of "Iblis," one of the names of Satan (together with
"Shaytân") in the Qur'an.

11. (155) had drawn (his) head away: an idiom meaning "to
turn away," based on how a horse turns to a new direction
when the rider draws its head to face that way.

12. (155) from (that) spirit: Nicholson translated, "from
the Spirit..."

13. (156) he did not become a (devoted) sacrifice for it:
Nicholson translated, "since he had it not, he did not
become devoted to it." Offering oneself as a sacrifice or
ransom for someone is an idiom expressing devotion and

14. (156) A broken hand isn't submissive to the spirit:
"Satan [Iblîs] also was like a broken hand or dead limb,
from the perspective that he did not receive life from the
Divine Spirit [rûH-é ilâhî = Adam, into whom God breathed of
His spirit (Qur'an 15:29)]. But the angels, which were like
living limbs, received the influence of the pure things of
the Divine Spirit and found new life." (Anqaravi,

15. (157) the spirit is not defective: "The intended meaning
of 'spirit' in this place is Hazrat-i Adam. And the intended
meaning of 'limb' is Satan [Iblîs]." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

16. (157) in its power [ba-dast-é ô]: literally, "in his
hand." An idiom meaning in his control, power. This is a
play on "broken hand" [dast-é be-sh'kasta] in the previous

17. (157) it can bring (it back) into being: Nicholson
translated, "it can bring it to life." And he explained:
"The Perfect man, acting as God's Khalífah [= representative
(Qur'an 2:30)], can re-unite with himself those who are
severed from him by infidelity and sin: cf. Qur. XXXII 13:
wa-law shi'ná la-átayná kulla nafs-in hudáhá [= "And if We
had willed, We could have given every soul its right
guidance"]..." (Commentary)

"Likewise, (since Man) is His representative [khalîfa],
he is also capable. Regarding Satan, who is like a broken
limb, he could make him living, honest and true, and rightly
guided by means of his (Divinely given) will and power--
(as) by those words of God to his Prophet [= Muhammad]: 'and
truly you guide (them) to the Straight Path' [Qur'an
42:52]." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

18. (158) where is another ear (suitable to hear it): "(It
means), 'Because that secret may be heard (only) by the "ear of the
soul." And it may be understood by means of (spiritual) "savor"
[Zawq] and (spiritual) ecstasy.'" (Anqaravi, the famous 17th
Turkish commentator, translated here into English from a
Persian translation)

19 (158) Where is a parrot ready for that sugar: Nicholson
translated, "Where is a parrot capable of (eating) that
sugar?" The sugar-eating parrot is a common image in Rumi's
poetry. Sugar was used as a reward to train parrots to talk.
In his poetry, birds often symbolize the spirit. Here he is
saying that it is a rare person who is able to "taste" the
spiritual delights of this mystical secret.

"(It means), 'Where is that "parrot" who is worthy and
capable (of consuming) the sugar of deep spiritual meaning
[ma`nâ]?'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

20. (159) the eyelids of common parrots (are) closed from
(the sight of) that (flavorful) food: "That sugar of deep
meaning, which the elect of the elect of the knowers (of
God) are tasting, the parrots with bound eyes cannot see and
are not able to gain the (spiritual) pleasure and delight of
it." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

21. (160) not (the external) meters (of poetry): literally,
"not fa`ûlun fâ`ilât." These are metrical sections of
poetry. Rumi is speaking of what is inward, such as the
inner meaning of spiritual verses-- in contrast to their
outward form of meter and rhyme. "And absolutely, that
secret and deep meaning will not be understood by reciting
poetry and verses, by understanding the meaning of those
verses, and using those phrases. The (necessary) condition
for gaining the spiritual delight of that pure meaning is
being a real dervish [darwêsh-é ma`nawî] and obtaining
(spiritual) capacity." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

22. (161) the donkey of Jesus: Nicholson referred to his
note on Mathnawi II: 1859, "Jesus mounted on the ass (cf. St
Matthew xxi) represents the connexion of the spirit (rúh)
with the carnal soul (nafs)." (Commentary)


145 tô na-gôy-î, man be-gôy-am dar bayân
`aql-o Hiss-o dark-o tadbîr-ast-o jân

. . . . . . .

148 jân che bâsh-ad bâ-khabar az khayr-o shar
shâd bâ iHsân-o geryân az Zarar

chûn sir-o mâhiyyat-é jân makhbar-ast
har ke ô âgâh-tar bâ-jân-tar-ast

150 rûH-râ ta'Sîr âghâhî bow-ad
har ke-râ în bêsh allâhî bow-ad

chûn khabar-hâ hast bêrûn z-în nehâd
bâsh-ad în jân-hâ dar ân maydân jamâd

jân-é awwal maZhar-é dargâh shod
jân-é jân khwad maZhar-é allâh shod

ân malâyik jumla `aql-o jân bod-and
jân-é naw âmad ke jism-é ân bod-and

az sa`âdat chûn ba ân jân bar zad-and
ham-chô tan ân rûH-râ khâdim shod-and

155 ân balîs az jân az ân sar borda bûd
yak na-shod bâ jân ke `uZw-é morda bûd

chûn na-bûd-ash ân, fidây-é ân na-shod
dast-é be-sh'kasta muTî`-é jân na-shod

jân na-shod nâqiS gar ân `uZw-ash shekast
k-ân ba-dast-é ô-st, tawân-ad kard hast

sirr-é dêgar hast kû gôsh-é degar
Tûtiyê kû musta`idd-é ân shakar?

TûTiy-ân-é khâS-râ qandê-st zharf
TûTiy-ân-é `âm az ân khwor basta Tarf

160 kay chash-ad darwêsh-é Sûrat z-ân zakât?
ma`niy-ast ân, na fa`ûlun fâ`ilât

az khar-é `îsà darêgh-ash nêst qand
lêk khar âmad ba-khilqat kah pasand

162 qand khar-râ gar Tarab angêkhty
pêsh-é khar qinTâr-shakkar rêkhty

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)