The Prime Minister of the King of Bukhara (part five)


Mathnawi III: 3860-3878

How that servant and lover set his face in the direction of Bukhara

3860 That lover, shedding tears of blood,1 set (his) face in the
direction of Bukhara,2 agitated of heart, fervently and boldly.

The sands of the Amoon (region) were like silk to him,3 and the
(vast) waters of the Jayhoon (River) were like a (small) pool to

To him, the desert was like a rose garden.4 (And) he was falling
(down) from laughter, like a thrown-back rose.5

There is (worldly) candy in Samarcand,6 but his lips found it from
Bukhara, which became his religious denomination.7

(He said), "O Bukhara, you are the increaser of rational
understanding (for others), but you have robbed [all understanding
of] reason and religion from me.8

3865 I'm seeking the (beautiful) Full Moon,9 (and) I'm (as thin) as
the new moon10 because of that. I'm seeking the King (of Bukhara)
in this "entry way."11

When he saw the blackness of (the outlying districts of) Bukhara, a
(luminous) whiteness12 became visible in the blackness of his
(longing) sorrow--

(So that) he fell (down) for a while, unconscious and stretched out.
His rational understanding flew into the garden of (Divine)

They put13 rose-water on his head and face (to revive him), (but)
they were ignorant of the rose-water of his love.

He had found a hidden rose-garden. The plundering raid of Love
had severed him from self.14

3870 (But) you, (who are) cold-hearted, are not worthy of this
breath (of Love);15 even if you are a reed-flute, you're (still) not
connected with the sugar16 [lips of the beloved].

The baggage of your intellect is with you. And you are (still)
rational, because you are ignorant of "the (spiritual) forces which
you could not see."17

The entering of that lover, oblivious to danger, into Bukhara and
the giving of warnings by his friends to him

He entered joyously into Bukhara, before (the palace of) his
beloved and dwelling place of security,18

Like the drunk who flies up to the sky (in his imagination), (and)
the moon embraces him and says, "Hold (me also)!"

Everyone who saw him in Bukhara said, "Don't sit (there)! Get up
and escape, before becoming visible!

3875 "Because that king (who is) filled with anger is seeking you
so that he may extract a ten year (old) revenge from your life.

"By God, by God, don't enter (the pool of) your own blood! Don't
lean (and rely) on your own words and charm.

"You were the King's representative and agent; you were the
trustworthy (deputy) and master engineer [in running his

3878 "(Then) you acted with deceit and you ran away from
punishment. You escaped, (so) why are you again dangling (in

--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" (, 3/22/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (3860) tears of blood: an idiom in Persian which means "grievous

2. ((3860) set (his) face in the direction of Bukhara: means turned his
face in that direction in order to go there. Nicholson translated, "set
out for Bukhara." "He directed his attention to Bukhara, because it
was the dwelling place of his beloved." (translated here from a
Persian translation of Anqaravi's famous 17th century Turkish
commentary on the Mathnawi/Masnavi)

3. (3861) The sands of the Amoon (region) were like silk to him:
Nicholson explained that this line is a reference to a famous verse
by the Persian poet Rudaki (died, 941). And he expressed the
opinion that "Amoon" is the name of a small town called Amul,
southwest of Bukhara (an ancient Central Asian city, in present-
day Uzbekistan). (Commentary). The Jayhûn River is the Amû
Daryâ (called the "Oxus" by the Greeks), which runs southwest
and west of Bukhara.

4. (3862) from laughter, like a thrown-back rose: Nicholson
translated, "like the (full-blown) rose." In Persian poetry, blooming
roses are depicted as laughing happily. "Thrown-back" refers to the
petals being fully open and spread back, giving the appearance of
"lying on its back." "The rose 'laughs', i.e. is fragrant and lovely,
even whilst being stripped of its petals until it finds itself left 'on
thorns': similarly, the `árif [= mystic knower] rejoices in the
afflictions which God bestows upon him." (Nicholson,

5. (3862) rose garden [gol-estân]: in Persian poetry, this word is often
intended to be pronounced "golsetân" for metrical purposes.

6. (3863) There is (worldly) candy in Samarcand: an word-play
between "qand," is an Arabic-derived word meaning "sugar" and
"sugar-candy," and the name of the ancient Central Asian city of
Samarqand (east of Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan). "(It
means) that he found the candy of spiritual Reality, spiritual sugar
and ecstatic sweetness from [thinking about] Bukhara..."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

7. (3863) Bukhara, which became his religious denomination:
Nicholson translated "his creed." Bukhara had been, for centuries,
a center of Islamic religious knowledge and the location of
numerous religious colleges. Here, instead of being viewed as a
place to master the learning of a particular denomination (meaning
one of the four schools of Islamic law), the name and location of
"Bukhara" becomes of greater spiritual importance to the lover,
since his beloved king lives there.

8. (3864) but you have robbed [all understanding of] reason and
religion from me: "(It means) that by means of preoccupation with
the beloved, the lover was kept far from the (encompassing) circle
of the intellect and knowledge-- the extent that he had reached the
(spiritual) level of bewilderment and love." (Anqaravi,

9. (3865): the (beautiful) Full Moon: a symbol for the spiritual beauty
of the beloved (the King of Bukhara in the story). "i.e. the Perfect
Man" [= a term in the mystical philosophy of Ibnu 'l-`Arabi (died,
1140), meaning a saint who fully reflects the attributes of God].
(Nicholson, Commentary)

10. (3865) (as thin) as the new moon: in Persian literature, the beloved
is often described as thin and pale, due to longing for the beloved.

11. (3865) in this "entry way": literally, "row of shoes." Means the
place where (dusty) shoes are placed outside the door of a mosque
or house. A metaphor for the dusty regions through which the lover
was travelling on his way to Bukhara. Nicholson interpreted: "I.e.
'in this low world.'" (Footnote)

12. (3866) a (luminous) whiteness: Nicholson translated, "a whiteness
(a mystic illumination)."

13. (3868) They put: "The people of the vicinity." (Anqaravi,
Commentary) (3869) He had found a hidden rose-garden: "In other
words, he had experienced a rank of nearness to the beloved."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

14. (3869) severed him from self: means a mystical state of
annihilation [fanâ] of normal ego consciousness.

15. (3870) you, (who are) cold-hearted, are not worthy of this breath
(of Love): Nicholson translated, "Thou, frozen (in spirit), art not
worthy of this (inspiring) breath (of love)..." "(It means), 'O you
who are frozen, shriveled, and deadened of heart! You are not
worthy of this breath mixed with love and these kinds of words.
Because love is an ecstasy, (and) whoever is not a lover cannot
understand the speech of the lovers.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)
Anqaravi also quoted a verse: "Someone asked, 'What is
loverhood?' I said, 'When you become me, you will know.'" (This
resembles Rumi's lines in Ode 2733, lines 29050-51)

16. (3870) even if you are a reed-flute, you're (still) not connected with
the sugar: Nicholson translated, "though thou art a reed (cane),
thou art not associated with sugar." And he explained (in regard to
I: 270, "Both reeds drank from the same water-source, (but) this
one is empty and that one (full of) sugar"), "The sugar-cane is
called 'nay-shakar' [= sugar reed, from which is made the sugar-
cane reed flute] in Persian." Anqaravi quoted the Arabic saying,
"The one who does not taste does not know" [man lam yuZiq lam
yadri]. And he explained about this line: "It means: 'Even if you
outwardly resemble the lovers, yet you are not connected to the
sweetness of love and the sugar of (spiritual) tasting and yearning."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

17. (3871) "the (spiritual) forces which you could not see": "Qur. IX
26, referring to the angels whom (though the enemy could not see
them) God sent to reinforce the Moslems fighting at Badr [= a
famous battle in which the Muslims were vastly outnumbered by
the attacking polytheists]." (Nicholson, Commentary) "(It means),
'You are ignorant of the meaning of the verse about "the (spiritual)
forces which you cannot see," since this love, yearning, and
(spiritual) savor are also "the (spiritual) forces of God." (But) the
discerning eyes of every person cannot see these spiritual forces.'"
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

18. (3872) before (the palace of) his beloved and dwelling place of
security: Nicholson interpreted this line somewhat differently:
"near his beloved and (him who was) the abode of (his) security."
"'Dwelling place of security' (means): 'to the destined house of his
beloved.' And the intended meaning of (these words) among the
lovers is the dwelling place of the beloved. Because it makes the
lover safe from separation and from the misfortunes of sorrows,
sadnesses, suffering, and disappointments.


rô-nehâdan-é ân banda-yé `âshiq sôy-é bukhârâ

3860 rô-nehâd ân `âshiq-é khûnâba rêz
del-Tapân sôy-é bukhâra garm-o têz

rêg-é âmûn pêsh-é ô ham-chûn Harîr
âb-é jayHûn pêsh-é ô chûn âb-gîr

ân beyâbân pêsh-é ô chûn golsetân
mê-fotâd az khanda ô chûn gol-setân

dar samarqand-ast qand ammâ lab-ash
az bukhârâ yâft-o ân shod maZhab-ast

ay bukhâra `aql-afzâ bûda-î
lêk az man `aql-o dîn be-r'bûda-î

3865 badr mê-jôy-am az ân-am chûn hilâl
Sadr mê-jôy-am dar-în Saff-é ni`âl

chûn sawâd-é ân bukhârâ-râ be-dîd
dar sawâd-é gham biyâZê shod padîd

sâ`atê oftâd bê-hôsh-o darâz
`aql-é ô parrîd dar bostân-é râz

bar sar-o rôy-ash golâbî mê-zad-and
az golâb-é `ishq-é ô ghâfil bod-and

ô golestânê nehânê dîda bûd
ghârat-é `ishq-ash ze-khwad be-b'rîda bûd

3870 tô fosorda dar khwar-é în dam na'-î
bâ shakar maqrûn na'-î gar-che nay-î

rakht-é `aql-at bâ tow-ast-o `âqil-î
k-az junûd-an lam tarû-hâ ghâfil-î

dar-âmadan-é ân `âshiq-é lâ-ubâlî dar bukhârâ wa taHZîr-kardan-é dôst-ân

andar âmad dar bukhârâ shâdmân
pêsh-é ma`shûq-é khwad-o dâru 'l-amân

ham-chô ân mastî ke parr-ad bar aSîr
mah kenâr-ash gîr-ad-o gôy-ad ke gîr

har ke dîd-ash dar bukhârâ, goft khêz
pêsh az paydâ shodan, ma-n'shîn, gorêz

3875 ke to-râ mê-jôy-ad ân shah khashm-gîn
tâ kash-ad az jân-é tô dah-salâh kîn

allâh allâh dar ma-y-â dar khûn-é khwêsh
takya kam kon bar dam-o afsûn-é khwêsh

shaHna-yé Sadr-é jahân bûd-î-wo râd
mu`tamad bûd-î, muhandis-ôstâd

3878 ghadr kard-î w-az jazâ be-g'rêkht-î
rasta bûd-î bâz chûn âwêkht-î?

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)