Nizami Ganjavi: Love and Mysticism
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Introduction

Nizami Ganjavi, a highly esteemed poet and writer of medieval Central Asia, has enchanted readers with his culturally rich and historical works. Born in the shadows of the 12th century in Ganja, now part of Azerbaijan, this illustrious author’s genius crossed Persian, Turkish, and Azerbaijani cultural boundaries, touching the hearts of many with his stories of love, spirituality, and human nature. Among his works, the famous “Khosrow and Shirin” shines like a beacon in medieval Persian literature, spreading to many languages.

In this article, we will delve into the world of Nizami Ganjavi, exploring his life and main works, analyzing his contribution to Persian literature and the culture of medieval Central Asia. We will delve into his extraordinary ability to bring unforgettable characters to life and weave captivating plots, highlighting the lasting legacy that his genius has left for future generations and the entire cultural and literary landscape.

Life and main works

Nizami Ganjavi was born in 1141 in Ganja, at a time when Persian culture was flourishing under the auspices of the great empires of Central Asia. The son of an intellectual family, Nizami developed a deep passion for literature, art, and philosophy from a young age, leading him to pursue the path of poetry and writing.

His literary output encompasses a wide range of genres, from love poems to epic works, passing through philosophical treatises and collections of mystical poems. Among his most celebrated works are “Khosrow and Shirin,” “Leyli and Majnun,” “Haft Paykar,” and “Eskandar-nameh,” which together constitute the “Quintet” (Khamsa), a collection of five epic poems that represents the pinnacle of his poetic art.

Nizami drew inspiration from Persian and Arabic literary sources, as well as from the oral tradition and history of his native land. His poetry is distinguished by its formal elegance, the richness of its metaphors, and the originality of its themes. His works address universal issues such as love, the search for wisdom, social justice, and the relationship between the individual and destiny.

Nizami’s fame quickly crossed the borders of Central Asia, extending to the entire Persian world and beyond. His works were translated and adapted into various languages and influenced generations of poets and writers, both in the Islamic world and in Europe. Today, Nizami Ganjavi is considered one of the great masters of Persian literature and a symbol of the cultural richness of medieval Central Asia.

Divine love in the thought of Nizami Ganjavi

Nizami Ganjavi deeply explores the question of divine love in his works, intertwining his reflections on the nature of earthly and spiritual love. For Nizami, this is a force that pervades the universe and connects all creatures, both human and divine, in an indissoluble bond, the engine of existence and the origin of all forms of beauty, knowledge, and wisdom. Love for the divine is not limited, however, to a mere relationship between the individual and God but extends to the relationships between human beings and the surrounding nature. In this sense, divine love is a holistic concept that embraces all dimensions of existence and guides the individual towards an understanding of their spiritual nature and role in the universe.

In his poems, Nizami emphasizes the importance of inner purification and spiritual asceticism to approach divine love. A path of inner transformation that leads the being to overcome their earthly passions and illusions to rise towards a more worthy and transcendent reality.

Through the stories of his characters, Nizami illustrates how divine love can manifest itself in different ways, both through mystical devotion and asceticism, and through the practice of justice, charity, and love for others. In this way, divine love is revealed as a force that unites the entire creation and guides humanity towards the realization of its true nature and destiny.

The relationship between the individual and destiny

In Nizami Ganjavi’s thought, the relationship between the individual and destiny plays a crucial role in understanding the human condition and spiritual path. In his works, Nizami presents destiny as an elusive and mysterious entity that guides and influences the lives of individuals, determining their choices, relationships, and experiences.

However, Nizami does not conceive of destiny as an arbitrary or inflexible force that completely dominates the will of the individual, but rather emphasizes the importance of free will and personal responsibility in shaping one’s own future, in overcoming the tests and obstacles that life presents. In other words, the individual has the power to influence their own destiny through their actions, choices, and dedication to spiritual pursuit.

In the stories told by Nizami, the characters are often tested by destiny and forced to face difficult and painful situations. However, it is precisely through these challenges that they have the opportunity to grow spiritually and strengthen their character. The attitude with which the individual faces their destiny reveals much about their inner strength and ability to transcend difficulties to elevate towards a deeper understanding of their own nature and purpose in life.

In conclusion, Nizami Ganjavi illustrates with sublime words in his writings, a delicate balance between the action of destiny and personal responsibility. Although destiny plays an important role in shaping the circumstances of the individual’s life, it is the individual’s own task to exploit these circumstances to embark on a path of growth and inner transformation, guided by divine love and spiritual wisdom.

Conclusions

In conclusion, we can say that, like a ray of light through the veil of epochs, the works of Nizami Ganjavi shine with an extinguishable light in the firmament of literature. Through his writings, we discover a multitude of “pearls” hidden in the depths of his words, which resonate as echoes of universal truths.

The captivating plots, unforgettable characters, and exploration of eternal themes such as love, spirituality, and human nature testify to Nizami Ganjavi’s immense wisdom and sensitivity. In his work, we can perceive the longing of the human soul for knowledge and understanding of the divine, a quest that unites all cultures and epochs.

Aphorisms and meaningful phrases

Free is the one who has no desires
(Nizami Ganjavi)

Whoever seeks their beloved is not afraid in the world.
(Nizami Ganjavi)

In the book of life, each page has two sides: we human beings fill the upper side with our projects, hopes, and desires, but providence writes on the other side, and what it establishes rarely coincides with our goal.
(Nizami Ganjavi)

The human being is a mystery, and only knowledge of God can reveal that mystery.
(From “The Rose Garden”, Book II, Verse 3)

“Love is the essence of life, and only through love can happiness be achieved.”
(From “Khosrow and Shirin”, Book IV, Verse 8)

“The true beauty lies in the soul, and only through the purification of the soul can true beauty be achieved.”
(From “The Rose Garden”, Book IV, Verse 6)

“Knowledge of God is the key to understanding the universe, and only through contemplation of divinity can the mystery of existence be understood.”
(From “The Rose Garden”, Book V, Verse 2)

“The pride and vanity are the enemy of true wisdom, and only through humility and modesty can one achieve true wisdom.” (From “The Garden of Roses”, Book II, Verse 1)

“The true freedom resides in the soul, and only through the liberation of the soul can one achieve true freedom.” (From “The Garden of Roses”, Book V, Verse 6)

“Gratitude is the heart of harmony, and only by cultivating gratitude can one live in peace with oneself and others.” (From “The Garden of Roses”, Book VI, Verse 4)

Some poems:

A famous ghazal of Nezami speaks of selflessness as the path to the ultimate spiritual goal:

I went to the Tavern last night, but I was not admitted

I was bellowing yet nobody was listening to me
Either none of the wine-sellers were awake
Or I was a nobody, and no one opened the door for a Nobody
When more or less half of the night had passed
A shrewd, perfect man (rind) raised his head from a booth and showed his face
I asked him: “to open the door”, he told me: “go away, do not talk nonsense!
At this hour, nobody opens door for anybody
This is not a mosque where its doors are open any moment
Where you can come late and move quickly to the first row
This is the Tavern of Magians and rinds dwell here
There are Beauties, candle, wine, sugar, reed flute and songs
Whatever wonders that exists, is present here
(in this tavern there are) Muslims, Armenians, Zoroastrian, Nestorians, and Jews
If you are seeking company of all that is found here
You must become a dust upon the feet of everyone in order to reach your (spiritual perfection) goal”
O Nezami! if you knock the ring on this door day and night

You won’t find except smoke from this burning fire

Commentary by ASH

Brothers and sisters, listen carefully to the account of the man who went to the tavern, seeking solace and companionship, but his path led him instead to knock on the closed door of Hedonism , wine and false promises. In this place, where worldly temptations and deception reign, man gets lost and strays from the true path to GOD.

Consider the arrogance of those who hide behind the tavern doors, believing they hold the keys to wisdom and spiritual perfection. They proclaim themselves cunning and perfect, yet they indulge in delusion and sin. This tavern, which prides itself on welcoming people of all faiths and cultures, is actually a trap for lost souls, a place where they stray further and further from the true path that leads to salvation.

Remember, brothers and sisters, that our quest for spiritual perfection cannot be found in the ephemeral pleasures and false promises of this world. Instead, we must turn our gaze upward, seeking God’s guidance and mercy. Only through renunciation of earthly temptations and dedication to prayer and penance can we hope to attain true spiritual perfection and communion with our Creator.

O Nezami, wandering poet, do not seek answers in the darkness of the tavern, but turn your heart and soul to the light of GOD. Let the blazing fire of repentance and faith burn away the smoke of delusion, guiding you to truth and redemption.

  • “Alas, the wasted labor of my youth!
    Alas, the hope that proved in truth to be in vain!
    I have dug into the walls of mountains: behold my reward!
    My labor is wasted: here lies the discomfort!
    The world is devoid of sun and moon for me: my
    garden lacks boxwood and willow.
    For the last time my lighthouse has shone;
    Not Shirin, but the sun has departed from me!
    Beyond the portals of Death, I should greet Shirin,
    then with a leap, hasten Death to meet her!
    Thus did he cry out to the world the sad tale,
    for Shirin kissed the earth and the kiss died.
    Story of Persia, Percy Molesworth Sykes, 1915

Do not separate the good pearl from the thread; from he who is of wicked nature flee.
A wicked nature acts constantly: have you not heard that nature does not err?
The man of wicked character keeps faith with no one; the erring nature does not fail to err.
The scorpion, because he is by nature evil, to let him live is a sin, to kill him, well.
Seek knowledge, for through knowledge you make doors open for yourself, not close.
He who is not ashamed to learn may extract pearls from water, rubies from rock.
While he to whom no knowledge is assigned, that person (you will discover) is ashamed to learn.
How many, sharp of mind, laboriously sell ceramics for lack of pearls to sell!
How many dull ones, through his teaching, become the supreme judge of the Seven Climes!
Verse to His Father
Like my ancestors, my father Yusuf, son of Zaki Muwajjad, departed early from here.
But what starts him quarrelling with fate? Fate has spoken and complaints must be silenced.
And yet the father of whom has not died? When I saw him depart for his fathers, I tore his image from my heart.
Whatever has happened to me, bitter or sweet, I have done nothing but resign myself. (Persian literature)”

 

 

 


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