Rumi's Mathnawi (selections)

Week 6: Middle East - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Quarreling Over Names, translated by Ibrahim Gamard

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 400 words.

Since the story about the grapes is one of my very favorites, I've included Gamard's literal version so that you can ponder this story one more time!
3679 Pass beyond (external) names and look at the (underlying) qualities, so that the qualities may show you the way to the essence.

3679 dar-goZar az nâm-o be-n'gar dar Sifât
tâ Sifât-at rah nomây-ad sôy-é Zât

3680 The opposition (among) people takes place because of names. Peace occurs when they go to the real meaning. 3680 ikhtilâf-é khalq az nâm ôftâd
chûn ba-ma`nà raft, ârâm ôftâd
The argument of four persons over grapes, which each one had understood by a different name munâza`at-é chahâr kas jehat-é angûr ke har yakê ba-nâm-é dîgar fahm karda bûd ân-râ
A man gave four persons a silver coin. The (first) one (who was a Persian) said, "I will give this for (buying) some angûr." châr kas-râ dâd mardê yak deram
ân yakê goft în ba-angûrê deh-am
An other one (who) was an Arab said, "No! I want `inab -- not angûr, O deceitful (man)!" ân yakê dêgar `arab bod goft lâ
man `inab khwâh-am na angûr ay daghâ
The (third) one was a Turk and he said, "This (coin) is mine. I don't want `inab. I want üzüm." ân yakê torkê bod-o goft în ban-om
man na-mê-khwâh-am `inab khwâh-am uzum
The (fourth) one, an Anatolian Greek, said, "Quit (all) this talk! I want istâfîl." ân yakê rûmî be-goft în qîl-râ
tark kon, khwâh-êm istâfîl-râ
3685 In (their) disagreement, those individuals were (soon) in a fight -- since they were uninformed of the hidden (meaning) of the names. 3685 dar tanâzu` ân nafar jangî shod-and
ke ze sirr-é nâm-hâ ghâfil bod-and
They were striking at each other (with their) fists out of ignorance. They were full of foolishness and (were) devoid of knowledge.

mosht bar-ham mê-zad-and az ablahî
por bod-and az jahl-o az dânesh tohî

If a master of (the meaning of) secrets, a venerable one (with knowledge) of numerous languages, had been there, he would have given them reconciliation and peace. SâHib-é sirrê, `azîzê Sad zabân
gar body ân-jâ, be-dâdî SulH-éshân
Then he would have said, "By means of this one silver coin, I will grant the wishes of all of you. pas be-goftî ô ke man z-în yak deram
ârzôy-é jumla-tân-râ mê-deh-am
"This coin will cause effects such as these when you submit (your) hearts (to me) without deceit. chûn-ke be-s'pâr-êd del-râ bê-daghal
în deram-tân mê-kon-ad chand-în `amal
3690 "Your one coin will become (like) four (coins) for the desired (result). (And) four enemies will become (as) one from unity (of friendship). 3690 yak deram-tân mê-shaw-ad châr al-murâd
châr doshman mê-shaw-ad yak z-ittiHâd
"The words of each one of you offer (only) fighting and separation. But my words will bring you harmonious agreement. goft-é har yak-tân deh-ad jang-o firâq
goft-é man âr-ad shomâ-râ ittifâ q
3692 "Therefore, you be quiet (and) stay silent! So that I may become your tongue for (needed) conversation." 3692 pas shomâ khâmôsh bâsh-êd 'anSitû
tâ zabân-tân man shaw-am dar goft-o gô
3699 Tranquillity and peaceful association come from (hearing) the sayings of the spiritual master, (but) the words of envious people bring discord and separation. 3699 az HadîS-é shaykh jam`iyyat ras-ad
tafriqa âr-ad dam-é ahl-é Hasad
  (mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what do the men want to do with their silver?
  • why do they start arguing?
  • who resolves their argument?

Source: From The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî [Rhymed Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi. Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard. © Ibrahim Gamard [translation, footnotes, & transliteration]. Weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM