Project 6060 – Lesson 56
The book, ‘Masnavi’, widely known as ‘Masnavi-ye Ma’navi’ is written by ‘Mowlavi’; one of Iran’s greatest poets, Sufis and mystics of the thirteenth century AD. This book is composed of 26,000 rhyming couplets and is counted as one of the best post-Islamic books of Persian mystical literature. Mowlavi, or ‘Mowlana’, who they know as ‘Rumi’ in the West, composed this book in the form of masnavi poetry and this is the reason for the title of the book. Although other poets had used the masnavi form of poetry before Mowlavi, the literary level of Mowlavi’s Masnavi is higher than them. In this book, 424 stories appear about humanity, its place in the world, and its difficulties in coming to God.
In this book, Mowlana has gathered a collection of thoughts from Islamic culture and uses the stories as tools for expressing Sufism and mystical teachings. The main characters in these stories are prophets, kings, shepherds, and even animals. Some of these stories usually appear in more ancient sources, but Mowlavi re-tells them as poetry and in masnavi form.
Moving on, you are going to read a summary of the story ‘The Lion and the Rabbit’, which initially appeared in the Kalileh and Demneh (Panchatantra) and was used years later by Mowlana.
A handful of wild animals lived in a beautiful meadow. Their only problem was that there was a lion, who considered himself to be king of the jungle and plains and was always hunting them. One day, the animals consulted one another and decided to talk with the lion. They came up to the lion and said to him: “We would like to select one from amongst ourselves each day and bring them to you as a meal and then there will be no need for you to come out of your grove and prey on us; in this way life on the plain will not be difficult and unpleasant for us.
The lion said: “I accept on this condition that you be loyal to me and keep your promise and don’t think about tricking me.”
The animals said: “Oh, King of the Jungle, you don’t need to worry yourself, otherwise this doubt will make you even more confused. You should rely on God and be satisfied with what you are given.
The lion said: “In your opinion, it is important to trust in God, but I believe that because God has given me hands and feet and claws and teeth, I need to struggle to capture food. Even the prophet has emphasised this issue.
Once again, the animals insisted that nothing is more important than reliance, but the lion brought up many reasons why struggle and effort increases God’s gifts.
In short, after long conversations, the fox, deer, rabbit and jackal saw that they couldn’t change the lion’s mind and satisfy him with words. Therefore, they made a pact with the lion that they would be loyal to their promise and send the lion’s food up to him.
So the animals gathered and decided that each day they would do a draw and whoever’s name was drawn, they would be the lion’s food, and they all accepted.
Each day, after the draw, one of the animals would go up to the lion and he would eat his food without any effort, until one day it came to the rabbit’s turn to go up to the lion.
The rabbit was very unhappy and thought he could find a solution. The other animals said to the rabbit: “We made a pact with the lion and you should go like all the others.”
The rabbit said: “Give me a chance to think and I will save myself and you from this Lion.”
The animals said to the rabbit: “Oh you idiot, what are you saying? Even animals that are bigger and better than you haven’t been able to trick the lion. How can a little thing like you do this?”
The rabbit said: “God has inspired me to be able to carry out this task with cunning and wit.”
The animals asked the rabbit: “What is your plan”?
The rabbit answered: “Not all secrets can be told. I have to see what happens.”
The rabbit lingered a little and then went towards the lion. The lion was extremely angry that his food was late and when he saw the rabbit, he said angrily: “Why are you late and why don’t you obey me?”
The rabbit said: “Wait so I can explain. I and my friend, who is fatter than me, were coming up to you so that you could eat my friend. On the way here, another lion attacked us. I said to him, ‘We are the King of the Jungle’s food and you mustn’t attack us.’ But that lion said, ‘Which king? I will kill both you and your king.’ I asked him to give us a chance to give you the news. That fierce lion accepted and said, ‘On one condition: You must leave the fat rabbit with me and you go to the lion yourself.’”
The lion said: “Tell me where that lion is.”
The rabbit guided the lion and accompanied him towards a well. When they got close to the well, the rabbit stopped!
The lion said: “Why have you stopped? Come up here!”
The rabbit said: “That fierce lion lives in this well and I’m scared of him.”
The lion said: “Don’t be scared! For I am stronger than him! Why don’t you come to my side and see whether that lion is at the bottom of the well or not?!”
The rabbit went up to beside the lion and the lion and rabbit both looked into the well. Just as the lion and rabbit were looking into the well, the lion saw his reflection with a rabbit by its side in the water!
The lion thought that this really was the other lion and rabbit in that well. He let the rabbit go free and, out of intense rage, leapt into the well to kill his enemy and get the fat rabbit. In this way, the lion fell into the well and died and animals of the jungle were free of his tyranny.
Translation of Dialogue
Bahman: Have you ever noticed how lots of Persian stories are spoken by animals?
Maryam: Yeah, I think it has been more interesting for the reader.
Bahman: Maybe the author wasn’t brave enough to speak his message directly.
Maryam: It’s possible that the people of that time weren’t very literate.
Bahman: Of course these days we see far fewer stories with animal characters.
Maryam: That’s true, although lots of books are still written for children that have animal characters.
Traduction de Dialogue
Traducción de Diálogo