Three Love Stories of Ancient TimesAug 27, 2020
A heart lightened by love is more precious than all the gems and jewels of the world. There are as many different kinds of hearts as there are different substances in the world.
- There are hearts of metal which take a long time and much fire of love to heat, and when once heated will melt and may be molded as you wish for the moment, but soon afterwards turn cold.
- There are hearts of wax which melt instantly at the sight of the fire, and if there is a wick of ideal, they will keep their flame until they become non-existent.
- There are hearts of paper which are set alight by a slight touch of the fire and turn into ashes in one moment.
Love is like the fire; its glow is devotion, its flame is wisdom, its smoke is attachment, and its ashes detachment. Flame rises from glow, so it is with wisdom, which rises from devotion. When love’s fire produces its flame it illuminates the devotee’s path in life like a torch, and all darkness vanishes.
When the life-force acts in the soul it is love, when it acts in the heart it is emotion, and when in the body it is passion. Therefore the most loving person is the most emotional, and the most emotional is the most passionate, according to the plane of which he is most conscious. If he is most awake in the soul he is loving, if awakened in the heart he is emotional, if he is conscious of the body he is passionate. These three may be pictured as fire, flame, and smoke. Love is fire when in the soul, it is a flame when the heart is kindled by it, and it is as smoke when it manifests through the body.
- The first love is for the self. If illuminated, man sees his true benefit and he becomes a saint. In the absence of illumination man becomes so selfish that he becomes a devil.
- The second love is for the opposite sex. If it is for love’s sake it is heavenly; if it is for passion’s sake it is earthly. This, if it is quite pure, can certainly take away the idea of the self, but the benefit is slight and the danger is great.
- The third love is for the children, and this is the first service to God’s creatures. To reserve it for one’s children only is like appropriating to oneself what is given to us as a trust by the Creator, but if this love expands to embrace the whole creation of the Heavenly Father, it raises man to be among the chosen ones of God.
Shirin and Farhad
Love is never tempted by wealth and grandeur. Shirin, the daughter of a poor man, but rich in her ideal, was kidnapped and taken to the Shah of Faras, who instantly became enamored of her, and gave great rewards to those who had brought her. But, to his great disappointment, he found that Shirin was unresponsive to his love, and her ideal was too great to allow her to be tempted by the wealth and grandeur of the Shah. He did everything to please her and to make her willing to marry him, but every effort had the contrary effect.
When Shirin saw that there was no hope anywhere of rescue from the palace, which to her was a cage, and the importunity of the Shah and his servants wore out her patience so much that she was obliged to consent to their offer, she did so on one condition, which was that a canal should be made as a memorial of the occasion. This was, of course, a pretext for putting off the marriage, for the cutting of a canal was the work of years. The Shah was so much fascinated by her youth and beauty that he seized upon even the smallest sign of yielding, and at once gave command to the engineers and architects of the court to begin work on a canal without a moment’s delay, and to accomplish it as soon as possible, sparing no expense or labor. Thousands of workmen were soon engaged in this, and the work went on night and day unceasingly, under the watchful eye of the king himself and his servants.
The nearer the work came to being accomplished, the stronger grew the hope of the king, and he, with great pleasure, requested Shirin to go and look at her canal. She, with despondent mind, went to see the canal, fearing that it would soon be finished and she would have to yield to the wishes of the Shah, which she regarded as worse than death. While she was walking, looking at the work going on where thousands of workmen were busy night and day, to her great surprise a workman came up, won entirely by her beauty and charm, and fearlessly exclaimed, “O Shirin, I love you.”
“Love overlooks the difference of position of the lover and the beloved, and the height that the lover has to climb.”
It was that voice of love and that word of devotion that Shirin was looking for, and had not found until then. Shirin replied, “Do you love me? Then break these mountains, and cut a pathway through them.”
“Gold has a test to go through.”
Farhad said at once, “Most willingly. Yes, Shirin, whatever you please.”
“There is nothing too hard for the lover to do for the beloved.”
Farhad set out on his journey whole-heartedly, not wondering why he should cut a path, nor reasoning how this great work might be accomplished. He did not stop to think how long it would take to finish, nor had he any misgiving that his efforts might ever be in vain; he went to those mountains in the wilderness and began to break the rocks with his pickaxe. He repeated the name of Shirin at every stroke he gave. The strokes of Farhad wrought a miracle. Instead of one stroke it was as if a hundred strokes fell at a time.
“Man’s power is the strength of his body, but love’s power is the might of God.”
No sooner was the work begun than it neared completion. Work that would have taken years with many workers engaged on it was accomplished in days.
Shirin had refused the Shah since she had seen Farhad, saying, “There is another lover who is undergoing a test, and until I know the outcome of his trial I think it better to keep from marriage.”
The king’s spies had been watching Farhad from afar, and they immediately sent a report that Farhad had completed his work before the canal was finished. The Shah was very much alarmed, thinking that Farhad would most probably win Shirin’s love, and that after his having done all this for her, Shirin would not be his. When he told this to his confidants one among them said, “Sire, you are the king, Farhad is a workman. What comparison between heaven and earth? I will go, if it be the pleasure of your Majesty, and will finish him in a moment.” “Oh, no,” said the Shah, “Shirin will see the stain of his blood on me, and will turn her back on me for ever.” One among the king’s servants said, “It is not difficult for me, my Lord, to bring the life of Farhad to an end without shedding a single drop of blood.” “That is much better”, said the Shah.
The servant went to Farhad, who had very nearly finished his work, with great hope of a glance from Shirin.
“The lover’s happiness is in the pleasure of the beloved.”
This servant of the Shah said, “O Farhad, alas, all in vain! O, that rival of the moon, your beloved Shirin, has passed away by a sudden death.” Farhad said in the greatest bewilderment, “What? Is my Shirin dead?” “Yes,” the servant said, “O Farhad, alas, Shirin is dead.” Farhad heaved a deep sigh, and fell to the ground. “Shirin” was the last word that his lips uttered, and made a way for his life to pass away.
Shirin heard from her well-wishers that Farhad had done marvels, that he had cut the path through the mountains, repeating the name “Shirin” with his every stroke, and finished the work that might have taken a whole life in the shortest time. Shirin, the chords of whose heart had already been struck by Farhad, and through whose soul the love of Farhad had pierced, had not the patience to rest one moment, and she set out for the mountains at the first opportunity she could find.
“The higher powers separate two hearts that come together.”
Shirin, who had the great fortune of having a lover like Farhad, had not the fortune to see him any more. To her greatest grief and disappointment, Shirin found the body of Farhad lying by the side of the wonderful work he had done for her. The spies of the Shah came near to assure her of his death, hoping that now that Farhad was no more she might fix her mind on the crown of the Shah. They said, “This is poor Farhad. Alas, he is dead.”
Shirin heard from the blowing of the wind, from the running of the water, from rocks, from trees, the voice of Farhad, calling, “Shirin, Shirin.” The whole atmosphere of the place held her soul with the magnetism of love that Farhad had created all around. She fell down, struck by the great loss that her loving heart could no longer sustain, crying, “Farhad, I am coming too, to be with you.”
“The fate of the lover is a great disappointment in the sight of the world, but it is the greatest satisfaction in the eyes of the wise.”
Love little expressed kindles another heart, love more expressed haunts it, but when it is too much expressed it repels the object of love.
Contact makes people friends, though neither the contact of mortals nor friendship is everlasting. Being together, sitting together, eating together, breathing the same air, bring hearts closer. Two burning coals close together in time make one fire; the flames unite them. When the two hands are joined, an electric current goes from one hand to the other. This is the reason for the custom of shaking hands, that the flame in the two people may meet. This is why people have a tendency to clasp their hands, fold their arms and cross their legs when sitting or lying, for it comforts them. This is the reason of the affinity existing between those of the same nation or race.
Love has a tendency to produce the qualities, even the likeness, of the object of love in the lover. Often we see that friends, husband and wife, lovers, the murshid and mureed, in time grow to look alike. The portraits of the different Shaikhs of Khandan-i Chisht all look as if they had been molded in the same mold. A person who goes away from his own country, and lives a long time in another country, becomes familiar with that country, likes it, and sometimes does not want to go back to his own land, because love is produced in him by association.
Meeting is the kindling of love, and separation is the blazing of love. As far as is the object of love from the reach of the lover, so wide a scope is there for the expansion of love. Therefore the love for the unattainable object has every possibility of developing, whereas when the object of love is within reach this is often a check upon love. If separation lasts a short time it increases love, but if it lasts very long the love dies. If the meeting is for a short time it kindles love, but it is hard to keep up the flame; and if the association lasts a long time, love is not so much stimulated, but it takes root, to grow and flourish and to last long. In the absence of the beloved hope is the oil which keeps the flame of love burning. Presence and absence in turn keep the fire of love blazing. Too much association chokes the fire of love, and in absence too long continued its flame dies from lack of oil.
We may spend a year in a town, and we may know people there and like them very much, and they may like us very much, so that the love increases and we think, “If we could only spend all our life there!” When we go away it is hard to leave them. Then we go away, and our friends send letters and we answer, first every day, then every week, then every month, until the correspondence is reduced to a Christmas card or New Year’s greetings; for we grow apart by the fact that we have much less to do with them and much more to do with those who may now surround us. If we go back to the same place after five or six years we first find that the climate is strange to us, and then that neither are the streets and houses familiar nor is there that warmth in the friends that there was. If a person is ignorant he blames the friends; if he understands he will blame himself too. It is growing together that increases love and being separated that has the tendency to decrease it, and so it is with our attachment to places also.
Yusuf and Zuleikha
From the story of Yusuf and Zuleikha we learn what part beauty plays in the world of love. Yusuf was the youngest son of Jacob, the seer, who was blest with the gift of prophecy as were several among his ancestors. He was thrown into a well by his elder brothers, who were jealous of his beauty and the influence that it had on their father and everyone that met him.
“Not love alone, but beauty also has to pay its forfeit.”
Some merchants traveling that way saw Yusuf in the well as they were drawing water, and took him up and sold him as a slave to a chief of Misr, who, charmed by the beautiful manner of this youth, made him his personal attendant. Zuleikha, the wife of this chief, grew fonder every day of this handsome youth. She talked to him, she played with him, she admired him, and she raised him in her eyes from a slave to a king.
“Those crowned with beauty are always kings, even if they are in rags or sold as slaves.”
“A true king is always a king, with or without a throne.”
The friends and relations of Zuleikha began to tell tales about her having fallen in love with Yusuf, and, as it is natural for people to take interest in the faults of others, it eventually put Zuleikha in a difficult position.
She once invited all her relations and friends, and put into the hands of each of them a lemon and a knife, and told them all to cut the lemons when she should tell them, and then called Yusuf. When he came she told them to cut the lemons, but the eyes of every one among them were so attracted by the appearance of Yusuf, that many instead of cutting the lemon cut their fingers, thereby stamping on their fingers also the love of Yusuf.
“Beauty takes away from the lover the consciousness of self.”
Zuleikha, so entirely won by Yusuf, forgot in the love of him what is right, what is wrong.
“Reason falls when love rises.”
They became more intimate every day until a spell of passion came and separated them. When the shadow of passion fell upon the soul of Yusuf, Zuleikha happened to think of covering the face of the idol, which was in her room. This astonished Yusuf and made him ask her, “What doest thou?” She said, “I cover the face of my god that seeth us with his eyes full of wrath.” This startled Yusuf. He saw the vision of his father pointing his finger towards heaven. Yusuf said, “Stay, O Zuleikha, of what hast thou put me in mind! The eyes of thy god can be covered with a piece of cloth, but the eyes of my God cannot be covered. He seeth me wherever I am.”
“He is man who remembers God in anger and fears God in passion”, says Zafar.
Zuleikha, blinded by the overwhelming darkness of passion, would not desist, and when he still refused, her passion turned into wrath. She hated him and cursed him and reminded him of his low position as a slave. On this he began to leave the room, and she caught him by the nape of the neck and thus Yusuf’s garment was torn. The chief happened to enter the room during this. He was amazed at this sight, which neither Zuleikha nor Yusuf could hide. Before he asked her anything she complained to him, in order to hide her evident fault, that Yusuf had made an attempt to lay hands upon her, which naturally enraged the chief, and he at once gave orders that Yusuf should be taken to prison for life.
“The righteous have more trials in life than the unrighteous.”
Prison was a delight to the truthful Yusuf, who had kept his torch alight through the darkness of passion while walking in the path of love. It was not long before the spell upon Zuleikha faded, and then came a settled melancholy. There was no end to her sorrow and repentance.
“Love dies in passion, and is again born of passion.”
Years passed, and the pain of Zuleikha’s heart consumed her flesh and blood. She wasted away. On one side was the love of Yusuf, on the other side the constant trouble that her guilty conscience caused her and the idea that her own beloved had been thrown into prison on her account, which almost took her life away.
Time, which changes all things, changed the conditions of Yusuf’s life. Though he was in prison he had never blamed Zuleikha, by reason of her love, but he became every day more deeply immersed in the thought of her and yet remained firm in his principle, which is the sign of the godly. He was loved and liked by those in the prison, and he interpreted their dreams whenever they asked him. Yusuf’s presence made the prison heaven for the prisoners. But Zuleikha, after the death of her husband, fell into still greater misery.
After many years it happened that Pharaoh dreamed a dream which greatly startled and alarmed him. Among all the soothsayers and magicians in the land there was none who could interpret his dream. Then he was told by his servants of Yusuf and his wonderful gift of interpreting dreams. He sent for Yusuf, who after having been told Pharaoh’s dream gave the interpretation of it, and by his wise counsel he greatly relieved the King in his cares. Pharaoh made him chief over all his treasures, and bestowed on him honor and power that raised him in the eyes of the world.
“Verily the truth at last is victorious.”
Then his brothers came to Yusuf, and afterwards his father Jacob, who was released from the years of pain that he had suffered through his love of Yusuf.
“The reward of love never fails the lover.”
Once Yusuf, riding with his retinue, happened to pass by the place where Zuleikha in her utter misery was spending her days. On hearing the sound of the horses’ hoofs many people ran to see the company passing, and all called out, “It is Yusuf, Yusuf!” On hearing this, Zuleikha desired to look at him once again. When Yusuf saw her he did not recognize her, but he halted, seeing that some woman wished to speak to him.
He was moved to see a person in such misery, and asked her, “What desirest thou of me?” She said, “Zuleikha has still the same desire, O Yusuf, and it will continue here and in the hereafter. I have desired thee, and thee alone I will desire.” Yusuf became convinced of her constant love, and was moved by her state of misery. He kissed her on the forehead, and took her in his arms and prayed to God. The prayer of the prophet and the appeal of long continued love attracted the blessing of God, and Zuleikha regained her youth and beauty. Yusuf said to Zuleikha, “From this day thou becomest my beloved queen.” They were then married and lived in happiness.
“Verily God hearkens attentively to the cry of every wretched heart.”
Leila and Majun
The story of Leila and Majnun has been told in the East for thousands of years and has always exerted a great fascination, for it is not only a love-story, but a lesson in love; not love as it is generally understood by man, but the love that rises above the earth and heavens.
A lad called Majnun from childhood had shown love in his nature, revealing to the eye of the seers the tragedy of his life. When Majnun was at school he became fond of Leila. In time the spark grew into a flame, and Majnun did not feel at rest if Leila was a little late in coming to school; with his book in his hand, he fixed his eyes on the entrance, which amused the scoffers and disturbed everybody there. The flame in time rose into a blaze and then Leila’s heart became kindled by Majnun’s love. Each looked at the other; she did not see anyone in the class but Majnun, nor did he see anyone save Leila. In reading from the book Majnun would read the name of Leila, in writing from dictation Leila would cover her slate with the name of Majnun.
“All else disappears when the thought of the beloved occupies the mind of the lover.”
Everyone in the school whispered to each other, pointing them out. The teachers were worried and wrote to the parents of both that the children were crazy and intensely fond of one another, and that there seemed no way to divert their attention from their love-affair which had stopped every possibility of their progress in study.
Leila’s parents removed her at once, and kept a careful watch over her. In this way they took her away from Majnun, but who could take Majnun away from her heart? She had no thought but of Majnun. Majnun, without her, in his heart’s unrest and grief, kept the whole school in a turmoil, until his parents were compelled to take him home, as there seemed to be nothing left for him in the school. Majnun’s parents called physicians, soothsayers, healers, magicians, and poured money at their feet, asking them for some remedy to take away from the heart of Majnun the thought of Leila. But how could it be done?
“Even Luqman the great physician of the ancients, had no cure for the love-sick.”
No one has ever healed a patient of love. Friends came, relations came, well-wishers came, wise counsellors came, and all tried their best to efface from his mind the thought of Leila, but all was in vain. Someone said to him, “O Majnun, why do you sorrow at the separation from Leila? She is not beautiful. I can show you a thousand fairer and more charming maidens, and can let you choose your mate from among them.”
Majnun answered, “O, to see the beauty of Leila the eyes of Majnun are needed.”
When no remedy had been left untried, the parents of Majnun resolved to seek the refuge of the Ka’ba as their last resort. They took Majnun on the pilgrimage to Ka’bat-ullah. When they drew near to the Ka’ba a great crowd gathered to see them. The parents, each in turn, went and prayed to God, saying, “O Lord, Thou art most merciful and compassionate, grant Thy favor to our only son, that the heart of Majnun may be released from the pain of the love of Leila. Everybody there listened to this intently, and wonderingly awaited what Majnun had to say.
Then Majnun was asked by his parents, “Child, go and pray that the love of Leila may be taken away from your heart.” Majnun replied, “Shall I meet my Leila if I pray?” They, with the greatest disappointment, said, “Pray, child, whatever you like to pray.” He went there and said, “I want my Leila,” and everyone present said, “Amen.”
“The world echoes to the lover’s call.”
When the parents had sought in every way to cure Majnun of his craze for Leila, in the end they thought the best way was to approach the parents of Leila, for this was the last hope of saving Majnun’s life. They sent a message to Leila’s parents, who were of another faith, saying, “We have done all we can to take away from Majnun the thought of Leila, but so far we have not succeeded, nor is there any hope of success left to us except one, that is your consent to their marriage.” They, in answer, said, “Although it exposes us to the scorn of our people, still Leila seems never to forget the thought of Majnun for one single moment, and since we have taken her away from school she pines away every day. Therefore we should not mind giving Leila in marriage to Majnun, if only we were convinced that he is sane.”
On hearing this the parents of Majnun were much pleased and advised Majnun to behave sensibly, so that Leila’s parents might have no cause to suspect him of being out of his mind. Majnun agreed to do everything his parents desired, if he could only meet his Leila. They went, according to the custom of the East, in procession to the house of the bride, where a special seat was made for the bridegroom, who was covered with garlands of flowers. But as they say in the East that the gods are against lovers, so destiny did not grant these perfect lovers the happiness of being together.
The dog that used to accompany Leila to school happened to come into the room where they were sitting. As soon as Majnun’s eyes fell on this dog his emotion broke out. He could not sit in the high seat and look at the dog. He ran to the dog and kissed its paws and put all the garlands of flowers on the neck of the dog. There was no sign of reverence or worship that Majnun did not show to this dog.
“The dust of the beloved’s dwelling is the earth of Ka’ba to the lover.”
This conduct plainly proved him insane. As love’s language is gibberish to the loveless, so the action of Majnun was held by those present to be mere folly. They were all greatly disappointed, and Majnun was taken back home and Leila’s parents refused their consent to the marriage.
This utter disappointment made Majnun’s parents altogether hopeless, and they no longer kept watch over him, seeing that life and death to him were both the same, and this gave Majnun freedom to wander about the town in search of Leila, enquiring of everyone he met about Leila. By chance he met a letter-carrier who was carrying mail on the back of a camel, and when Majnun asked this man Leila’s whereabouts, he said, “Her parents have left this country and have gone to live a hundred miles from here.” Majnun begged him to give his message to Leila. He said, “With pleasure.” But when Majnun began to tell the message the telling continued for a long, long time.
“The message of love has no end.”
The letter-carrier was partly amused and partly he sympathized with his earnestness. Although Majnun, walking with his camel, was company for him on his long journey, still, out of pity, he said, “Now you have walked ten miles giving me your message, how long will it take me to deliver it to Leila? Now go your way, I will see to it.” Then Majnun turned back, but he had not gone a hundred yards before he returned to say, “O kind friend, I have forgotten to tell you a few things that you might tell my Leila.” When he continued his message it carried him another ten miles on the way. The carrier said, “For mercy’s sake, go back. You have walked a long way. How shall I be able to remember all the message you have given me? Still, I will do my best. Now go back, you are far from home.” Majnun again went back a few yards and again remembered something to tell the message bearer and went after him. In this way the whole journey was accomplished, and he himself arrived at the place to which he was sending the message.
The letter-carrier was astonished at this earnest love, and said to him, “You have already arrived in the land where your Leila lives. Now stay in this ruined mosque. This is outside the town; if you go with me into the town they will torment you before you can reach Leila. The best thing is for you to rest here now, as you have walked so very far, and I will convey your message to Leila as soon as I can reach her.”
“Love’s intoxication sees no time nor space.”
Majnun listened to his advice and stayed there, and felt inclined to rest, but the idea that he was in the town where Leila dwelt made him wonder in which direction he should stretch out his legs. He thought of the north, south, east, and west, and thought to himself, “If Leila were on this side it would be insolence on my part to stretch out my feet towards her. The best thing, then, would be to hang my feet by a rope from above, for surely she will not be there.”
“The lover’s Ka’ba is the dwelling place of the beloved.”
He was thirsty, and could find no water except some rain-water that had collected in a disused tank.
When the letter-carrier entered the house of Leila’s parents he saw Leila and said to her, “I had to make a great effort to speak with you. Your lover Majnun, who is a lover without compare in all the world, gave me a message for you, and he continued to speak with me throughout the journey and has walked as far as this town with the camel.” She said, “For heaven’s sake! Poor Majnun! I wonder what will become of him.”
She asked her old nurse, “What becomes of a person who has walked a hundred miles without a break?” The nurse said rashly, “Such a person must die.” Leila said, “Is there any remedy?” She said, “He must drink some rain-water collected for a year past and from that water a snake must drink, and then his feet must be tied and he must be hung up in the air with his head down for a very long time; that might save his life.” Leila said, “Oh, but how difficult it is to obtain!” God, who Himself is love, was the guide of Majnun, therefore everything came to Majnun as was best for him.
“Verily love is the healer of its own wounds.”
The next morning Leila put her food aside, and sent it secretly, by a maid whom she took into her confidence, with a message to tell Majnun that she longed to see him as much as he to see her, the difference being only of chains; as soon as she had an opportunity, she said, she would come at once.
The maid went to the ruined mosque, and saw two people sitting there, one who seemed self-absorbed, unaware of his surroundings, and the other a fat, robust man. She thought that Leila could not possibly love a person like this dreamy one whom she herself would not have cared to love. But in order to make sure, she asked which of them was named Majnun. The mind of Majnun was deeply sunk in his thought and far away from her words, but this man, who was out of work, was rather glad to see the dinner-basket in her hand, and said, “For whom are you looking?” She said, “I am asked to give this to Majnun. Are you Majnun?” He readily stretched out his hands to take the basket, and said, “I am the one for whom you have brought it,” and spoke a word or two with her in jest, and she was delighted.
On the maid’s return Leila asked, “Did you give it to him?” She said, “Yes, I did.” Leila then sent to Majnun every day the larger part of her meals, which was received every day by this man, who was very glad to have it while out of work. Leila one day asked her maid, “You never tell me what he says and how he eats.” She said, “He says that he sends very many thanks to you and he appreciates it very much, and he is a pleasant spoken man. You must not worry for one moment. He is getting fatter every day.” Leila said, “But my Majnun has never been fat, and has never had a tendency to become fat, and he is too deep in his thought to say pleasant things to anyone. He is too sad to speak.” Leila at once suspected that the dinner might have been handed to the wrong person. She said, “Is anybody else there?” The maid said, “Yes, there is another person sitting there also, but he seems to be beside himself. He never notices who comes or who goes, nor does he hear a word said by anybody there. He cannot possibly be the man that you love.” Leila said, “I think he must be the man. Alas, if you have all this time given the food to the wrong person! Well, to make sure, today take on the plate a knife instead of food and say to that one to whom you gave the food, “For Leila a few drops of your blood are needed, to cure her of an illness.”‘
When the maid next went to the mosque the man as usual came most eagerly to take his meal, and seeing the knife was surprised. The maid told him that a few drops of his blood were needed to cure Leila. He said, “No, certainly I am not Majnun. There is Majnun. Ask him for it.” The maid foolishly went to him and said to him aloud, “Leila wants a few drops of your blood to cure her.” Majnun most readily took the knife in his hand and said, “How fortunate am I that my blood may be of some use to my Leila. This is nothing, even if my life were to become a sacrifice for her cure, I would consider myself most fortunate to give it.”
“Whatever the lover did for the beloved, it could never be too much.”
He gashed his arm in several places, but the starvation of months had left no blood, nothing but skin and bone. When a great many places had been cut hardly one drop of blood came out. He said, “That is what is left. You may take that.”
“Love means pain, but the lover alone is above all pain.’
Majnun’s coming to the town soon became known, and when Leila’s parents knew of it they thought, “Surely Leila will go out of her mind if she ever sees Majnun.” Therefore they resolved to leave the town for some time, thinking that Majnun would make his way home when he found that Leila was not there. Before leaving the place Leila sent a message to Majnun to say, “We are leaving this town for a while, and I am most unhappy that I have not been able to meet you. The only chance of our meeting is that we should meet on the way, if you will go on before and wait for me in the Sahara.”
Majnun started most happily to go to the Sahara, with great hope of once more seeing his Leila. When the caravan arrived in the desert and halted there for a while, the mind of Leila’s parents became a little relieved, and they saw Leila also a little happier for the change, as they thought, not knowing the true reason.
Leila went for a walk in the Sahara with her maid, and suddenly came upon Majnun, whose eyes had been fixed for a long, long time on the way by which she was to come. She came and said, “Majnun, I am here. There remained no power in the tongue of Majnun to express his joy. He held her hands and pressed them to his breast, and said, “Leila, you will not leave me any more?” She said, “Majnun, I have been able to come for one moment. If I stay any longer my people will seek for me and your life will not be safe.” Majnun said, “I do not care for life. You are my life. O stay, do not leave me any more.” Leila said, “Majnun, be sensible and believe me. I will surely come back.” Majnun let go her hands and said, “Surely I believe you.” So Leila left Majnun, with heavy heart, and Majnun, who had so long lived on his own flesh and blood, could no more stand erect, but fell backward against the trunk of a tree, which propped him up, and he remained there, living only on hope.
Years passed and this half-dead body of Majnun was exposed to all things, cold and heat and rain, frost and storm. The hands that were holding the branches became branches themselves, his body became a part of the tree. Leila was as unhappy as before on her travels, and the parents lost hope of her life. She was living only in one hope, that she might once fulfil her promise given to Majnun at the moment of parting, saying, “I will come back.” She wondered if he were alive or dead, or had gone away or whether the animals in the Sahara had carried him off.
When they returned their caravan halted in the same place, and Leila’s heart became full of joy and sorrow, of cheerfulness and gloom, of hope and fear. As she was looking for the place where she had left Majnun she met a woodcutter, who said to her, “Oh, don’t go that way. There is some ghost there.” Leila said, “What is it like?” He said, “It is a tree and at the same time man, and as I struck a branch of this tree with my hatchet I heard him say in a deep sigh, “O Leila.”‘
Hearing this moved Leila beyond description. She said she would go, and drawing near the tree she saw Majnun turned almost into the tree. Flesh and blood had already wasted, and the skin and bone that remained, by contact with the tree, had become like its branches. Leila called him aloud, “Majnun? He answered, “Leila!” She said, “I am here as I promised, O Majnun.” He answered, “I am Leila.” She said, “Majnun, come to your senses. I am Leila. Look at me.” Majnun said, “Are you Leila? Then I am not”, and he was dead. Leila, seeing this perfection in love, could not live a single moment more. She at the same time cried the name of Majnun and fell down and died.
“The beloved is all in all, the lover only veils him. The beloved is all that lives, the lover a dead thing.”
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