The seventeenth century mystic Sarmad set out on the ultimate odyssey, the journey inward to the centre and source of life-to the perfect joy of union with the divine.
His life and poetry have captured the hearts of Jews, Muslims and Hindus alike, each claiming his as one of their own. But Sarmad himself soared far beyond boundaries. He was not bound by the illusion that there is more than the One-the illusion that we are many, separate and different from each other. He left behind all concepts about God and religion, and even himself.
The theme of wonder and gratitude weaves like a luminous thread throughout Sarmad's verses. No matter how forgetful or rebellious we are, no matter how ignorant or arrogant, the Beloved within shows us only mercy and compassion, grace and forgiveness:
Yet finally, speaking from the vantage point of a Master, Sarmad says, "I cannot be known through my words." Words can never express the depth and intensity of the relationship between the disciple and the Friend within. The mystics words may reawaken out loning for that love which never breaks, for that peace and happiness which will never tarnish. But words can only be signposts that point to the mystery beyond. The depth and intensity of love between the disciple and the Beloved is something to be experienced.
This book about the saint Sarmad-his life, teachings and poetry-is a revision of the original volume written by Isaac A. Ezekiel in 1966. Mr. Ezekiel, a journalist from Bombay, was a disciple of Maharaj Sawan Singh, second in the line of Masters of Beas, India, who taught the way of self-realization and God-Realization that is at the heart of all religions and philosophies. In this book Mr. Ezekiel elaborates on the Science of the soul, or Sant Mat, the teachings of the Saints. These teachings can be stated in a few simple sentences: There is one formless, boundless source of all love and life, and it is the privilege of human beings to experience this inner Reality. The journey begins with a teacher or guide who has experienced and become one with this Reality, and who guides the seeker to the same inner destination through the process of meditation on the Word, the Name, the 'voice'of god that resounds within everyone.
Mr. Ezekiel narrates the story of Sarmad's life and martyrdom-a spiritual journey that led from Persia to India-and he weaves it into the larger picture of the Mughal empire of the time. The author also offers a great wealth of quotations and verses from classical religious texts, mystics, philosophers and poets to demonstrate the unifying principles underlying all religions. In addition, he presents a fascinating array of parables and stories that illustrate the yearning for spirituality and the challenges of the inner quest.
In the forty since this book was first published, the world has changed greatly. The global community shares vast amounts of research and information, and the demand for accuracy and detail has increased. In light of current publishing norms, the Life and Teachings sections have been altered where necessary. Information that could not be verified has been deleted, and passages that may have derived from interpretation or conjecture have been identified as such. Although some passages have been altered for accuracy and clarity, Mr. Ezekiel's wonderful style of writing-rich with drama and literary flair-has been retained.
Much information has been added to this revision: two appendices offering discussions of biographical sources on Sarmad, a glossary, notes on books and authors referred to in the text, endnotes with sources for quotations and verses, and an extensive bibliography are now included.
A news rendering of Sarmad's Rubaiyat, based on a recent literal translation of the quatrains from the original Farsi, has replaced that of Mr. Ezekiel. Ezekiel's style and embellishments have been retained where they support the meaning of the verses.
With simple eloquence, Sarmad calls us to become conscious. He calls us to wake up and adventure beyond this crumpled little dream we call 'life'. He calls us to embark on the journey within, so that we may see, love and finally become the Beloved. His life and death bore witness to the tenacity, courage and boldness required for this supreme quest, but his words assure us that the reward is infinite:
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