Of flowers and stones

There is a nostalgic attraction in this treasure of wisdom
"Socio-cultural traditions and values, of which proverbs and idioms are a part, which develop over centuries, is part of heritage that is preserved for future generations."
"Socio-cultural traditions and values, of which proverbs and idioms are a part, which develop over centuries, is part of heritage that is preserved for future generations."Special arrangement

The idioms portray our way of life once used to be of all and also tell us something about our cultural moorings.

Socio-cultural traditions and values, of which proverbs and idioms are a part, which develop over centuries, is part of heritage that is preserved for future generations.

They may not be in use in spoken communications, yet their importance in art and culture of communities is everlasting. They are subjects of knowledge and form a part of related curriculum based courses. They flow from literary works too.

They don’t die. Yes, with the advent of latest technological gadgets and ever-changing tech applications, features, and many other related things, new generations may not be much inclined towards idioms and proverbs. There are some TV dramas, and films where these are used. Even some animation or children’s films use these stories.

I am talking of the proverbs across communities of the globe. Not only Kashmir specific. Even these days, we find quotes and sayings of sages, saints and mystics shared across social media platforms. There is nostalgic attraction and interest in this treasure of wisdom of wise.

In Kashmiri language there is an old proverb “Dushmane sandi kani saith chuneh lagaan, dosteh sande poshi saith chu sakht lagaan” or “dushmane sandi saith lagni kanhi tsandh, magar doste sanndi saith lagi poshi tsandh. Literally it means, a strong slap from an enemy’s hand doesn’t hurt as much as an angry touch with a flower even from a friend’s hand.

This proverb has its genesis in old Persia. Mansur Alhallaj was one among the earliest “mystic” poets, teachers and philosophers of Islam who was hanged on a thoroughfare in Baghdad in 922 AD /309 AH under the orders of the Abbasid ruler on the charges that he was a heretic who had claimed that “he was God”.

Actually, his famous quote “ Anal-Haq “, I am the Truth, was interpreted as his claim of divinity, that he was God himself. Majority hated him for such act of blasphemy, as it was taken like that, which led to his decade long confinement in prison and finally execution.

That said, there is an anecdote about the time of his execution which was watched and applauded by the crowd of the people who were asked by the monarchy to gather to watch his public execution at the gallows and bring with them a stone in hand. Everyone was hurling a stone at him before he was hanged. He had a close-friend in the city. He too heard of the news of hanging of his friend, Mansur. He got utterly confused what he would do to his bosom friend.

“What shall I do? How can I hurl a stone at such a kind and noble friend? How can I hurt him, wound him by pelting a stone at him?”. He put all these questions to himself. Since everyone was ordered by the King to come out of home and throw a stone at Mansur as condemnation for his irreligious act, his friend decided to fling a flower at him.

He plucked flowers from a garden and held one in his hand and rest in his pocket. As he went nearer to Mansur, he very artfully flung a flower towards him in a rain of stones that were directed at him. Nobody noticed it in the crowd.

He flung some more flowers from his pocket as he neared Mansur who was handcuffed. It is said that Mansur saw him and said the above proverb. It is just an anecdote. But, Mansur’s Anal-Haq, execution and other related things are recorded history.

This anecdote, with Anal Haq, that has been repeatedly used, reused, told, retold, by Sufis since centuries. Shams Tabriz, Rumi, and others too have mentioned it. Sheikh Noor ud Din of Kashmir has also referred to Mansur Alhallaj in his poetry making him a “symbolic character of Gnostic love” in his Shruik-poetry, since he too was a mystic who founded “Rishi” order of Sufism in the valley.

It is not generally known that some Hindu Swamis and Gurus too have used “Anal Haq” in their preaching to show that God exists within one’s self which is in line with one interpretation of Sufi tradition.

It may be not out of place to mention that in Hinduism, there is a saying in Upanishadis, Aham Brahmasmi” which means unity of self [soul] with Absolute [Brahman] or in other words, God exists within self.

Some Hindu scholars have equated Anal Haq with Aham Brahmasmi. But, this idea of Anal-Haq of Mansur Alhallaj is not in line with core tenets of Tawheed in Islam where Absolute [Allah] is absolutely different from self and creation in the universe [ Sura tul Ikhlas]; although Anal-Haq has found recognition in some Sufi traditions where it is stated that Anal-Haq means emptying one’s self , one’s being, of everything except God and by performing one’s actions strictly according to Allah’s Commandments. Sufi tradition says, one brings oneself in close proximity to God which, they state, was described by Mansur as Anal Haq.

Well harping back to our discussion of proverbs about flowers, there are other related proverbs in Kashmiri about flowers with a clear moral. Insan chu poshi khote aviul, magar kani khoteh durr. It literally means that man is more fragile than a flower yet harder than a stone.

Its moral is candidly clear that a man seems to be very strong but at times he is very fragile and weak, especially when his emotions and feelings are injured by words, behaviour and actions of others. Sari posh chineh wari gazchaan.

It literally means that all flower-buds do not blossom in the garden. Many buds wither away before they could bloom into youthful and beautiful flowers. Cheniss dahanas posh.

Literally, it connotes that flowers to your mouth. It is said when somebody uses beautiful words which the other person feels highly pleasing. So in appreciation or response he uses this idiom.

Tailpiece:

Human necks are too delicate to bear the burden of others’ hard words and actions. Garland them always with flowers of your words and actions, and not thorns.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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