Rumi. The name evokes all sorts of imagery in the minds of people. He is linked with Sufi mysticism and has had his verses tattooed on bodies all over the world (including that of Brad Pitt). However, a lot of what is read and quoted in English in the name of the 13th Century Persian poet and Sufi, is evidently not quite correct or accurate (read more here). Fortunately, however, there are some very good translations of Rumi. Translations that capture his true spirit and what he really wrote.
And the best of these in our opinion is “Rumi: A New Translation” by Indian writer Farrukh Dhondy. Dhondy has worked hard to ensure that his translations get the real essence of Rumi and the result is some amazing reading. This is not a big book – it is a compact, 170 page volume. And Dhondy has generally chosen relatively small verses, which makes the perfect title to pick up, open at any page, read a little and then sit and ponder. There are very simple verses here and some complex ones too. But the most charming are the small two, four or five liners that manage to blend both. Such as:
“There are no rules of worship
He will hear
The voice of every heart
That is sincere.”
There are verses about devotion, teaching, love, life, death…Dhondy’s selection is a very wide one. And a HUGE bonus is an essay by the author on Rumi, Sufism and his role in the modern world. There is also a small interview at the end where Dhondy explains why he decided to translate Rumi and how he went about it (he also writes a brief note about it). This is not Rumi for tattoos and social network shares but a kind, sensitive soul who dared bare his heart to the world without fear of being judged. Seldom has simplicity been this sublime.
And that us why we think this seemingly small book is the one Rumi book you need to read, because it just delivers so much, from Rumi and about him as well. The perfect book for those who love to read to think. Gently. Actually, we think this is one book everyone should read. Even if they have never heard of Rumi.