The Initiation of Nasir-i Khusraw

March 13, 2009

That sage set his hand upon my heart
(a hundred blessings be on that hand and breast!)
and said, “I offer you the remedy
of proof and demonstration; but if you
accept, I shall place a seal upon your lips
which must never be broken.” I gave my consent and he
affixed the seal. Drop by drop and day
by day he fed me the healing potion, till
my ailment disappeared, my tongue became
imbued with elegant speech; my face, which had
been pale as saffron now grew rosy with joy;
I who had been a stone was now a ruby;
I had been dust-now I was ambergris.
He put my hand into the Prophet’s hand,
I spoke the Oath beneath the exalted Tree
so heavy with fruit, so sweet with cooling shade.

Have you ever heard of a sea which flows from fire?
Have you ever seen a fox become a lion?
The sun can transmute a pebble, which even the hand
of Nature can never change, into a gem.
I am that precious stone, my Sun is he
by whose rays this tenebrous world is filled with light.
In jealousy I cannot speak his name
in this poem, but can only say that for him
Plato himself would become a slave. He
Is the teacher, healer of souls, favored of God,
image of wisdom, fountain of knowledge and Truth.
Blessed the ship with him for its anchor, blessed
the city whose sacred gate he ever guards!

O Countenance of Knowledge, Virtue’s Form,
Heart of Wisdom, Goal of Humankind,
O Pride of Pride; I stood before thee, pale
and skeletal, clad in a woolen cloak,
and kissed thine hand as if it were the grave
of the Prophet or the Black Stone of the Kaaba,
Six years I served thee; and now, wherever I am
so long as I live I’ll use my pen and ink,
my inkwell and my paper…in praise of thee!

– from the Diwan of Nasir-i Khusraw, greatest of the Isma’ili Shia Persian poets, on his initiation. It is a striking example of the depth of the Master-disciple relationship expressed in beautiful poetic form.

Ya Haqq!