the merchant and the parrot

There once was a merchant, and he had a parrot,
imprisoned in a cage, a pretty parrot.

When the merchant prepared for a journey and was about
to travel to India,

Because of his generosity he said to each male slave and each handmaid (and asked), out of generosity, “What shall I bring (back) for you? Tell me quickly!”

Each one asked him for something they wished, and that good man
gave his promise to them all.

Then he said to the parrot, “What present from the journey do
you want, so that I may bring it to you from the land of India.”

The parrot answered him, “When you see the parrots there,
explain my situation and say,

“Such and such parrot who is yearning to see you, is in my
prison by the destiny of Heaven.

“She sends you greetings of peace and wants justice, and desires
a remedy and the path of right guidance.

“Is it proper that I, in such a state of yearning,
should give up my life here and die in separation?

“Is it right that I should be in such strict bondage, while
you are sometimes on the green grass and sometimes on the

. . . . . . .

The man of trade accepted this message and agreed that he
would deliver the greeting from her to her own kind.

When he reached the farthest regions of India, he saw some
parrots in a wilderness.

He held back his mount from going, then gave a shout: he
delivered the greeting and returned that which he had been given
in trust.

Among those parrots, one parrot trembled greatly, fell, died, and
stopped breathing.

The merchant became sorry about telling such news, and
he said, “I went in destruction of that animal.

“Is this one, perhaps, a relative of that little parrot? Or was
this, perhaps, a case of two bodies and one spirit?

“Why did I do this? Why did I deliver the message and burn
up the helpless creature by means of this crude speech?”

. . . . . . .

The merchant finished his trading and returned to his
home, satisfying the best hopes of his friends.

He brought a present to each male slave and gave a share to
each housemaid.

The parrot said, “Where is this slave’s present? Tell what you
saw and said!”

The merchant replied, “No. I am myself very sorry about that,
and am chewing my hands and biting my fingers over it.

“Why did I foolishly bring such a crude message out of
ignorance and thoughtlessness?”

The parrot said, “O master, why are you so regretful? What is
it that calls for all this anger and sorrow?”

He replied, “I told your complaints to a group of your
fellow parrots.

“That one parrot– her heart broke from getting wind of your pain,
and she trembled and died.

“I became regretful and thought, ‘Why was the use of
saying this?’ But since I had already spoken, what was the benefit
of remorse?”

. . . . . . .

When she heard about what that parrot did, she then
trembled, fell, and became cold.

When the master saw her fallen like this, he jumped up and hurled
his cap on the ground.

And when the master saw her with this appearance and
condition, he leaped up and tore the upper front of his robe.

He said, “O beautiful and sweet-crying parrot, what happened to
you? Why did you become like this?

“Oh what sorrow! My sweet-sounding bird! Oh what misery!
My close companion and confidant!

“Oh what regret! My sweet-singing bird! The wine of my spirit,
my garden, and my sweet basil!

“If Solomon could have had a bird like you, he never would
have become occupied with all those (other) birds.

“Oh what a pity! The bird which I got so cheaply! Yet how
quickly I turned my face away from her face!

“O tongue! You are a great injury to mankind! But since you
are talking, what can I say to you?

“O tongue! You are both the fire and the harvest stack. How
long will you set fire to this harvest stack?

“My soul is lamenting in secret because of you, even
though it keeps doing everything you tell it to do.”

. . . . . . .

The merchant, in a state of burning, and agony, and
yearning, kept saying a hundred scattered and disturbed things
such as this.
. . . . . . .

After that, he threw her out of the cage. The little parrot flew
to a high branch–

The dead parrot made such a swift flight,
as when the orient sun rushed onward.

The merchant became bewildered by the bird’s action. All of a
sudden, still without understanding, he saw that there were
secrets involving the bird.

He raised his head and said, “O nightingale, share a portion of
wisdom with us in explanation of the situation.

“What did that parrot do so that you learned something,
prepared a trick, and burned us with sorrow?”

The parrot answered, “She gave me advice by her very
action, meaning, ‘Escape from attachment to elegance of voice
and joyful expansion of your breast in song.

“‘Because your voice is keeping you in shackles.’ She herself
acted dead for the sake of sending me this advice,

“Meaning, ‘O you who have become a singer to both
commoners and the elite: become “dead” like me so that you may
find deliverance!'”

from the Masnavi (Book I) of Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi


3 Responses to the merchant and the parrot

  1. Shahrzad says:

    So you like Mowlawi. You know Farsi?

  2. Irving says:

    One of my favorite stories from the Masnavi 🙂 Become dead to the world, and find deliverance in Allah.

    Ya Haqq!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: