Shri Nathji would sometimes read Omar Khayyam, the famous Persian poet, in the solitude of the winter evenings at Mussoorie.
He had purchased several editions of Omar Khayyam’s works translated into English by different authors. “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” was a favourite book in Shri Nathji’s bedroom.
Shri Nathji had his own interpretation of Khayyam, which was quite different from the conventional interpretation of Fitzgerald, who was his ablest English translator.
According to Shri Nathji, Khayyam was not an agnostic or a hedonist as Fitzgerald had made him out to be. Rather, he was a genuine seeker after truth. The wine he spoke of, was a spiritual feeling, a divine intoxication experienced only through communication with God.
The different authors and philosophers had given different versions of what they thought Khayyam really stood for.
But Shri Nathji’s version must have been the most accurate, because he was, amongst other things, the Creator of Khayyam.
Perhaps, Khayyam died too early. What a thrill would have run through his heart to have seen the God he was addressing in his poetry, reading his poetry in human form, in the twentieth century. His prayers, supplications and queries had finally reached God.
There was the verse that Khayyam wrote, of a potter thumping clay, and the clay saying: Gently brother, gently, pray! It was Khayyam’s description of man being buffeted by the hands of Fate.
Shri Nathji used to say:
Khayyam mar gayaa varnaa main usse bataa detaa! It is sad that Khayyam died before this, otherwise I would have told him that the potter was thumping the clay not to destroy it, but to mould a beautiful shape out of it! This hope must remain with man. The hand of God appears to be harsh and heavy, but it is, in fact, the hand of an artist seeking to bring perfection to his art!
Shri Nathji would sometimes quote Omar Khayyam in Persian:
Aamad saihare nidaa za maikhaanaye maa
Ki ai rinde kharaabaatiye deewaanaye maa
Barkhez ke pur kunem paimaanaa za mai
Zaan pesh ke pur kunand paimaanaye maa
Early in the morning from within the tavern, came a cry
O thou, the ever wandering, thou, O Lover mine,
Arise, that I might fill thy cup with wine,
’Ere my cup of life be filled, let me fill thine.
Shri Nathji’s interpretation of this verse was a spiritual one.
The voice from within the Tavern was the voice of the Perfect Master, calling out to his loved one, his devotee, who often erred and wandered but never left the lane of God. The wine the Perfect Master had, was the bliss of a divine ecstasy–the bliss of God-realisation. And his cry was:
O man! Let me fill the cup of your heart with the wine of divine intoxication, before the cup of my life is filled, and I must be gone!
Shri Nathji was fond of narrating the following verse of Khayyam to his devotees:
Abreeke mai maraa shikasti rabbi
Bar man dare aish raa babasti rabbi
Bar khaak barekhti mai naab maraa
Khaakam ba dahan magar to masti rabbi
O God, thou hast broken my cup of wine,
And shut the door of intoxication upon me,
Thou hast thrown this precious wine on dust, and–
The dust is in my mouth, but wert thou intoxicated, O Lord!
According to Shri Nathji, Khayyam was referring to a spiritual state. God dashed to pieces his hopes of realising Him; he stopped him in his progress, and scattered the spiritual bliss he had been experiencing into the dust of his body. This was the complaint of Omar Khayyam to God:
“Wert thou intoxicated thyself to have done such a thing? Wert thou drunk?” It was an impudent rebuke to God, and Khayyam never forgave himself for the impertinence.
It was a verse that was to cause infinite agony to the soul of Khayyam. He could not forgive himself. He – a mere poet! And he had dared say to God that He was drunk!
Khayyam became a man in despair, like a lost soul seeking shelter. His face turned an ashen grey, and his body trembled with fear. Tears streamed from him. The agony of repentance tore at his soul.