Shri Nathji would sometimes read the verses of the Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, in the solitude of the winter evenings at Mussoorie. He would have his own interpretation of Khayyam, which was quite different from the conventional interpretation of the English translator, Edward Fitzgerald.
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.
Several different authors and philosophers have 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.
Shri Nathji would sometimes quote Omar Khayyam’s verse in Persian
Aamad saihare nidaa za maikhaanaye maa
Ki ai rinde kharaabaatiye deewaanaye maa
Barkhez ke pur kunem paimaanaa zamai
Zaan pesh ke pur kunand paimaanaye maa
Early in the morning from within the tavern, came a cry,
’O thou, ever-wandering, 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 to illustrate the importance of reverence on the spiritual path:
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 Thyself, O God!
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 a seeker after truth to God: wert thou intoxicated Thyself to have done such a thing? 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 would 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 and shriveled with fear. Tears streamed from his eyes. The agony of repentance tore at his soul.
Shri Nathji had frequently warned seekers after truth to proceed on the spiritual path with care. The moods of Emperors are unpredictable, he would say, sometimes a salute may offend them, and an insult please them! A devotee of God must be ever humble before that Supreme Power, ever repentant for follies and impertinence, real or imagined.
Never say you have not done wrong, said Shri Nathji, for that would be a great wrong in itself! Before God, one can only say ‘Bhalaaji’, or ‘Bhoolaji’ i.e.– ‘Thou art right’, or ‘I have erred’.
Shri Nathji added:
“Your devotion must be so perfect as to agree with everything that your Master says. If your Master calls day night, then you must not contradict him, but rather agree with him and say, ‘Oh, what beautiful stars are in the skies, what a beautiful moon!’”
Shri Nathji quoted another verse that Khayyam wrote to cover the folly of the first:
Naa kardaa gunaah dar jahaan keesth bago
Vaankas ke gunaah na kard choon zeesth bago
Man bad kunamoh to bad makaafaat dahi
Pas farke miyaane mano to cheesth bago
Who is there in the world that hath not sinned?
And how has he lived – he, who has not sinned?
If I do wrong, and thou dost answer likewise,
What difference then, between thou and me?
There was only one way left to God – and that was to forgive Khayyam. And it is said, that the light of God came back to the poet.
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 would say:
Afsos Khayyam mar gayaa, varnaa main usse bataataa ke kumhaar matti ko torrne ke liye naheen thhapkaar rahaa, balki ussko sundar shakl dene ke liye!”
“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 had illustrated this with the parable of the sculptor and the piece of wood, narrated earlier in the book.
Which was not to say that the Divine Sculptor spared Himself. His human form on earth was subject to human suffering. It was like the potter thumping his own clay!