Love is never tempted by wealth and grandeur. Shirin,
the daughter of a poor man, but rich in her ideal, was kidnapped
and taken to the Shah of Faras, who instantly became enamored
of her, and gave great rewards to those who had brought
her. But, to his great disappointment, he found that Shirin
was unresponsive to his love, and her ideal was too great
to allow her to be tempted by the wealth and grandeur of
the Shah. He did everything to please her and to make her
willing to marry him, but every effort had the contrary
When Shirin saw that there was no hope anywhere of rescue
from the palace, which to her was a cage, and the importunity
of the Shah and his servants wore out her patience so much
that she was obliged to consent to their offer, she did
so on one condition, which was that a canal should be made
as a memorial of the occasion. This was, of course, a pretext
for putting off the marriage, for the cutting of a canal
was the work of years. The Shah was so much fascinated by
her youth and beauty that he seized upon even the smallest
sign of yielding, and at once gave command to the engineers
and architects of the court to begin work on a canal without
a moment's delay, and to accomplish it as soon as possible,
sparing no expense or labor. Thousands of workmen were soon
engaged in this, and the work went on night and day unceasingly,
under the watchful eye of the king himself and his servants.
The nearer the work came to being accomplished, the stronger
grew the hope of the king, and he, with great pleasure,
requested Shirin to go and look at her canal. She, with
despondent mind, went to see the canal, fearing that it
would soon be finished and she would have to yield to the
wishes of the Shah, which she regarded as worse than death.
While she was walking, looking at the work going on where
thousands of workmen were busy night and day, to her great
surprise a workman came up, won entirely by her beauty and
charm, and fearlessly exclaimed, 'O Shirin, I love you.'
Love overlooks the difference of position of the lover and
the beloved, and the height that the lover has to climb.
It was that voice of love and that word of devotion that
Shirin was looking for, and had not found until then. Shirin
replied, 'Do you love me? Then break these mountains, and
cut a pathway through them.' Gold has a test to go through.
Farhad said at once, 'Most willingly. Yes, Shirin, whatever
you please.' There is nothing too hard for the lover to
do for the beloved.
Farhad set out on his journey wholeheartedly, not wondering
why he should cut a path, nor reasoning how this great work
might be accomplished. He did not stop to think how long
it would take to finish, nor had he any misgiving that his
efforts might ever be in vain. He went to those mountains
in the wilderness and began to break the rocks with his
pickax. He repeated the name of Shirin at every stroke he
gave. The strokes of Farhad wrought a miracle. Instead of
one stroke it was as if a hundred strokes fell at a time.
'Man's power is the strength of his body, but love's power
is the might of God.' No sooner was the work begun than
it neared completion. Work that would have taken years with
many workers engaged on it was accomplished in days.
Shirin had refused the Shah since she had seen Farhad,
saying, 'There is another lover who is undergoing a test,
and until I know the outcome of his trial I think it better
to keep from marriage.'
The king's spies had been watching Farhad from afar,
and they immediately sent a report that Farhad had completed
his work before the canal was finished. The Shah was very
much alarmed, thinking that Farhad would most probably win
Shirin's love, and that after his having done all this for
her, Shirin would not be his. When he told this to his confidants
one among them said, 'Sire, you are the king, Farhad is
a workman. What comparison between heaven and earth? I will
go, if it be the pleasure of your Majesty, and will finish
him in a moment.' 'Oh, no,' said the Shah, 'Shirin will
see the stain of his blood on me, and will turn her back
on me forever.' One among the king's servants said, 'It
is not difficult for me, my Lord, to bring the life of Farhad
to an end without shedding a single drop of blood.' 'That
is much better', said the Shah.
The servant went to Farhad, who had very nearly finished
his work, with great hope of a glance from Shirin. The lover's
happiness is in the pleasure of the beloved. This servant
of the Shah said, 'O Farhad, alas, all in vain! O, that
rival of the moon, your beloved Shirin, has passed away
by a sudden death.' Farhad said in the greatest bewilderment,
'What? Is my Shirin dead?' 'Yes,' the servant said, 'O Farhad,
alas, Shirin is dead.' Farhad heaved a deep sigh, and fell
to the ground. 'Shirin' was the last word that his lips
uttered, and made a way for his life to pass away.
Shirin heard from her well-wishers that Farhad had done
marvels, that he had cut the path through the mountains,
repeating the name 'Shirin' with his every stroke, and finished
the work that might have taken a whole life time in the
shortest time. Shirin, the chords of whose heart had already
been struck by Farhad, and through whose soul the love of
Farhad had pierced, had not the patience to rest one moment,
and she set out for the mountains at the first opportunity
she could find. 'The higher powers separate two hearts that
come together.' Shirin, who had the great fortune of having
a lover like Farhad, had not the fortune to see him anymore.
To her greatest grief and disappointment, Shirin found
the body of Farhad lying by the side of the wonderful work
he had done for her. The spies of the Shah came near to
assure her of his death, hoping that now that Farhad was
no more she might fix her mind on the crown of the Shah.
They said, 'This is poor Farhad. Alas, he is dead.' Shirin
heard from the blowing of the wind, from the running of
the water, from rocks, from trees, the voice of Farhad calling,
'Shirin, Shirin.' The whole atmosphere of the place held
her soul with the magnetism of love that Farhad had created
all around. She fell down, struck by the great loss that
her loving heart could no longer sustain, crying, 'Farhad,
I am coming too, to be with you.' The fate of the lover
is a great disappointment in the sight of the world, but
it is the greatest satisfaction in the eyes of the wise.
Those people whose qualities harmonize, like each other.
It may be the bodily qualities that harmonize, or the mental
qualities, or the qualities of the soul. The physical fascination
lasts least, the emotional fascination lasts longer, and
the spiritual fascination lasts forever.
Love little expressed kindles another heart, love more
expressed haunts it, but when it is too much expressed it
repels the object of love.
Contact makes people friends, though neither the contact
of mortals nor friendship is everlasting. Being together,
sitting together, eating together, breathing the same air,
bring hearts closer. Two burning coals close together in
time make one fire. The flames unite them. When the two
hands are joined, an electric current goes from one hand
to the other. This is the reason for the custom of shaking
hands, that the flame in the two people may meet. This is
why people have a tendency to clasp their hands, fold their
arms and cross their legs when sitting or lying, for it
comforts them. This is the reason of the affinity existing
between those of the same nation or race.
Love has a tendency to produce the qualities, even the
likeness, of the object of love in the lover. Often we see
that friends, husband and wife, lovers, the murshid and
mureed, in time grow to look alike. The portraits of the
different Shaikhs of Khandan-i Chisht all look as if they
had been molded in the same mold. A person who goes away
from his own country, and lives a long time in another country,
becomes familiar with that country, likes it, and sometimes
does not want to go back to his own land, because love is
produced in him by association.
Meeting is the kindling of love, and separation is the
blazing of love. As far as is the object of love from the
reach of the lover, so wide a scope is there for the expansion
of love. Therefore the love for the unattainable object
has every possibility of developing, whereas when the object
of love is within reach this is often a check upon love.
If separation lasts a short time it increases love, but
if it lasts very long the love dies. If the meeting is for
a short time it kindles love, but it is hard to keep up
the flame. And if the association lasts a long time, love
is not so much stimulated, but it takes root, to grow and
flourish and to last long. In the absence of the beloved
hope is the oil which keeps the flame of love burning. Presence
and absence in turn keep the fire of love blazing. Too much
association chokes the fire of love, and in absence too
long continued its flame dies from lack of oil.
We may spend a year in a town, and we may know people
there and like them very much, and they may like us very
much, so that the love increases and we think, 'If we could
only spend all our life there!' When we go away it is hard
to leave them. Then we go away, and our friends send letters
and we answer, first every day, then every week, then every
month, until the correspondence is reduced to a Christmas
card or New Year's greetings. For we grow apart by the fact
that we have much less to do with them and much more to
do with those who may now surround us. If we go back to
the same place after five or six years we first find that
the climate is strange to us, and then that neither are
the streets and houses familiar nor is there that warmth
in the friends that there was. If a person is ignorant he
blames the friends. If he understands he will blame himself
too. It is growing together that increases love and being
separated that has the tendency to decrease it, and so it
is with our attachment to places also.