Monday, September 15, 2014

Ibn Battuta’s Blind Guide


My blindness will cost you more
than the sight of the other guides,
said the eyeless man to Ibn Battuta, me.

I started this journey as a pilgrimage,
the Hajj that ensures the soul the bliss of Paradise.
But Paradise is here, on the earth,
I learnt as I travelled through Dar al-Islam.
Mountains and valleys, rivers and deserts,
The birds that fly and the snakes that crawl,
The infinite variety of hypnotic women
Whose men are grappling with fate
In the torrid ruggedness of their life.

Sight is a curse, said my blind guide,
in the desert where a wind can shift a mountain.
The sand dune you see now is a valley after a storm.
Trust not your eyes in the land of illusions.
Trust not your ears in the land whose air
echoes the songs of spirits and calls of phantoms.
Trust not your senses in the land of
Ostriches that bury their sight in sand.
Trust me,
I’m the blind man of the desert
whose heart beats with insights;
I’m the blind man who sees more than the senses do. 

Note: Ibn Battuta was a 14th century traveller. 

20 comments:

  1. Such insightful pearls of wisdom, thanks for sharing.

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  2. Very true, Matheikal. A blind man sees more than his senses......Uncertainty is the potential ground for all certainties.

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    1. Our generation is getting more and more addicted to the senses, Ravish. Some blindness may be in good order :)

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  3. What I have seen till now is enough to make me believe in ALL which I have not seen - Am constantly trying NOT to be blinded by sight .

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    1. Great, Kokila. That's just what I've been trying to say in the poem.

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  4. The guide was blinded in one eye and diseased in another yet a man of intelligence and great knowledge. You have depicted it so beautifully. Simply amazing.

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    1. The desert becomes a metaphor, Shweta, for our own 'worlds.' The vastness of the desert is puzzling enough to depress. Insights alone will help in the end.

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  5. Made me remember "On His Blindness" by John Milton. Ibn Batuta The traveler and a poetry coming out of history, nothing short of a master piece.

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    1. Imagine Beethoven, the deaf man, composing musical masterpieces, Datta, let alone Milton. There's a kind of knowledge that can come only from within.

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  6. ’m the blind man of the desert
    whose heart beats with insights;
    I’m the blind man who sees more than the senses do.- beautiful lines

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  7. Sights do blind us sometimes.... a profound piece Sir, especially love the second part... :-)

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    1. Colin Wilson, in one of his books, wrote about the modern man rushing through the world in his car seeing only what the headlight reveals. A very limited perception of the world. Ibn Battuta's guide could lead him at night too. In fact, the nights turned out to be better in certain areas where the days were too hot.

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  8. Ibn Batuta the mystique traveller

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  9. nothing much to say Tomichan... I'm deeply touched!

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