VI. A Martyr to Faithfulness.

Two nights passed. Adham Khān was beside himself with love for her. He believed that he would set on his desire the crown of fulfilment.

He ordered a feast to be held, although his true well-wishers desired him to refrain from making a public spectacle of his infatuation. But Adham Khān, passion blind, had forgotten that heaven holds the power of ven­geance. This alone he knew that between him and Akbār there flowed such a river of milk that it was to him a guarantee and a safeguard everlasting. Hence he girded his loins to the attainment of his desire upon the lady.

Order went forth that the palace of Shujā’at Khān be adorned, and he summoned the Amirs to a feast of pleasure. The night was made bright as day and he held a party for song and dance. The singers of the court of Bāz Bahādur came into the presence. Every one of them was perfect in their art. Adham Khān gave them rich largesse, for the treasury of King Bāz Bahādur was full of gold. The cup­bearer bore round the cup of red wine unmixed. Half the night passed and to Rai Chand was order given to sing in the pavilion of joy. For be it known that Rai Chand was the chief of the singers of the court of Bāz Bahādur and in the art of music was of perfection unmastered.

The sweet-tongued teller of this story, who opened my path thereto, was present at this feast. He said that the eyes of thought and the tongue of description attain not to this matter and the inwardness of it is beyond the scope of telling and imagining.

The very colour of the sky had changed and the sweet breeze of morning was stirring. Yet was the world a mirror of desolation. The deep silence was but the herald of amazement. The city was a city of silence and the company as a company of the dead, who draw not breath. Whereof was this silence a portent? The music began to put forth its power and the singers began their songs unbidden. The songs of sorrow which flowed from the singers, from the ‘rabābs’ and from the soft and loud notes of the drum,* trampled the hearts of the company under their feet. The singers raised their voices so high that the dome of the revolving heavens gave answer unto them.

The songs were in the language of Mālwa, and this was their meaning.

‘How long wilt thou, O mortal man, continue to bring disaster on thy fellows in this fleeting world? Thou dost so act, as if Heaven had naught with thee? Where is Arjun* of the strong arm? Where Bhoj,* who conquered monsters? What charm binds thee to this life? “Oh, tyrant, oppressor of the weak,”* beware for the day of judgement is at hand. I pray thee turn the eye of intelli­gence upon the end. For the end of this sweet life is bitter and the day is not far off when thy deeds will end in disaster. Why then be proud?’

None knew where the inner meaning lay nor from what hidden source these strange words had sprung into being. The chiefs of the army were enchanted by the magic of the song. When the singing came to an end and Adham Khān perceived its secret purpose, he laid blame on Rai Chand and threatened him with vengeance. And the party of joy ended in the shivering of fear.

Now the rays of false dawn* pitched their tent on the proclamation of the death of night. Light appeared in the sky, and Adham Khān resolved that in the morning he would bid Rup Mati consent to admit his passion and his embrace, recking naught of the juggling skill, which tyrant fate numbers among its arts, to stay the accomplishment of desire.

It is now laid upon me to bring some small account of her, who had learnt the sorrows of love, within the circle of description, and that a knot be tied in the story of that dainty fair for the adornment of the pages of this strange tale.

Be it known that the lady, sorrow-stricken with separation from her beloved, had her own heart torn in twain. She saw no chance of reunion with Bāz Bahādur and had washed her hands of hope of saving her honour. She knew that there was no possible way of escape and that the hard­handed tyrant had firmly resolved to force her to his embrace, whether she would or no. She now looked into the hearts of the women of the harem and saw that all were willing to give up their old dignity and fortune to win new.

Fate and the hour alike counselled her to cast herself upon the mercy of God. Seeing that for a second time she had fallen into the clutch of the oppressor and help there was none, she gave promise. The other women desired her to come in the end to Adham’s embrace that they might regain some portion of their past splendour.

Be it not concealed, that when Rup Mati knew that none of the old order kept faith with her and all friends had become foes, she bowed her head in acceptance, as already set forth.

The very night that Adham Khān celebrated his feast, he caused the royal palace to be garnished for the entry of the new king of love. Rup Mati, having finished her bathing, gave order for her body to be adorned with the very bridal dress which Bāz Bahādur had given her. After this was done, she took her ‘bin’ in her hand and sang songs to melt the heart—yea, the very same songs which Rai Chand had sung—until she was beside herself. Then retiring to her bedchamber she took poison of powdered diamond.

When the king of the east left the chamber of the dawn and took his seat upon his royal throne, Adham Khān, tingling from head to foot with desire for the beauty and grace of that dainty fair, showed his face at the door of the palace and desired permission to enter. When he reached the bridal chamber, he found the fair lady asleep. He made signs to all to go, and himself took her hand and sought to awaken her from sweet slumber.

When he perceived that the bird of the soul had taken flight from the cage of mortality, he summoned others and sought for the secret history of this her mysterious end. The women of the palace told the tale of the night, and the tyrant found no other way open than to return with his desire unattained. He seized a chance damsel and went back to the Mogul camp.

Such is the miserable end of this strange story, which began in love and happiness and ended in sorrow and grief.

Rup Mati died, but she died a martyr to faithfulness and an ensample to the sect of lovers. Verily women hold a rank in love whereto men cannot attain.

Nizāmi, may the mercy of God be on him, says:

‘Did every woman’s life such virtue show,
Woman were then man’s joy and not his woe.’*

If Nizāmi had occasion to read this strange tale he would have learnt that women too may be faithful unto death.

Other poets of Persia have said that woman is an evil thing, yet is this error absolute. Truth is, that the creator of earth and sky has dowered women with virtues, which fall not in the lot of men. Nay, God has given her qualities, whereby she attains pre-eminence over man.

Woman is the mother of man and the centre of all life. Wouldst thou know the truth of mankind? Go, read the history of the world. It is full of their follies. Wouldst thou know the truth of womankind and what place she holdeth in the creation of the world? Behold her in her household that it may be plain to thy eyes that the word ‘woman’ spelleth comfort of heart and faithfulness withal. Among the gifts which God, the glorious, the exalted, hath

in his grace bestowed on her, is love, which is her own special attribute. If woman has a fault, she has a virtue to balance her defect. If we look into the condition of man, wide is the gulf revealed. Not that men are destitute of goodness or faithfulness; but if we look on the mass of mankind, this is possible that a man may be evil incarnate, but in women such utter wickedness is never or but rarely found. It may be that a man have no care for his children, but not so a woman. Consider, too, the Hindu wife, who burns herself alive on her husband’s pyre, like a moth in a flame. Amir Khusru saith:

‘Khusru, in love rival the Hindu wife:
For the dead’s sake she burns herself in life.’*

In this strange tale take heed to the doings of Adham Khān that they may be to thine eye as the antimony of instruction On reaching the palace of Rup Mati he sought to awaken that dainty fair from sleep, but found that of her naught remained save a handful of dust. Adham seized a maid-servant by the hand and took his way back to camp. If a woman had been in his place, the end of this story had been far otherwise.*

Oh! life inconstant! Oh! passing bubble! is all faith­fulness of no avail? Short is the term of life and frail the term of existence! What then keeps thee bound to this fleeting life?

‘Ah, what is gold that thou ador’st it so?
What a fair face that thou dost frenzied grow?
Thy house, thy gardens but a prison house!
Thy riches to thy soul destruction slow!’*

If thou hast sense, free thyself from the illusion of existence. This life, of which thou art so proud, is brief as the twinkling of an eye when compared with the wide stretches of eternity and the insignificant moment, which sends a bubble into existence, sets a term to life. Annihila­tion and eternal life are mysteries veiled from our eyes. Khwāja Hāfiz saith:

‘Drink wine and sing and let the world revolve:
Its secret thinking solved not nor will solve.’*

The Hindus say that the solution of the riddle is that the soul is indestructible and the body perishable, that the soul of man is subject to cycles of change, and according to his acts he suffers transmigration from one form to another. Acts are thus the basis of all. The difficulty is that in the second life there is no memory of the former.

Consider a tree which thrusteth through the darkness of the earth and entereth a new world. It passeth through stages of nourishment and growth and entereth on the time of youth and thereafter marcheth under the houses of decline. In infancy some trees are weak, yet in this despite they set their foot on the ladder of improvement. This weakness is an evil and a defect, yet is it no barrier to advance. We see no tree by defect reverting to its seedling state. How, then, can the rule of the world of souls be different? If this our unstable life be touched by defect, why should it be born again? It is essential that the purification of the soul should take place in the world of the soul and not in this playground of form. If a fault be committed and punishment thereof be essential, why should there be no consciousness of it in the second life, so that the oppressor might receive a profitable lesson? for the object of punishment is discipline of the soul, not wanton tyranny. Suppose, for example, that some one by defect and wickedness took the form of a dog. So long as the disease of his soul be not remedied, he remaineth in the same state of misery. This theory would necessarily entail the assignment of moral responsibility to the lower creation and the wise approve not this. The holders of it consider acts of supreme importance. Yet if salvation be the right reward of good acts and punishment of sins, what need is there for the merciful God to look with eyes of compassion on his creatures? The Hindus, rejecting God, set ‘action’ in his place, a word devoid of meaning.

Islām has explained this mystery otherwise. Man has been given the rank of the noblest of creation and he is adored by the angels. Despite this, he is compounded of two opposing qualities—good and evil. Thus com­pounded, he has been given the power of choice and selection in his acts and has further been guided of God in the right way by revelation. If, despite the admixture of evil in his blood, he quit not the straight path, there is no doubt of his superior excellence. The whole nature of the angels is to do good, and it is not possible for them to make choice of evil, like men. They must of necessity do that which is good and have not, like us, the power to do evil. This is the supreme trust referred to in the blessed Korān. Saith Khwāja Hāfiz:

‘The sky refused the burden of the trust:
The lot fell on us creatures of the dust.’*

The God of glory and dignity saith:

‘Unto the earth we have revealed its piety and impiety. He,
who is guided thereby, attaineth unto salvation and he, who
rejecteth it, bringeth himself into misery.’*

Nor if we commit evil is this a matter of astonishment As the sinful creature cries aloud to the Creator:

‘There is no God but thee. Thou art holy.
Verily I was one of the sinners.’*

Thereby is God moved to compassion and he forgiveth all sins. If man repent and break out and again repent and again break his repentance, God Almighty saith:

‘Oh! my creatures! ye who have violated your own souls!
despair ye not of God’s mercy. Verily God is the forgiver
of all sins. In truth He is the Forgiver and the Merciful.’*

Blessed is he, whom this alluring world leadeth not astray from the straight path. The pleasures of this world are a road that leadeth to destruction, but to the pains and pleasures of the soul there is no end. Oh! wise one, turn thy eye on thyself and look to the conditions of thy birth. Then put thy head under the skirt of reflection and know the pleasures of this world, that they are not worth thy coveting. Where is that life of thine, whereof the angels are envious? He, who holdeth a trust, should not carry back to his Creator the burden of breach of his trust. Look thou to the issue of this book, how the fortunes of Rup Mati, that dainty fair, finished in sorrow, how Adham Khān, who was her murderer, ended his life in failure and his mother Māham Anagāh quitted the world unsuccessful and broken-hearted! how Bāz Bahādur, child of pleasure and luxury, died after an undistinguished life! But Rup Mati gave her life to be faithful, and this very faithfulness hath crowned her with immortality.

Lady, fear not thou the sorrows of this world. Thy trials are over. The song of thy faithfulness will warm the hearts of men till doomsday, and on the story of thy end the eyes of all lovers will ever drop a tribute of tears. O vision sublime! thy charm shall hold its lasting place to all eternity. Love is the inspirer of fidelity: it is the thread of life and the spring of comfort to the heart: it is this

very love which is the name of God and is the foundation of love divine.

‘Break thou thy bonds! cast off the silver chain!
How long wilt thou in earthly bonds remain?
Pour boundless ocean in thy little cup!
It will but hold enough for thee to sup.
Unsated aye the eyes of lustful vice!
Only contentment grows the pearl of price.
He, who can show love’s wounds, is surely freed
From every form of lust and vice and greed.
Rejoice love, thou my pleasant madness art,
And cure of all diseases of my heart,
Remede of all ambition and all pride,
Plato and Galen, soul and body’s guide!
Love raiséd up this dust to heaven’s height:
The very mountain danced, quick with delight.
O lovers: come the tale of Sinai tell!
Its heart was broken, when great Moses fell.’*

Life issueth from love and on love is founded the rule of the world. Though we die, yet will our love abide to all eternity.

But O Māndu, queen of cities, the sun of thy good fortune hath set. The day of thy splendour is over. To-day empty are thy palaces and dead they that dwelt therein. On the domes thereof the owl now beats his drum* and joy and song have yielded place to silence everlasting. Bāz Bahādur is dead! Rup Mati is no more! but, O Mogul, the day of thy destruction is not far off!

I the humble sinner, Mir Jā’afar Ali, the scribe, had the chance of reading this book at Āgra, Akbārabād, in the year 1060 A.H.* during the reign of Hazrat Sāhib-Qirān-i-Sāni,* and I copied it. In the part wherein the tale of the beauty of Rup Mati is set forth, I copied certain verses of Sa’ib,* which were not in the original, and in another place the phrase ‘In love who braver than a Hindu wife?’ which was not in the original copy, has been added by me, and the subsequent lines beginning ‘Her lamp extinguished’ have also been inserted in the text. Besides these verses and lines I have introduced nothing of my own, but other­wise the original has been faithfully transcribed and followed.

Be it known that the author of this strange tale was among those attached to the service of Sharaf-ud-din Hussain Mirza,* who was one of the great nobles of the court of Akbār. After a period of good fortune he rebelled against the Mogul empire and gave up his life in 988 A.H.* Āhmad-ul-Umri died in the early years of the reign of Jahāngir. His grandson Fulād Khān is an acquaintance and friend of the writer of these characters. The original was embellished with pictures and of these three came into my hand.

And now with praise of God, the preserver of the world, I bring this book to an end.

Māhbub Ali*


This book was bought in the city of Akbārabād by Ināyat Ali, Jemadār in the Infantry of the Bhopāl State.*

‘Seek not on earth my grave when life depart:
My sepulchre is every faithful heart.’