THE WASHERWOMEN’S SON AND HIS LOVE
- Ghani Munsiff
Once the Perfect Master Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya was attending a musical concert and singers were giving a feast of songs on Divine Love. At the height of performance the Master developed an ecstatic mood, and waving his handkerchief aloft he cried, “Alas, I have not equaled the washerwomen’s son in this respect.
The disciples and attendants around the Master, out of respect for him, did not ask about his exclamation. But a few days later the great disciple Amir Khushru had opportunity to tackle him on the matter. Master related this story in reply:
A washerwoman’s son, doing laundry work for royal household, fell deeply in love with the princess without having seen her physically. The youth would pass his days in dreaming of her celestial beauty, and his sole occupation became one of the washing and ironing her clothes in all manner of artistic and loving care.
For some time the youth continued to hold this love for the princess in street, and the world had no inkling of the agonies of separation he was suffering in her innermost heart. But his health in consequence began to deteriorate, and eventually his mother came to know the real cause of it. She was greatly frightened; this love of a menial for a royal princess could be a matter of life and death. It could not in any form be confessed, nor could it be suppressed if the youth’s health was to improve. The washerwomen therefore finally decided upon a trick which she hoped would succeed in wearing her son’s love for the princess.
One day after returning from the palace wailing and crying and with beating of head symbolic of great distress, she told her son the sorrowful news that the princess had died. The young man paused for a moment in silent grief, and then with a painful cry dropped down dead. Imagine the thought and feeling of the poor mother! She never dreamt that her action, meant for the best, would produce such result. But she could not share the secret of her son’s death with anyone, and so continued to suffer greatly alone.
One day on her usual visit with laundry to the royal household, the princess very carefully remarked to her, “Oh, woman, of late I find your washing not very neat and tidy, it does not smell of love as usual. At this washerwomen could not control her hidden grief any longer; she wept and related her whole story. The princess heard the sorrowful tale very gravely, and requested women to her place where the silent lover lay buried. So one night the princess stealthily slipped out of palace accompanied with washerwomen. When she beheld the grave, the young man’s kindled her own latent flame and miraculously the grave opened and the princess interned herself alive.
The king was shocked at the news, and ordered that grave be opened to be sure of the real facts. It was so. The king and his courtiers saw the two lovers fused as it were, into one body with only heads entirely separate. The king ordered the grave to be closed again and said, “Thus the Divine Love joined them, and we should not disturb them any way.”
After recounting this tale, Master remarked, “It is this type and quality of love which brings about the sate of Divine Union.”
Love at subtle plane need no physical contact. Love for God from Gross plane to mental plane varies in degrees and ends in Divine Union.
(Over the years with Meher Baba, Bill Le Page, ed. 1999, pp-123)