The Inner Journey of Nuruddin Rishi
from Lalla to Nuruddin by Jaishree K. Odin
A portrait of Niruddin Rishi’s inner journey can be created through weaving a tapestry of the experiences recorded in his verses before he established himself as a teacher. Many of his verses deal with his struggle of being pulled in two directions, one drawing him to the worldly life and another away from it. The (nafs) or the lower self is the major actor in this struggle with the higher Self. He compares the higher Self to the fragrant wood from a sandalwood tree with healing properties and the lower self or the ego to the hard and unyielding wood of a arkhol tree, which is good for nothing. In the initial stages of his inner journey, he also compares the power of the lower self to that of a mad elephant that has crushed him underneath. He is full of despair as he experiences himself overpowered by his lower self. Its continuous hunger for material things pulls him away from his spiritual aspirations. He knows that just “one in a thousand escapes” the egos clutches, while “all others are trampled.” Thus, he says:
My ego is like a poker for shovelling out hot coal.
Every moment it and asks for more.
My body is too weak to remember God.
Remember God I must.
As a transient guest I have come to the world –
I have lost all.