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Heart's Witness by Bernd Manuel Weischer; Peter Lamborn Wilson Review by: S.

Vahiduddin Philosophy East and West, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Apr., 1982), pp. 221-222 Published by: University of Hawai'i Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1398724 . Accessed: 30/08/2013 13:35
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221

becomes very thin. The concluding chapter brings out the emotional dimension of Sufism. The writer concludes that the gnosis of God is not possible without love or devotion. In the end it must be conceded that Mir Valiuddin's work, inspite of its limitations, has an enduring value. It gives information which is not available elsewhere. Both in style and content it is a good specimen of a form of Sufic thought which has found favor in the Indian subcontinent, even in circles which are wary of Sufism. In any case the mystic thought and devotional piety which Valiuddin represents is superior to easy secularism and legalistic fundamentalism.
S. VAHIDUDDIN

Indian Institute of Islamic Studies

Heart's Witness. Translated by Bernd Manuel Weischer and Peter Lamborn Wilson. Tehran: Imperial Iranian Academy, 1978, Pp. 178. Price not given. Sufism is a many splendored dome to which the best approach is through the poetry which it inspired and the anecdotes, no matter whether they are apocryphal or authentic, which have accumulated round the charismatic figure of the Master during his lifetime and continued to swell even after his death. Sufic experience formulated as a doctrine can be very misleading and may give rise to conflicting interpretations and controversies. The monumental work of Ibn 'Arabi illustrates it very eloquently. Fortunately we have in Awhaduddin Kirman, no theoretician of mysticism, a poet who has given expression to his ecstatic experience in quatrains or rubd'is,a form of poetic composition with which we have become familiar through Fitzgerald's all too free rendering of 'Omar Khayyam. Brevity is the soul of the quatrains and surprisingly enough a ruba'tcan transmit mystic experience with all its depth in a few verbal intimations. The difficulty with Kirmani, however, is that much that is attributed to him is not his, and many other quatrains are to be found in the works of other writers. Some of these nevertheless show the impact of his genius unmistakably. This seems to be specially true, as it is pointed out, of the quatrains which are given in the last section. Kirmani was deeply influenced by the monistic thought of Ibn 'Arabi. God does not reveal Himself unveiled but through the veil of creation. Human beauty serves as the best medium through which the divine may reveal itself. Though the hululi or incarnationist tendencies were imputed to him as to some other Sufis, Ibn 'Arabi did not believe in the incarnation of the divine in human form. It is only the reflection of the "Divine Essence" in creation which provokes ecstasy, and yet its poetic expression gave rise to misunderstandings. But although Awhaduddin Kirmani's preference for the "beardless youth" as the locus of divine revelation gave rise to stories which shocked his fellow Sufis, his poetic utterances as recorded in the collection before us have nothing shocking about them. The similarity with the Platonic vision of beauty is striking, and we cannot but agree with Ritter that "contemplation of God's beauty in a handsome youth or boy is in the semitic cultural context, a foreign body". Corbin's attempt to find the justification of this practice in an alleged saying of the prophet cannot stand close analysis.

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222 Book Reviews

The translations presented in this volume are not of course "strictly literal" but try to recreate the experience which inspired the poems. It may be noted that words used in poetry have their associations and for this reason the translation of a poetic work is wellnigh impossible, association of poetic words parallel to the original can hardly be found. Anyhow what is implicit in the original cannot be made explicit in the translation, as it is likely to narrow down the vision and give a twist which might not have been intended. For example while Shahid (the beloved) in the original leaves open the specification of sex, the translators have thought it fit to render it as "a pretty boy." Yet apart from the limitations which are inherent in any work of translation the skill with which the translation is done and success which is achieved in capturing the spirit of the original deserves appreciation. The following verses show both the Sutfipoet and his translators at their best. They may serve also as a fitting reply to the critics from his own Sufic brotherhood who dubbed him as incarnationist: "My soul the body of the transcendent Witness, Soul in my breast his bright form. That lovely face you call 'the one who reveals' is not the Witness himself but his dwelling place.

(Page 165)

The book is warmly recommended to all lovers of mysticism and poetry.


S. VAHIDUDDIN

Indian Institute of Islamic Studies

Women in Buddhism:Images of the Feminine in Mahayana Tradition. By Diana Paul. Berkeley, California: Asian Humanities Press, 1979. Pp. x + 333. It is indeed difficult to extract philosophical issues from social-cultural case studies and religious texts. However, in seeking to explore the interrelationshipsbetween, and mutual influence of, varieties of sexual stereotypes and religious views of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, Diana Paul's Women in Buddhismdoes succeed in drawing our attention to matters of philosophical importance. Paul examines the "images" of women which arise in a number of Buddhist texts associated with Mahayana and finds that, while ideally the tradition purports to be egalitarian, in actual practice it often betrayed a strong misogynist prejudice. Sanskrit and Chinese texts are organized by theme and type, progressing from those which treat the traditionally orthodox and negative to those which set forth a positive consideration of soteriological paths for women. Thus, two basic leitmotifs

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