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As promised in my earlier post “A true story of an insane, but sane person!”, I am going to talk about Bahlool Dana (the Wise) today. Bahlool (real name – Wahab bin Amr) was a well known judge and scholar from a wealthy family in Iraq in the times of Haroun Al-Rashid (786 – 809 A.D), the Abbasid Caliph. He was the disciple of the Shi’ite Muslim’s 6th Imam Hajarat Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) and he was alive also during the Imamate of the 7th Imam Hajart Musa Kazim (a.s.). Haroun Al-Rashid feared for the safety of his Khilaphat and kingdom from Hajarat Musa Kazim (a.s.) and he planned to destroy him. He put the blame of rebellion upon the Imam and appointed a batch of Jury from Chiefs of the capital to prove the charge. All of the Jury members were the ‘Yes-men’ of the Caliph except Bahlool. He did not vote against the Imam and thus became the enemy of Haroun. The Imam was imprisoned on ground of majority votes.
Here, Bahlool Dana was afraid of punishment of the Caliph and contacted the Imam in prison to seek guidance for what to do. The Imam told him to act insanely for life time, create an image of Lunatic among the people and be outspoken to carry on his mission of educating people to follow the virtuous path of truth. Bahlool, under the acting of insanity, fired the Caliph himself and his Courtiers also. The people acknowledged him for his superior wisdom and excellence. Even today, many of Bahlool’s stories are narrated in assemblies and valuable lessons of life are being taught to the listeners.
Sanity and insanity are such complicated states of mind which cannot be separated as water tight compartments from each other. In general, we may say that if anybody behaves in such a manner which is socially acceptable, he or she is considered to be sane. Here, we may raise an interesting issue as who would decide socially acceptable behaviors. We find a number of societies in the world and every society would have its own criteria of acceptable behaviors. One more question stands before us waiting for our answer as who would recognize sanity. Can we rely on insane people to define sanity as sane people define insanity? Obviously not! Psychologists have defined ‘sanity’ as soundness of mind that can make best judgments of the situations and authentic opinions about individuals and accordingly they re-act. Similarly, they have defined ‘insanity’ as extreme foolishness or follies of their actions.
My attempt here in this post is to bring a very interesting real story of a person who looked to be insane at the first sight. He not only looked so, but his behaviors, his talks, his life style and many more characteristics were abnormal. He argued in such a way that his words looked to us philosophical. His talks were always very brief, but concrete to convey what he meant to say profoundly. His life styles of particularly for his dress-code and food habits were untidy, dirty and creating disgust in our mind.
He was Idris, a Rajasthani Muslim who had lived in our village for years. He worked as a cowherd at the farm of my friend. He had some buffalos and a horse. Idris took his cattle to pasture in the morning soon after they were milked and returned in the evening. My friend had allowed him to ride on the horse, but he never rode. He was very sympathetic towards animals and he never whipped the horse or blew sticks to buffalos. He always remained bare-footed but in summer hot days he wrapped rags of jute cloth on his foot-soles. When he joined his employment, he was first asked what salary he would expect. To my friend’s surprise, he said that he would expect nothing except ground for lodging with an old blanket, simple food as boarding and torn or patched clothes to wear. He further added if he wished to pay any in cash, he will not accept hand to hand, but he might remit the same by Postal Money Order to his family at his native place. To the surprise of my friend, he wrote down his address on pad in good Hindi hands.
One day he put a very strange proposal that he won’t eat his food in dish or bowl and even he won’t eat with his hands or spoons; but he would directly pick up his food through mouth as the animals do. His insistent request was to serve the food on jute bag and he would eat his food as dogs do. My friend bluntly refused him to do so as it was hygienically not fair. He, with his firm decision, said that he would die hungry but won’t compromise with his thought. For two days, he drank water from the dish with his mouth by kneeling down and putting his palms on the ground just as the dog drinks water. At long last, my friend’s wife surrendered herself before his obstinacy and allowed him to do whatever he liked. My friend asked him to explain why he wished so. He replied, “We humans are worse than dogs. A pet dog is faithful to its master and even if it is a street dog, it barks towards strangers or thieves at night and thus it recompenses the obligations enjoyed from human.” He further added, “Human is not faithful to his Lord in spite of having his livings from Him.” My friend abused him calling stupid, but he responded him with a very simple but queer smile. Finally, he was granted permission to act as he wished and he was very happy.
Between the lines, I would like to remember only two personalities out of numerous that history has witnessed many insane but sane persons. They were internally the most intelligent and witty fellows. One was Birbal, one of the nine Court Gems of Mogul Emperor Akbar, the Great and the other was Bahlool Dana (Lunatic) who was a scholar from wealthy family in Middle East some over one thousand years ago. Both these figures, with their facial likeness of looking insane outwardly, were sane inwardly. They censured great people of their times including kings for their short comings. Many episodes of dialogues between Akbar-Birbal have been recorded on the pages of history. Similarly, Bahlool and Haroon-Al-Rashid, the Caliph of his times then had many give and take dialogues on wisdom; but the limited size of this post does not permit me to narrate them here. But, I assure my Readers for Bahlool Dana that as and when my mood hits me, I’ll publish an independent post on him. Now, I once again come to my subject and submit below some interesting thoughts of Idris, the Hero of this post.
I could collect some information about Idris from my friend, Mohmadbhai who was his only master here and when his cattle were sold out due to his winding up of his Agriculture, Idris went straightway to his native place. Many people showed their interest to hire him, but he said as if he quoted the words of the Bible as “No Idris can serve two masters in this village of Kanodar.” There might be some disguise bond of indebtedness between the two; God knows, but he worked with Mohmadbhai just as a family member for about 15 years. Idris knew very well that Mohmadbhai and his family members only could bear his nature and mood; and it was not the job of anybody else who might consider him as their own family member. It seemed that he would have got some Primary and Religious education which reflected in his conversation with others.
I’ll wind up my post with a single illustration of his general knowledge, far-seeing-ness, intellect and wisdom. We all friends had arranged a feast at Mohmadbhai’s farm. At an opportune moment, I left the company of my friends and went straight to Idris who was with his grazing cattle on the plain of the river bank. I interviewed him for about fifteen minutes. During our talk, I asked about any hardships to people in his native district of Rajasthan being the frontier district with neighbor country of Pakistan. He answered my question in brief that they were used to adjust with the situation. But all of a sudden without any context, he said, “I have a better solution to end up the issue of Kashmere. Our Government may adopt the system of US style of States and India might be known as USI (United States of India). Our neighbor countries which were the parts of ancient greater India may join USI if they agree with our secular Constitution; and thereafter the name of our country might be changed as USSA (United States of South Asia).”
Here, no question arises to decide whether the idea of Idris was appropriate for the best solution of the Kashmere issue; but, I was surprised to hear him as if he was a scholar of Political Science.
Hopefully my Readers would try to adopt the mentality of attending to the virtues of a person rather than its vices whether he or she might be a sane or an insane person.
– Valibhai Musa