The forty rules of love

Bonds of devotion exist between God and the devotees. Bonds of affection exist between parents and children. Bonds of lust exist between male and female for a few days. And in English, all such bonds are summarily labelled as love. So if you expected this book to be about love of couples, blame it on the inadequacies of English language being made for business and for confusion on relationships and even the strongest of feelings.

This is the story of love between God and a particular devotee of a specific sect called Sufi in Islam. The Sufi mendicant who delineated the rules of love between God and humanity was a dervish of extreme faith. In the course of his interactions with all sorts of humanity, he charts out the rules. This is a story of the eleventh century.  A link to the modern world  is created through a love story between an unlikely aspirant to write a novel and his affair with his editorial assistant, a frustrated housewife looking out for an outlet. This story helps to bring out certain psychology of affairs. But, does not serve the purpose of any time travel in the plot.

The dervish called Sham of Tabriz seeking out his mirror for reflection of his love finds the legendary Rumi, the preacher and converts him to the poet that we know of. In the short course of his journey to join Rumi and his life with Rumi, he finds episodes of stormy or sentimental meetings with beggars and drunkards, to express the rules which are simmering inside him.

The main rule of universal divine love, the oneness of everything, the oneness of humanity with the Universe and God. It also talks about the temporal, transient and ephemeral nature of life and everything.  Sham reveals the rules while also making stinging revelations on human hypocrisy and prejudices.

The book can be considered a small step in the direction of illuminating the syncretic nature of major religions in the popular psyche!
The book is also a short biography of Rumi as reflected in the life of Sham of Tabriz. In dwelling longer upon the life of certain characters like Baybar, the novice, Suleiman and  Desert Rose, a panorama of the life of the times is given. The very effort of writing a major creation only for love is very admirable, when the world is otherwise obsessed with material goods, productivity and efficiency.