The story of Laila and Majnu

1001 Tales Discourses

“The mystery will remain a mystery, but by becoming yourself a mystery, you will understand,” adds Osho

A man of meditation simply enjoys the flowers, the birds, the trees, the rain, the sun, the moon, the people. It is good that we are all engulfed in a mysterious whole. Life will be utterly boring if every mystery is decoded.

Science’s whole effort is to demystify existence. Poetry and art are concerned in rejoicing, in welcoming the mystery of existence. And the mystic, the religious man, lives the mystery – not from the outside as a poet, but from the very inside of it. He becomes himself mystery.

There is a beautiful story. Unfortunately it cannot be true. I would have loved it to have been true…!

In the East there have been many lovers, very famous lovers – Heer and Ranjha, Sheeri and Farhad – and the most famous is the third couple, Laila and Majnu.

None of them could meet and live with each other. That is their great fortune; hence they remained loving each other for their whole life.

Majnu was a poor man. Laila was a very rich, super-rich girl, and the parents were not willing to give their only girl into the hands of Majnu, who was nobody at all, just a beggar. Just to avoid him, and to avoid any slander, the parents left the town for another city; they had businesses in many cities and houses in many cities.

The day they left, Majnu was standing outside the city by the side of a tree, hiding himself in the foliage of the tree, just to see for the last time his beloved Laila moving away. He saw Laila on her camel, and the whole caravan was moving away. He went on looking and looking as far as he could, and in a desert you can see very far, there are no obstructions.

Finally, beyond the horizon, they disappeared… but Majnu went on looking. This is where the story becomes a myth, but of tremendous significance. He never left that place. He trusted his love, and he hoped that one day Laila will return from the same route. There was no other route going out from the town.

After twelve years, Laila returned. The father was dead and now she was free at last. She never married anyone else; she had insisted that if she was going to marry anyone, she would marry Majnu. Her father had said, “If that is your decision, then my decision is that you will never marry.” But when the father died, Laila came.

Now twelve years is a long time. In these twelve years Majnu had been standing by the side of the tree. The foliage had grown much; he had not eaten, he had not drunk water, and by and by he had become joined with the tree. Standing for twelve years was so long… slowly, slowly he became part of the tree.

Laila came and she enquired about Majnu in the town. The people said, “It is a very sad story. He had gone to say goodbye to you, but he never came back. Only once in a while in the deep silences of the night, from a certain tree, a sound comes calling your name: ‘Laila, it is too long. When are you going to come back?’ – and people have become afraid of the tree because it seems the tree is haunted by ghosts or something. Nobody comes close to the tree.”

Laila went to the tree. She heard the voice, she heard the joyful welcome, but she could not see where Majnu was hiding. She entered into the foliage of the tree. With great difficulty she could figure out that Majnu had become part of the tree.

It cannot be factual… but the mystic becomes part of the mystery of existence. And the story of Laila and Majnu is a Sufi story. Perhaps it is symbolic of the ultimate union with existence.

Not trying to demystify it, but becoming a part of the mystery yourself, that is the only true understanding. The mystery will remain a mystery, but by becoming yourself a mystery, you will understand.

That is the only true understanding. All other understandings are only knowledge borrowed from others.

Osho, The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here, Ch 27, Q 2 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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