Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hu and Huma

The Beloved's Face

Ever since I saw the Beloved's face,
its lines have etched themselves on my heart.
I still nurse the wound of separation within me —
it has left me broken.

Flowing tresses may be a snare and a net:
those are pagan tresses
whose lure, like the bulbul, has sprung from the head,
bogged in the heart.

When ego is erased, duality disappears:
God's lover is himself God.
This is the heart's only home —
the heart in the lover, the lover in the heart.

O Seeker, you make a show of public worship,
then claim your share of desires.
The true lover carries within him, in secret,
the name of God.

Strange are the ways of the enlightened ones.
They weep and laugh in one breath,
scorn on the lip, grace in the heart,
profanity on the tongue, praise in the heart.

Some say God dwells in the temple,
others put him in the mosque.
What do you seek abroad, ignorant one?
Realize, oh Huma, God is within you.

~ HUMA

Ghazal from The Master Sings, Meher Baba's Ghazals, Translated by Naosherwan Anzar 1981 © Zeno Publishing Services

Meher Baba's takhallus was Huma. A takhallus is an Urdu pen name. The following discourse on the word Huma is by the Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan from The Mysticism of Sound


The word Huma in the Persian language stands for a fabulous bird. There is a belief that if the Huma bird sits for a moment on the head of anybody it is a sign that he will become a king. Its true explanation is, that when a man's thoughts so evolve that they break all limitation, then he becomes as a king. It is the limitation of language that it can only describe the Most High as something like a king. It is said in the old traditions that Zoroaster was born of a Huma tree. This explains the words in the Bible, 'Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.' In the word Huma, hu represents spirit, and the word mah in Arabic means water. In English the word 'human' explains two facts which are characteristic of humanity: Hu means God and man means mind, which word comes from the Sanskrit Mana, mind being the ordinary man. The two words united represent the idea of the God-conscious man; in other words Hu, God, is in all things and beings, but it is man by whom he is known. Human therefore may be said to mean God-conscious, God-realized, or God-man.


The Word Hu

In Sufism Hu or Huwa is the pronoun used with Allah, and is used as a name of God. Allah Hu means "God, Just He!" In Arabic Allah means God and with Hu, as an intensive added to Allah, means "God himself." Hu is also found in the Islamic credo La Ilaha Ila Allah Hu: "There is no God but Allah," or in Sufi interpretation "There is no reality, except God", or in La Ilaha Ila Huwa meaning "There is no god but He"

The Seven Names of God Prayer is a prayer given by Meher Baba first in 1926 to his Prem Ashram students and later his close disciples to memorize and recite, often as a chant or song. The seventh of the names is Hu.

Hari, Paramatma,
Allah, Ahuramazda,
God, Yezdan, Hu

The Prefix Hu

The prefix Hu appears in many English words.

Human
Humus n. A dark-brown or black organic substance made up of decayed plant or animal matter. Humus provides nutrients for plants and increases the ability of soil to retain water.
Humor or Humour n. That which is intended to induce laughter or amusement.
Humour n. One of the four fluids of the body: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, whose relative proportions were thought in ancient and medieval medicine to determine general health and character.
Humility The term "humility" is derived from the Latin word "humilitas", a noun related to the adjective "humilis", translated not only as "humble", but also alternatively as "low", or "from the earth", and "humus", humid.
Hubris Overweening pride, superciliousness, or arrogance,
Hue Color, tint
Hurrah or Hurray n. A cheer of joy or victory. v. To applaud, cheer, or approve
Who Interrogative pronoun. As in the original question, "Who am I?" from God Speaks.

The Huma Bird or Bird of Paradise (from Wikipedia)

In some variations, the Huma bird is said to be phoenix-like, consuming itself in fire every few hundred years, only to rise anew from the ashes. The creature is often referred to as bird of paradise. The Huma bird is said to have both the male and female natures in one body, each nature having one wing and one leg.

The Huma bird is considered to be a compassionate bird. It is named as bird of fortune since its shadow (or touch) is said to be auspicious. The shadow (or the alighting) of the Huma bird on a person's head or shoulder were said to bestow (or foretell) kingship. Accordingly, the feathers decorating the turbans of kings were said to be plumage of the Huma bird. Sufi teacher Inayat Khan gives the bestowed-kingship legend a spiritual dimension: "Its true meaning is that when a person's thoughts so evolve that they break all limitation, then he becomes as a king. It is the limitation of language that it can only describe the Most High as something like a king."

In Sufi tradition, catching the Huma is even beyond the wildest imagination, but catching a glimpse of it or even a shadow of it is sure to make one happy for the rest of his/her life. It is also believed that Huma cannot be caught alive, and the person killing a Huma will die in forty days.

The creature is a common motif in Persian-, Ottoman Turkish-, and Urdu- poetry traditions.

The legend appears in the allegorical Conference of the Birds, in which the Huma bird (in this tale portrayed as a pupil) refuses to undertake a journey because such an undertaking would compromise the privilege of bestowing kingship on those whom it flew over. In Iranian literature, this function of the Huma bird is identified with pre-Islamic monarchs, and stands vis-a-vis ravens, which is a metaphor for Arabs. The legend appears in non-Sufi art as well.

Huma is the most referred bird of all Legendary birds in Diwan poetry of Turkish literature. Also, it is used as a symbol of unreachable highness in Turkish folk literature. In the Memalik ul Mirat, Ottoman admiral Sisi Ali Reis describes having seen hurruz or huma birds on his return trip from India to Istanbul in 1557. The Huma bird, here, is said to avoid killing for food, preferring instead to feed on carrion. From his description of the birds eating carrion, these would seem to have been vultures or other scavenger birds.

Some references to the creature also appear in Sindhi literature, where – as in the Diwan tradition – the creature is portrayed as bringing great fortune. In the Zafarnama of the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, a letter addressed to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb refers to the Huma bird as a "mighty and auspicious bird".

Homa Birds

Homa Bird, Iran
The griffin-like capitals in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis are locally known as Homa Birds. One must thus differentiate between a Huma Bird and a Homa Bird.

Iran Airlines logo
The Persian language acronym for "Iran National Airline" is HOMA and the airline's emblem is the stylized rendering of a Persepolis capital.

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Update (Aug. 29, 2009) Moved from comments.

Also what "Hu" is in Arabic-Farsi-Urdu-Turkish is etymologically related to "Su" in Sanskrit, and "Eu' in English (e.g., euphony, euphemism, eucharist.

In the Avestan 3-part ethical formula of Zarathusthra the word "Hu" means beautiful or good:

Hu Mata (Good thoughts)
Hu Ukhta (Good Words)
Hu Varashta (Good actions)

~Talat Halman

7 comments:

  1. Dear Chris ~ ~ ~ This is a wonderously "hu-mongous" compilation and distillation. Adn thank you for sharing the beautiful seven names prayer:

    Hari, Paramatma,
    Allah, Ahuramazda
    God, Yezdan, Hu

    In Turkish Sufi culture, we greet each other with "Hu Dost." Dost (Doost, in Farsi) means "friend," and "guest." In saying "Hu Dost" with hand over heart we are saying in effect, "I honor the presence of God (HU) in you as the Friend."

    In gratitude, Jai Baba,

    Talat

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also what "Hu" is in Arabic-Farsi-Urdu-Turkish is etymologically related to "Su" in Sanskrit, and "Eu' in English (e.g., euphony, euphemism, eucharist.

    In the Avestan 3-part ethical formula of Zarathusthra the word "Hu" means beautiful or good:

    Hu Mata (Good thoughts)
    Hu Ukhta (Good Words)
    Hu Varashta (Good actions)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Eureka ... Baba follower Pete Townshend recorded "Parvardigar" but also "Who Are You?" - in its refrain there's the mantra-like "Hu-hu" as a backing vocal, backing up Baba Lovers' belief in God-realization: potentially, you are nothing but (or one with) God. Or so it seems to me ...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is the Huma bird real then????????????

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  5. No. It is a mythical bird like the Egyptian phoenix.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Salaam. My name is huma n for the first time I came to know wat it really means.. It explains why I wish to fly so much!!

    ReplyDelete

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