Have The Turkmens Had Ideals?
1. A Just King - Shadow of God
The Turkmens have had ideals.
National ideals arise from the efforts of personalities who are capable
of changing demands and desire of the people or a nation as well as development
and the future of thepublic into the main aim andconcept of thepath of
life. Nationalpride does not explain the ideal either. Here,
it is appro
'priate to quote academic D. Dikhachev: "In my opinion national ideal should be differentiatedfrom national character. Ideal does not always conform to reality either; one can even say that it always does not conform to reality. Despite this, national ideal is extremely necessary. People who have set up their own national ideal
can create geniuses who can come close to that ideal".
Makhtumkuli is one ofthe geniuses the Turkmens have created. He is the son ofour man ofwisdom DowletmamedAzadi, and he is a philosopher educated by his father. Makhtumkuli, in all respects is a continuation of his father. The real conditions for the emergence ofmakhtumkuli are, above all, connected with Azadi.
The Turkmen national pride could
be explained by the loftiness of the demand of a free life, and by the
attitude of the Turkmens fighting, and if needed not having hesitated to
sacrifice their lives for it.
However, the TLirkmens have considered this freedom within the boundaries of their tribal territories. For this reason, this limitation, which is not characteristic of a nation, has created tribal conflict which stands against the Turkmen national ideal. When is it possible to be relieved of this limitation? One should be relieved after strengthening the national state. If Dowletmamet Azadi did not support this ideal, perhaps he would not write the book "Wdz-i Azad". At the time when this book was written, the Kizilbash rule, which continued for two centuries in Iran, was weakened, and internal conflicts over the throne was going on. Then events led to the movement over ruling Afghanistan, and at the end the Safavid Dynasty was overthrown and after Nadir Shah Afshar owned the throne, sovereignty was strengthened in the country.
The laxity in ruling the region, which had come about before the time of Nadir Shah, could make a learned man of Azadi's stature imagine the probability of the Turkmen tribes to get united in one state. There is a reason for us to use the word "imagine". It could come about only as a desire at the level of national ideal; it could not have the strength to proceed any further, and historical conditions had not been created. The state of Turkmen tribes being so scattered around, and the extreme laxity in political and economic relations, could provide the recognition of a learned man like Azadi only within the boundaries of his own tribe and not among n the whole people. Hints concerning such limitations, could be understood when "Wa'z-i Azad" is read. There is no information in the book on the situation of the Turkmen public at that time. The moral yardstick of a just ruler for running a state which supports justice, is explained in abstract and didactic tunes. It is not difficult to understand that in this work, Azadi has referred to "Mahbub-ul-Kulub " and "Hayrat-ul-Abrar" by Alishir Nawa'i who had lived two centuries before him.
Nawa'i says:" 0 King, do not forget that duration of your rule is very short! Do not forget the advice of the Prophet! He has ordered you to make your people happy. Your people are, both your garden and your orchard. Be their skilful gardener. Your herd is your people; be its plenipotentiary shepherd. If the shepherd doses off untimely, wolves will attack the herd and inflict bloodshed upon the herd. If the garden and orchard are abandoned, trees will dry. If you take a needle from a beggar by force, do not forget that the needle will turn into a knife and will pierce you heart! If you take a piece of thread away from a beggar, do not forget that the thread will turn into the noose on gallows to hold you suspended from the neck! A ruler who gets intoxicated by consuming red wine, and enjoys his time all night long with strangers, stains dignity of women for an illegitimate joy, and decorates his palace with rubies and pearls, he is one who has forgotten teachings of the Prophet, and one who has devoured his religion, faith and conscience. Although he has become a ruler by the decree of God, people will only suffer his cruelty, his plundering and suffer misery because of him. 0 Ruler, turn to the path of the people, and remember your judgement Day, so that you will not pass the remainder of your life in repentance!"
Dowletmamet Azadi associates a just ruling with God's compassion. According to his teachings, justice is the light of God. The Prophet Muhammad Mustafa who exposed His life to innumerable dangers for the religion, has enjoyed the light of God; He is just. He has instructed all Muslims to be just. If people who rule the world practice justice, they will beautify the face of earth. A just king is the shadow of God; the oppressed will achieve their desire in his country, and his compassion is the compassion of God Almighty, and his anger is the fury of God Almighty. A just king is the guardian of the home of religion. He follows the desire of the people. It is the duty of the people to follow the orders of a just king.
Dowletmamet Azadi puts the fury of God before unjust kings through examples; when King Bahram decided to introduce tax on orchards, pomegranates dried out, and when K@ng Kubad introduced tax on cows, the milk of cows dried out.
He mentions that when a ruler rules a country, prosperity must increase comprehensively, economic units must flourish, facilities must be provided for science and education and charity work, and the poor must receive both material and spiritual support; these are mentioned one by one. \Vhen one appreciates the blessing of God for a good cause, and does it without any expecting any favour, prosperity will prevail. Above all, mercy and intercession must reside in one's heart. Omar Khayyam says "One hundred Kaaba made of mud cannot be equal to a single heart", and Azadi says:
Ruining one heart, o man of wisdom
Is worse than destroying Kaaba one thousand times.
Azadi sees the prosperity of the state in the
ethical excellence of the king and his subjects, and measures the state
of being perfect by the degree of kindness to people. However, he
does not explain to what extent the situation of the Turkmen public at
the beginning of the 18 h century was prepared to accept justice
at the state level. Azadi has not even considered to study the life of
the Turkmens from political and economic point of view; in the conditions
of tribal limitation, this was a difficult issue to resolve. Furthermore,
Azadi, is a humanist who, on the basis of religious teachings, calls people
to justice and hopes that they will reach the stage of spiritual perfection
for the sake of benevolence and charity work. In view of the fact
that his efforts are close to abstract, it is not necessary to search for
his weak sides. If we support this custom of class ideology peculiar
to the Soviet period, we will once again feel sorry about Azadi for
not being a revolutionary. We must reveal Azadi as Azadi, and we
must not trouble ourselves to try to present him in a way which would suit
our request and aim.
2. "O men of God, offering food to a hungry person is equal to Haj-pilgrimage to Mecca"
Although Makhtumkuli says "I want a strong state", he did not develop his father's views on the state. Firstly, occupation of the throne in Iran by someone as strong as Nadir Shah put an end to the laxity which had brought about some hope for the creation of a state in Azadi. Although the empire of Nadir Shah collapsed so quickly, at the time of the dynasty of the Qajars who came to power with the help of the Turkniens, the idea of an independent state for the Turkmens did not conforin to historical conditions. Secondly, Makhtumkuti was a kind of person who would observe life with a realist approach peculiar to a genius. He must have perceived that the ideas of his father on a just state, were only his imagination, and he also must have understood that the just king which Azadi was bringing up in his heart, would exist only in legends. Because he saw the fight for the throne among rulers nearby, and also he saw with his own eyes what kings of the Afshars and Qajars who were Turkmens themselves did to their blood-brothers, the Turkmens by plundering and massacring them; Makhtumkuli condemned them saying: "You turned this world into a prison, 0 conqueror".
Makhtumkuli pays more attention to the second part in the treatise of his father "Wdz-i Azad". This part leads a servant of God to the purity of conscience and faith and moral perfection. A person who is matured on this path should never annoy the oppressed and be cruel to them and he should support his people to be united and lead a prosperous life, and he should refrain from shedding the blood of the innocent only for the sake of coming to power. Of course the belief and desire of the poet do not contradict religious instructions in the slightest way. The path of the religion, its spiritual and cultural wealth, and its outstanding mysticism, all turn into a reliable source which supply sustenance to the poetic world of Makhtumkuli. Ethical perfection is necessary for the Turkmens; they need to be capable of prejudging the incorrectness of what they have done and they need patience and tolerance. The poet sees the effective way of making the hearts of the Turkmens absorb these, in a philosophy which is related to Judgement Day. After giving a warning by saying
"If you call yourself a human being,
Have fear of your Judgement Day',
"Wake up at dawn and weep before God,
And burn your heart by repeating his name
Before you come to the age of forty!"
And like a master, he repeats the obligations of a Muslim.
If you pay attention, the poems of Makhtumkuli on Judgement Day do not lead readers to disappointment and stoicism; instead, they make them think about the meaning of life and observe the path of life. A person who has intelligence and conscience, after absorbing the outstanding meanings in these poems, feels like having purified himself. The way the poet opens up his heart which is peculiar to humanism , and his confessions, turn into a way which every reader and listener opens up his heart. They see in them the poet's spiritual master and his respectable companion. If we say that the poems of Makhtumkuli with the theme of judgement Day have assumed the character of the Koran for the mass of people, we will not be exaggerating. People have been listening to them from folk singers or "bagshys".
The poet puts the servants of God between good and evil, and Paradise and Hell, and explains to them the meaning of life with a frankness as bitter as the unpleasantness of life. Asking himself that in a world free of justice and full of evil, how it is possible to protect the dignity of man, he shows the simplest way to charity to a man who is looking for a way out:
You will be relieved if you submit your soul on the path of Truth,
If you give clothes to a poor , theyll be regarded as the highest quality,
If you give bread to a needy person, it'll protect you like a shadow,
And satisfying a hungry person is equal to Haj- pilgrimage to Mecca.
In Makhtumkuli's opinion, a person who
supports conscience, high moral standards and benevolence should not create
hostility among members of his family, tribe, community and people.
From the spiritual perfection of every person the unity of people should
be strengthened. The poet who spent all his energy and talent for
such global duties, without being involved in political and economic problems
of the Turkmen life and attempting to draw historical lessons from it,
relies on divine spiritual values which are wider than the world.
In case one needs to follow the conclusions one draws from the facts of
daily life, it is possible that among communities living disunited and
having no communications with each other, one might be understood differently
by each of them. Every tribe seeks its own interests. Tribal
prejudice brings about the arrogance concerning narrow- mindedly understanding
what is appropriate, as well as thuggery. Having understood this
situation , Makhtumkuli, while
expressing his worldly views on human life, relies not on events of daily life, but on spiritual wealth for eternality, and their significance in the mind of the poet must be a reliance as solid as rocks.
3. Healthy Spirituality
Academician A. Samoylovich points out
that Makhtumkuli was a famous national poet for all Turkmen tribes and
that he had fulfilled a determining task for the Turkmens to gain their
spiritual wealth. Until then, the idea of getting politically united
and serving one national state remained an imagination and a wish not to
come true. The state of Turkmen tribes and clans being scattered
and disorganised, furthermore, the policy of neighbouring states in setting
them against one another, the fact that tribes other than Teke and Western
Yomut tribes were ruled by those states, were obstructing factors for closer
economic relations. Under the opinion about the disharmony being
peculiar to the Turkmens, lies the loneliness of the tribes and clans.
Enemies' being accompanied by a Turkmen when they attacked a Turkmen tribe,
is a historical fact that cannot be concealed.
It is not even necessary to conceal it. It should be revealed even of it is believed to be inappropriate. A Turkmen proverb says "one who conceals his shortcomings will not survive". When a tribe suffers a misfortune, another tribe does not see it as a misfortune for themselves. And in some cases, the Turkmens have received a misfortune for others with satisfaction. Sometimes they even have supported the enemy, or at least they have said "I have no property on that donkey and I do not care if it falls over." It is not surprising that this sad fact has become the theme of jokes. A fewturkmens were thrown into a large caldron to be boiled. The guards were not worried about anyone escaping from the caldron, because they knew that when a Turkmen reached the edge of the cauldron another one would pull his leg. It is striking that this joke is told by the Turkmens and only the Turkmens laugh. This is a sad and rather bitter laugh. However, spiritually it is an undeniable necessity. If eople can laugh over their own shortcomings, they have healthy spirit. And the greatness of Makhtumkuli is in the fact that he had struggled to raise this healthy spirit among the whole community of the Turkmens. This does not mean that he walked on foot among his people to preach his idea. Generally speaking, by reading Makhtumkuli's poems it is difficult to visualise life of the Turkmens comprehensibly at the time when the poet lived, i.e. the second half of the 18" century. We have already explained why. The poet has used the most useful means to make his voice reach tribes living in remote areas. Speaking in modern terms, his book, his radio and his newspaper have all been bagshys, the folk singers. The masterly poems of the poet which were suitable to Turkmen music, were written in a language easily comprehensible to A Turkmens, and it attracted more and more Turkmens as time passed. Here, a few words must be said about the language.
Irrespective of the fact that the Turkmen tribes have been living independently and scattered around in small settlements, there is very little difference among their dialects, which is an important sign defining the oneness of the people. There is a reason for this. Turkmen tribes' desire for living freely and independently has made their life difficult. Troops from Iran, Bukhara or Khiwa have always been chasing them. Where a tribe had to leave with haste, another tribe settled. In the steppes of Tutkmenistan, Mangyshlak and Turkmensahra people have lived similarly. Various tribes have by coincidence lived as neighbours to each other. Then they have left each other and gone their own way. Anyway, the tribes have not been cut off from each other for long. It is obvious that in a territory under siege, people stay separated for long, and this brings about useful conditions for generalisation of the language. Therefore, a language comprehensible to all tribes will serve spiritual unity greatly. The reason for Makhtumkuli being revered by the whole nation lies in the fact that his language is comprehensible to everybody.
Seeing the healthy spirit in the perfection
of morality and conscience, the poet, to make his voice heard among the
people, selects two ways: The first one is advice or the didactic way,
and the second is religion, his mystic way.
Respecting elders is the best of manners,
Making an elder weep does not befit the younger ones.
These words constitute a simple way of expressing the appropriate behaviour. However, such advice assumes the character of a proverb among people, thanks to the simple, yet meaningful presentation of the poet. They become more effective and more easily remembered when they are set to music and sung. They make Makhtumkuli the spiritual teacher of the people who did not have secular schools. Every Turkmen, irrespective of their tribes and clans, tries to teach his children and people of his tribe or clan the words of a poet who calls on his people for education. The words of the poet transcend the tribes and clans, because his words appeal to everyone, and since he has been able to express ideas which concerned everybody, Makhtumkuli has turned into a poet loved by everybody. Makhtumkuli entrusted literature with the obligation of giving lessotis in education, and he successfully set an example of becoming a teacher for the poets who followed him. Makhtumkuli is a thinker and a poet who established a tendency for making the poems of the Turkmen poets, irrespective of their tribes, to be accepted at the level of a spiritual wealth relevant to the Turkmens.
Makhtumkuli promotes the idea that every individual is responsible for his deeds before his conscience, and especially, before God as His servants. And by warning his readers that on judgement Day everyone has to be accountable for his deeds, he relates certain obligations to a religious philosophy. He has only one judge, and he is God.
Day, regret is all he can do,
One who has neglected his duties before God.
We mentioned earlier that the poet puts a servant of God between good deed and evil deed, and between Paradise and Hell. Until a servant of God reaches that test, there is enough time to think about the meaning of life, and a reader regards the poet as his advisor and supporter. This intimacy, of course, is a human intimacy and a spiritual intimacy. And a spiritual intimacy is of a higher value than tribal relations. Makhtumkuli, settles spiritual perspective in our hearts by referring to and relying on religious values relevant to the whole mankind.
4. A Lesson of Eternity
It must be pointed out that poets' endeavours have played an important role in the emergence of mysticism. All aspects of mystic poetry which have enriched the treasure of world literature, and are widely used in Turkmen literature, occupy a significant place in the poetry of Makhtumkuli. However, it is not possible for everyone to master the artistic sides of this mysticism in Makhtumkuli's poems. Some Turkmen scholars have recently been seriously involved in research into mysticism in Makhtumkulis poems, trying to define ideas covered in mystic indications and references. A book by Muhammetnazar Annamuhammedov, a talented scholar who died at a very young age, entitled "Makhtumkuli, You have a Secret Within You..." and another one by Aman Shykhnepesov entitled "Makhtumkuli's World" could be recommended to readers who enjoy thinking. When we reads these books, we understand a fact: we have studied Makhtumkuli over many decades extremely superficially and unilaterally. Such profound scholarly attempt in the above-mentioned books make us reach a conclusion to the extent that similar books written during the ruling ideology, which continued for some time, consisted of a number of slanders which were not based on any logic. Of course, thinking of the dignity peculiar to the "Turkmenchilile', we should not only sit and regret what has happened. Instead, we should talk about the fact that there were sufficient objective reasons for the ongoing shortcomings and examine them briefly.
We mentioned earlier that Makhtumkuli relates the human struggle for perfection to the path of Truth. When he says "If they hang the mountain of love from the neck of the heaven/ The Heaven will tremble and would not be able to carry this pain", he mentions how a person in love with Beauty of God should suffer; to have a communion with the Beloved, one has to traverse three "destinations"- Shari'ah, Path, Truth. The more difficult the experience, the sweeter its fruit. Human soul assumes eternality; becomes one with God. The soul then is relieved of the daily struggles, conflicts and disputes, and hostilities of life. In other words, the real meaning of human life lies, not in merely sleeping and waking up, eating, gathering wealth and satisfying one's passion, but in entering the spiritual world, and in the shadow of God's blessing to relieve one's body of worries. These worries are temporary, and only after entering the eternality one realises that one has been entangled in raw imaginations and disgrace.
Makhtumkuli sees the real meaning of human life in Eternity. He tries to bring human beings closer to the love of God and repeats the eternality of their soul. The Bolshevik ideology which controlled our conscience for seventy years, ordered denial of Religion, integral soul, and God, thus, depriving the people of eternality. Human beings lost their soul and remained only with physical aspects of their bodies and assumed the nature of temporary or transitional living beings. They said that destiny of the people was not in the hands of external forces and it was controlled by the class policy of the peasant and worker state which depended on the proletariat dictatorship. Generations of people who followed this path were brought up. The spiritual wealth of the people was sifted through the sieve of ideology. Fine poems of Makhtumkuli on "Judgement Day', and Divine Love, love of Beauty of God, did pass through the sieve meshes and were thrown away as bran. If this bran were devoured by the Soviet people, it could probably poison the clean brain of the mass which comprised the majority of workers and peasants. What if they suddenly became interested in the eternality?! What has eternality got to do with slaves?!
State ideology based on a totalitarian
system, a nd dictators who kept their position by resorting to force, have
always been cautious about poets who wrote in the spirit of Makhtumkuli;
even though they praised them before the people, they always tried to find
a way to keep citizens unaware of the element of human dignity and freedom,
and strong tunes that exalted the spiritual eternality in the poetry of
5. My Peace Secures My Progress
Makhtumkuli's desire for seeing a man in the perfection of morality and conscience is connected with another ideal of the Turkmens. Scattered Turkmen tribes have, over many centuries been longing for a quiet and peaceful life. Remember the Turkmen saying ""Even only one day, (it must be) a pleasant one". This desire of theturkmens has even been noticed by foreign explorers. In a book entitled " A Study from the Turkmemn Soil", K. Boden writes of the tragic instances in the life of the Turkmen villagers living in the Etrek region. The Yomuts living in the south of the Etrek river, in order to avoid payment of high taxes to the Persians, used to harvest in a rush the crop which was not fully dried, and had to complete one months job in 12-15 days; young and old everybody worked hard and as soon as they collected their crop, they disappeared into the desert. The author who praises the Gurgan countryside, then says: "I like the hard-working people there. Their only hortage is peace and security to lead a life with full progress. And it is not difficult to facilitate them to fulfil their desire".
Of course, rulers of the neighbouring territories were indifferent towards such a desire of the Turkmens. They did not want Turkmen tribes to live peacefully and prosperously under their nose. If Turkmen tribes had favourable relations with each other in a peaceful life and came closer to each other, and understood that they all had one language and were of the same genealogical trce, their pride might increase, and eventually the tendency of serving one khan and one state might come about among them. In the course of 16,h and 17 h centuries, over a period of nearly 150 years, around the Uzboy river, Teke, Alili and Yomut tribes who were living peacefully and prosperously away from enemies, began to spread around the Balkan mountain in search of new grazing lands.
Discord and dissension are the internal disease of the Turkmens. One symptom peculiar to all who have been struck by this disease, could be pointed out: Instead of regretting what some people have done to their compatriots, they used to put forward the cause of their actions as an undeniable fact for justification of what they have done, and demanded of their fellow-tribesmen to approve of their actions. They assumed that this demand was a legal right arising from solidarity of fellow-tribesmen. In many cases they even gained the support of their fellow-tribesmen. When there was no support, the culprit turned into a despicable person who had defamed his tribe and a messenger was sent to those who suffered a loss, to apologise and to compensate the loss incurred. Even though sending a messenger like this resembled a dignified attitude, members of the tribe did it reluctantly, and to some extent regarded it as an embarrassment, and also, irrespective of their feeling guilty, they had to live with a resentment.
When the moral perfection of Makhtumkuli
was achieved, arrogance arising from tribalism would come to an end and
feelings like repentance, patience, gratitude which are peculiar to the
path of Truth, and considered as auspicious, would turn into a cure
for internal diseases. Makhtumkuli warns:
If you ignore what is laid down by religion,
If you do enter the right path knowingly,
If you do not prepare yourself for Judgement Day,
You will have futile regrets and weeping before you.
6. "O world, you are filled with sorrow!'
Nevertheless, the morality in Azadi and Makhtumkuli, which is related to the Path of Truth and charity, is of an abstract and universal nature. Its source is conditions set by religion which should be followed strictly. And since these people have been living among their compatriots while they were aware of their situation, immorality and injustice around them have at times infuriated them to the extent that they criticised even religious figures. Makhtumkuli is the son of his people and he loved his people; he wanted to be happy for his compatriots and he had the right to see their shortcomings and express his anxiety over them. Some of these shortcomings angered him to the extent that he unusually used impolite expressions
I have had innumerable experiences,
Asking many people for help.
Believing they were brave, I visited men in their village,
But I touched their skirt, I noticed they had female organs!
What can one say about this? Has he been disillusioned with his people? What has happened to Makhtumkuli who has been giving polite advice about the harms of tobacco, "n as" and other harmful addictive substances in a peaceful tune?! Or does this conform to the Turkmen saying "Jany yanan Tangrysyny gargar" meaning "one who is hurt curses his god"? Or does he look like someone who is hurt by the cowardly behaviour of his people and has gone insane? ..
What if the poet may have struggled to find the answer for these questions? When some people are preaching to lead people to the Path of Truth, evil deeds should exist after all! Why is there such a big difference between the morality about which the poet has read in holy books, and what was happening in the world? This question has made the poet think about the transitory world:
I shall tell your fault to your face,
You did not agree with anyone o world!
He regards the transitory world as a rival for himself. And he sees it as a sphere where there is no way of fatal escape in the game of destiny. He says :
It is a festivity when you a-re born, and sadness prevails when you die,
This world is a mere noise from beginning to the end.
He questions the world in connection with what it has done to Solomon, Joseph and Adam; he says to the transitory world you ruined the throne of Solomon", "you sold Joseph as a slave", "You stunned Adam" and "you allocated a graveyard to Alexander as his last place to stay'. He addresses the world:
You have been eating for such a long time, still could not Fill yourself,
May you be destroyed, may you be ruined o world- the prostitute!
Yes, this is a transitory world, a sphere where "everyone unloads his freight and goes". There is no cternality for evil affairs. That is why Satan wishes to turn the world into a place of sedition and evil acts. The poet seeks refuge in God and hopes that God would help him fulfil his wishes. He appeals to God: "O Creator, do not leave me in misery, be aware, otherwise this world will make me suffer". He sees the wrath of the evil, the bitter fruits of unpleasant tricks in sufferings and misfortune of the people. The fact that the question is presented in the yardstick of eternality and transitory world at a global level, releases the poems which Makhtumkuli has written on shortcoming peculiar to his people, from narrowness of their meaning. If by resorting to a triviality peculiar to a narrow scale we try to link those poems only with certain people, let us not forget that we would be degrading Makhtumkuli to our own level of thinking. Even though they come out of certain people, the wisdom of geniuses resemble the infinity of the world. Therefore, we should not observe Makhtumkuli at the level of Turkmenchilik, but we should think to what extent Turkmenchilik conforms to Makhtumkuli's world.
translated by Y Azemoun