Kaygusuz Abdal Sultan d. ca. 1445

Poetry

Lord, I humbly beg of You, hear my reverend request, These are words straight from the heart, they are not spoken in jest.

 

First, a hundred thousand loaves, also fifty thousand pies, One hundred sixty thousand buns, profusely buttered on both sides.

 

A thousand piglets should suffice, if added to a thousand sows, With sixty of their young, some fifty thousand water buffaloes.

 

Ten thousand cows, a thousand oxen for a mustard stew, The trotters separately served in vinegar, with garlic too.

 

A thousand sheep in casserole, an equal sum of goats at most, But fifty thousand lambs and kids to grill upon the spit, or roast.

 

Innumerable chickens, ducks, and in the the same proportion, geese, Some to make succulent kebabs, and others to be fried in grease.

 

Pray let there be dish after dish of pigeons and of tender quail, Partridge and pheasant caught in nets, arriving in an endless file.

 

Fifty thousand pots of rice, and saffron puddings are inferred, A thousand pots of porridge, the butter with a drum-stick stirred.

 

Soups with pleasant flavouring, meatballs gently made, I beg, Ducklings, and on trays of brass, sweetmeats made of starch and egg.

 

Fifty thousand pasties and the same amount of baklava, Honey and almond cakes galore, and countless plates of fresh okra.

 

Helva fit for conquerors, served on trays and heaped in bowls, For eager fingers to scoop up, making quite enormous holes.

 

Forty thousand, fifty thousand pecks of apricot and cherry, Apple, pear and vintage grape, will be enough to make us merry.

 

Biography

 

 

Kaygusuz Abdal began his life known as Gaybi. He was born in the in the late 14th century into a noble and aristocratic family of the Anatolian province of Teke.

 

One day, when the prince had reached his 18th year, he went out hunting with a group of his courtesans. During the hunt he spied a beautiful gazelle grazing on a low hilltop and immediately let an arrow fly which pierced the gazelle below its left hind leg. Wounded, the animal took flight with Gaybi Bey in hot pursuit.

 

The gazelle ran straight through the gates of a large Dervish convent. Following behind, Gaybi Bey likewise entered and inquired after the deer. The dervishes took Gaybi to the head of the tekke, Abdal Musa Sultan (who was a khalifah of Haji Bektash Veli), who asked him what he was looking for. Gaybi said he was looking for the gazelle he had shot. Abdal Musa asked him if he would be able to make out the arrow if he saw it. Gaybi responded that he could. Abdal Musa then lifted up his arm and said, “Look! See if this is your arrow!” Gaybi saw that it was indeed his arrow stuck in Abdal Musa’s side. He understood that what he had shot the saint who was wandering in the guise of a gazelle. And with that he fainted.

 

On recovering from his shock, Gaybi kissed the hand of Abdal Musa Sultan and implored him to be allowed to take the nasib (initiation). Abdal Musa said that the young man would first have to obtain permission from his father. Gaybi declared that from that day forward he would not leave the tekke even if permission to stay there is not granted. On hearing his devotion, Abdal Musa accepted him into his service.

 

Gaybi’s father was upset when he heard that his son had become a dervish. He would not stand for it and dispatched a complaint about Abdal Musa to Teke Bey, the ruler of the province. On reading the complaint Teke Bey desired that the young Gaybi be removed from the tekke. He chose an emissary by the name of Kilagali Isa to travel to the tekke of Abdal Musa to escort Gaybi back to his father. When Kilagali Isa arrived he went straight to Abdal Musa and met with him face to face. However he received from the saint a blunt response. After threatening Abdal Musa with the use of force Kilagali Isa the tekke. While trying to mount his horse Kilagali Isa’s foot became entangled in the stirrup. He fell to the ground and the startled horse trampled him to death underfoot.

 

As soon as word of this reached Teke Bey, he gathering up his warriors and proceeded to Abdal Musa. This is revealed to Abdal Musa and with four hundred of his dervishes set off on the road to confront Teke Bey, all the wile performing the sema. Teke Bey came upon the band of dervishes while they were in sema and order all the surrounding bushes and trees set alight in order to burn Abdal Musa and his followers. But dancing the sema they pass right through the flames unscathed and extinguish them completely. On seeing this miracle Teke Bey's soldiers fled and he himself fell from his horse and died.

 

After all this has taken place, Gaybi’s father consented to give his son into care of Abdal Musa. Afterwards, Abdal Musa gave Gaybi the name “Kaygusuz” which meant “Carefree”. Kaygusuz stayed and worked in the tekke for forty years achieving a high spiritual rank.

 

One day Kaygusuz Sultan resolved to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca and Abdal Musa wrote an ‘ijazah (document of authorization) for him. In order to keep the document secure, Kaygusuz tore the paper into small pieces, put in into a cup of ayran and drank it down. Abdal Musa was told about this and summoned Kaygusuz to see whether this was true or not. On receiving affirmation, he blessed Kaygusuz and with this blessing he began to compose poetic verses and have the power of seeing the Truth.

 

He stayed on at Abdal Musa’s tekke for many years, devoting his life to service. After the death of Abdal Musa Sultan, Kaygusuz traveled throughout the Middle East and eventually came to Cairo where he founded his own tekke and where his grave is to be found.

 

“Here mention must be made of Kaygusuz Abdal, a Bektashi mystic who lived in the fifteenth century, probably in the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire. He is said to have settled in Cairo to found a Bektashi convent; according to tradition, his tomb is on the Muqattam Hill, where many saints of Cairo are buried. Kaygusuz may have been one of the abdalan-i Rum, dervishes who wandered through the Ottoman Empire covered with animal skins and wearing a silver earring. A model case of this kind of dervish was a certain Barak Baba in the fourteenth century, who went around shouting like a bear and dancing like a monkey, according to the sources. The abdalan-i Rum were also notorious for their use of hashish. One finds reminiscences of these groups in the paintings ascribed to the fifteenth-century painter known as Siyah Kalam, which show strange, wild people who form almost perfect illustrations for the poetry of Kaygusuz.

 

Kaygusuz's poetry is among the strangest expressions of Sufism. He does not hesitate to describe in great detail his dreams of good food - God is asked to grant him hundreds of plates, filled with halvah, roast lamb's leg, all kinds of soups, vegetables, and even roast pork! Nor does he shrink from singing about his love adventures with a charming young man, who tries to get rid of this crude dervish with his old fur cap and his stick, this nuisance who wants to kiss his peachlike face and his honey lips - a lively parody of the numberless love lyrics praising the attractive youth as a manifestation of divine beauty. Most amusing is Kaygusuz's poem on the goose that he tries to cook with the help of the Seven and the: Nine (groups of the mystical hierarchy): "I cooked it forty days, and yet it was not done," and even the bulghur that he throws into the broth says "Allah" and flies away, while the goose lifts its head from the pan and grins. This stubborn, die-hard animal is probably the lower soul, which the poet found difficult to tame.

 

tekerleme by Kaygusuz sounds like a perfect translation of a nursery rhyme:

 

kaplu kaplu bağalar kanatlanmiş uçmağa

The turturturtles have taken wings to fly

 

It is difficult to decide whether verses like this contain some deeper mystical wisdom or whether they belong to a secret language known to exist in certain dervish circles. Hellmut Ritter has discovered a Turkish vocabulary in which kitchen expressions are equated with mystical terms-"martyr son of a martyr" is lamb, biryani, the "Highest Judge" is halvah, etc. These verses may also express a simple joy in nonsensical poetry, which is, in a way, closer to the mystical reality than other poetical forms, the paradox being the most legitimate form of guiding the seeker toward the goal. Such poems may as easily be interpreted as results of “trips,” and this possibility, at least in the case of Kaygusuz Abdal, cannot be excluded, since the word kayğusuz, "sans souci," has been used as a secret name for hashish, as Gölpınarlı has shown. The use of drugs was - and still is - quite common in the lower levels of some mystical fraternities, particularly among the musicians.

 

 

--Annemarie Schimmel Mystical Dimensions of Islam

 



 

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