M.A IN ENGLISH.
UNIVERSITY OF CALCUTTA.
PURSUING M.A IN HISTORY.
P.G DIPLOMA IN TAGORE LITERATURE.
DIPLOMA IN FINE ARTS.
As literary genre the Rubai was tremendously popular in 11th and 12th century Persia. It consists of two stanzas which are further divided into Hemistiches, thus making four like altogether. Each of Khayyam’s quatrains forms a complete thought: the first two lines generally pose a situation or problem, the third creates suspense, and the fourth offers a resolution. Khayyam is best known for his Rubaiyat, a collection of verse quatrains composed in the traditional rubai style and arranged in alphabetic order. Each rubai is complete in itself and has no connection with what goes before or follows after. The leading ideas are pleasure, death and fate and the predominant state of mind are the sensuous, the gruesome and rebellious. The term “Vairagya” refers to a deeply ruminative cynicism arising out of wisdom, knowledge and awareness about the ways of the world especially its perplexing transience and man’s search for meaning in the grand scheme of things. No other topic engenders as much vairagic thinking as does the imponderability of life’s purpose, its relevance and meaning. The manifestation of this thinking can be seen in prose tracts, poetry, schools of philosophy, expositions, sayings and aphorisms. Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat belongs to this manifestation. With death as the final and unyielding reality it was but natural for Omar Khayyam to bring out the perplexing nature of human existence and passions there in for questioning in his rubai. Like Lucretius before him and Keats after, in Khayyam’s Rubaiyat too, is a constant reference to impermanence of life and attempt to laugh at the fleeting nature of relationships; man’s craving for possessions and the need to accept death as a natural process of life which this essay strives to enlighten upon. Worthy of Jean Paul Sartre or Albert Camus, the thoughts of the Rubaiyat have a surprisingly modern flavour which is not merely the result of Omar Khayyam’s translations. This freedom of tone gives the Rubaiyat a paradoxically uplifting quality despite Omar Khayyam’s pessimism about the human condition.
Keywords: Omar Khayyam, Persian poetry, Epicurean philosophy, carpe-diem, death, fate.