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  • Writer's pictureMadhusudan

The one who plays with fire – Atesbaz-i-veli (Short Story)

Mevlana Rumi’s kitchen in Konya, with statues of Atesbaz and Rumi

Atesbaz was Mevlana Rumi’s cook and also for the dervish lodge (like a community space where all the mevlana’s students did Sema and spiritual practices).

He was a very important person in the lodge with many physical duties and also spiritual wisdom.

Once there were some guests in dervish lodge, Rumi asks Atesbaz to cook some soup, to which he tells Rumi that all the wood they have is wet and they don’t have fire.

Rumi tells Atesbaz to go and put his right foot under the stove and as he did, there was a green flame and a strong fire, the soup starts to boil immediately.

Astonished with this miracle, Atesbaz thinks to himself that if the soup is boiling then why does he not feel his feet burning, and as the doubt clouded his mind, his right toe immediately start to burn.

In that very moment the Rumi comes and asks Atesbaz if the soup is ready, Atesbaz hides his toe with his left leg and bows down with respect.

Atesbaz was embarrassed that he’d burned his toe. It wasn’t the burn itself that bothered him. It was the fact that his burned toe was evidence of a brief lapse of faith.

From this day it became a tradition to cover your right toe with left foot when the Mevlevi’s greet each other formally or before they started Sema.

After all, you could expect a chef, especially

Since that day, when Mevlevi dervishes engage in the centuries-old whirling ritual, they begin by placing their right big toe over their left as they formally greeted each other.

This is a reminder of Ates-baz Veli also known as “one who plays with fire,”

Journal Entry:

* Here’s brief account of my personal journey to Konya and Atesbaz-i-veli’s tomb

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