Appendix 22: Omar speaks from Beyond the Grave ?

Did Omar’s quatrains have Spiritual rather than Epicurean significance ? And just which quatrains were really written by Omar ? What better way to settle such questions than by hearing the explanations of Omar himself,and that is precisely what happened to the American spiritualist Mrs Esther O’Neill, the results being published in a rather curious little volume entitled Omar’s Rubaiyat Re-written (Vantage Press Inc., New York, 1954.) The book was actually co–authored by her and a certain Rhama Singha, the nature of their co–authorship being made clear in the Introduction, which I here quote in full. The original is printed wholly in capital letters, incidentally:

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has been translated into an understandable form for students of the psychic world and its planes, conditions, and natural laws.

This translation is the work of a “teacher”, who identifies himself as the ancient Hindu, “Rhama Singha.”

Rhama Singha says that he also was Omar Khayyam.

Mediums and students of the metaphysical are invited to check this work. Slight variations will be due to individual shades of understanding of cosmic symbols.

The manual work has been done clairaudiently by Mrs Charles E. O’Neill; medium.

Readers may be interested to know how ‘Omar’ came to team up with Mrs O’Neill, and fortunately she tells us all about it in a postscript to the book. Rhama Singha it seems, first made contact with her in 1935 when she was about 30 years old (she had been interested in Occult studies since she was a young girl of 13.) He did not reveal himself as ‘Omar’ though until the winter of 1948, and in these circumstances:

As I was walking down a certain street, in a certain town, passing a second hand book store, Omar literally took me by an elbow, and turned me into the store. ‘We’ went directly to a shelf in the back of the store, and took down my copy of Fitzgerald’s work. I had not been in that store before — nor since. While I was paying for the book, I was thinking that this was the silliest thing I had ever done in my life, because I did not care for the Rubaiyat. I’d had the opportunity to read it some twenty years before, and after reading three or four pages of it, had laid it aside as being so much ‘drivel’. Neither did I know anything of Fitzgerald. So you see I had no ‘background’ for this work. What little I know of him is contained in the volume ‘we’ bought that day, and I did not read that till I had finished the work Omar wanted me to do for him. In fact he told me not to read it till we had finished. He told me that evening that he had been Omar, and asked me to this transcription for him. So we began immediately. (p.45–6)

Here then, by way of an example, is verse 1 of FitzGerald’s fourth edition, together with a correct translation / interpretation of it:

Wake! For the Sun who scatter’d into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, And strikes
The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of light.

Wake Spiritually, for the Maker of Things, material and Spirit, who placed Star–gleams of Spirituality in our night of Spiritual Consciousness, in the Beginning — drives them, and our Night, before Him. Banishing our Spiritual Darkness with the Pure Brightness of SPIRITUAL Knowledge of Wisdom. Impressing on Material Man, Incarnate Spirit, the duty and privilege of evolving SPIRITUAL Wisdom and Knowledge.

As I understand it, then, “the Sun” is a symbol of “the Maker of Things, material and Spirit”, whilst “the Sultan’s Turret” is a symbol of “Material Man.” One wonders what FitzGerald would have thought of this, but to continue.

Examples of other spiritually ‘correct’ interpretations of FitzGerald are: Jamshyd’s Seven Ringed Cup (v.5) represents seven Earth–connected cycles of reincarnation; the “Strip of Herbage strewn / That just divides the Desert from the Sown” (v.11) represents the zone that separates the wholly spiritual from the wholly material; the “batter’d caravanserai” (v.17) represents the “material School–room world of experience”; the “Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness” (v.25) represents “those High Ones on the Other Side”; and the Seventh Gate to the Throne of Saturn (v.31) represents the Seventh Plane of Spiritual Knowledge.

Finally, as a good example of Rhama Singha Omar in full flow, here are verses 68 to 71 inclusive, together with their correct translations / interpretations:

We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow–shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun–illumin’d Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

Spirit is no part Material. Its natural PLACE IS IN THE SPIRIT WORLD, taught and guided by Teachers who are NATURALLY gathered round the Christ–guardianship of our Earth.

But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer–board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

Spirit is helpless to evolve, except HE helps, and Teachers has HE ordained for that. Help in Learning is both HERE and THERE. And Spirit passes to New Plane as Spirit learns to rise, and waits Spirit for none other, to finish School.

The ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss’d you down into the Field,
He knows about it all – HE knows — HE knows!

Evolving Spirit knows that Grades for learning in planes is fair and just. Spirit gets what he earns, and earns what he gets. The Guardian knows how Spirit works, positive or negative — the answer grades the evolvement.

The moving finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your tears wash out a Word of it.

Incarnate Spirit builds while HERE, the place and circumstance to live while THERE. Inward SPIRIT is exact Judge. “Religion”, nor bargaining, nor regret — can change the BUILDING, once it is DONE.

Speaking for myself, it all gets rather tedious after a while, and the book is notable solely for its curiosity value rather than for any light it throws on ‘the true Omar.’

As regards the verses which Omar — now Rhama Singha in the Spirit World — says he didn’t write, these are verses 81, 90, 92, 99 and 101 (again using FitzGerald’s fourth edition.) Each of these verses is accompanied by the clear message: “OMAR” SAYS HE DID NOT WRITE THIS ONE, AND TO LEAVE IT OUT.

Obligingly, Rhama Singha also dictated an Epilogue to the book, beginning, “Greetings! Fellow Student of Spirit; You who have arrived at this page. For those of you who ‘wondered what Omar meant’, the ‘mystery’ is solved.” And he concluded his Epilogue with these comments on FitzGerald and his translation:

About Edward Fitzgerald, a word must be said, and his work of original translation. He also was One with whom previous arrangement had been made, to do that part, in seeing that the meanings of the quatrains were made clear in this ‘time’. You who are familiar with his work, know that he ‘filled in’ some lines in certain quatrains, that were damaged; when the original manuscripts were brought to his attention. In this work, we have disregarded those lines, and several parts, and interpreted the quatrains, according to the hidden meanings, as originally written. The four ‘fill in’ quatrains that ‘Omar’ did not write, have been pointed out. (p.44)

It is a bit of a puzzle why Omar / Rhama Singha chose to comment, via an American medium, on FitzGerald’s admittedly loose translation and ‘mashing together’ of his verses, rather than, via a Persian medium, on the original Persian sources for them. Or, if he couldn’t find a Persian medium, and for the benefit of western readers who could not read Persian script, why he didn’t comment on FitzGerald’s sources as revealed by Heron Allen’s masterful study. Of course, it is possible that the second hand book store into which Omar guided Mrs O’Neill back in 1948 just didn’t have a copy of Heron Allen’s book, merely a copy of FitzGerald’s fourth edition.