Bird Parliment

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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Bird Parliment After I was hired by the Middle East film studio to help get their projects produced by American companies, I read "The Bird Parliament, by Attar. I realized this is the perfect story for my pitch to the American producers and financiers that I would be meeting very soon.

The background of this story stems from the author, Attar. His works had some editorial problems. A couple other problems came about such as, the fact that out of his twenty-five works; eight of them were found to be forgeries. What caught my attention about this work is what a European Scholar by the name of Hellmut Ritter wrote, "The works attributed to him fall into three groups which differ so considerably in content and style that it is difficult to ascribe all three to the same person" (Attar 231). Some background information about Attar as a person not just a writer that I came about was that he lived in Khurasan in the last half of the twelfth century and partly into the thirteenth, meaning he lived to an older age before passing on.

Going back to Attar's writing, he considered himself a Sufi master which can explain why it states that he, "wrote much and well concerning the mystical search for God", (Attar 231). This is where his piece of work, "The Bird Parliament" comes from.

This is Attar's most famous work so therefore I thought it would make a great story. The construction and clarity of the story is well done and it is stated that it is, "interspersed through with a variety of subsidiary tales"(Attar 231), along with the historical context in the story being very significant. The random and planned combination brings out a characteristic that makes up Sufi literature. The historical context ties in with the author, Attar because, "It is an allegory, of course, of a man's contemplative journey-it he chooses to take it-toward the union with God"(Attar 231). This is how the story connects with Attar and him being a Sufi had a quest for God or at least the Sufi culture does. That shows us where historically the story stems from.

With that in mind "The Bird Parliament" is turned into a fictional story with many themes put together in a way to symbolize part of the Sufi culture. The story leads up to the main point, which was to find total annihilation, by the Hoopoe coming forward and telling the birds about the King and the journey to reach him. This occurs after the birds decide that they need a king in order to have a good organization and good administration. The Hoopoe foreshadowed and symbolized what was to come of their journey. "On her breast was the ornament which symbolized that she had entered the way of spiritual knowledge; the crest on her head was as the crown of truth, and she had knowledge of both good and evil" (Attar 231). At the time the bird didn't know, but the Hoopoe symbolized what kind of King they needed and what the journey was going to bring to them. The bird's decision making was another issue that came about before the journey. Then came the journey for the one's that chose to go on it. This symbolized the quest for God in the Sufi culture. Just as the bird's journey for their King, the Sufi's journey for their God. Simurgh, the King in this story symbolizes God. Before the birds find the Supreme Majesty, Simurgh, they are tested in order to see if they have, "surrendered themselves spontaneously to total annihilation" (Attar 237). In passing the test the birds realize that they themselves are the Simurgh after reaching the stated of annihilation. Total annihilation represents what psychologically the Sufi's go through in their quest for God. All of these themes put together symbolize the Sufi culture and their quest for God.

I found that the journey is a very important part for the birds and the Sufi's, therefore I chose to rewrite that important scene from the work in modern language.

The birds had to travel for many years. A large part of their lives went by while they were traveling across mountains and valleys. There was no way to tell everything that happened to them unless you went on that trip yourself. That is the only way you could realize what kind of suffering the birds went through.

The outcome of the trip was costly and only a few had survived. When they reached their final destination that Hoopoe had brought them to almost all of the thousand birds had disappeared. During their trip a lot of them had been lost in the ocean. Death came to the other birds in many ways, such as, dieing of thirst, burnt wings and hearts from the hot sun, and other birds were prayed upon by tigers and panthers. There were also some deaths from fatigue in the deserts and wilderness and the heat also brought on death. There were also some birds that went crazy and killed each other, some were overcome by suffering and weariness. They would drop on the road and not be able to go on. Other birds couldn't believe what they say and just went brain dead or blank. A lot of the birds went on the journey because they were curious or they thought it would be a nice trip. They died not knowing what was going to come of the trip. At the end of the trip when they reached their final destination only thirty of the thousand birds were left.

I hope that the Middle Eastern film studio is proud of my work and that this will help then get this project produced by American companies. I think that they will find it interesting to learn about a different culture, the Sufi culture, through a story rather then a history book. I believe that my pitch went well and that the American producers and financiers will find, "The Bird Parliament", by Attar a good piece for writing to work with and that it was impressive.