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The Bustan of Sadi, tr. by A. Hart Edwards, [1911], at

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Concerning Gratitude

I cannot give thanks to that Friend, for I know of none that are worthy. Every hair of my body is a gift from Him; how could I. thank Him for every hair?

Praise be to the munificent Lord, Who from non-existence brought His creatures into being. Who can describe His goodness? All praises are encompassed by His glory.

See how from childhood to old age he has. endowed thee with a splendid robe!

He made thee pure; therefore, be pure—unworthy it is to die impured by sin.

Let not the dust remain upon the mirror, for once grown dull it never again will polish.

When thou dost seek to gain the means of life, rely not upon the strength of thine own. arms.

O self-worshipper! why lookest thou not to God, Who giveth power to thy hand?

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If by thy striving thou dost aught of good, take not the credit to thyself; know it to be by the grace of God.

Thou standest not by thine own strength—from the Invisible art thou sustained each moment.


Sorrowed at the conduct of her son, who gave no ear to her advice, a woman brought to him the cradle in which once he slept, and said!

O weak in love and forgetful of the past! Wast thou not a weeping and helpless child, for whom through many nights I sacrificed my sleep? Thou hadst not then the strength thou hast to-day; thou couldst not ward the flies from off thy body. A tiny insect gave thee pain: to-day thou excellent amidst the strong. In the grave wilt thou again be thus, unable to repel the onslaughts of an ant. How, when the grave-worms eat the marrow of thy brain, wilt thou relight the Lamp of Intellect? Thou art as a blind man who seeth not the way, and knoweth not that a well lies in his path. If thou be grateful for thy sight, ’tis well; if not, then surely art

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thou blind. Thy tutor gave thee not the power of wisdom; by God was it implanted in thy nature. Had He withheld this gift from thee,. truth would have appeared to thee as falsehood."


For thee is set the bright moon in the sky by night, the world-illuminating sun by day.

Like a chamberlain, the heavens spread for thee the carpet of the Spring.

The wind and snow, the clouds and rain, the roaring thunder and the lightning glittering as a sword—all are His agents, obedient to His word, nourishing the seed that thou hast planted in the soil.

If thou be athirst, fret not; the clouds bear water upon their shoulders.

From the bee He giveth thee honey, and manna from the wind; fresh dates from the date-tree and the date-tree from a seed.

For thee are the sun and moon and the Pleiades; they are as lanterns upon the roof of thy house.

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He bringeth roses from the thorn and musk from a pod; gold from the mine and green leaves from a withered stick.

With His own hands did He paint thine eye and eyebrows—one cannot leave one's bosom friends to strangers.

Omnipotent is He, nourishing the delicate with His many bounties.

Render thanks each moment from thy heart, for gratitude is not the work of the tongue alone.

O God, my heart is blood, mine eyes are sore when I behold thy indescribable gifts.


He knows not the value of a day of pleasure who has not seen adversity. Hard is the winter for the beggar—the rich man heeds it not. If thou art swift of foot, be thankful when thou lookest upon the lame.

What know they of the value of water who dwell upon the banks of the Jayhun? Ask it of them who are parched in the heat of the sun.

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[paragraph continues] What cares the Arab by the Tigris for the thirsty ones of the desert?

He knows the value of health who lost his strength in fever. How can the night be long to thee reclining in ease upon thy bed? Think of him who is racked with fever—the sick man knows the tediousness of the night.

At the sound of the drum the master awakens—what knows he how the watchman passed the night?


One night in winter Tughral passed by a Hindu sentinel, who was shivering like the star Canopus in the icy rain. Moved to pity, he said: "Thou shalt have my fur coat. Wait by the terrace and I will send it by the hand of a slave."

On entering his palace he was met by a beautiful slave, at the sight of whom the poor sentinel passed from his mind. The fur coat slipped through the latter's ears; through his ill-luck it never reached his shoulders.

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The king slept through the night devoid of care; but what said the chief watchman to him in the morning?—

"Perhaps thou didst forget that 'lucky man' when thy hand was upon the bosom of thy slave. By thee the night was spent in tranquillity and joy; what knowest thou how the night has gone with us?"

They with the caravan bend their heads over the cauldron; what care they for them that toil on foot through the desert sand?

Tarry, O active youths, for old and feeble men are with the caravan. Well hast thou slept in the litter while the driver held the nose-string of the camel. What of the desert and mountains? what of the stones and the sand? Ask how it fares with them that lag behind.


A thief was arrested by a night-watchman and bound by the hands. Thus, crestfallen and afflicted, he remained. During the night he heard some one cry out in want.

"How long wilt thou bewail thy lot?" he asked. "Go, sleep, O wretched man! give thanks

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to God that the watchman has not tied thee by the hands."

Bemoan not thine own misfortune when thou seest another more wretched than thyself.


Some one passed by a pious man whom he took for a Jew, and, therefore, struck him on the neck. The latter bestowed his robe upon the aggressor, who, becoming ashamed, remarked:

"I acted wrongly and thou hast forgiven me. But what occasion is this for a gift?"

"I stood not up in anger, "was the reply, "being thankful that I was not a Jew, as thou didst suppose."


One left behind on the road wept, saying, "Who in this desert is more distressed than I?"

A pack-donkey answered: "O senseless man! how long wilt thou bewail the tyranny of fate? Go, and give thanks that, though thou ridest not upon a donkey, thou art not a donkey upon which men ride."

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A theologian passed by a drunkard who had fallen by the wayside. Filled with pride at his own piety, he disdained even to regard him.

The young man raised his head and said: Go, old man, and give thanks that thou art in the Divine favour—misfortune comes from pride. Laugh not when thou seest one in bonds lest thou likewise became involved. After all, is it not within the bounds of possibility that tomorrow thou mayest fall, like me, by the roadside?"

If with a mosque the heavens have befriended thee, revile not them that worship in the fire-temple.

O Mussulman! fold thy hands and render thanks that He has not bound the idolater's thread about thy waist.

Turn to Him who guides the hand of Fate; blindness it is to look for help elsewhere.


At Sumanat 34 I saw an ivory idol. It was set with jewels like the Manat, and nothing more

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beautiful could have been devised. Caravans from every country brought travellers to its side; the eloquent from every clime made supplication before its lifeless figure.

"Why," I pondered, "does a living being worship an inanimate object?"

To a fire-worshipper, who was a fellow-lodger and friend of mine, I said with gentleness: "O Brahmin! I am astonished at the doings of this place. All are infatuated with this feeble form; they are imprisoned in the well of superstition. No power has the idol to move its hands or feet; if thou throw it down, it cannot rise from its place. Dost thou not see that its eyes are of amber?—it were folly to seek faithfulness from the stony-eyed."

The Brahmin was angered at my words; he became my enemy, and informed the idolaters of what I had said. Since to them the crooked road appeared straight, they saw the straight one crooked. Though a man be wise and intelligent, he is a fool in the eyes of the ignorant.

Like a drowning man, I was destitute of help; save in politeness, I saw no remedy. When

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the fool bears malice towards thee, safety lies in gentleness and resignation.

Therefore, I praised aloud the chief of the Brahmins, saying: "O old man! expounder of the Asta and Zend! I, too, am pleased with the figure of this idol. Its appearance was strange in my sight—of its nature I have no knowledge. Only recently have I arrived in this place, and a stranger can seldom distinguish between the evil and the good. Devotion by imitation is superstition: what reality is there in the form of this idol, for I am foremost among the worshippers?"

The face of the Brahmin glowed with joy as he said: "Thy question is reasonable and thy actions are good—whoever seeks for proofs arrives at his destination. Who but this idol can raise his hands to God? If thou wilt, tarry here to-night, so that to-morrow the mystery of this may become known to thee."

The night was as long as the Day of Judgment; the fire-worshippers around me prayed without ablution. In the morning, they came again into the temple, and I was sick with anger

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and confused from lack of sleep. Suddenly, the idol raised its arm; and later, when the crowd had left, the Brahmin looked smilingly towards me, saying:

"I know that now thou wilt have no doubts; truth has become manifest, falsehood remaineth not."

Seeing his ignorance thus increased, I shed hypocritical tears and cried: I am sorry for what I said."

At the sight of my tears the hearts of the infidels were softened; they ran towards me in service, and led me by the arms to the ivory idol, which was seated upon a golden chair set on a throne of teak. I kissed the hand of the little god—curses upon it and upon its worshippers! For a few days I posed as an infidel and discussed the Zend, like a Brahmin. When I became a guardian of the temple my joy was such that I could scarce control my feelings.

One night, I closed fast the door of the temple and, searching, discovered a screen of jewels and gold that went from the top of the throne to the bottom. Behind this screen the

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[paragraph continues] Brahmin high priest was devoutly engaged with the end of a rope in his hand. Then did it become known to me that when the rope was pulled the idol of necessity raised its arm.

Greatly confused at my presence, the Brahmin ran away in haste: I followed in hot pursuit and threw him headlong down a well, for I knew that, if he remained alive, he would seek to shed my blood. When the purpose of an evil man is revealed to thee, pull him up by the roots, otherwise will he not desire that thou shouldst live. The alarm being raised, I fled quickly from the land. When thou settest fire to a forest of canes, beware of the tigers, if thou art wise.

Whenever I supplicate at the shrine of the Knower of Secrets, the Indian puppet comes into my recollection—it throws dust on the pride of mine eyes. I know that I raise my hand, but not by virtue of mine own strength. Men of sanctity stretch not out their hands themselves the Fates invisibly pull the strings.

Next: Chapter IX. Concerning Repentance