I noticed the son of a rich man, sitting on the grave of his father and quarreling with a dervish-boy, saying: ‘The sarcophagus of my father’s tomb is of stone and its epitaph is elegant. The pavement is of marble, tesselated with turquois-like bricks. But what resembles thy father’s grave? It consists of two contiguous bricks with two handfuls of mud thrown over it.’ The dervish-boy listened to all this and then observed: ‘By the time thy father is able to shake off those heavy stones which cover him, mine will have reached paradise.’
An ass with a light burden
No doubt walks easily.
Contention of Sa’di with a Disputant concerning Wealth and Poverty
I saw a man in the form but not with the character of a dervish, sitting in an assembly, who had begun a quarrel; and, having opened the record of complaints, reviled wealthy men, alleging at last that the hand of power of dervishes to do good was tied and that the foot of the intention of wealthy men to do good was broken.
One year I travelled from Balkh with Damascenes and the road being full of danger on account of robbers, a young man accompanied us as an escort. He was expert with the shield and the bow, handled every weapon and so strong that ten men were not able to span his bow-string. Moreover the athletes of the face of the earth could not bend his back down to the ground. He was, however, rich, brought up in the shade, without experience in the world, the drum-sounds of warriors never having reached his ears nor the lightning of the swords of horsemen dazzled his eyes.
He had not fallen prisoner into the hands of a foe.
No shower of arrows had rained around him.
I saw a schoolmaster in the Maghrib country, who was sour-faced, of uncouth speech, ill-humoured, troublesome to the people, of a beggarly nature and without self-restraint, so that the very sight of him disgusted the Musalmans and when reading the Quran he distressed the hearts of the people. A number of innocent boys and little maidens suffered from the hand of his tyranny, venturing neither to laugh nor to speak because he would slap the silver-cheeks of some and put the crystal legs of others into the stocks. In short, I heard that when his behaviour had attained some notoriety, he was expelled from the school and another installed as corrector, who happened to be a religious, meek, good and wise man. He spoke only when necessary and found no occasion to deal harshly with anyone so that the children lost the fear they had entertained for their first master and, taking advantage of the angelic manners of the second, they acted like demons towards each other and, trusting in his gentleness, neglected their studies, spending most of their time in play, and breaking on the heads of each other the tablets’ of their unfinished tasks.
If the schoolmaster happens to be lenient
The children will play leapfrog in the bazar.
An illustrious man had a worthy son who died. Being asked what he desired to be written upon the sarcophagus of the tomb, he replied: ‘The verses of the glorious book’ are deserving of more honour than to be written on such a spot, where they would be injured by the lapse of time, would be walked upon by persons passing by and urinated upon by dogs. If anything is necessarily to be written, let what follows suffice:
Wah! How-every time the plants in the garden
Sprouted-glad became my heart.
The son of a pious man inherited great wealth left him by some uncles, whereon he plunged into dissipation and profligacy, became a spendthrift and, in short, left no heinous transgression unperpetrated and no intoxicant untasted. I advised him and said: ‘My son, income is a flowing water and expense a turning mill; that is to say, only he who has a fixed revenue is entitled to indulge in abundant expenses.
‘If thou hast no income, spend but frugally
Because the sailors chant this song:
One year discord had arisen in a caravan among the walking portion and I also travelled on foot. To obtain justice we attacked each other’s heads and faces, giving full vent to pugnacity and contention. I saw a man sitting in a camel litter and saying to his companion: ‘How wonderful! A pawn of ivory travels across the chess-board and becomes a farzin, and the footmen of the Haj travelled across the whole desert only to become worse.’
Tell on my part to the man-biting Haji
Who tears the skins of people with torments:
I asked an illustrious man for the reason of the tradition: Account as an enemy the passion which is between thy two loins. He replied: ‘The reason is because whatever enemy thou propitiatest becomes thy friend, whereas the more thou indulgest in a passion, the more it will oppose thee.’
Man attains angelic nature by eating sparingly
But if he be voracious like beasts he falls like a stone.
A sage, instructing boys, said to them: ‘O darlings of your fathers, learn a trade because property and riches of the world are not to be relied upon; also silver and gold are an occasion of danger because either a thief may steal them at once or the owner spend them gradually; but a profession is a living fountain and permanent wealth; and although a professional man may lose riches, it does not matter because a profession is itself wealth and wherever he goes he will enjoy respect and sit in high places, whereas he who has no trade will glean crumbs and see hardships:
It is difficult to obey after losing dignity
And to bear violence from men after being caressed.
A vezier who had a stupid son gave him in charge of a scholar to instruct him and if possible to make him intelligent. Having been some time under instruction but ineffectually, the learned man sent one to his father with the words: ‘The boy is not becoming intelligent and has made a fool of me.’
When a nature is originally receptive
Instruction will take effect thereon.
An illustrious scholar, who was the tutor of a royal prince, had the habit of striking him unceremoniously and treating him severely. The boy, who could no longer bear this violence, went to his father to complain and when he had taken off his coat, the father’s heart was moved with pity. Accordingly he called for the tutor and said: ‘Thou dost not permit thyself to indulge in so much cruelty towards the children of my subjects as thou inflictest upon my son. What is the reason?’ He replied: ‘It is incumbent upon all persons in general to converse in a sedate manner and to behave in a laudable way but more especially upon padshahs because whatever they say or do is commented on by everybody, the utterances or acts of common people being of no such consequence.
‘If a hundred unworthy things are committed by a dervish
His companions do not know one in a hundred.
I heard a pir-instructor say to his murid: ‘The mind of man is so much occupied with thoughts about maintenance that he would surpass the position of angels if he were to devote as many of them to the giver of maintenance.’
Yazed has not forgotten thee at the time
When thou wast sperm, buried, insensible.
The wife of a dervish had become enceinte and when the time of her confinement was at hand, the dervish who had no child during all his life said: ‘If God the most high and glorious presents me with a son, I shall bestow everything I possess as alms upon dervishes, except this patched garment of mine which I am wearing.’ It happened that the infant was a son. He rejoiced and gave a banquet to the dervishes, as he had promised. Some years afterwards when I returned from a journey to Syria, I passed near the locality of the dervish and asked about his circumstances but was told that he had been put in prison by the police. Asking for the cause, I was told that his son, having become drunk, quarrelled and having shed the blood of a man, had fled; whereon his father was instead of him loaded with a chain on his neck and heavy fetters on his legs. I replied: ‘He had himself asked God the most high and glorious for this calamity.’
If pregnant women, O man of intellect,
Bring forth serpents at the time of birth,
A pious man happened to pass near a rich fellow who had a slave and was just chastising him after having tied his feet and hands. He said: ‘My son, God the most high and glorious has given a creature like thyself into thy power and has bestowed upon thee superiority over him. Give thanks to the Almighty and do not indulge in so much violence towards the man because it is not meet that in the morn of resurrection he should be better than thyself and put thee to shame.’
Be not much incensed against a slave.
Oppress him not, grieve not his heart.
It is narrated in the compositions of philosophers that scorpions are not born in the same manner like other living beings but that they devour the bowels of their mother and, after gnawing through the belly, betake themselves to the desert. The skins which may be seen in the nests of scorpions are the evidence of this. I narrated this story to an illustrious man who then told me that his own heart bore witness to the truth of it for the case could not be otherwise inasmuch as they, having in their infancy dealt thus with their fathers and mothers, they were beloved and respected in the same manner when they grow old.
A father thus admonished his son:
O noble fellow, remember this advice.
I saw an Arab of the desert who said to his boy: ‘O son, on the day of resurrection thou wilt be asked what thou hast gained and not from whom thou art descended, that is to say, thou wilt be asked what thy merit is and not who thy father was.’
The covering of the Ka’bah which is kissed
Has not been ennobled by the silkworm.
When I was a child I asked an illustrious man about puberty. He replied: ‘It is recorded in books that it has three signs. First, the age of fifteen years; secondly nocturnal pollutions; and thirdly, sprouting of hair on the pudenda; but in reality there is only one sign which is sufficient that thou shouldst seek the approbation of the most high and glorious rather than to be in the bondage of sensual pleasures; and whoever does not entertain this disposition is by erudite men considered not to have attained puberty.’
The form of man was attained by a drop of water
Which remained forty days in the womb.
A padshah entrusted a tutor with the care of his son, saying: ‘This is thy son. Educate him as if he were one of thy own children.’ He kept the prince for some years and strove to instruct him but could effect nothing, whilst the sons of the tutor made the greatest progress in accomplishments and eloquence. The king reproved and threatened the learned man with punishment, telling him that he had acted contrary to his promise and had been unfaithful. He replied: ‘O king, the instruction is the same but the natures are different.’
Although both silver and gold come from stones
All stones do not contain silver and gold.