Gulistan Saadi (گلستان سعدی) (The Rose Garden of Saadi)
Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa’di Shirazi (1258)
Translated by Richard Francis Burton
Edited & Formatted by Lt Col (R) Muhammad Ashraf Javed
Laudation to the God of majesty and glory! Obedience to him is a cause of approach and gratitude in increase of benefits. Every inhalation of the breath prolongs life and every expiration of it gladdens our nature; wherefore every breath confers two benefits and for every benefit gratitude is due.
Whose hand and tongue is capable
To fulfill the obligations of thanks to Him?
Words of the Most High:
اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُودَ شُكْرًا وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ(13:34 Quran)
Be thankful, O family of David, and but few of my servants are thankful.
best to a worshipper for his transgressions
The showers of his boundless mercy have penetrated to every spot, and the banquet of his unstinted liberality is spread out everywhere. He tears not the veil of reputation of his worshippers even for grievous sins, and does not withhold their daily allowance of bread for great crimes.
bountiful One, who from thy invisible treasury
He told the chamberlain of the morning breeze to spread out the emerald carpet and, having commanded the nurse of vernal clouds to cherish the daughters of plants in the cradle of the earth, the trees donned the new year's robe and clothed their breast with the garment of green foliage, whilst their offspring, the branches, adorned their heads with blossoms at the approach of the season of the roses. Also the juice of the cane became delicious honey by his power and the date a lofty tree by his care.
and wind, moon and sun move in the sky
There is a tradition of the prince of created beings, the paragon of existing things, the mercy to the inhabitants of the world, the purest of mankind and the completion of the revolving ages, Muhammad the elect, upon whom be blessing and peace:
Intercessor, obeyed, prophet, gracious,
What danger is there to the wall of the faithful with thee for a buttress?
What fear of the waves of the sea has he whose pilot is Noah?
attained exaltation by his perfection.
The tradition is that:
whenever a sinful and distressed worshipper stretches forth the hand of repentance with hopes of acceptance to the court of heaven, Allah the Most High does not notice him, whereon he continues to implore mercy with supplications and tears and Allah the Most Holy says:
O my angels, verily I am ashamed of my servant and he has no other lord besides myself. Accordingly I have fully pardoned him.
See the generosity and kindness of Allah.
The servant has committed sin and He is ashamed.
Those who attend permanently at the temple of his glory confess the imperfection of their worship and say:
We have not worshipped thee according to the requirements of thy worship;
and those who describe the splendor of his beauty are rapt in amazement saying:
We have not known thee as thou oughtest to be known.
someone asks me for His description,
One of the devout who had deeply plunged his head into the cowl of meditation and had been immersed in the ocean of visions, was asked, when he had come out of that state, by one of his companions who had desired to cheer him up: 'What beautiful gift hast thou brought us from the garden in which thou hast been?'
'I intended to fill the skirts of my robe with roses, when I reached the rose-tree, as presents for my friends but the perfume of the flowers intoxicated me so much that I let, go the hold of my skirts.'
O bird of the morning, learn love from the moth
O thou who art above all imaginations, conjectures, opinions and ideas,
Panegyric of the Padshah of Islam
(may Allah perpetuate his reign)
The good reputation of Sa'di which is current among the people, the renown of his eloquence which has spread on the surface of the earth, the products of his friendly pen which are consumed like sugar, and the scraps of his literary compositions which are hawked about like bills of exchange, cannot be ascribed to his virtue and perfection, but the lord of the world, the axis of the revolving circle of time, the vice-gerent of Solomon, protector of the followers of the religion, His Majesty the Shahanshah Atabek Aa'zm Muzaffaruddin Abu Bekr Ben Sa'd Ben Zanki- The shadow of Allah on earth!
O Lord, be pleased with him and with his kingdom-has looked upon Sa'di with a favorable eye, has praised him greatly, and has shown him sincere affection so that all men, gentle and simple, love him because the people follow the religion of their king.
thou lookest upon my humble person,
sweet-smelling piece of clay, one day in the bath,
O Allah, favor the Muslims with the prolongation of his life, and with an augmentation of his reward for his good qualities and deeds; exalt the dignities of his friends and governors; annihilate those who are inimical to him and wish him ill; for the sake of what is recorded in the verses of the Quran. O Allah, give security protect his son.
the world is happy through him; may his happiness endure for ever
May God, whose name be exalted and hallowed, keep in security and peace the pure country of Shiraz until the time of the resurrection, under the authority of righteous governors and by the exertions of practical scholars.
Knowest thou not why I in
country of Pares dreads not the vicissitudes of time,
The Cause for Composing the Gulistan
I was one night meditating on the time which had elapsed, repenting of the life I had squandered and perforating the stony mansion of my heart with adamantine tears. I uttered the following verses in conformity with the state of mind:
Every moment a breath of life
Sweet sleep on the morning of
Cherish not an inconstant friend.
Send provision for thy journey to thy tomb.
Life is snow, the sun is melting hot.
The capital of man's life is
Four contending rebellious dispositions
After maturely considering these sentiments, I thought proper to sit down in the mansion of retirement to fold up the skirts of association, to wash my tablets of heedless sayings and no more to indulge in senseless prattle:
To sit in a corner, like one
with a cut tongue, deaf and dumb,
I continued in this resolution till a friend, who had been my companion in the camel-litter of misery and my comrade in the closet of affection, entered at the door, according to his old custom with playful gladness, and spread out the surface of desire; but I would give him no reply nor lift up my head from the knees of worship. He looked at me aggrieved and said:
'Now, while thou hast the
power of utterance,
One of my connections informed him how matters stood and told him that I had firmly determined and was intent upon spending the rest of my life in continual devotion and silence, advising him at the same time, in case he should be able, to follow my example and to keep me company.
'I swear by the great dignity of Allah and by our old friendship that I shall not draw breath, nor budge one step, unless he converses with me as formerly, and in his usual way; because it is foolish to insult friends and easy to expiate an oath. It is against propriety, and contrary to the opinions of wise men that the Zulfiqar (sword) of Ali should remain in the scabbard and the tongue of Sa'di in his palate.'
O intelligent man what is the
tongue in the mouth?
Although intelligent men consider silence civil,
In short, I had not the firmness to restrain my tongue from speaking to him, and did not consider it polite to turn away my face from his conversation, he being a congenial friend and sincerely affectionate.
When thou fightest with
I was under the necessity of speaking and then went out by way of diversion in the vernal season, when the traces of severe cold had disappeared and the time of the dominion of roses had arrived:
Green garments were upon the
I happened to spend the night in a garden with one of my friends and we found it to be a pleasant cheerful place with heart-ravishing entangled trees; its ground seemed to be paved with small glass beads whilst, from its vines, bunches like the Pleiades were suspended.
A garden the water of whose
river was limpid
The former full of bright-colored
The next morning when the intention of returning had prevailed over the opinion of tarrying, I saw that my friend had in his skirt collected roses, sweet basil, hyacinths and fragrant herbs with the determination to carry them to town; whereon I said:
'Thou knowest that the roses of the garden are perishable and the season passes away',
and philosophers have said:
'Whatever is not of long duration is not to be cherished.'
He asked: 'Then what is to be done?'
I replied: 'I may compose for the amusement of those who look and for the instruction of those who are present a book of a Rose Garden, a Gulistan, whose leaves cannot be touched by the tyranny of autumnal blasts and the delight of whose spring the vicissitudes of time will be unable to change into the inconstancy of autumn.
Of what use will be a dish of
roses to thee?
After I had uttered these words he threw away the flowers from his skirts, and attached himself to mine, saying:
'When a generous fellow makes a promise he keeps it.'
On the same day I happened to write two chapters, namely on polite society and the rules of conversation, in a style acceptable to orators and instructive to letter-writers.
In short, some roses of the garden still remained when the book of the Rose-garden was finished but it will in reality be completed only after approbation in the court of the Shah, who is the refuge of the world, the shadow of God, the ray of his grace, the treasury of the age, the asylum of the Faith, strengthened by heaven, aided against enemies, the arm of the victorious government, the lamp of the resplendent religion, the beauty of mankind, the boast of Islam, Sa'd son of Atabek the great, the majestic Shahanshah, owner of the necks of nations, lord of the kings of Arabia and Persia, the sultan of the land and the sea, the heir of the kingdom of Solomon, Muzaffaruddin Ibu Bekr, son of Sa'd Zanki, may Allah the most high perpetuate the prosperity of them both and direct their inclinations to every good thing.
Perused with a kind glance,
Record of the Great Amir Fakhruddin Ben Abu Bekr, Son of Abu Nassar
Again, the bride of imagination can for want of beauty not lift up her head nor raise her eyes from the feet of bashfulness to appear in the assembly of persons endowed with pulchritude, unless adorned with the ornaments of approbation from the great Amir, who is learned, just, aided by heaven, victorious, supporter of the throne of the Sultanate and councilor in deliberations of the realm, refuge of the poor, asylum of strangers, patron of learned men, lover of the pious, glory of the dynasty of Pares, right hand of the kingdom, chief of the nobles, boast of the monarchy and of the religion, succor of Islam and of the Muslims, buttress of kings and sultans, Abu Bekr, son of Abu Nassar, may Allah prolong his life, augment his dignity, enlighten his breast and increase his reward twofold, because he enjoys the praise of all great men and is the embodiment of every laudable quality.
Whoever reposes in the shadow
of his favor,
Every attendant and follower has an appointed duty and if, in the performance thereof, he gives way to remissness and indolence, he is certainly called to account and becomes subject to reproaches, except the tribe of dervishes, from whom thanks are due for the benefits they receive from great men as well as praises and prayers, all of which duties are more suitably performed in their absence than in their presence, because in the latter they look like ostentation and in the former they are free from ceremony.
The back of the bent sky
became flat with joy,
Excuse for Remissness in Service and Cause for Preferring Solitude
My negligence and backwardness in diligent attendance at the royal court resemble the case of Barzachumihr, whose merits the sages of India were discussing but could at last not reproach him with anything except slowness of speech because he delayed long and his hearers were obliged to wait till he delivered himself of what he had to say. When Barzachumihr heard of this he said:
'It is better for me to consider what to speak than to repent of what I have spoken.'
A trained orator, old, aged,
How then could I venture to appear in the sight of the grandees of my lord, may his victory be glorious, who are an assembly of pious men and the centre of profound scholars? If I were to be led in the ardor of conversation to speak petulantly, I could produce only a trifling stock-in-trade in the noble presence but:
glass beads are not worth a barleycorn in the bazaar of jewelers, a lamp does not shine in the presence of the sun, and a minaret looks low at the foot of Mount Alvend.
Who lifts up his neck with
I know bouquet-binding but not in the garden. I sell a sweetheart but not in Canaan. Luqman the philosopher, being asked from whom he had learnt wisdom, replied:
'From the blind, who do not take a step before trying the place.'
First move about, then stir out.
Try thy virility first, then
But, trusting in the liberal sentiments of the great, who shut their eyes to the faults of their inferiors and abstain from divulging the crimes of humble men, we have in this book recorded, by way of abridgment, some rare events, stories, poetry and accounts about ancient kings, spending a portion of our precious life in the task. This was the reason for composing the book Gulistan; and help is from Allah.
composition will remain for years,
The author, having deliberated upon the arrangement of the book, and the adornment of the chapters, deemed it suitable to curtail the diction of this beautiful garden and luxuriant grove and to make it resemble paradise, which also has eight entrances. The abridgment was made to avoid tediousness.
At a period when our time was
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