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

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Concerning Education

Those who turn the reins of their desires from unlawful things have surpassed Rustam 31 and Sam 32 in valour.

None is so fearful of the enemy as thou, slave of thine own passions.

The earthly body is a city, containing both good and evil; thou art the King and Reason is thy wise minister.

In this city, the headstrong men pursue their trades of avarice and greed; Resignation and Temperance are the citizens of fame and virtue; Lust and Wantonness the thieves and pick-pockets.

When the king shows favour to the wicked, how can the wise remain in peace?

The passions of evil, envy, and hatred are inherent in thee as is the blood of thy veins. If these thine enemies gained in strength they would turn their heads from thy rule and

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counsel; no resistance do they offer when they see the mailed fist of Reason.

Night-thieves and vagabonds wander not in the places where the patrols guard.

The chief who punishes not his enemy is bereft of power by the strength of the latter.

More on this point I will not speak—a word suffices to him who puts into practice what he reads.


Be silent, O thou who knowest many things! for he that speaketh little will be free from reproach on the Day of Judgment.

The man of many words is deaf; no counsel does he heed like silence.

When thou desirest continually to speak thou findest no sweetness in the speech of others.

Those who reflect upon right and wrong are better than triflers with ready answers.

He that speaks little thou dost never see ashamed; a grain of musk is better than a heap of mud.

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Beware of the fool whose volume of words is as that of ten men—a hundred arrows shot and each one wide of the target. If thou art wise, shoot one, and that one straight.

Utter not slander before a wall—oft may it happen that behind are listening ears.

Enclose thy secrets within the city walls of thy mind, and beware that none may find the gates of thy city open.

A wise man sews up his mouth: the candle: is burned by means of its wick.


Takash, king of Persia, imparted a secret to his slaves, adding, "Tell it not to any one." For a year they kept the secret in their hearts; in one day it became diffused throughout the world.

The king ordered the slaves to be executed. One among them begged for mercy, saying: "Kill not thy slaves, for the fault was thine. Thou didst not dam up that secret when it was a spring: why seek to arrest its course now that it has become a flood?"

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Entrust jewels to treasurers, but be the keeper of thine own secrets. Thou hast the power until the word be spoken; then, does it gain mastery over thee.

Speech is a demon confined in the well of the mind: leave it not free on thy palate and tongue. When the genii has escaped from the cage, no stratagem will bring him back.


There was once in Egypt a religious mendicant who never opened his mouth in speech. Wise men assembled around him from far and near, like moths around a candle.

One night, he reflected: "Merit is concealed beneath a silent tongue. If I remain thus silent, how will men know that I am learned?"

Therefore he indulged in speech, and his friends and enemies alike found him to be the most ignorant man in Egypt. His followers dispersed and his glory vanished. So he went on a journey and wrote on the wall of a mosque: "Had I but seen myself in the mirror of

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understanding I should not imprudently have torn the veil from off my mind. Although deformed, I exposed my figure in the thought that I was handsome."

A little-talker has a high reputation.

Silence is dignity, and the concealer of blemishes.

Express not in haste the thoughts of thy mind, for thou canst reveal them when thou wilt.

The beasts are silent, and men are endowed with speech—idle talkers are worse than the beasts.


In the course of a dispute some one uttered improper words and was, in consequence, seized and nearly throttled.

"O thou conceited fellow!" said an experienced man, if thy mouth had been closed like a bud, thou wouldst not have seen thy skirt torn like a flower."

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Dost thou not see that fire is nothing but a flame, which at any moment can be quenched with water?

If a man possess merit, the merit speaks for itself, not the owner of the merit.

If thou hast not the purest musk, claim not to possess it; if thou hast, it makes itself known by its perfume.


Speak no evil concerning the good or the wicked, for thus thou wrongest the former and makest an enemy of the latter.

Know that he who defames another revealeth his own faults.

If thou speak evil of any one, thou art sinful, even though what thou sayest be true.


To one who stretched his tongue in slander, a wise man said: "Speak not evil of any one before me, so that I may not think ill of thee. Although his dignity is lowered, thine own honour is not increased thereby."

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Some one said: "Thieving is better than back-biting."

I replied: "That is strange to me. What good seest thou in thieving that thou givest it preference to slander?"

"Thieves," he explained, live by virtue of their strength and daring. The slanderer sins and reaps nothing."


A fellow-student at Nizamiah displayed malevolence towards me, and I informed my tutor, saying: "Whenever I give more proper answers than he the envious fellow becomes offended."

The professor replied: The envy of thy friend is not agreeable to thee, but I know not who told thee that back-biting was commendable. If he seek perdition through the path of envy, thou wilt join him by the path of slander."


When a child, unable to distinguish between right and wrong, I once resolved to fast,

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and a certain devout man thus taught me to perform my ablutions and devotions: "First," he said, "repeat the name of God, according to the law of the Prophet; secondly, make a vow; and thirdly, wash the palms of the hands. Then wash thy nose and mouth three times and rub thy front teeth with thy forefinger, for a tooth-brush is forbidden when fasting. After that, throw three handfuls of water upon thy face; then wash thy hands and arms up to the elbows and repeat thy prayers by the telling of -cads and the recital of the attributes and praises of God. Lastly, wipe again thy head and wash thy feet—thus end in the name of God."

"No one," added the old man, "knows the form of ablution better than myself. Dost thou not see that the elder of the village has become decrepit?"

Hearing these words, the elder cried: "O impious wretch! Didst thou not say that the use of a tooth-brush was unlawful in fasting?—I suppose, then, that slander is lawful? Before thou settest about a fast, wash first thy mouth of improper words."

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Some Sufis were sitting together in private, when one of them opened his mouth in slander.

"Didst thou ever make a crusade in Europe?" he was asked.

"Beyond the four walls of my house," he replied, "I have never placed my feet."

"Never have I met so unfortunate a man," observed the questioner. "The infidel remains safe from his enmity, yet a Mussulman escapes not the violence of his tongue."


In relation to an absent friend, two things are unlawful. The first is to squander his possession; the second, to speak evil of his name.

Look not for good words from him who mentions the names of men with scorn, for behind thy back he says those things which he said to thee of others.

He only is wise who concerns himself with his own affairs and is indifferent to the world.

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Three persons only is it permissible to slander. The first is a tyrannical king who oppresses his subjects; it is lawful to speak of his misdeeds so that people may beware of him. The second is he who is shameless; deem it not a sin to speak ill of such a one, for by his own actions are his faults revealed. The third is he that gives false weight and is a cheat; say what thou knowest of his evil ways.


Some one said to a pious man, "Knowest thou what such a one said concerning thee?"

"Silence!" he replied; "it is best not to know what an enemy said. Those who carry the words of an enemy are assuredly worse than the enemy himself. Only they convey the speech of an enemy to a friend who are in agreement with the enemy. Thou art worse than an enemy, for thou revealest what he said in private."

A tale-bearer makes an old strife new; fly as far as thou art able from one who stirs up a dormant quarrel.

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To be tied by the feet in a gloomy pit is better than to carry mischief from place to place.

A quarrel is like a fire which the talebearer feeds with fuel.


Faridun had a vazier who was discerning and of enlightened mind.

Some one went to the king one day and said: "The vazier is thy secret enemy. There is not a person in the kingdom to whom he has not lent out gold and silver on the condition that at thy death the loans shall be repaid."

Regarding the vazier with threatening mien, the king exclaimed:

"Thou appearest before me in the guise of a friend; why art thou my enemy at heart?"

The vazier kissed the ground as he replied: I desire, O renowned king, that all the people should be thy well-wishers. Since at thy death they must repay me, they will pray for thy long life from fear of me."

Approving of this explanation, the king increased the dignities of the vazier, while no

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one was more ill-fated and changed in fortune than the tale-bearer.

It is not compatible with reason to kindle between two men the fire of strife and burn oneself in the flames.


That poor man is a king whose wife is obedient and chaste. Grieve not over the troubles of the day when at night the dispeller of thy sorrows is by thy side.

He has obtained his heart's desire whose beloved is of the same mind as himself.

If a woman be pure and of kindly speech, regard neither her beauty nor her homeliness.

A woman of good nature is more to be-desired than one of beauty, for amiability conceals a multitude of flaws. Beware the ill-tempered fairy. May heaven grant protection from a bad woman!

Prison is preferable to a house full of frowns; travelling is a joy to him whose house contains. a woman of ugly mind.

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Close the door of happiness upon that house whence the woman's voice comes louder than her husband's.

If thy wife take the road to the bazar, beat her, or sit thyself like a woman in thy house. Let her eyes be blind in the presence of strangers; when she goeth from thy house, let it be to the grave.

Take a new wife each Spring, O friend, for last year's almanac serves no purpose.

To walk bare-footed is better than to wear tight shoes; the hardships of a journey are better than discord at home.


If thou desire that thy name should remain, train thy son in knowledge and wisdom, for if he possess not these thou diest obscure, with no one to commemorate thy name.

Teach him a handicraft, though thou be as. rich as Korah. Place no hope in the power that thou hast—riches may go from thee.

A bag of silver and gold is emptied; the purse of an artisan remains filled.

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Dost thou not know how Sadi attained to rank? He journeyed not over the plains, nor crossed the seas. In his youth he served under the yoke of the learned: God granted him distinction in after-life. And it is not long before he who serves obtains command.

A boy who suffers not at the hands of his teacher suffers at the hands of Time.

Make thy son good and independent, so that he may not be beholden to any man.

Protect him from evil associates; and pity him not if he bring ruin and destruction upon himself, for it is better that a vicious son should .die before his father.


There was a certain young preacher who was learned and intelligent, a man of sanctity and a true worshipper. He was forcible in eloquence and correct in grammar, but his articulation was so faulty that he could not properly repeat the letters of the alphabet.

I said to a holy man: "The youth has not got his front teeth!"

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"Speak not thus, "he replied. "Thou hast discerned his fault, but thine eyes are closed to his many virtues. Thorns and roses grow together; why regardest thou only the thorns? He who is of bad nature sees nothing in the peacock but its ugly feet."

Expose not the faults of others, for thereby art thou forgetful of thine own failings.

Whether I be good or evil, keep thou silent, for I am the bearer of my own profit and loss, and God is better acquainted with my character than thou.

I seek no reward from thee for my virtues so that I may not be afflicted by thee by reason of my sins.

For every good act God will bestow, not one, but ten rewards. If thou see one virtue in a man, do thou pass over the ten faults that he hath.

Are not all things created the product of the art of God?—black they are and white, handsome and deformed. Not every eye and eyebrow that thou seest is good: eat the kernel of the nut and throw the husk away.

Next: Chapter VIII. Concerning Gratitude