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Arab Caravan, by Jean-Leon Gerome [19th cent.] (Public Domain Image)
Arab Caravan, by Jean-Leon Gerome [19th cent.] (Public Domain Image)

The Bustan of Sadi

tr. by A. Hart Edwards


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Be generous to the extent of thy power. If thou hast not dug a well in the desert, at least place a lamp in a shrine.--p. 48

This is a prose translation of the Bustan of Sadi, originally published as part of the Wisdom of the East series in the early 20th century, and long out of print. This little book is full of practical spiritual wisdom. Sadi doesn't lean on allegory as much as other Sufi writers of the period; most of the stories in this collection have a pretty obvious moral lesson.

Born in Shiraz, Iran, in 1184, Sādi (pseudonym of Muslih-ud-Din Mushrif ibn Abdullah) is considered one of the major medieval Persian poets. He traveled widely, through regions of what is today Syria, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. Vignettes of gritty caravan and street scenes give life to his tales. In old age he returned to Shiraz, and composed his two best-known works, the poetic Bustan, or Orchard (in 1257), and the prose Gulistan, the Rose Garden (in 1258). He died in 1283 or possibly 1291.

Title Page
Editorial Note
Chapter I. Concerning Justice, Counsel, and the Administration of Government
Chapter II. Concerning Benevolence
Chapter III. Concerning Love
Chapter IV. Concerning Humility
Chapter V. Concerning Resignation
Chapter VI. Concerning Contentment
Chapter VII. Concerning Education
Chapter VIII. Concerning Gratitude
Chapter IX. Concerning Repentance
Chapter X. Concerning Prayer