Saturday, 24 November 2012

Sheikh Saadi

Shri Nathji has a high word of praise for Persian poets who delve into spiritual secrets, and says that no other writings contain as much emotion on spiritual themes as do the writings in Persian which directly touch the heart–like the verses of Sheikh Saadi and others.Shri Nathji fondly narrated this incident from the like of Saadi.
Sheikh Saadi was renowned all over the land and was the favorite of kings and emperors.
A stranger came to the town where he lived and asked for directions to his house. A man on the street pointed out the direction.
The stranger proceeded on his way and found to his great astonishment a hut made of grass and straw!
He had imagined that a man of Sheikh Saadi’s stature would have been living in a palace.
He called out to Sheikh Saadi in the following Persian words:
“Khaanaye Saadi choon deedam ba yak mushte khaar-o-khas ast!
“I saw the house of Saadi and it was but a handful of grass and straw!”
Sheikh Saadi, who was inside the hut, heard the voice of the stranger and replied from inside:
“Kaarvaane raihravaan raa een qadar manzil bas ast!”
“For the caravan that must go along its way, this much of a resting-place is enough!
The two lines are put together in the following Persian Verse–the first line being the invocation by the stranger who calls out to Sheikh Saadi, and the second line being the voice of Sheikh Saadi as he replies to the stranger:
Khaanaye Saadi choon deedam ba yak mushte khaar O khas ast
Kaaravaane raihravaan raa een qadar manzil bas ast
I saw the house of Sheikh Saadi and it was but a handful of grass and straw,
For the Caravan that goes along its way, this much of a resting-place is enough!
Indeed it was only Shri Nathji who could recite the verse with such great feeling that it brought tears to the eyes of his listeners. It was not a mere verse for Shri Nathji, but rather a reality of life.
Shri Nathji was also fond of quoting another verse of Sheikh Saadi, which revealed the mysteries of life:
“Maneh dil bareen daihare naapaayedaar
Ze Saadi hami yak sukhan yaad daar
“Bind not your heart to this perishable world,
Remember but this one word of Saadi!”
Sheikh Saadi’s (born : 1184; Died:1283/1291 - aged 99/107)  full name was Abū-Muhammad Muslih al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī, Saadi Shirazi and better known by his pen-name Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources. He is recognized for the quality of his writings, and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts. His tomb, whose photograph is shown below is located in his home town of Shiraz in Iran.
His father died when he was an infant. Saadi experienced a youth of poverty and hardship, and left his native town at a young age for Baghdad to pursue a better education. As a young man he was inducted to study at the famous an-Nizamiyya center of knowledge (1195–1226), where he excelled in Islamic sciences, law, governance, history, Arabic literature, and Islamic theology.
The unsettled conditions following the Mongol invasion of Khwarezm and Iran led him to wander for 30 years abroad through Turkey, Syria, Egypt  and Iraq. He also travelled in India. He also performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and also visited Jerusalem.  Due to Mongol invasions he lived in desolate areas and met caravans fearing for their lives on once lively silk trade routes. Saadi lived in isolated refugee camps where he met bandits, Imams, men who formerly owned great wealth or commanded armies, intellectuals, and ordinary people. While Mongol and European sources (such as Marco Polo) gravitated to the potentates and courtly life of Ilkhanate rule, Saadi mingled with the ordinary survivors of the war-torn region. He sat in remote teahouses late into the night and exchanged views with merchants, farmers, preachers, wayfarers, thieves, and Sufi mendicants. For twenty years or more, he continued the same schedule of preaching, advising, and learning, honing his sermons to reflect the wisdom and foibles of his people. Saadi's works reflects upon the lives of ordinary Iranians suffering displacement, plight, agony and conflict, during the turbulent times of Mongol invasion.
Saadi was captured by Crusaders at Acre where he spent 7 years as a slave digging trenches outside its fortress. He was later released after the Mamluks paid ransom for Muslim prisoners being held in Crusader dungeons.
 Saadi like many other Muslims was displaced by the ensuing conflict thus beginning a 30 year journey. He first took refuge at Damascus and witnessed the famine in one of the most efficient cities of the world. After the frightful Sack of Baghdad in 1258 by Hulegu and the Ilkhanate Horde, Saadi visited Jerusalem and then set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.
Saadi then visits Mamluk Egypt, of Sultan Baibars. He mentions the Qadis, Muftis of Al-Azhar, the grand Bazaar, music and art. At Halab Saadi joins a group of Sufis who had fought arduous battles against the Crusaders. Further Saadi travels to Turkey first, mentions the port city of Adana and the wealthy Ghazi landowners in Anatolia.
Saadi mentions Honey-gatherers in Azerbaijan, fearful of Mongol plunder.
At Khorasan Saadi befriends a Turkic Emir named Tughral. Saadi joins him and his men on their journey to Sindh where he met Pir Puttur, a follower of the Persian Sufi grand master Shaikh Usman Marvandvi (1117–1274).
  Saadi then travelled across the Indus River and when they reach the Thar Desert, Tughral hires Hindu sentinels. Tughral later enters service of the wealthy Delhi Sultanate and Saadi is invited to Delhi and later visits the Vizier of Gujarat. During his stay in Gujarat Saadi learns more of the Hindus and visits the large temple of Somnath. Later Saadi returns to his native Shiraz and earns the patronage of its leaders.
His best known works are Bostan (The Orchard) completed in 1257 and Gulistan (The Rose Garden) in 1258. Bostan is entirely in verse (epic metre) and consists of stories aptly illustrating the standard virtues recommended to Muslims (justice, liberality, modesty, contentment) as well as of reflections on the behavior of dervishes and their ecstatic practices.
Photo on the left is of a fountain in the garden n the tomb of Saadi in Shiraz. 


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    1. Dear Ashraf - I would love to give credit to the original researchers. Since I got most of the information from Wikipedia, I cannot decide on who did the research. If hope you can help me in that. But Saadi is as such a household name in Iran and Iraq and most people there know about him.