King Dábishlím said, ‘In the environs of Baṣrah* there was an island of an excessively pleasant climate, and a desert of surpassing beauty and frcshness, where limpid waters flow on every side, and a life-bestowing zephyr breathes around.

Trees flourished thickly interwoven there,
Whereon grew fruits, sweet-flavoured, fresh and rare.
Their boughs, than Ṭúba’s* more delightsome, shade
Grass, than the lily finer in its blade.

And from its excessive exquisiteness they called it the ‘Joy-expanding Wilderness,’ and a Tiger bore sway there, such that from dread of him fierce lions could not set foot in that retreat, and from awe of him the wild beasts and savage animals could not allow the thought of that solitude to encircle their minds.

When with his tail he furious lashed the rock,
Heaven’s lion dropped his talons at the shock.
And where he but for one short instant paused,
A long year’s stoppage to that road he caused.

He had lived much time in that wild, according to his wish, and had never seen the form of disappointment in the mirror of existence. He had a young one whose countenance made the world seem bright to him, and in meeting which lustre of his eyes, his vision was enlightened. His intention was that when that young one came to years, and stained his teeth and claws in the gore of wild beasts, he would commit that solitude to his charge, and pass the rest of his life at ease in the corner of retirement. The blossom of his wish had not yet expanded on the stem of desire, when the autumn of death gave the fruit of the garden of his existence to the wind of destruction.

How many a hope has crumbled into dust.

And when this Tiger was seized by the claw of the lion, Death, several wild beasts who for a long time entertained a desire for that wilderness, made a unanimous movement, and set about appropriating it. The young tiger saw that he possessed not the strength to resist. He went voluntarily into exile, and amongst the wild beasts a huge contest arose. A blood-spilling, tumult-causing lion, overcame all the others, and brought by conquest that joy-expanding wilderness which resembled Paradise, into the area of his own possession, and the young Tiger having for some time endured distress in the mountains and wastes, conveyed himself to another haunt, and disclosed the affliction of his heart to the wild beasts of that district, and asked their aid to remedy this interruption [of his happiness]. They, having received intelli­gence of the victory of the predaceous lion and of the overpowering might of that martial king of beasts, rejected with aversion [the request for] help and assistance, and said, ‘O unfortunate! thy place is now in the possession of a lion such that from terror of him the birds will not fly over that wilder­ness, and from fear of him the elephant will not approach that desert. We have not strength to fight with him, nor to sustain his teeth and claws, and thou too art not able to enter with him the arena of strife and encounter. Our opinion demands that thou shouldst betake thyself to his court, and with perfect loyalty enter his service.’

Forbear ’gainst him the flag of war t’ unfurl,
Whom from his fixèd seat thou canst not hurl.*
’Tis best that thou submissive accents use,
Be humble to him, and thyself excuse.

These words seemed reasonable to the young Tiger, and he looked upon his best course to be this, that he should voluntarily enter the service of the lion, and to the extent of his ability, offer the duties of attendance. He, therefore, put in practice the maxim ‘Returning is best,’ and through the intervention of one of the nobles, he obtained the honor of waiting on the lion, and having become the object of the imperial regard, was appointed to an office suited to his spirit. The tiger having tightly fastened the belt of obedience on the waist of affection, displayed the marks of prudence and dutiful service in such a manner as every moment to cause an increase of nearness to the king’s presence, and an augmentation of the royal favour to such an extent, that he became an object of envy to the nobles and ministers of his majesty; in spite of which every instant his painstaking and zeal in the service waxed greater, and he incessantly displayed increased exertion, in the affairs of the state.

They who excel in zeal, in toil precede,
Must of all others fairly take the lead.

Once upon a time an important and necessary affair arose which called the lion away to a distant jungle; and at that time the heat of the oven of the sky, was unmitigated,* and the expanse of waste and mountain, like a furnace of glass, fiercely inflamed. From the excessive heat of the air, the brain of animals was boiled in their cranium, and the crabs in the water were fried like fish in the frying-pan.

Had sudden clouds collected then—so burned
The air—their drops to fiery sparks had turned.
Birds in their passage through the liquid air,
Moth-like, consumed, had lost their feathers there.
The sun so fiercely through the æther shone,
It melted e’en the heart of the hard stone.

The lion reflected, ‘At such a time, when the shell at the bottom of the deep, like a fowl on a spit, is roasting; and the ocean, from fear of the sun’s heat, steps not in the midst* of the fire to the shore, an affair of this importance has occurred. Who may there be among my attendants, who would not be affected by the labour? and who, undeterred by the heat of the atmosphere, would approach this undertaking?’ In the midst of this reflection, the Tiger came in with the line of attendants, and observed that the king was thoughtful. On the ground of his abundant affection and complete tact, he advanced near the throne of royalty, and was emboldened to ask the causes of that thoughtfulness, and having learned how the case stood, he took upon himself to accomplish the matter, and having been honored with permission, he set off with a body of attendants, and arriving at that place at noon, he betook himself to the accomplishment of the affair, and the instant that the business was settled to his satisfaction, he changed his reins to return. The officers and counsellors, who had been appointed to attend upon him, unanimously represented as follows: ‘In such heat as this, all this distance has been traversed by the steps of completion, and now that the affair has been settled and that there is not the slightest cause for uneasiness; and the confidence placed in you by his high majesty, has been demonstrated to the extent that it has, it will certainly not be removed from advisability, if you should repose a short time under the shade of a tree, and allay the fiery tongue of thirst by drinking cool water.’

Rest! and the load of toil support no more;
Repose!* for earthly troubles have no shore.

The Tiger smiled and said, ‘My intimacy and rank with his majesty the king, is a banner that I have by toil and effort set up. It would not be well to level it with the ground by indulgence and sloth. Without supporting trouble it is impossible to arrive at the carrying off treasure, and unaccom­panied by the heart-afflicting thorn, we cannot reap the enjoyment of surveying the rose-garden.

He may embrace his wishes’ neck, who will,
Shield-like, confront the darts of coming ill;
This will not from mere longing hopes arise,
’Tis won by efforts stern, and tearful eyes.’

The informers furnished intelligence of this to the lion, and recited the book of this affair, from the preface to* the conclusion. The lion nodded the head of approval, and said, ‘Such a person is fit for sway and chieftainship, who can raise up his head from the collar of toil;* and the people may be at peace in the just reign of that ruler who does not place his head on the pillow of repose.’

That monarch’s reign will peace and rest ensure,
Who can himself the loss of rest endure.
Happy the sovereign who submits his mind
To hardships, that his subjects rest may find.

He then sent for the Tiger, and having distinguished him with special honors, committed that jungle to him, and having bestowed on him the place of his sire, conferred on him, in addition, the dignity of being his heir. And the use of this apologue is, that thou mayest learn that to no one does the sun of his wish rise from the eastern quarter of hope, without the diligent use of great exertion; nor, without complete and searching labour, does the preamble of hope yield the issue of the acquirement of the desired object.

Who bears not toil, will ne’er the treasure gain;
His is the guerdon, brother! whose the pain.

And since in this journey the object is the quest of knowledge, I have formed a firm resolution, and have placed the foot of endeavour in the stirrup of intention. From the mere thought of the labour which may accrue in going* and returning, the page of my purpose shall not receive the inscription of abrogation, and the cavalier of lofty spirit, will not turn back from this path, ‘This is a matter that is absolutely determined.’*

When his foot a monarch places in the stirrup, firm of will,
Is it strange if fortune ceases then the reins to manage still!

When the vazírs perceived that the prohibitions of advice could not prevent the king’s purpose, they conformed to his opinion, and employed themselves in preparing the necessary articles for the march; and having paid the congratulations usual on commencing a journey, repeating this couplet, they sent up shouts to the revolving vault of heaven:

Since thou wilt go, may God’s grace thee attend!
And all Saints’ spirit guide thee and befriend!

Then the King Dábishlím committed the reins of public affairs to the hand of the good sense of one of the pillars of the state in whom he reposed confidence, and repeated in the ear of his intelligence, with reference to the tender treatment of his subjects and protection of his people, certain words of advice which might serve as the fringe of the robe of kingly power: and among them the following,

‘Thy kingdom will Sikandar’s mirror* be,
Wherein thou mayst thy own appearance see;
It will not shew thy features fairly traced,
Unless oppression’s stain be thence erased.
Let, like the morn, thy beams delight the eye,
And dread thy sorrowing subjects’ morning-sigh;
A hundred archers’ slaughtering shafts do less
Than one crone’s sigh—one sigh of helplessness.’

And when his mind was relieved from the cares of state, he turned his face with a retinue of chosen attendants and servants, towards Sarándíp, and, like the moon, advanced stage by stage, and, like the sun, proceeded from city* to city,* and at every halting-place he made the acquisition of new experiences, and from every caravan he gained fresh advantages, until after traversing the stages of land and sea, and enduring the hardships of cold and heat, the shores of Sarándíp appeared to him, and the fragrant breezes of that country reached the nostrils of the king.

Who scents thy fragrance on the morning gales,
News from his loved one—happy news—inhales.

And after he had rested from the fatigues of his journey for two or three days in the city of Sarándíp, and had left his superfluous baggage there, he turned his face with two or three of his confidential attendants towards the mountain, and when he had ascended its heights, he beheld an elevation which cast the shadow of its skirt on the sun, and the glitter of whose peak* threw its radiance on the beams of the planet Mars.

In height it matched heaven’s crystal sphere, and made
There, with its rocks, alternate light and shade;
Matched with the swift white courser of the sky,*
Its summit passed it in the contest by:
The heaven beneath its peak of iron hue,
Seemed like the grass which on its skirt up-grew.

On every side were meadows adorned with a variety of fragrant herbs, and in all directions flower-gardens, which resembled the abundant delights of Paradise.

Its meadows’ borders emerald fruits unfold,
Its heights are girdled with bright belts of gold;
Beside its waters flourish Ṭúba-bowers,
And Eden draws fresh fragrance from its flowers.

Dábishlím perambulated it on every side, and made the devotional circuit of its holy places. In the midst of this going to and fro, his eyes fell on a cave, the darkness of which matched the light of the eye,* and the mysterious saying, ‘Light in darkness,’ was illuminated by its gloom. By searching inquiry of those who lived near those places, he learned that it was the abode of a sage whom they called Bídpáí, that is to say, ‘the kind physician,’* and that from certain of the great men of Hind, it had been heard that his name was Pílpáí, which, in Hindí they call Hastí-pát, and that he was a man who had ascended the steps of learning, and had adorned, with the ornaments of excellent qualities, the jewel of reason: and at that period had abandoned the society of men, and contenting himself with a small pittance, had sewed up his eyes from things connected with the world, and consumed with the flame of the fire of abstinence, the rubbish of unholy dispositions. The eye of his wakefulness, from the excess of his vigils, beheld not the countenance of sleep, and the ear of his senses, from the extent of his abstinence, heard nought but the summons, ‘God inviteth unto the dwelling of peace.’*

His breath a treasure, sifting verities;
His face the sun of those who early rise.*
In each thing he—purse-holder to the sky—
In all the confidant of destiny.

Dábishlím, in the desire of meeting him, stood some time without the cave, and, by the language of gesture, asked of the inward [soul] of that perfect saint, permission to come as a pilgrim to him. The clear-minded sage—by secret inspiration and intelligence, free from doubt—obtained information of the meaning of the world-conquering king, and uttered the cry, ‘Enter ye therein in peace and security.’*

That wisdom-teaching* cave, the monarch high
Entered; and made it China’s gallery.*
In service of that sage, he girt his waist,
The belt of homage on his soul he placed.

He looked and beheld a Bráhman, who had stepped with the foot of abrogation into the world of retirement, and had unfurled the pennon* of truth in the plain of subtlety. Angelic mind revealed itself in his human countenance, and the cleanliness of his body was a manifest demonstration of the purity of his spirit. The king sagaciously discerned that he should obtain from him his wish, and by the auspicious influence of his spirit, would arrive at his object. With all respect he advanced towards him, and when he drew near the Bráhman, he performed due salutation and fulfilled the requisite homage. The Bráhman after receiving and replying to the salute, and performing the conventional compliments, signed [to the king] to sit; and having inquired of him as to the fatigues of the road, asked the reason of his taking on himself the trouble of the journey and abandoning the pleasure of a fixed residence. Dábishlím repeated, from beginning to end, the story of his dream, and of the treasure and the testament, and the consignment of its completion to Sarándíp. The Bráhman smiled and said, ‘Honor to the high spirit of the king! that in the pursuit of wisdom he takes upon himself all this toil, and, on account of the repose of his oppressed subjects and the peace of the poor among his people, accepts various kinds of labour and trial.

O thou who by true wisdom lov’st to reign!
Thou in this way thy empire mayst maintain;
The plant thou waterest now with tender care,
Must on its boughs the fairest* produce bear.

Then the Bráhman having opened the lid of the casket of secret knowledge, filled the shell of the king’s ear with the jewels of wisdom, and putting aside his own avocations for some days, employed himself in instructing the monarch, and in the midst of their converse, mention was made of the testament of Húshang. The king recounted to the sage, the precepts, one by one; and the Bráhman addressed the great monarch on the subject: and Dábishlím indited his words, with the pen of understanding, on the tablet of memory; and the book ‘Kalílah and Damnah,’ is composed of the questions and answers of the King and Bráhman; and we have arranged it in fourteen chapters, after the manner set forth in the catalogue of the book, and, ‘Aid is from God from whom help is supplicated; He is sufficient for us, and in Him is our trust.’