2,001. See Note 1,999.

2,002. Gūrkhān, which may bear the sense of wild-ass=king, is applied here as a title to Bahrām on account of his devotion to the chase of the wild-ass.

For the original meaning of Gūrkhān, see Note 636.

2,003. Bar girifta ba-qaṣd chāra-gar-ash. “His helper”; i.e., the onager, a heavenly messenger.

The B. ed. of 1328 has,

Bar girifta ba-pūya chār-par-ash: “His four-winged (steed) he pressed on at a gallop”; or, “His four-winged (steed) bore him on at a gallop.”

Or, if bar is a MS. error for par, we should translate,

“His four-winged (steed) took wings on in (its) gallop,” or, “for (its) gallop.”

2,004. Lit., “no person (had) any road to its gate”; i.e., to the gate of the chasm in the cave.

As the slave-boys stand at the mouth of the cave, and the guards afterwards search inside of it, there is apparently an inconsistency, unless the Author means that there was no outlet to it. Or it may be that poetical exaggeration is expressing as impossible that which was, perhaps, only difficult and dangerous.

The sense might possibly be that no one had previously found the way to its mouth, but this seems somewhat strained.

The following account from Canon Rawlinson’s “Seventh Oriental Monarchy” is of interest in this connexion:

“After a reign which is variously estimated at nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, and twenty-three years Bahrām died by a death which would have been thought incredible, had not a repetition of the disaster, on the traditional site, been witnessed by an English traveller in comparatively recent times.

“The Persian writers state that Bahrām was engaged in the hunt of the wild ass, when his horse came suddenly upon a deep pool or spring of water, and either plunged into it, or threw his rider into it, with the result that Bahrām sank and never reappeared.

“The supposed scene of the incident is a valley between Ispahan and Shiraz. Here, in 1810, an English soldier lost his life through bathing in the spring traditionally declared to be that which proved fatal to Bahrām. The coincidence has caused the general acceptance of a tale which would probably have been otherwise regarded as altogether romantic and mythical.”

The Encyclopœdia of Islām says Bahrām reigned from A.D. 430 to 438, and that he died after a fall while hunting.

It also says that “his strength and skill in bodily exercises earned him the name of Gōr, ‘wild ass,’ not given, as the legend has it, because he transfixed a lion and a wild ass with one arrow”.

2,005. “The Loved One” presumably means the Deity, with whom he is united and in communion. The term is yār-i ghār, “the cave-friend,” a term which was applied originally to Abū Bakr, the first Khalif, who hid with Muḥammad in a cave on the flight from Mecca.

2,006. Lit., “they saw the snake-stone in the snake’s brain.”

The king is likened to the jewel or snake-stone in the snake’s head, which was supposed to be an antidote against its poison.

By its being in the serpent’s brain (i.e., in the cavern) is implied that it is difficult or impossible to attain to it. (See also Note 1,693.)

2,007. The elephant is supposed to dream of its native India.

The sense, as regards the king, is that he had returned to his native place, the spiritual world, and to union with the Deity.

2,008. “Check to king and castle” by “the bishop”, called in Oriental chess “the elephant”. The term is pīl-band, “bound by the bishop,” and is explained as above by Dr. Forbes in his History of Chess. It should be added that the castle was the most valuable piece in Oriental chess.

The meaning of the distich is that the king had escaped the trammels of the world and the body, and attained to the spiritual state and to union with God.

2,009. The king being as a buried treasure, which is supposed to be always guarded by a snake or dragon.

2,010. Lit., “the more she sought the less she found.”

2,011. Sāz-i īn hīch chāra-sāz na-dād.

The B. ed. of 1328 has,

sāz-i chāra(h) ba-chāra-sāz na-dād: “no means of help on helpers she bestowed.”

2,012. Lit., “in farewell to the deposit of others”; i.e., the deposit belonging to others and confided to you only for a time.

2,013. i.e., which she had pledged to Bahrām.

2,014. i.e., all the kings his descendants have lived in fame.

2,015. i.e., think how Bahrām with all his glory came to the tomb.

2,016. In this and the preceding four distichs there is a play upon the two senses of the word gūr, “wild-ass,” and “tomb”.

2,017. i.e., man is, on an average, three ells high and one ell broad. The “four jars” are the four humours, the sanguine, phlegmatic, bilious, and splenetic, associated with the blood, the phlegm, the liver, and the spleen, the first red, the second white, the third yellow, and the fourth black.

“The dyer” is the body.

2,018. More literally, “the inspector or superintendent of police of a town,” shaḥna.

2,019. i.e., those who from their sordid nature are prone to grovel for worldly advantages meet with nothing but humiliation.

2,020. i.e., Why do you worry yourself in your relations with others? Why do you trouble as to what they may effect?

2,021. “Your field,” and “your canvas” both mean “your mind”, which contains and encompasses all things. The mind or spirit in its fullest extent, as with the prophet or saint, is as the Universal Spirit, in which all ideas exist. From these ideas, by incarnation, all things in the phenomenal world arise. (See the next distich.)

2,022. i.e., in your mind or spirit.

2,023. That “one line” is alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, which, as a straight line to which nothing is attached, is taken as a symbol of the Deity. Man is called here “central dot” because his heart or rational soul, which constitutes him as man, is considered as the centre of all, occupying a middle place between the necessary existence of God, vujūb, and the contingent existence of all else, imkān.

2,024. “Those other letters” are all things other than God, which follow, as it were, upon alif, the first letter. (See the last Note.)

2,025. It is apparently implied that one may judge of good and ill by a kind of intuition. It is certainly believed by the Ṣūfī that one cannot attain to spirituality and union with the Deity by reason, but only by becoming the disciple of a Ṣūfī saint, and by following out the Ṣūfī Path. The orthodox belief too is that reason has nothing to do with the uṣūl of Dogma. (See Note 2,076.)

2,026. i.e., seek spiritual wisdom and discernment where they may be found, or be (if you can) a being who can discern without having found discernment, which no one can be.

2,027. “The eyes” mean here probably “the eyes of reason”, and reason, as explained in Note 2,025, is powerless to estimate the Light of spirituality which is the abode or heaven of the angels.

2,028. i.e., the earth takes sample-tastes, as it were, to distinguish what is of heaven or spiritual. It is a place where what is of heaven may be sought.

2,029. i.e., one may attain on earth to the heavenly or spiritual.

2,030. i.e., turn from this world and the things of it.

2,031. “A chamber with four flues”; i.e., the world, in respect of its four quarters.

Dūd, “smoke,” which is implied in the first hemistich, means also “distress, affliction, anguish, sadness”.

2,032. “A thing of two doors”; i.e., the world, in respect of birth and death.

2,033. The world in respect of its having four quarters is likened to a species of wallet or bag with four flaps or sides which may be closed and tied with four fastenings. (See also Note 383.)

2,034. “The village”; i.e., the world.

2,035. i.e., make proper preparation for your journey.

2,036. “The horse” is the carnal or animal soul. By loading it lightly is meant not engaging with it any more than is absolutely necessary.

There is a parallel passage to this in Rūmī’s Masnavī:

“Ride the ass bare-backed, O seeker of superfluities; did not the prophet ride an ass bare-backed?” The Note (392) which I appended to this is as follows:

“By ‘riding the ass bare-backed’ is meant pursuing one’s course with a soul free from sensual desires and evil passions, the soul having by discipline become ‘nafs-i muṭma´inna’; i.e., ‘a tranquillized soul’ which no longer seeks sensual gratification.” (C. E. Wilson’s Translation of Rūmī’s Masnavī, Book II.)

2,037. In agreement with the Gnostic belief that he who knows the nature of the higher soul is immortal.

2,038. In this and the next three distichs the Author is alluding to the Universal Spirit, Rūḥ-i Kull, the first Creation, (or Emanation), and to the a’yān-i sābita, “fixed essences, prototypes, or ideas” in it of all things which by incarnation appear in the phenomenal world.

2,039. i.e., though the spiritual world is limitless and beautiful, we have nothing in view but things of the material world, which are as thorns in the eyes.

2,040. i.e., the spiritual world has nothing of the darkness or light of the material world.

2,041. “These seven tablets”; i.e., the seven earths.

“With their four-fold make”; i.e., consisting of the four elements.

2,042. I have adopted the reading of the B. ed. of 1328:

Dar vai āhasta rau ki tīz-hush ast.

Another reading is,

Daur-i āhasta-rau ki dūd-kush (or, dūd-kash) ast: “Slow-moving time or fortune which is a smoke-killer.”

Dūd, “smoke,” means also “vapour, sighs, affliction”, but the compound dūd-kush, “a smoke-killer,” can have no meaning here whichever of these senses be applied.

Dūd-kash, “a smoke-drawer,” i.e., “a chimney,” would give sense, but we can scarcely take it as a rhyme to zūd-kush in the second hemistich. It is possible that the correct reading may be,

Daur-i āhasta-rau ki tīz-hush ast: “Slow-moving fortune which is keen of sense,” but the antithesis is scarcely better than in the reading of the Bombay edition.

The meaning is that the world or fortune revenges any infringe­ment of its laws.

2,043. i.e., the world or fortune is not a wanton tyrant, but deals with everyone, weak or powerful, in the manner appointed by God’s preordinances. As the next distich indicates, it gives each one his allotted portion. Notwithstanding this, it is a common practice, even with the greatest writers, to complain of the capriciousness and tyranny of the world or fortune.

2,044. This means that the sky is as an ice-bound tank; i.e., it is likened to frozen water.

2,045. Lit., “how long would you make beer of this ice? how long?” Fuqā‘ gushādan or gushūdan, “to make beer,” is explained as “to boast of, to glory in”, but here, as in some passages of Khāqānī, it apparently means “to seek profit from”. The sense is that the sky or fortune is intractable, and that it is vain to try to force profit from it. It treats men in accordance with God’s preordinances.

In addition to this, it is implied in this and the next distich that the sky or fortune has a freezing or deadening effect upon the heart, which must be resisted in order that spiritual life may be gained.

The next distich, mentioned above, does not occur in the B. ed. of 1328. In place of it are two which I render as follows:

“And he who, like the sky, goes round the world, at last gives up all (he has gained) and goes.

“The vile and worthless world is lost to him; the whirling wheel as vortex whirls for him.” i.e., when the wheel, the sky, decrees him death, it is, as it were, a vortex for him in which he is engulfed.

I should render the next distich of the same edition:

“By reason of his worldly, selfish aims, he has derived no profit from his life.”

2,046. “That World of yours” is the world of spirituality.

2,047. This distich is not in the B. ed. of 1328.

2,048. Or, simply, “from death,” since the soul is considered alive only by abandoning the world and becoming endued with spirituality.

Before this distich a distich occurs in the B. ed. of 1328 which, though somewhat incorrectly printed, I take to mean,

“Beware the sword! from all that you have gained of gems and stores by effort and by toil.”

“The sword” signifies presumably that of fate or death.

If this distich be not spurious the next one must be rendered, in continuation of it,

“Withdraw your soul before you leave the world, that you may save your soul from (fear of) death.”

2,049. I have followed the B. ed. of 1328 for the position of this distich. It is less well placed in the I.O. MSS. I have consulted.

2,050. Pāya, “rank,” is the reading of the B. ed. of 1328. The I.O. MSS. have, generally, māya, “wealth.”