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The garden (Bustan) is one of the greatest literary, ethical and social masterpiece in Persian literature; by celebrated Persian poet, Sa’di. The original name of the book was “Book of Sa’di” (Sa’di Nameh). It is a unique literary work, containing fluency, eloquence, beauty and wisdom. The Garden is composed in rhyming couplets.
Sheikh Muslih al-Din Sa’di (1184 – 1283), born in Shiraz, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval ####period. He is recognized not only for the quality of his writing, but also for the depth of his social thoughts. As a young man he was inducted to study at the famous an-Nizzāmīya center of knowledge (1195-1226), where he excelled in Islamic Sciences, law, governance, history, Arabic literature and theology. He also performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and also visited Jerusalem. Sa’di traveled in those regions from 1271 to 1294, due to the Mongol onslaught he lived in desolate areas and met caravans fearing for their lives on once lively silk trade routes, he lived in isolated refugee camps where he met bandits, Imams, men who formerly owned great wealth or commanded armies, intellectuals and ordinary people. Sa’di clearly seems to have learned Psychology and Psychoanalysis from those experiences and encounters. When he reappeared in his native Shiraz he was an elderly man. Shiraz, under Atabak Abubakr Sa'd ibn Zangy (1231-60) was enjoying an era of relative tranquility. Sa’di was not only welcomed to the city but was respected highly by the ruler and enumerated among the greats of the province. In response, Sa’di took his nom de plume from the name of the local prince, Sa'd ibn Zangi, and composed some of his most delightful panegyrics as an initial gesture of gratitude in praise of the ruling house and placed them at the beginning of his Bustan. He seems to have spent the rest of his life in Shiraz.
His best known works are Bustan ("The Orchard") completed in 1257 and Gulistan ("The Rose Garden") in 1258. Bustan 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 behaviour of dervishes and their ecstatic practices. Gulistan is mainly in prose and contains stories and personal anecdotes. The text is interspersed with a variety of short poems, containing aphorisms, advice, and humorous reflections. Sa’di demonstrates a profound awareness of the absurdity of human existence. The fate of those who depend on the changeable moods of kings is contrasted with the freedom of the dervishes. His lyrics are to be found in “Lyrics" and his odes in “Odes”. He is also known for a number of works in Arabic. The peculiar blend of human kindness and cynicism, humour, and resignation displayed in Sa’di's works, together with a tendency to avoid the hard dilemma, make him, to many, the most typical and loveable writer in the world of Iranian culture. Sa’di's prose style, described as "simple but impossible to imitate" flows quite naturally and effortlessly. Its simplicity, however, is grounded in a semantic web consisting of synonymy, homophony, and oxymoron buttressed by internal rhythm and external rhyme. The tomb of Sa’di in Shiraz is a place of pilgrimage to lovers of poetry and literature.
The book structure
Bustan is written in rhyming couplets over 4000 – 5000 couplets. It includes the following chapters:
1-On justice, management and judgment
6- On offering hanks to God for health
The contents indicate that the poet was influenced by the two great Persian poets: Ferdowsi and Nezami.
Bustan is written in the same rhythm as Shahname (Book of King; Ferdowsi’s famous work).
Translation and annotations
Many annotations in Persian, Turkish and Urdu have been added to Bustan. It is translated into Turkish, Latin, French German, Dutch, Pakistani and English.
There are kept over 300 copies of its manuscripts in the great libraries of the world. It has been published regularly in Iran and India. The critical version of the book was published in 1984.
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