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Story 94: King And The Sage

On his way to Khurassan, through every city where Nasir ud-Din Shah passed, the people from different walks of society usually came to welcome him on his visit and say farewell on his departure, and they used to accompany him till the door.

When he reached Sabziwar, all the inhabitants went to welcome and visit him. The only person, who under the pretext of reclusion and retirement, refrained to welcome him was Hajj Mulla Hadi Sabziwari, the renowned sage, philosopher and gnostic.

On the other side, the only person that Shah, on the way to Khurasan, had in mind to visit personally was this man who had become famous and popular little by little throughout Iran and the students from all the corners of the country rushed towards him to attend his lessons. There was a great theological center founded in Sabziwar.

Tired of all those receptions, visits, homages and flatteries, Shah, the king, decided to go personally to see the Sage.

He was told: "the Sage knows neither the king nor ministers."

The Shah replied: "But Shah knows the Sage."

The Sage was informed of the incident; an appointment was fixed. One day, it was noon, Shah went to the Sage's house accompanied by only one of his servants. The house was very humble, furnished with very simple chattels.

While debating with the Sage, Shah said: "For each and every blessing of Allah, thanks must be offered; blessing of knowledge is to teach and guide the others; blessing of wealth is to assist the needy; blessing of kingdom is, of course, to solve the people's problems. Thus I would like you to demand something from me so that I get a chance to fulfil it."

The Sage: "I have no request to make; I don't want anything from you!"

The Shah: "I heard that you possess a cultivating land. If you permit me, I will give orders for exempting it from the tax."

The Sage said: "The governmental tax office has fixed a certain amount of money to be collected from each city; its system does not get in accord with the partial changes. If I am exempted from paying tax in this city, the same amount of tax will be collected in excess from the other citizens so as to complete the target fixed as tax which must be collected in Sabziwar. The Shah, while giving reduction or exempting me from paying the tax, may impose a burden on the orphans and widows. In addition to this, the government having its duties to preserve the people's lives and properties, has its expenses which must be fulfilled. Therefore, we are ready to pay this tax with pleasure and satisfaction."

The Shah said: “I am desirous to take food in your presence today and eat along with you from your daily food. So give order to bring your lunch."

Without moving from his place, the Sage shouted: "Bring my food."

It was immediately served, there were some loaves of bread, some spoons, a bowl of butter-milk and salt on a wooden plank which was placed before the Sage and the Shah.

The Sage said: "Eat! Be sure that the bread is Halal (Islamically lawful), clean because it is the product of my own toil."

Eating a spoon of it, the Shah found that he was not accustomed to such food, which was uneatable by him. So he asked the Sage to permit him to wrap up a few loaves of bread in his handkerchief and take them with him as a blessed gift. After some time the Shah left the Sage's house in a different world full of a boundless surprise and amazement.1

  • 1. Rihanatul Adab, v. 2. p. 157, 158 under the title of Sabziwari.