A solitary dervish had taken up his station at the corner of a desert. A king was passing by him. Inasmuch as contentment is the enjoyment of a kingdom, the dervish did not raise his head, nor show him the least mark of attention; and, inasmuch as sovereignty is regal pomp, the king took offence, and said, “The tribe of ragged mendicants resemble brute beasts, and have neither grace nor good manners.” The vizir stepped up to him, and said: “O generous man! the sovereign of the universe has passed by you; why did you not do him homage, and discharge the duty of obeisance?” He answered and said, “Speak to your sovereign, saying: Expect service from that person who will court your favor; let him moreover know that kings are meant for the protection of the people, and not the people for the subjects of kings.—Though it be for their benefit that his glory is exalted, yet is the king but the shepherd of the poor. The sheep are not intended for the service of the shepherd, but the shepherd is appointed to tend the sheep.—To-day thou mayest observe one man proud from prosperity, another with a heart sore from adversity; have patience for a few days till the dust of the grave can consume the brain of that vain and foolish head. When the record of destiny came to take effect, the distinction of liege and subject disappeared. Were a person to turn up the dust of the defunct, he could not distinguish that of the rich man from the poor.”
These sayings made a strong impression upon the king; he said: “Ask me for something.” He replied: “What I desire is, that you will not trouble me again!” The king said, “Favor me with a piece of advice.” He answered: “Attend to them now that the good things of this life are in thy hands; for wealth and dominion are passing from one hand into another.”
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A king ordered an innocent person to be put to death. The man said, “Seek not your own hurt by venting any anger you may entertain against me.” The king asked, “How?” He replied, “The pain of this punishment will continue with me for a moment, but the sin of it will endure with you forever.—The period of this life passes by like the wind of the desert. Joy and sorrow, beauty and deformity, equally pass away. The tyrant vainly thought that he did me an injury, but round his neck it clung and passed over me.”
The king profited by this advice, spared his life, and asked his forgiveness.
The cabinet ministers of Nushirowan were debating an important affair of state, and each delivered his opinion according to the best of his judgment. In like manner the king also delivered his sentiments, and Abu-zarchamahr, the prime minister, accorded in opinion with him. The other ministers whispered him, saying, “What did you see superior in the king’s opinion that you preferred it to the judgment