Skip to main content

Full text of "The Dabistan"

The Erika, upon the mount Kdf9 i is divinity, and

there is annihilation into God.    He does not allow

1 We have already mentioned (vol. I. p. 55. note 1) the Enka, or Si-
murgh, " thirty birds," as an object of fabulous romance. At one time
this mysterious bird was counsellor of the Jins (genii), and for the last time
was visible at the court of Solomon, the son of David, after which he
retired to the mount Kaf, which encircles the earth. According to a tra-
dition of Muhammed, God created, in the time of Moses, a female bird,
called Enka, having wings on each side and the face of a man. God gave
it a portion of every thing, and then created a male of the same species.
They propagated after the death of Moses, feeding on ferocious beasts and
carrying away children, until the intervening time between Jesus and
Muhammed, when, at the prayer of Khaled, this race was extinguished.
Proverbially, the Enka is mentioned as a thing of which every body
speaks without having ever seen it.

But a much greater import is attached to this name in the doctrine of
the Sufis: with them this bird is nothing less than the emblem of the
supreme Being, to be sought with the utmost effort and perseverance
through innumerable difficulties which obstruct the road to his myste-
rious seat. This idea was ingeniously allegorized in the famous poem
entitled Manteli al tair, " the colloquy of the birds," composed by Ferid-
eddin Attar, a Persian poet, who was born in Kerken, a village near
Nishapur, in the year of the Hejira 513 (A. D, 1119), and lived 110,112,
or 115 years, having died in A. H. 627, 629, or 632 (A. D. 1229, 1231,
or 1234). In this composition, the birds, emblems of souls, assemble
under the conduct of a hoop (upapd), their king, in order to be presented
to Simurgh. To attain his residence, seven valleys are to be traversed;
these are: 1. the valley of research; 2. that of love; 3. that of know-
ledge; 4. of sufficiency (competence); 5. of unity; 6. of stupefaction;
and 7. that of poverty and annihilation, beyond which nobody can pro-
ceed; every one finds himself attracted without being able to advance.
These are evidently as many gradations of contemplative life, and austere
virtue, each of which is described in glowing terms, for which scarce an
equivalent is to be found in European languages. The birds, having
attained the residence of Simurgh,were at first ordered back by the usher
of the royal court, but, as they persevered in their desire, the violence of