Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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The King and the Peasant
Bahram Gur in the peasants' house. Shiraz, 1341. Click for larger image.

A king and his courtiers set out on a winter hunting expedition, and strayed far from inhabited places. When night fell, the king spied the house of a peasant and declared, "We shall take shelter there tonight." His vizier objected, stating that it was unworthy of the great dignity of the king to take refuge in a peasant's house; would it not be better to set up camp where they were? The peasant overheard this discussion; nonetheless he prepared a meal and offered it to the king, kissed the ground at his feet, and said to him, "Your greatness will not be lessened; rather, it is my dignity that will increase." The king was pleased with these words, moved into the man's house for the night, and honored him well the next morning. As the king departed, the peasant walked a few paces with him and said:

"The Sultan lost no power or splendor
By accepting a peasant's hospitality.
This peasant's head was illumined
When you overshadowed it with your greatness."
Sadi holds forth on horseback. Detail of Persian painting.