E. G. Browne's "A Traveller's Narrative:" Note K


        Gobineau in his Religions et Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale (pp. 81-91) has given so admirable an account of the life of this great philosopher and of the part played by him in the revival of metaphysical learning in Persia that any very detailed notice of his career on my part would be superfluous. I shall therefore confine myself to reproducing

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a brief sketch of his biography as it was related to me by a most learned and amiable scholar - himself a pupil of Hájí Mullá Hádí of Sabzawár, whose fame as a metaphysician has almost eclipsed that of the illustrious Mullá Sadrá - with whom it was my privilege to study for some time in Teherán. This account agrees in the main with Gobineau's, but differs in some few points.

        Mullá Sadrá's father was a rich merchant of Shíráz, but though he had reached an advanced age he had no child to whom he might bequeath his wealth. This caused him much sorrow, and he prayed earnestly to God that a son might be vouchsafed to him, making a vow that if his prayer were granted he would bestow a túmán a day in alms on the poor. Shortly after this, that which he so earnestly desired came to pass, and a son - afterwards the great Mullá Sadrá - was born to him. From an early age the boy gave indications of extraordinary talent and virtue. When his father died, he decided, after consulting his mother, to give the greater portion of the wealth which he had inherited to the poor, reserving only what was sufficient for his modest needs. He then left Shíráz and took up residence in Isfahán, which was at that time unrivalled in Persia as a seat of learning. On his arrival there he enquired who were the best teachers of philosophy, and was answered that they were three - Mír Dámád, Mír Fandariskí, and Sheykh Behá. To the first of these he forthwith presented himself, and asked advice as to the course of study which he should pursue. "If you want sheer ideas," replied Mír Dámád, "go to Mír Fandariskí; if you want merely eloquence, go to Sheykh Behá; if you want both, come to me." Mullá Sadrá accordingly attended with diligence the lectures of all three, but chiefly those of Mír Dámád. After a while Mír Dámád, wishing to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, bade a temporary farewell to his students, and instructed each of them to compose during his absence a treatise on some branch of Philosophy. On his return he asked to see the results of their labours. These he glanced over in private, and all of them he laid aside after a cursory inspection save the treatise composed by Mullá Sadrá under the name of Shawáhid-i-Rubúbiyya ('Evidences of Divinity') - a treatise to this day most

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highly esteemed in Persia. A few days after, as he was riding through the streets attended by his disciples, he called Mullá Sadrá to him and said:- "Sadrá ján! Kitáb-i-mará az meyán burdí!" ("My dear Sadrá, you have done away with my book!"), meaning to signify that the pupil had superseded the teacher. Shortly after this Mullá Sadrá, having completed his studies, went to Káshán, and thence, after a while, to Kum, in the mountains around which city he long lived a secluded and studious life, troubled occasionally by the malice and hostility of the mullás.

        Gobineau says (loc. cit., p. 89) that Mullá Sadrá's philosophy was simply a revival of Avicenna's and contained nothing new; but this, as he himself remarks, is not the general opinion in Persia. The following three points, as I was informed, constitute the chief original features of Mullá Sadrá's system:-

        (1) The aphorism

        [one line of Persian/Arabic text]
        "The elementary Reality is all things, yet is no one of them."

        (2) The doctrine of "the Union of the Intellect with the Intelligible" (~~~), according to which the clear apprehension of an idea implies and involves the establishment of a kind of identity between it and the mind which apprehends it.

        (3) The doctrine of "the Incorporeality of Imagination" (~~~) - a doctrine involving the important consequence that Reason (or the development of that principle which stands above Imagination in the evolution of the spiritual faculties) is not a necessary condition of immortality, and hence that not infants only but even animals possess a spiritual part which survives the death of the body.

        Mullá Sadrá composed a great number of works, whereof the Asfár ('Treatises'), in two large volumes, and the Sha-

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wáhid-i-Rubúbiyya ('Evidences of Divinity') mentioned above, are the most important. His influence on Persian thought has been great; and his relations with the later developments thereof - especially with the Sheykhí school (concerning which see Note E supra) - merit a much more careful study than they have yet received.

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