This explanation by friend Salman Asif:,
Dear Rana ji – many thanks for sharing these truly riveting images. I was thinking of commenting on the previous image of dervish with a tamed lion and now this image of dervish holding a stick and walking with a harnessed bear (both otherwise predatory animals of the wild) lends me a moment to share my reading of the theme and its symbolism in these miniatures.
Although, I have not yet fully read the Persian verses given on the ‘haashia’ of this painting with much attention, however the clearest clue as to what these thematic representations reflect, that one can elicit, is possibly from the choice of verse given on the margins.
The verses refer to duality of human nature (fitrat) – that may acs as noble as a fallen angel at times, while acting as unkindly as a risen beast at other times (insaaniyat Vs haivaaniyat). These seem to symbolise, the mystic/sufic notion of ‘tazkia-e-nafs,’ (taming of the ‘ego’) – humankind’s ability to over come and tame its basic instincts often viewed in self-centred and mean pursuits of worldly pleasures – through a process of integrating one’s self with nature rather than alienating from it in a material goals based social-sphere or an urban setting. The images portray animals of the wild (flights of ego) as tame and at peace with the human figures, who are clearly in control of them.
The verse in this painting (on the top) is quite meaningful in that sense:
Dar Aatish tu dar muntazir aab-e-rehmateem
(To extinguish your scalding desire; our shower of blessings are awaiting)
Saaqi biyaar Jaam-e-arghwaane maa
(O bearer of the chalice, bring me, my share of the purple stained drink of mine)