An idle man changes his natureOnce there was an extremely idle man. He never did anything, either for the betterment of the world or for himself. He only wallowed in the pleasures of idleness. Then one day, for some unknown reason, he changed his attitude. He said, “Right now, everybody is hating me because I do not contribute anything to the village. I need to do something with my life.”
He did not even know how to go about looking for a job, so he went to the king and explained his situation. He told the king, “I am notorious for being lazy. I am sure nobody will want to give me a job. Will you not give me a chance? If people see that I am working for you very conscientiously, then perhaps they will stop despising me.”
The king said, “Certainly I shall give you a job. Tomorrow morning you can come back and I shall give you some tasks.”
The idle man returned to the palace the next morning and the king asked him to do some errands. He did them quite happily. However, the following day he came late. The day after that, he came even later. And he formed the habit of leaving the palace two hours earlier than everybody else. So it went on, day after day.
Finally, the matter was brought to the attention of the king. The king said, “This fellow wanted to turn over a new leaf. Now he has fallen into his old way of life once again. He always arrives late and he leaves before the actual finishing time. Laziness is in his nature.”
After many months, the king asked the idle man, “What are you doing, coming and going at any odd hour you choose? How do you expect me to tolerate a worker like you?”
The idle man said, “O King, every day, early in the morning, I go to the temple and sing and sing for two or three hours. Then I come here to work. As soon as I can, I leave here and go back to the temple to sing.”
Upon hearing this, the king’s minister became furious. Privately he said to the idle man, “The king appointed you specially. He gave you a job here, not at the temple. Instead of going to the temple to sing the Glory of God, you should come to the palace and sing the glory of the king!”
So the idle man came to the king’s palace early the next morning and started singing the glory of the king very loudly for about two hours. The first day, the king was amused. Then, after two or three days, the king grew irritated. He said, “Did I give you this job to flatter me or to do the needful? Get out, get out!”
“O King, please, please listen to me!” cried the idle man. “It was your own minister who advised me to sing here. I used to go to the temple to praise God’s Glory. As a result, I was usually late in coming to work. So your minister said I should praise your glory, since you are the one who gave me the job and you are paying me.”
The king looked at his minister and said, “In one sense, you have shown your cleverness. At least he is coming to work at a regular hour now. But, again, you are so stupid! Did I ask him to sing my glory? No, I only asked him to do some small jobs here and there.”
Then the king said to the idle man, “I shall keep you on one condition: you must remember that, for you, duty always comes first. From now on, you must work here for six hours every day. Those hours will be fixed. During that time, you must not sing God’s Glory or my glory. Afterwards, you can do anything, go anywhere and sing anything that you wish.”
The idle man agreed to the king’s condition and he changed his nature completely. He became a man of duty.