The pious ministerOnce an old minister did a number of extraordinary things and the king was very pleased with him. The king went to the minister’s house and lavished many expensive gifts on him. He gave him jewels and money, as well as horses and elephants.
The minister was very sincere and pious, and he wanted to live a very simple life. So all the wealth that the king had given him he gave away to the poor in the king’s name. He kept only a few horses and elephants.
The king’s other ministers were very jealous because the king always spoke so highly of this minister’s bravery and kindness. So they plotted against him and forged his signature on a letter which showed that he was a traitor. Then they brought the letter to the king.
The king couldn’t believe his eyes, but since all the ministers were saying that the old minister was a traitor, what could he do? There was only one punishment for a traitor, so he ordered that the minister be killed. When the old minister was brought before the king, he said, “O King, I used to serve your father most devotedly, and I have also been serving you most devotedly. Now you believe that I have become a traitor. I know that my life is very insignificant, so what is the use of defending myself? Once upon a time, when I used to fight for your father, my beard used to become red. At that time it was red with the blood of his enemies. Now, when you kill me, my own blood will make my beard red.”
After the pious minister was executed, the other ministers said, “O King, we should now get back all the wealth that you have given this bad minister.”
The king agreed, “Naturally we should get it back.” So he sent his soldiers to the old minister’s servant. “Show us where he has kept his wealth!” they ordered.
The servant replied, “There is nothing left. He distributed everything to the poor, except for a few horses and elephants.”
None of the soldiers believed the servant, so they brought the servant to the king. The king said, “Now, tell the truth.”
The servant said, “O King, I will tell the truth. You gave so many things to the old minister, but he gave away everything to the poor in your name. He pretended that you had asked him to distribute the wealth. It was really his, but he gave away everything except for a few horses and elephants.”
The king asked, “Why did he keep the horses and elephants?”
The servant replied, “He said that if you were ever attacked by your enemies, you would need them. Then it would be necessary for you to buy back the elephants and horses from those people to whom he had given them. Because you had given them to him out of your affection and love, he kept them only for you to use in an emergency. The rest of the wealth he gave to the poor in your name.”
The servant paused. Then he said, “O King, he also told me that what the other ministers said against him is all false.”
The king got furious and said to the other ministers, “If this servant is telling the truth, and you confess, then I will forgive you. But if you don’t confess, and I find out later that what he is saying is true, then I will kill all of you immediately.”
The other ministers confessed that they had forged the letter and that the old minister had given everything away to the poor. About the elephants and horses, they said it was up to the king whether or not to believe it.
The king cried, “What have you done? I knew he was such a good, pious, sincere minister, but you convinced me to kill him. How cruel I have been! I promised that I would forgive you, so I will not punish you. But now I know that good people cannot stay with me. Only bad people like you will force themselves on me and stay with me. To the end of my life I will feel miserable that I have lost such a good, pious minister. I have lost him, and now I am left with only unthinkable rogues like you!”