Falsehood saves

A foreigner went to a certain country, and a few days later he was accused of committing a theft. He was brought before the king, and because it was a serious crime, the king said, "He has to be sentenced to death for this crime."

Then the man started saying something in his own language. Nobody could understand him. The king said to the prime minister, "You understand everything. Tell me what he is saying."

The prime minister said, "He is saying that you are a very kind-hearted king, such a noble king. You are full of compassion and concern."

The king was extremely pleased. He said, "All right, let him not be hanged. Nor should he be sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. He will only be punished for one month. One month he will spend in jail."

Then again the accused man started saying something in his own language. Before the prime minister could say anything, one of the palace courtiers said, "Your Majesty, he is speaking ill of you. I understand his language. He is being extremely disrespectful. He should be hanged."

The king said, "Wait, wait, wait. You are saying one thing and my prime minister is saying something else. If I listen to what you are saying, then this man's life will end. If I listen to what the prime minister is saying, I shall spare his life. In a case like this, who cares for the truth? Here you have to know it is a matter of life and death for this man. Even if the prime minister is telling lies, he is saving a life. But by telling the truth, you are only inspiring me to have him killed for this theft. Which one is telling the truth, I do not know. But I know that if I save his life, he may do many good things in the future. Whereas if I listen to you and punish him for speaking ill of me, then the poor fellow will have no more opportunities on earth to do the right thing. So in this matter, I care for the prime minister's falsehood and not for your truth. Let the thief go free."

The prime minister was a kind-hearted man. He was deliberately saying that the man was speaking highly of the king, even though he could not understand the man's language. His falsehood saved the man's life.