Two great poets

There were two great poets. One of them used to brag all the time that he was by far the best poet in the country. The king definitely appreciated his poetry, and many, many minor poets were his great admirers. The second poet was absolutely a saint-poet, a seer-poet. He did not care for name and fame at all. He felt that whoever was inspired by his poems would read them. He wrote only for God, to satisfy his inner life.

The king wanted to have a poetry festival, so his minister recommended that the first poet be the one to preside over the poetry festival since he was so well known. The king summoned the famous poet and began asking him many questions. The famous poet was so smart and clever that he answered all the questions to the king’s satisfaction. Then the king officially appointed him to be in charge of the poetry festival.

This festival lasted for a week. Many minor poets secretly bribed the famous poet so that they could read out their poems. The king attended the whole festival and he was very pleased to find that there were so many poets in his kingdom. He gave all credit to the famous poet who was in charge of the festival and rewarded him with one thousand rupees.

Now, because this famous poet was insecure and jealous of the seer-poet, he did not invite the seer-poet to participate in the festival. The king had asked him to invite all the poets that he knew, but the seer-poet was not invited because the famous poet was afraid that if the king heard the seer-poet’s poems, perhaps he would say, “He is by far the best poet.”

A few days after the festival, out of sheer curiosity, the famous poet went to the seer-poet and said, “I am sorry, I forgot to invite you. We had such a big poetry festival. Please forgive me. Next time when we have a poetry contest or poetry festival, I will definitely invite you. By the way, did you know that I was the one who presided over the festival? The king appointed me because I am the best poet.”

The seer-poet said, “Yes, I have heard all about it. But, to tell you the truth, unless you receive a recommendation or some words of appreciation from a certain king, I will not be able to say that you are the greatest poet. This king is the best judge of poetry.”

The famous poet said, “If I receive appreciation from him, what will you do?”

The seer-poet said, “If you receive his praise, then I will consider you to be the greatest poet.”

The famous poet said, “I will easily get it. In fact, if I do not receive his praise, I will give you a thousand rupees.”

The seer-poet gave him a smile but did not say anything more. He was in his own world.

The famous poet had many flatterers among the minor poets. They said to him, “Easily you will win the praise of that king! After all, our king has appreciated you so highly and that one is just a minor king. Our king is far greater than he is.”

So the famous poet was literally brimming with confidence. He and his followers went to that neighbouring kingdom only to find that the king was absent. They waited and waited for hours. Finally the king returned to the palace. He felt sorry that these guests had been waiting for such a long time and he gestured to his wife to offer them something to eat.

The queen exclaimed, “These vagabonds? I have more important things to do than to give them food.”

What could the poor king do? He had to go into the kitchen and cook a meal for them himself because they were his guests. The queen saw that they were useless people. But the king had a big heart. So he went to the kitchen, prepared some food and fed them.

After the meal, the famous poet started reading out his poems. After each poem he expected some comment from the king, but the king did not make any comment. One, two, three, four poems went by and still the king remained silent. Then it occurred to the famous poet that if this king came to learn that his own king had greatly appreciated his poems, he would also appreciate them. So he said, “I am now going to read the poem that my king said has touched the pinnacle-heights.”

Still this neighbouring king did not say anything. He just smiled.

The famous poet was so disappointed. He did not receive any words of appreciation from that king. So he went back to the seer-poet and said, “I want to be sincere with you since many witnesses were there. I went to see the king you spoke of, and he did not appreciate me or say anything kind about my poems. So I am giving you one thousand rupees as I promised. You have won the wager.” The famous poet was so miserable. He lost one thousand rupees plus he did not get the appreciation he felt he deserved.

One day a few followers of this famous poet decided to go and ask that particular king why he did not appreciate their idol’s poems. First they started by begging him for a few words of appreciation. When they did not get any appreciation by begging, they started insulting the king. But still the king remained silent. Then the queen began insulting them and screaming, “Go, go, go! Do not bother my husband!”

When the famous poet’s followers were about to leave the palace, a kind-hearted minister approached them and said, “I have seen everything that has taken place. Do you not know that our king is mute?”

The seer-poet had deliberately sent the famous poet to that king because he knew the king could not speak. Such was the seer-poet’s cleverness.