The king's statue

There was a king who was very good, but he had one fault. He always expected appreciation, admiration and gratitude from his citizens. He was very kind and generous, but appreciation was needed in return. The citizens genuinely liked their king, and so appreciation was forthcoming. They built a huge statue of the king, and the king was so pleased. Every day they garlanded the statue and placed offerings before it.

One season, there was a scarcity of water in the kingdom. The king was very charitable, and he sent a large quantity of water to the villagers. Even then, it was not enough to meet their needs, so they looked for water using a diviner. They found that there was only one place were water could be found, and that place was under the statue of the king. When they informed the king, he said, “Oh no, you are worshipping my statue. That is what I want. You should be so grateful to me. Every day I am sending you such a large quantity of water. There is no need to disturb the statue.”

One day the king went to visit his statue. He was shocked to find that it had been utterly neglected. There were no flowers at all. Around it, only bushes were growing. Everything was dirty and filthy. The king said, “How ungrateful these people are! I have been sending them a regular water supply. Even if it is not enough to meet with their needs, should they not be grateful to me? Why should they neglect my statue so shamelessly?”

The prime minister said, “O King, you have to know that water is life. They value their life more than your statue. It is quite natural. You are kind to them, and they are grateful, genuinely grateful, but when it comes to life, is not their own life infinitely more valuable to them than your statue?”

The king said, “Your words are all true. Let them remove my statue from here, and take it to another location. Let there be a well here in its place.”

The villagers were so happy. They moved the statue to another place where there was no water. Then they built a well and it yielded enough water to supply all the needs of the village.

When the king went to see his statue in its new location, he saw that it was garlanded and the villagers had made such a beautiful garden all around it! They were burning incense and they were worshipping the king. He was so pleased and proud.

When the king fulfilled the villagers’ need for water, they became so grateful to him. They literally adored him, whereas when he would not allow them to draw the water beneath his statue, they allowed his statue to fall into disrepair.