There was no rain for a long time, so a small village had run short of water. The villagers were suffering from the scarcity of water. The king came to know of it, and he ordered his minister to create a pond. The minister then ordered his assistant to make a pond. The assistant in turn asked his assistant, and that assistant asked his own assistant. Finally, one of the workers in the village was ordered to dig a pond and then there was plenty of water.
The king wanted to see if the pond was in good condition and if it was full of water. Others all followed the king to see the pond. The king was very, very pleased inwardly, but outwardly he said, “This is a very bad job. This pond is not good at all.” The king showed great displeasure. He said, “The water will one day run out of the pond.” So many defects the king found in the pond.
Then the king became angry with his minister. He said, “Now, minister, tell me what happened. I gave you a job, and you did not do it satisfactorily.”
The minister pointed to his assistant and said, “Your Majesty, I asked him to do it because I was very busy.”
The minister’s assistant pointed to his own assistant and said, “I asked him to do it because I was very busy. I have so much to do.”
Like that it went on and on. Everybody was blaming his subordinate in turn. Finally the king came to know which fellow had actually dug the pond. This poor village worker came before the king shaking.
The king asked him abruptly, “Did you dig this pond?”
The poor man said, “Yes, my boss asked me to do it. He gave me specific instructions. I did it, and my boss was satisfied.”
The king said, “But I am not satisfied. I am the king. Whether or not your boss is satisfied is irrelevant. I am the one you must satisfy.”
The man said, “Your Majesty, if you are not fully satisfied with my work, then please punish me in whichever way you want to punish me.”
Then the king started laughing. After a few moments, he took out a bag containing a thousand rupees and gave it to the man. The man was astonished. He said, “You were mad at me. Now you are giving me money. I do not understand this at all.”
The king said, “No, I am very, very pleased with you. You are an excellent worker. But I wanted to find out who was actually responsible for digging the pond. Because I found fault with them and scolded them, the others all said that they were not responsible. Each one, in turn, passed the responsibility to somebody else. Poor man, you are the last one in the line, so they thought that you would be punished. On the contrary, I am so satisfied that I am giving you one thousand rupees.”
Then the king fined each and every one of the worker’s superiors one thousand rupees, right from his minister on down, because each one said that he was too busy and somebody else should do it. The minister, his assistant and his assistant’s assistant, everybody, was fined. The worker received one thousand rupees, and the others were fined one thousand rupees. After the king collected all the fines, he presented the entire amount to the poor worker.
The king said to him, “If I had said that I was very, very pleased with the pond, the minister would have been the first one to say: ‘I did it. I did it.’ He would have claimed all the credit. But my minister is such a rogue. He went to somebody else, and then that person went to somebody else, and so on. I wanted to know who had actually dug the pond so that I could reward that person. I am so happy to have an excellent worker like you.”