The court jester wins the bet

This story is about two kings. One king had a court jester who used to make fun of everything. This court jester had many, many, many good qualities and the king was very fond of him. Again, he had one bad quality: he loved gambling. The king tried so hard to correct his nature, but the court jester was incorrigible in that respect. He was always gambling.

The king said, “Since I am unable to be strict with you, I am sending you to the neighbouring king, who is my friend. He is very, very strict. He will teach you to give up this passion for gambling. Then I will take you back, because I am so fond of you. You will not be able to make fun of my friend. He is a very serious type.”

The court jester said, “No matter how serious your friend is, I will turn him topsy-turvy in ten minutes.”

The king said, “All right, I accept your challenge. If you are successful, I promise I shall give you one thousand rupees.”

The court jester immediately said, “Can you not give the money to me now? I am absolutely certain I will be successful.”

“I am absolutely sure that you will not succeed,” said the king, “because my friend is so serious. He is not like me. You will not be able to fool him with your wits.”

The court jester departed for the kingdom of the neighbouring king. Unbeknownst to him, his king sent an advance message to this other king. The message was: “I am sending you my court jester. This fellow has many, many good qualities and I am very fond of him. Only one bad quality he has, and that is his love of gambling. Please be strict with him and transform his nature. Then you can send him back. I shall be very grateful to you if you can do me this favour.”

In due course, the court jester arrived at the palace. As soon as he was presented to the king, he said to him out of the blue, “I would like to challenge you.”

The king said, “What! What kind of challenge? Do you know that I am a king?”

“All right then, let us call it a bet,” said the court jester.

“What do you want?” asked the king.

The court jester had promised his own king that he would turn this king topsy-turvy within ten minutes. So he said to the king, “I want you to do a head balance.”

All the people who were around the king became furious. They said, “What kind of audacity is this! Our king has to do a head balance at your request? It is simply absurd!”

Fortunately this particular king used to practise hatha yoga from his childhood. He was intrigued by the request and said to the court jester, “What will you give me if I can do it?”

The court jester said, “First do it. Then I will tell you.”

The king said, “No, no, I am a king. You have to behave well! I will not allow you to trick me.”

So the court jester said, “I will give you one hundred rupees. That is my promise.”

The king said, “I do not trust you. Give one hundred rupees to one of my ministers now.”

The court jester took out one hundred rupees and handed them to one of the ministers with the understanding that the minister would return the money if the king could not do a head balance.

The king came down from his throne and did a head balance very, very nicely. Then the king said to the court jester, “I do not need your hundred rupees, but I am keeping this money to teach you a lesson, because you have this bad habit of gambling. Always you are wasting your time and energy. My friend has told me that you have many good qualities, but your love of gambling is a serious defect. So now your hundred rupees I will not give you back. I hope this has taught you a lesson!”

Then this king wrote a letter to the first king and related the whole story. He concluded, “Your court jester lost to me and I kept the money deliberately. He did not think I could do a head balance, but I was able to do it very well. Now he has learnt a lesson. I am sure he will no longer enjoy his gambling.”

When the first king received this message, he started laughing and laughing at how easily the court jester had outsmarted his friend. Then he wrote back to his friend, “Yes, he has lost his bet with you, but he has won his bet with me. He told me that in ten minutes he would turn you upside down. Now you have written that you did a head balance at his request for a mere one hundred rupees. He lost only a hundred rupees to you, but he gained one thousand rupees from me. That clever fellow has won nine hundred rupees, plus he has not been cured of his love of gambling!”