There was once a great scholar. He was very proud and haughty. In argument, he used to defeat the rest of the scholars. Those who were defeated by him had to pay a penalty. On a monthly basis they had to send the scholar either money or material objects. This went on for a long time. Nobody could defeat him.
One day a little boy saw his teacher sad and miserable. He was only a seven-year-old child. He asked his teacher, “What has happened to make you so sad?”
His teacher said, “I have to pay my next instalment to the greatest scholar and today I do not have any money. My payment is due and he will be so angry with me if I do not pay him on time.”
The little boy felt miserable. Something within him prompted him to say, “I will be able to solve the problem of this bad scholar who is torturing everybody.”
Something within prompted this little boy to challenge the greatest scholar. He asked his teacher to take him where the greatest scholar was currently residing. The teacher became frightened. He said, “I cannot take you. You are a little boy. How are you going to challenge such an expert on the scriptures?”
All of a sudden the teacher and the little boy heard an enthusiastic noise. The greatest scholar was passing by on a palanquin, and his admirers and adorers were singing his praises. It was his practice to go from village to village in this way and challenge the local scholars.
When the little boy heard the commotion, he went running into the street and stood directly in front of the greatest scholar. People could not account for it. “What is he doing?” they asked.
The little boy ignored them. In a loud voice he said to the greatest scholar, “You have to stop! Stop! I have to ask you a question and you have to answer me.”
All the villagers were highly amused.
Then the little boy collected some sand from the street and closed his fist. He said to the greatest scholar, “Please tell me how many grains of sand there are inside my palm.”
The greatest scholar could not reply. He did not know the answer to the child’s question. Some of the villagers became frightened, some were amused and some started clapping because the greatest scholar could not accurately say how many grains of sand were inside the little boy’s palm.
Then the boy said, “Since you have lost to me, all the other scholars, including my teacher, do not have to pay you their penalties. They are freed from their debt.”
All the scholars agreed. They said, “Why should we pay you? This little boy is greater than you are. You could not answer his question.”
Soon news of what had happened reached the ears of the king. The king had tremendous admiration for the greatest scholar. He was astonished to hear that the greatest scholar had been defeated.
The queen said to the king, “I would like to see this little boy who defeated the scholar.”
The king replied, “I still cannot believe that it is true.”
The queen said, “I believe it. Let us invite both of them — the so-called greatest scholar and this seven-year-old boy who has now surpassed him. Let us hear them debate and we will decide for ourselves.”
So the pair were summoned and all the scholars in the kingdom, plus thousands of their friends and relatives, gathered at the palace to witness the debate.
When the queen saw the little boy, in silence she poured all her affection, love, sweetness and fondness into him. She said to herself, “This little boy has to win.”
Meanwhile, when the king saw this upstart, he began laughing and laughing. He said, “I cannot imagine how this little boy is going to defeat the scholar!”
The queen said emphatically, “He is going to defeat him. In my heart I know it.”
“Let us wait and see,” replied the king.
The debate began. First of all, the greatest scholar said to the little boy, “It is beneath my dignity to ask you questions. You can ask me any question and if I can answer successfully, which I shall easily do, I shall apply this hammer to your head to teach you a lesson.” Then he brought out a hammer from his garment.
Everybody was shocked. They were afraid that he would kill this little boy. But the little boy was not frightened. He said to the scholar, “I am going to make three statements, and you have to prove that in each case I am wrong. My first statement is: I am my mother’s only child. The second statement is: our king has committed no sin. The third statement is: the queen married only the king. Think it over and see if you can refute these statements.”
Now, the greatest scholar had listened to the statements with increasing dismay. The little boy was known to be the only child of his mother. It was the simple truth. How could he deny the truth? The second statement was much trickier. In order to win the point, the scholar had to prove that the king was full of sin. If he did so in front of so many people, he would lose his job — and perhaps his head! But the third statement was by far the trickiest of all. He had to prove that the queen had married someone else other than the king. He ran a tremendous risk by even discussing such a subject. So the greatest scholar was forced to admit that he could not disprove any of the statements. He hung his head in shame.
Then the queen said to the little boy, “My child, in order to win the debate, you yourself must disprove the statements.”
“That I shall gladly do,” said the little boy. “In one of our scriptures it is written that if a mother gives birth only to one child, then she is as good as childless. If she is blessed with only one child, then she is considered unmarried, a virgin. So according to the scriptures, my mother has no child.”
What he said was absolutely true, but the scholar had not remembered this scripture passage.
The little boy went on, “My second statement was that the king is free from sin. That is also false. The king has accrued no sin personally. Everybody knows this truth. But if he is a real king, he has to identify himself with the sins of all his subjects. A real king is full of oneness, oneness, oneness. We are all his subjects and we have committed so many sins. If he is a real king, which he is, then he has to establish his oneness with all of us. Since he has to share our sins, we can say that the king is also full of sin.”
The king was not pleased with this answer at all, but the queen said, “What the child has said is absolutely true. What kind of oneness can you claim to have? You always brag that you have such sympathy for your subjects. Such being the case, you are also full of sin.”
The queen fully supported the little boy, so she was determined to justify him. Then came the third statement, which was the most difficult, that the queen married only the king. The queen was so eager to hear what the little boy would say. Everybody felt that here he would certainly fail.
Again the little boy drew from the scriptures: “It is an ancient tradition,” he said, “that when a wedding takes place, the bride is first married to the five cosmic gods. Then only does she marry an earthly human being. So our queen was already married five times to the five principal cosmic gods. Therefore, how can she say she is only married to the king?”
The queen knew that what the child said was absolutely true. In the marriage ceremony, first the priest invokes the five main cosmic gods to marry the bride. Then she takes a human husband. So the queen immediately embraced the child and she said, “I am not going to allow you to go home. Your parents and everybody in your family have to come and live in the palace.”
Then the queen said to the king, “I want you to say the greatest scholar has been defeated in front of the whole world. Now we shall keep him as our slave, our lifelong slave.”
So the greatest scholar had to stay there in the palace and perform the duties of a slave and the little boy was given the greatest honour. The king said that when the time came, this little boy would marry the princess. His whole family became members of the royal family.
His questions were so difficult to answer, but his third question in particular absolutely puzzled the queen! So we see that bad people will eventually be punished.