Shah Jahan's thirst

Once Emperor Shah Jahan went out on an expedition with some of his relatives, friends and admirers. He was walking quite fast ahead of his entourage and, at one point, he became separated from the group. The Emperor was not familiar with the area and, unfortunately, he got lost. His friends and relatives searched and searched for him, but they could not trace him.

After some time, the Emperor became very thirsty. Alas, there was no water nearby. Then Shah Jahan saw an old man carrying a container of water on his back.

The Emperor said to him, "My friend, I am parched with thirst. Can you spare some water for me?"

The old man did not recognise the Emperor. He replied, "All right, since you are so thirsty, I shall give you some." He poured a large quantity of water into a container and offered it to the Emperor. The Emperor began drinking the water very quickly.

The old man became worried, for he felt that it was not advisable for anyone to drink so fast. Since he was also carrying a sack of grass on his back, he took a handful of grass and threw it into the container from which the Emperor was drinking.

Shah Jahan became furious. He said, "What are you doing? Why did you throw grass into my water? You were so kind to give me this water. You have saved my life. Now why are you preventing me from drinking the remainder of the water?"

The old man explained, "My good friend, I have a number of asses and I never allow them to drink water rapidly. If I put grass in their water, they drink more slowly and carefully. If you drink too fast, you may develop colic pain. I was only trying to be considerate of your health."

In the meantime, Shah Jahan's friends and admirers had discovered the Emperor. From a distance, they saw the old man throw grass into the Emperor's water and immediately they became furious. They came running to the scene in order to strike and beat the old man mercilessly.

But Shah Jahan stopped them. He said, "No, no, no! This man has saved my life. It was only out of concern for me that he put grass into my water."

Then the Emperor turned to the old man and said, "You do not have to make your living by working with asses any more. I am all gratitude to you. I am making you the head of a village because you have saved my life."