The arrogant officer

Every evening, the Emperor Shah Jahan held an open audience with anyone who wanted to see him. Hundreds of his subjects would attend and the Emperor would listen to their problems and chat with them for about an hour.

Nobody was allowed to sit directly in front of the Emperor. One evening, an officer deliberately sat down in the forbidden area. The Emperor and the members of his court were all furious. Shah Jahan said to the officer, "How dare you show such disrespect by sitting right in front of me! I want you to leave this palace immediately. I am dispensing with your services and you will never again be given another position in my government. From now on, you can only perform ordinary, menial jobs."

The very next day after the officer had been dismissed, he again came to the public audience and sat down in the exact same spot right in front of the Emperor. The previous day, he had at least shown the Emperor a little bit of respect, but this time he had absolutely no respect. His face showed extreme haughtiness.

Shah Jahan said to him, "What is the matter with you? Yesterday I dispensed with your services for good. I had you thrown out of the palace and said that you cannot work here any more. Why are you now being even more disrespectful?"

The man replied, "Your Majesty, yesterday I was dependent on you for my salary. Since I was dependent on you, I was always obedient. Now I am not serving you any more, so I am independent. I can do anything I want to with my life. Previously I was at your mercy, but now I am on my own. I do not have to obey you any more because I am no longer serving you."

All those who were present were shocked at what the former officer was saying and they wanted to thrash him for his insolence. But Shah Jahan stood up and embraced the man, saying, "I want all my subjects to have this kind of independent spirit." Then Shah Jahan gave the man back his job and also gave him a bag of gold coins.

The following evening, everybody was wondering where the officer would sit, now that he had his job back. Finally, they noticed him sitting at the very back of the Audience Hall. Someone asked him, "What are you doing there?"

The officer answered, "An arrogant person can fight with another arrogant person, but he cannot fight with a man of boundless compassion and forgiveness. That is why I cannot fight with the Emperor any more."