The king and the travellerOne day a king said to his minister, “I do not know what is actually happening in my kingdom. Unless I move around incognito, I will not know what my subjects are really thinking. People come and bow down to me and show me all kinds of respect, but their true nature I do not know. Let me try to find out the true nature of my subjects.”
The minister said, “That is an excellent idea.”
The king said, “This evening I am going to walk around my kingdom and I would like you to accompany me. We will move around in disguise like two ordinary men. Nobody will follow us. Only you and I will go.”
The minister agreed. “That is a good idea. Then we will know what people are like in their true nature.”
So that evening the king and the minister went out. As they were walking along, they happened to see a traveller. The traveller said to them, “I am very tired. Please tell me if there are any guest houses here where I can stay. I have no money.”
The king said to him, “We don’t know of any guest houses in our city.”
The traveller exclaimed, “You do not have any guest houses? What kind of place is this? If you were to come to my city, you could easily find a place to stay!”
A middle-aged man was passing by and asked, “What is happening? May I take part in this conversation?” The man did not recognise the king at all.
The traveller said, “I am from another town and I am asking these two men if there is a guest house where I can take shelter tonight. They say there is no place. If you were to come to my city, there would be places for you to stay.”
The man said, “These two are fools. They have no knowledge of our kingdom. Our king is so kind and generous. He has made us so good that we don’t need any special guest houses. All the houses serve as guest houses. If you come with me, you will see what a nice host I am. Like that, you can go to any house. If you don’t believe me, come with me and spend the night. These two are fools.”
Then the man turned to the king and the minister and said, “You two live here and you do not know how kind and generous our king is? Our king would be shocked if he heard that a traveller could find no shelter here. Perhaps you two come from another city and that is why you don’t know about our hospitality.”
The king and the minister remained totally silent. Finally they said, “Can you tell us your name in case some other people ask for shelter? Then we will be able to recommend you. We have never seen such a kind-hearted man.”
The man said, “I am sorry that the king has such fools in his kingdom like you two.”
The man gave the king and minister his name and address and then brought the traveller with him to his house. The man kept his promise and offered the traveller excellent treatment.
The following day the king summoned the man to his palace. O God, when the soldiers arrived at his house to bring him to the palace, he got so frightened. He said, “What have I done wrong?”
When the man reached the palace the king said to him, “I was so moved by your kindness.” The king told him the whole story and gave him a very large amount of money. Then he said, “I am ordering my workers to build many guest houses in my kingdom. I want my kingdom to be a place of hospitality. People should feel that I am really generous, which I am, but until now I haven’t provided shelter for visitors. You have opened my eyes. From now on we shall have guest houses for all the travellers.”