Once a king had three sons. The first and second sons were very good, but the third one was very bad. He was the worst possible rogue. In spite of knowing that the third one was bad, the king liked him. After all, he was his son.
The king was getting old. One day the third son said to his father, “You know, my two brothers are useless. Although they spend all their time reading books and following other kinds of scholarly pursuits, they are not as smart as I am. When you die, the oldest one will get the throne. Then your whole kingdom will immediately be ruined because he is not as clever and as smart as I am. Neither is your second son. So please make me the king after you leave the body.”
The king said, “How can I do that?”
The son said, “If you don’t do that, then your kingdom will be ruined.”
The king said, “All right, let me see who can really please me. From now on I would like to see how well my sons can utilise my wealth. Let me give each of you one lakh of rupees and see how you use it, since money-power can easily corrupt. After giving you this money, I would like to know how you utilise it. From this I will know which of you three is the wisest.”
With the money that his father gave him, the first brother bought many, many books and opened up a library so that not only he, but also others could study. He wanted both himself and others to be wise.
The second brother said, “The best thing is to give the money to charity. I am not doing this for name and fame, but because there are so many poor people on earth. Let this money go to them. If Father hadn’t given me this money for a special purpose, I would not have got it at all. So actually it is not my money. Even if I feel it is my money, let me give it to the poor.” So he gave away his money to charity.
The third one used the money to form an army, and he told some of the new recruits that when he became the king, he would give them very, very high posts. He said that he would easily be able to defeat his father’s army with his own army.
In three months’ time the father sent for his sons and asked them what they had done with the money.
The first one said that he had opened up a library and the second one said that he had given his money to charity. The third one, instead of saying anything, brought four hundred soldiers right in front of the king and said, “Now give me the throne, or I will kill you. Since you are an old man, the best thing is for you to leave with honour. Either say that you are giving me the kingdom because I am your wisest son and keep your honour, or I will kill you and get the kingdom that way. Make up your mind.”
The king remained silent. Then he said, “Since my life is in your hands, you decide what you are going to do. Either you can kill me now or you can wait for a few years and then take the throne.”
The son said, “If you promise that you will give me the throne, then I will wait until you die. But if you don’t promise, then I will take it now by killing you.”
The king said, “I have to be kind and just to my other two sons who really deserve this kingdom. The best thing is for you to kill me.”
So the king was executed by his own son, who then declared himself king.