The miserly king

There once was a king who was very miserly. People were dying of starvation in his kingdom, but he would not give away any of his huge supply of grain. He would not give anything free, even to the poor.

One of the king’s ministers was very sad and miserable. He said to himself, “He is such a rich king and he has got so much food. He has everything in boundless measure, but he won’t give anything away free.”

The minister decided to play a trick on the king. He said to him, “O King, since you won’t give anything away free, do you not think that people are criticising you?”

The king said, “Who cares?”

The minister said, “It is good to get appreciation and admiration from people. Then you get joy. If people criticise you, do you get joy?”

The king said, “No, I don’t get joy.”

The minister said, “If you want admiration, then do one thing. People are dying of starvation. Can you not sell them your excess grain at a low price?”

“Of course, of course!” said the king.

The minister continued, “In the neighbouring kingdom they also need food badly. Can we not also sell them grain at a low price? Then they will be eternally grateful to you.”

The king said, “Certainly, we can do this.”

“Then let us send the grain on a few ships,” the minister said, “and inform the neighbouring king that it is coming. Let us say that whatever price he can pay, we will be very happy to accept.”

The minister arranged for the king’s extra grain to be brought to the pier. At the same time, he informed all the poor people to also come to the pier. Then the minister freely distributed all the grain to the poor people.

Then the minister returned to the king and said, “O King, something terrible has happened!”

The king said, “What has happened?”

The minister told him, “We put all the grain on the ships, but the ships sank. I feel so sad. Our neighbouring king didn’t get the food, and we didn’t get any money. Here our own poor people who are starving didn’t get anything either. We are so unlucky that our ships sank.”

The king said, “Don’t feel sorry. Perhaps God is punishing me because I have not been kind and generous.”

The minister said, “O King, God doesn’t punish us; He only illumines us slowly and steadily. God has already illumined you by inwardly telling you to sell the grain at a very low price. Previously you didn’t want to part with any of your grain. Then you agreed to sell your grain to the other king at a low price. A day will come when you will want to give everything for free. So God never punishes us; He only illumines us.”