Which son should become king?

There was a king who had three sons. Each son was very handsome, intelligent and kind-hearted. The king was extremely, extremely pleased with all his sons. The question was, who would be the king after him? Usually the eldest son becomes the king when his father dies, but the king had such love for all three. He asked his prime minister, “How am I going to name one the crown prince and not the others? By tradition, it should fall to my eldest son, but I do not want to deny the other two. They will feel sad if I do not treat them equally. Is there any way I can truly find out which one is the best of the three?”

The prime minister said, “It is a very difficult matter. How can I know what to advise you? Usually the eldest son has to be the king, but in this case you want to see who is most suitable in every way, since you love them all equally. All right, let me try to see if I can be of any help to you.”

The following day the prime minister put on the garb of a sage. He donned ochre robes and disguised his face with a beard. Nobody could recognise him at all, not even the king. The ‘sage’ whispered to the king, “I am your prime minister. Do not tell your sons who I am. In this way, I will be able to see which one is the best of the three.”

The king summoned his three sons and said, “A most venerable sage has come. If you have any question, any desire or any problem, please take this golden opportunity to discuss it with him. He will be able to give you invaluable advice.”

The princes said that they were very pleased to see the sage, but they did not have any questions for him. Then the king said to the sage, “If you have any advice to offer my sons or if you have anything to tell us, please do so.”

The sage said to the eldest son, “Suppose you become the king after your father leaves this world. What will you do?”

The eldest son said, “I will try to do good things. I will try to be good and kind in every way, and I do hope that my subjects will also be good and kind to me.”

The sage said, “Excellent. But if you become the king, will you give me a little portion of your kingdom?”

The eldest son said, “Of course I will give you a small portion, since you are taking the trouble to advise us.”

Then the sage asked the same question of the second son, “What will you do if you become the king?”

The second son said, “If I become the king, I will be very nice and kind-hearted to my subjects, but I will not expect anything from them. If they do not want to be nice to me, no harm. I will not be angry with them. I will do my job. I will try to become a good person. If they also want to become good, well and good; otherwise, I will not expect anything from them.”

Again the sage asked, “Will you give me a little portion of your kingdom?”

The second son said, “Oh, definitely, definitely I will give you some land.”

Then the sage came to the third son. The third son was asked the same question, “What will you do if you become the king?”

He replied, “If I become the king, I will be nice to everybody, and I will not mind if my subjects are not nice to me. But if any dispute arises, any conflict or argument, I will always be just. I will be nice to them and, if they are not nice, I will not mind, but I will be just. I will not be partial at all.”

Then the sage asked, “Will you give me a small portion of your property?”

The youngest son said, “No, I will not give you any property.”

“Why not?” asked the sage.

The prince said, “First of all, my father the king is still alive. While my father is still alive, where is my kingdom? God alone knows whom father will choose. We have no idea whether it will be my eldest brother or my middle brother. I am the youngest. I have the least chance. But since we are discussing this, if I were to be just, I would have to ask on what basis I should give you a portion of the kingdom. What have you done for me? You are simply talking to me. Anyway, what kind of discussion is this? Let father decide whomever he wants to be king.”

The king had listened silently to the whole proceeding. Now he said, “My sons, I am so glad that you three came here and had such an illumining conversation with this wise sage. I am so happy, so pleased. Now you may go.”

When the princes had gone, the prime minister removed his long hair, beard and moustache, and both he and the king started laughing. Then the prime minister said, “Now, do I have to tell you which one will be the best?”

The king said, “No, I saw and heard for myself. Definitely it is my youngest son. He will perform good deeds, but he will not expect anything from others. Again, he will be really just. Just because you were kind enough to chat with him, why should he feel obliged to reward you with a portion of the kingdom?”

The prime minister said, “You are absolutely right. Your third son is good and just at the same time. He should be the next king.”

From:Sri Chinmoy,Life’s bleeding tears and flying smiles, part 12, Agni Press, 2001
Sourced from https://srichinmoylibrary.com/lts_12