Life’s bleeding tears and flying smiles, part 12
DedicationOn the most auspicious occasion of my brother Mantu’s 73rd birthday on 17 November 2000, I lovingly and gratefully dedicated to him 73 stories, which were published in five volumes. Now, I have decided to continue the series by writing an additional 100 stories dedicated to him. These 100 stories will be published in seven volumes, for a total of twelve volumes.
Author's introductionThese are not my own stories. These are ancient stories. I do not claim even an iota of originality. The original authors are buried in oblivion, but the successors are following in the footsteps of their predecessors with gorgeous embellishment. I, too, have indulged lavishly in my own way of embellishment. Long live my humour-wisdom-flooded predecessors, who loved anonymity.
May these tales liberate us from the heavy dryness of the mind, and may they transform the dryness of the mind into an ever-blossoming fountain-ecstasy.
— Sri Chinmoy
The rich man's act of charityThere was a very, very rich man who was stingy to the extreme. Although he was mean-spirited, he was a good talker. He made everybody feel that he was a very kind-hearted man. In his old age, this rogue passed away. He had not done a single good thing in his life, and no one mourned his passing. After he left the body, somehow this rogue found himself at Heaven’s gate, not at hell’s door. In the Christian world, Heaven’s gatekeeper is St. Peter. The rich man was confident that St. Peter would allow him to pass through because he had performed an act of charity on earth.
St. Peter said to him, “How is it possible that you are here? You are such a bad person! I can see you have not done anything good on earth. How do you dare to come here?”
The rich man said, “I am a bad person?”
St. Peter said, “Yes! Tell me, have you done anything good in your lifetime?”
The rich man said, “I have definitely done good things.”
St. Peter said, “Just give me an example.”
The rich man said, “One day I was walking along the street and I saw a very old lady. She was very, very poor, so I gave her a coin. That is charity, is it not?”
St. Peter said, “I cannot believe you. You are making this story up. You are a horrible person. I am sure you have not done anything good.”
Then St. Peter sent an angel to look for the old lady in the realms of Heaven. The angel brought the old lady, and she said to St. Peter, “Yes, what this man is saying is true. I was about to cross the street and he gave me a coin. Unfortunately, just after he gave me the coin, I met with an accident, and I died.”
St. Peter asked, “Where is the coin now?”
The old lady said, “I still have the coin with me.” She brought out her coin and showed it to St. Peter. It was a small, worthless coin, absolutely old, dusty and disfigured.
St. Peter said, “This is your act of charity?” He was furious with the rich man.
The old lady said, “Do not be angry with him. He tried to help me. He gave me money, but I met with an accident while crossing the street, so I died. I know he is a good man.”
Now St. Peter became really furious. He said to the old lady, “You are such a fool! Can you not see that he has tricked you? Nobody would have accepted this coin from you because it is so disfigured!”
To the rich man, he said, “Go to hell!” For one minute the rich man had been able to stay at Heaven’s gate because he said he had performed an act of charity. Then St. Peter sent him to hell.
The rich man said, “What is this? You are sending me to hell without my money? If you want me to go to hell, then give me my money back. Why should I go without my money?”
St. Peter threw the coin at him, and the rich man picked it up and went to hell.
God smashes the learned man's prideThere was a very, very saintly priest whom everybody was extremely fond of. A young aspirant came to the priest’s hermitage and expressed his desire to practise spirituality. The priest said, “No, no, you are too young. I do not want to have you as my student.”
The young boy said, “It is true that I am young, but if I start at this early age, then in the course of time I will become very, very spiritual.”
The priest said, “I admire your philosophy. I accept you as my student, and I am blessing you so that you will become very spiritual.” Then the priest started giving the boy lessons.
By the time the boy had grown up, he had learned the sacred scriptures, and he had read many religious books under the guidance of his guru. People came to know that this great scholar was well versed in the Upanishads, the Vedas and many other texts. His guru had taught him, but the young scholar reaped all the glory. His reputation even reached the ears of the king.
One day the king summoned this young scholar to his court. The scholar said, “No, I am not going to see him. He should be my devotee.”
His guru said, “What are you saying?”
The young scholar said, “I do not need the king. If he needs me, then he should come here. He wants to receive some knowledge from me. Such being the case, why should I go to him? He has to come to me.”
The guru was almost speechless with shock. At last he said, “The king is calling you. Do not ignore him. Knowledge means humility. I beg you to go to him.”
The young scholar said, “No, no. It is the other way around. Whoever is hungry for knowledge has to come to the knowledge-giver. The king is hungry for knowledge, so he has to come here.”
The guru burst out, “I am sick of you! Is this what I taught you? I am going away alone. You stay here. You can take care of my hermitage, or you can go home, whatever you want to do. The king is so kind. Everybody loves him. Now he wants to know something about religious matters. You should go to him. If the king had asked me, I would have gone. I taught you everything because I did not care for name and fame. But you do care for name and fame. That is why you are so proud and haughty. You should go to him, but you are not going. I can no longer stay here. I am going out on a pilgrimage.” The guru took his walking stick and sadly left.
A few days later the young scholar was studying his books when he saw an elderly couple approaching. They were accompanied by a beautiful young girl. The elderly couple said to him, “Our daughter wants to study the Vedas and the Upanishads. You are known as a deeply spiritual person. Do you have any students who learn from you the way you learned from your guru? We are certain that your spiritual disciplines will not allow you to teach our daughter by herself. She is a girl, after all.”
The young scholar said, “I am above all that. For me it does not matter whether it is a girl or a boy. It will not affect my spiritual height. If your daughter wants to study with me, I can teach her.”
The elderly couple said, “But you are a saintly person. Are you sure that it is acceptable for you to teach our daughter?”
The young scholar said, “Oh yes. In fact, I will teach her for nothing. You do not have to pay any sacerdotal fee.”
The elderly couple bade their daughter farewell and the scholar started teaching her. The inevitable happened. In two weeks the scholar had fallen in love with the girl. The parents were shocked. They suspected something of this type would happen. Again, they had such admiration for the young scholar that they trusted him. Soon they came to learn that their daughter was also in love with him. In a short time the scholar and the beautiful girl were married. Everything had gone wrong.
In the course of time, the young couple had a child. Previously, the scholar had had a few other students whom he taught, but now nobody came to him because he had fallen. A friend of his came to him and said, “You cannot support your family on your meagre earnings. Now you have a son to think of. Why not go to the king and give him your knowledge?”
The scholar went to the king and said, “Some time ago, you asked me to come and teach you the sacred scriptures. Now I am in such serious financial difficulty. Will you hire me?”
The king said, “Yes, I am eager to learn. How often do you want to come?”
The scholar said, “I will come once a month and reveal to you the wisdom of the Vedas, the Upanishads and other scriptures.”
The next year the young couple had another son. The amount of money the scholar was receiving from the king was not enough. He said to the king, “May I come twice a month so that I may receive double the amount from you? Because of my second son, I need more money to meet with all my expenses.” Alas, the king agreed to this new arrangement.
A year later the couple had another child. Once more the scholar went to the king. This time he asked, “May I come weekly so that I can receive extra money from you?”
As time went by, he had even more children, so he was obliged to go every day to the king’s palace in order to support his family.
After many years, his old guru returned from his pilgrimage and he saw that his hermitage was overrun with children. He said, “What has happened? This was such a spiritual place! Now it is full of chaos. This is what you have done in my absence? Get out, get out, get out!”
The scholar said, “No, we shall not get out. This was your place, and you left it in our hands. We have made it beautiful. We have furnished it and added extra rooms. So you get out!”
The old guru said, “This is my fate. I did not want to teach you when you came to me as a young boy. I said, ‘No, no, I do not want to teach somebody so young. You have no experience of the world.’ But you begged me and begged me, so I surrendered. Now this is the result. I implored you to go to the king, but you did not go. At that time your pride did not allow you to go to him. But God will always find a way to smash our pride. Once upon a time it was beneath your dignity to go to the king. Now you are going like a beggar every day. You go there so you can support your family.”
The scholar and his wife refused to give the guru back his hermitage. He said, “Do I need these outer things? You need a wife, you need children, you need everything. I need only God. Once again I am leaving this place. I shall be a religious mendicant and wander to and fro. I shall depend on alms for my physical existence. Whatever people give me, I will eat, and I will sleep under the trees. I will spend the rest of my life as I started — only thinking of God and praying to God.”
The mysterious golden rosesAn old couple had a beautiful garden. At one particular place they planted a rose bush. This rose bush used to produce golden roses. The old couple used to work very, very hard in their garden and people used to deeply admire their golden roses.
One day the eldest son of the village chief was galloping by. From his horse, he saw the golden roses. He could not believe his eyes. So he reached down from his horse and grabbed a few roses. When he grabbed the roses, the whole bush came out of the ground. He did not know how it could have happened. Then suddenly the rose bush left his hands; he could not hold it. It was beyond belief. Since he could not account for it, the son of the village chief turned his horse around and again came back to the vicinity of the rose bush. When he came back, he saw the same bush with all its golden roses. Once more he grabbed some roses from the bush. Then he turned around only to see that there was no rose bush in the ground.
He felt compelled to solve this mystery. He went home and this time he brought his servants to destroy that particular plot of land. He said, “Some villagers are making fun of me.”
So he destroyed the whole plot of land. The bush and everything else was gone, completely gone. Then the son of the village chief was very, very happy. He went home and began bragging about this incident. He told his friends of the mysterious experience he had had, which he was certain would not be repeated. His father was also surprised to hear this story. His father asked his friends for an explanation, but they could not give any proper answer. So once again this young man returned to the place. This time he brought his relatives and friends in order to show them the plot of land that he had completely destroyed.
Alas! When he arrived at the place, he saw the garden and the rose bush with its golden roses growing in the same position as before. How could it happen? The son of the village chief was so sad and depressed. He could not show off to his friends that he had destroyed this place.
As he was returning home, he met with an old woman. He said to her, “You are old, very old. You are supposed to have wisdom. Can you tell me why this has happened? I destroyed that plot of land. How is it that again there is a rose bush growing there with golden roses?”
The old lady said, “I cannot answer this question, but I know someone who will be able to answer it.”
“Who is that?” asked the son of the village chief.
The old woman said, “I know of a dwarf who is really wise. I am no match for him. He will tell you the real reason why it happened.”
“This dwarf will give us knowledge?” asked the young man doubtfully.
The old lady said, “If it is beneath your dignity to go to the dwarf, then do not go. In that case, you will remain ignorant, because I know I cannot answer this question. But if you sincerely want to be illumined, then you must go to the dwarf.”
So the son of the village chief went to the dwarf with utmost reluctance. He thought that now he would hear some stupid answer from the dwarf. In fact, he was fully prepared for this.
The young man invited a few friends and together they went to see the dwarf. The young man explained his problem at great length. Then the dwarf said, “You cannot solve this problem? You have gone to schools and you have gone to college. You have studied many books. You are supposed to have knowledge, yet such a simple thing you do not know?”
The young man said, “Do not waste our time! Now, for God’s sake, if you have anything to say, kindly say it.”
The dwarf said, “This is such an easy thing! The couple who own that plot of land work very, very hard. They planted that rose bush and they also cultivate various crops. God is always pleased with people who work very, very hard. And what did you do? Merely for your own pleasure, you snatched the golden roses. God does not like that kind of behaviour. God only likes people who work very, very hard. God shows them His infinite Compassion and affection, and He gives them His own Pride. Because they were working so hard, God wanted to make them extremely happy. Therefore, He created this beautiful rose bush with golden roses. But what did you do? You just went there and destroyed it. God does not love people who destroy His creation. He loves people who build things. So, in the future, you have to work very, very hard. If you work very hard, then like this old couple, you will get astonishing results from your efforts.”
The young man and his friends immediately recognised the wisdom of the dwarf’s words. In silence, they saluted him and returned home.
Gratitude to the rescueA particular king observed that for two years the citizens of one town did not pay their taxes. The king became furious, and he blamed the negligence of his tax collectors. He summoned the tax collectors and said, “How is it that for two years you have not collected taxes from that town?”
The tax collectors explained, “In spite of our frequent visits to that town, the citizens have not been able to pay us any taxes. They are extremely poor. That is why we could not be strict with them.”
The king did not listen to the excuses of the tax collectors. He fired them all. Then he sent his prime minister to collect the taxes from that town. The king also sent a large army to accompany the prime minister, in case anything happened to him.
When the people in that town saw a large army approaching with the prime minister, they became frightened. They all left the town because they knew they were in serious trouble. They felt it was safer to go back to their villages. Only one old man and his wife stayed behind in the town. When the prime minister arrived and saw only this old couple, he said, “Are you the only ones who live in this town?”
The old man said, “No, the others became frightened. Many people live here, but when they saw that soldiers were coming, they thought they would be killed, so they left. But my wife and I thought, ‘We two are old. True, we have not done the right thing, we have not paid the tax. We deserve punishment, but if we die at this age, no harm. The time has come for us to die.’”
The prime minister said, “No, go and tell all the people that we shall not punish them and we shall not even ask them for taxes. Let them come back.”
When the citizens returned to the town, they brought with them the papers to show that for two years they had not paid taxes. The prime minister did not even ask for the taxes, but they thought that since the prime minister was so kind, they would show him the papers to prove they knew exactly how much tax they owed.
The prime minister said, “What? Did I ask you to bring these papers?”
They said, “No, you did not ask to see them. We were told that you would not punish us, so we are very grateful to you. We have brought the papers to show you that we are fully aware of how much we have not paid.”
The prime minister said, “Tell me the truth. You are all farmers. Why is it that you have not paid? Is it because you are not getting good crops from your fields? Or is it your habit to escape the taxes by fooling the king in some way?”
The citizens said, “To be perfectly frank, we get very good results from the fields, but we are all first-class liars. When the tax collectors come, we tell them lies.”
Then the prime minister said, “All right. Give me the papers.” Then he took all the papers and tore them up.
The citizens asked, “What is going to happen now?”
The prime minister said, “Nothing is going to happen to you. I am only asking one thing of you: you have to be grateful to the king. You have been very bad, but I am telling you, now you have to be grateful.”
They said, “Oh, we are very grateful to the king. We shall always remain grateful to him. We will do anything he asks. If the king needs our help, we shall give it.”
The prime minister laughed, “You are the ones to give help to the king? Here you have been fooling him for two years, and now you are offering to come to his aid whenever he needs help?”
They said, “This is our solemn promise. If ever the king needs our help in any way, we shall do the needful. We know that we are only ordinary people. The king has so many soldiers. Perhaps he will never need our help. But we want you to know that this is not just an empty promise.”
The prime minister returned to the palace and the king asked him, “Did you collect the money?”
The prime minister replied, “No, I did not collect it.”
“Why not?” asked the king.
The prime minister said, “I have collected something much more important.”
The king asked, “What is this important thing that you have collected?”
The prime minister said, “I have collected their gratitude.”
“What shall I do with their gratitude?” protested the king. “I need the money from their taxes. O minister, what have you done now? I thought that you were the wisest man. I fired the tax collectors because they did not do their job properly. Now you have joined their side.”
The prime minister said, “My King, please give me a little time. I will be able to show you the power of gratitude.”
The king said, “All right, all right. I am very displeased, but I will wait and see.”
The prime minister was sure that one day something would happen to make his words come true.
A few months later, some enemies of the king came and attacked the palace. They had brought with them a huge army. When the king’s soldiers saw such a vast number of enemy soldiers advancing towards them, all their courage vanished. They deserted the palace and left the king to his fate.
In the meantime, the citizens of the town received the message that the king was in serious trouble. Immediately they all gathered up their simple weapons and farming tools and set out for the palace. The king simply could not believe his eyes when he saw so many ordinary citizens coming to help him with such willingness and determination. His citizens’ army attacked the enemies in a very spirited way and managed to chase them beyond the borders of the kingdom.
On that day the king was so happy, excited and delighted. He informed his prime minister that his prophecy had come true.
Alas, the prime minister died on that very day. The king felt very, very sad and, at the same time, he said, “This was the prime minister whose wisdom-flooded prophecy came true.” After that he built a big monument in memory of this prime minister, who taught him that the power of gratitude has no parallel.
The elephant and the frogThere was a bridge. On one side of the bridge was an elephant, and on the other side of the bridge was a frog. The frog said to the elephant, “Please wait. Let me cross the bridge first. Then you can come.”
The elephant asked, “Why?”
The frog said, “If both of us cross together, then the bridge will shake uncontrollably. It may even collapse.”
The elephant said, “I am an elephant. I am so heavy. I shall go first. You weigh nothing, so you can cross after me.”
When the elephant started walking over the bridge, the frog also tried to cross. When they met in the centre of the bridge and passed by each other, the bridge began to shake. It was on the point of collapsing.
The frog said, “This is because of you! You are huge, but you have no brain. Can you not see what is happening now? This is all because you did not listen to me. I am going to curse you.”
The elephant replied, “What can you do? You are a mere frog.”
Then the frog jumped off the bridge into the water. The elephant was trembling in all its limbs. It knew that something serious was about to happen, but it did not know what to do.
The frog called out, “You are huge, but you have no brain. If you had listened to me, if I had gone first, then nothing would have happened.” In this way, the frog went on insulting the elephant.
The elephant said, “Now you are in the water, so you are safe. But if you come here and challenge me, I will prove who is more powerful.”
“Why do I have to challenge you?” said the frog. “You have already lost. You have no brain. You did not listen to me. Because you did not listen to me, the bridge is collapsing.”
As the frog spoke, the bridge broke apart and the elephant was thrown into the rushing river.
The moneylender and the diamondsThere was a moneylender who was very, very bad. He always asked for high interest payments from his clients. An old man started coming to him every day because he needed money badly for his daughter’s marriage. Each day the poor fellow visited the moneylender with the hope that the moneylender would lower the interest, but instead it only went up and up. Unfortunately, this moneylender was the only one in the village who lent money.
One day the jeweller saw the old man going to the moneylender. The jeweller said to the old man, “Every day I see you going to the moneylender. How much money are you borrowing from him?”
The old man said, “I have not yet borrowed any money. Every day I go to his shop with the hope that he will lend me some money. He is ready to lend me as much as I need, but with very high interest. I cannot afford to repay the loan with that amount of interest.”
The jeweller said, “If I come and beg him to lower the interest, it will not work. But do not worry. I will solve your problem. Come to my shop tomorrow before you go to his shop. I promise I will help you.”
The next day the old man went to the jeweller’s shop. The jeweller gave him four glass pieces which looked exactly like very expensive diamonds. The jeweller said, “Now you go and tell the moneylender that you found these in an earthen pot buried underground and you are absolutely sure that these are diamond pieces.”
The old man went to the moneylender and said, “Today I have something to show you.”
The moneylender asked, “What is it?”
The man said, “I had a dream. In the dream I saw that there was an earthen pot under the ground at a particular place. When I went to that place and dug under the ground, I found a pot containing these four diamonds.”
The moneylender said, “Are these really diamonds?”
The man said, “I think they are diamonds. If you do not believe it, I shall take them to the jeweller. You do not know for certain and I do not know for certain, but I am convinced that they are real diamonds. If you do not want them, I am going to the jeweller.”
The moneylender hastily said, “No, no, stay.” After the moneylender looked closely at the glass pieces, he felt sure they were diamonds.
The old man said, “You keep the diamonds. I am asking for a lower interest on my loan and also for more time to pay you back. If I am unable to return the money, then you can keep the diamonds.”
The moneylender said, “I will give you the money, and the interest will be very low.”
The moneylender was extremely greedy. He thought that he would be able to sell the diamonds for a very high price. So he loaned the old man the money for his daughter’s wedding, and the interest was next to nothing. In the evening, the moneylender secretly went to the jeweller and said, “Can you tell me if these are diamonds?”
The jeweller said, “I am very busy now. I cannot take the time to look at them. Come back in two weeks.”
The moneylender said, “Can you not take a few seconds just to say if these are very expensive diamonds?”
The jeweller said, “I cannot give a proper opinion at this moment, but they look like diamonds. I will not be able to be one hundred per cent certain unless I examine them.”
Then the jeweller smiled, so the moneylender took it as a sign that they were definitely diamond pieces. He took them home, and he was so happy that in two weeks’ time he would get an accurate appraisal.
In the meantime, the old man who had borrowed the money had a marriage ceremony performed for his daughter. At the marriage many people gave him gifts in the form of money. When the marriage festivities were over, he went to the moneylender.
The moneylender said, “How was it possible for you to marry your daughter in such a short time? Only one week has passed since I saw you last.”
The old man said, “It was so simple. You loaned me the money. That is why it was possible for my daughter to get married. Now I wish to repay the loan and collect my diamonds.”
In the meantime, the moneylender had made exact replicas of the four glass pieces in order to fool the old man. Since he was sure that the ones that he had were diamonds, he happily gave the old man the false glass pieces. He thought that he had cleverly cheated the old man.
When the two weeks had passed, the moneylender went to the jeweller and asked him to examine the diamond pieces.
The jeweller said, “All right. Today I shall look at them very carefully.” After looking at them for a long time, from every possible angle, the jeweller announced, “These are all glass pieces.”
The moneylender was furious. He said, “Then why did you say they were diamonds?”
The jeweller said, “I did not tell you that they were diamonds. I said to come back in two weeks’ time. I told you on that day that I had no time to examine them and in two weeks I would look at them closely. Now you have come back, and I have done my job. I see clearly that they are all glass pieces. They are not worth even one paisa.”
So when we cheat others, we get what we deserve.
The woodcutter and the golden wristbandThere was a very, very poor woodcutter who had worked extremely hard for many years. Even so, it was difficult for him to make both ends meet. He also happened to be a genuine spiritual seeker. One day he was praying most soulfully to Mother Kali for some money-power. Although Mother Kali is the goddess of power, she has everything at her command. She can do things for us in a fleeting second that other gods and goddesses will take fifty, sixty or one hundred years to do. She is the mother of speed. She has all the capacities, including wealth.
In a dream, Mother Kali appeared before the simple woodcutter and said, “Although I am not usually invoked for money-power, since you are my great devotee, I shall help you.”
The following day, early in the morning, the woodcutter was leaving his hut to go and work in the forest. Right near his house on the grass he saw a man’s wristband, and it was golden. He was so thrilled. He said, “Mother Kali, you have listened to my prayer. I will be able to sell this for a large sum of money.” He immediately offered all his gratitude to Mother Kali.
When the woodcutter looked at the wristband more carefully, he saw that at one place it was studded with a small diamond. He was beside himself with joy. He hurried to the jeweller’s shop with his treasure. When the jeweller saw the wristband, he examined it in minute detail. At first he was surprised, but then he concealed his surprise very cleverly.
The jeweller told the woodcutter, “I do not think this is such an expensive wristband. It looks very beautiful, but I am sure it has glass inside it. I am ready to buy it from you, but today I do not have any money here in the shop. Please bring it tomorrow. Then I will buy it for whatever price you want. Since it is not very expensive, I do not think you will ask me for much, but whatever you want, I will give.”
The woodcutter was very pleased that on the following day he would receive some money, and perhaps he would not have to work for a few months.
That night the jeweller hired some hooligans to give the woodcutter a sound thrashing. The poor fellow was beaten black and blue. The hooligans demanded, “Show us where you have kept the wristband.” The woodcutter showed them where it was hidden. Then the hooligans bound the woodcutter and took him away along with the wristband.
The next day the jeweller took the woodcutter to the king. He said, “I have caught a thief. This fellow came to my shop yesterday. I had to do something urgent, so I could not pay attention to him. I just turned around for a minute and he ran away with this valuable wristband. It is from my shop that he stole it. My associates and I caught him and punished him. Now you can decide what additional punishment he deserves. This is such an expensive thing he has stolen from me!”
The poor woodcutter said, “I did not steal it. I was coming out of my hut and I found it on the ground.”
The king was very, very serious. The king said, “Do you expect us to believe that you found this kind of thing on the ground?”
The king seemed to have taken the side of the jeweller one hundred per cent. He continued, “I must definitely visit your hut, woodcutter. You have such beautiful and expensive things lying about.”
The woodcutter said, “Yes, yes, please, please come to my place. I need your blessings, O King.”
The woodcutter was so miserable. He said to himself, “What kind of king is this? Here I am telling the simple truth, but he is not taking my side. He is taking the side of the jeweller.” He was filled with sadness.
Then the king said to the jeweller, “Since this wristband was for sale in your shop, I definitely feel that you had a pair of them, not just one wristband. I am sure you had one more of the same kind.”
The jeweller said, “Oh yes, you are absolutely right, I had one more.”
“Then what happened to that one?” enquired the king.
“Oh, just three or four days ago it was stolen,” said the jeweller.
“Another robbery!” exclaimed the king. “Do you mean somebody else stole the other one?”
The jeweller said, “Yes, somebody else stole it. I am so miserable. I forgot to tell you, O King, that one wristband was stolen by this rogue, but the other thief I could not catch. I do not know who has stolen it.”
The king said, “Oh, I see. You are so unfortunate. I sympathise with you.”
The king paused for a moment. Then he said to the jeweller, “Now get ready for punishment.”
The jeweller was horrified. He said, “What? What kind of punishment will I get? Here is the thief.”
The king said, “Four days ago I made a small excursion. I took some noblemen out for hunting. When we were returning to the palace at night, I accidentally dropped my wristband. I discovered the loss when I arrived home, but I did not know where I had dropped it. Now I see that I must have dropped it as I was passing by this poor woodcutter’s place. It is definitely mine. The other one is still with me.”
The king asked his men to bring him the other wristband. He showed it to the jeweller and said, “Here is the other one. You can clearly see that it is identical. That means that I am the one who stole the other wristband from your shop!”
Then the king said, “Now the punishment comes. Your first lie was that this woodcutter, such an innocent man, stole this wristband. Your second lie was when you told me that it came from your shop. The third lie was that the other wristband was also stolen from your place. Three lies! For each lie I will put you in jail for five years because I feel you have deceived many, many people this way. So five years, five years, five years — fifteen years you will be in jail.” By now the king was very, very angry.
In the meantime, the jeweller’s sons came to know of what was happening, so they came running to the palace. They said to the king, “O King, if we give you some money, will you reconsider your sentence?”
The king said, “Do I need money from people like you? I have given my judgement. It is final.”
Then the jeweller’s wife arrived on the scene. She said, “O King, please keep my husband in jail for the full fifteen years.” The king could not believe his ears.
The sons were shocked. They said, “What are you saying, Mother? What kind of wife are you?”
She said, “Your father has been doing this kind of thing for many years, and his nature has to be changed. Only the most severe punishment will change his nature. I will not mind at all. Please keep him in jail for fifteen years, or give him lifelong imprisonment.”
The king was very pleased with the wife, and at the same time he was amused. Everyone was wondering what the king would do. The king said, “All right, since you are such a wonderful wife, such a good wife, I shall keep your husband in jail only for five years.”
Then the wife said, “No, no, no! Only five years? Then he will come back again and do the same kind of thing.”
The king said, “I see your sincerity, but something is telling me that five years is enough. I shall pray to God on your behalf, and you will pray to God. After five years your husband will be released. Let us both pray to God that he turns over a new leaf and becomes a good person. I am sure that God will listen to our prayers.”
So the jeweller received five years’ imprisonment, and then he returned to his family. After he came back, he felt miserable for his wife, and he also felt grateful to the king for his good heart. So the jeweller gave up his old undivine life and became a very good person.
The two wise prime ministersThere was a king who suddenly developed a desire to overthrow a neighbouring king. This neighbouring king happened to be a friend of his. The first king had the desire to conquer his friend and take all his wealth. So the king spoke to his prime minister and told him of his desire. Then he said, “What is your opinion of it?”
The prime minister said, “He is your friend. How can you even dream of doing this to him?”
The king said, “No, this desire has taken root inside me. I want to be stronger than he is. I want to be mightier than he is. Friendship is one thing, but this goes beyond friendship. If I can surpass him in every way, then I will be really happy and proud.”
The prime minister replied, “What can I say? You are the king. You must make your own decision.”
“Tell me frankly,” said the king, “do you think I will be able to win?”
The prime minister replied, “How can I say whether or not you will be able to win? First of all, O King, you are doing something wrong. Your friend has not done anything to you. He has not antagonised you or insulted you in any way. He seems to be your friend, and you have always claimed to be his friend. How can you treat a friend this way? But if you have the desire to conquer him, then I can only say this: first let us examine the intelligence of his prime minister.”
“What kind of examination do you propose?” asked the king.
The prime minister said, “Let me examine him in a special way. Based on the prime minister’s intelligence, I shall tell you what to do.”
The king agreed to send a messenger with a most expensive gift to the other king, along with a message that was dictated by the prime minister. The prime minister said, “Messenger, go and tell the king that our king will be extremely happy and grateful if he can send two men. One will have to prove that he lives for death, and the other will have to prove that he lives for life.”
“What kind of stupid question is this that I am asking the messenger to take to the other king?” said the king.
The prime minister replied, “Please, please listen to me. Let the messenger deliver the message to your friend and let us see if he abides by your request. If he can fulfil your request, then I will tell you what to do.”
The messenger arrived at the court of the neighbouring king. This king was very, very happy to receive such a beautiful gift from his dear friend. Then the messenger said, “O King, I also have a special message for you. My king requests you to send from your kingdom two men: one who lives only for death and one who lives only for life.”
Now, the prime minister in this kingdom was very smart, very shrewd. He said, “Do not worry, O King. I know the answer.” He immediately summoned a doctor and a priest. The prime minister said to the messenger, “Here are our two representatives: a doctor and a priest. The doctor lives for life. He tries to keep life on earth. Everywhere people are dying, but the doctors try to conquer death. So this is the man who lives for life. He wants people to stay on earth as long as possible. The priest lives for death. When somebody dies, the priest arranges the funeral and performs all the ceremonies. When somebody dies, he has to do his job. So the priest lives for death and the doctor lives for life.”
The priest and the doctor accompanied the messenger back to his own kingdom and he brought them before the king. The prime minister of the first king saw them and said, “Your Majesty, do not try to fight against that king. His prime minister is extremely intelligent. I tell you, if you try to conquer your friend, you will fail because his prime minister is very smart. So do not do it.”
The king took the advice of his prime minister and decided not to try to conquer his friend.
Meanwhile, the same desire entered into the other king. He wished to conquer the first king. Desire does not stay at one place. Like a monkey, it goes from one place to another. Now the second king discussed his desire with his own prime minister, the one who was so smart. This prime minister said, “Let us put the same question to them. You shall send your friend a very expensive gift, and your messenger will beg for the fulfilment of your request. Two men we need: one for life and one for death. But they cannot send the same type of people. They have to send two people from totally different professions.”
This prime minister thought that the other prime minister would not be able to fulfil their request, since the puzzle had already been solved. He did not see how there could be two answers to the same question.
In due time, the messenger from the second king arrived with a most beautiful and expensive gift. Then he delivered his message requesting the first king to send one man who lived for life and one who lived for death.
The first prime minister said, “It is so easy. Send for an undertaker. An undertaker lives for death. When somebody dies, it is his job is to take care of the body.”
Then the first prime minister said, “Now, for life, bring me a spiritual seeker, someone who does very deep meditation. A seeker prays to God all the time for the fulfilment of God’s Will. Here on earth everything is transitory. Even human life is fleeting. But a true spiritual seeker prays for Immortality, for immortal life.”
So the prime minister found a very saintly person and an undertaker, and he sent them both to the other king. The prime minister of the second king said, “O King, this prime minister is very smart. His intelligence has defeated us. I urge you not to fight with that king because we are bound to lose.”
So the two wise prime ministers both advised their respective kings not to fight. Each king gave up the idea of conquering the other one when he heard that defeat was unavoidable.
The king's friend becomes the prime ministerOnce a king asked a very dear friend of his to accompany him. The king said, “I want to go for a long walk. You come with me. We shall take a leisurely excursion.”
The friend gladly accepted the invitation, and the two friends set out walking together. Along the way they saw somebody walking about twenty metres ahead of them. The king said to his friend, “You know everything. I have such faith in you. Can you tell me what this man’s profession is?”
The friend answered, “Yes, I can easily tell you. He is a woodcutter.”
“How do you know he is a woodcutter?” asked the king curiously.
The friend replied, “I can see he is looking at this tree and that tree. He is examining all the trees growing along the side of the road, so he has to be a woodcutter.”
The king said, “He has to be a woodcutter? Since you know everything, can you tell me his name?”
“Easily I can tell you his name,” said his friend.
The king was astonished. He said, “What is his name then?”
The friend said, “His name is Salim.”
“How do you know?” asked the king.
“It is very simple,” the friend said. “My name is Salim. When you called my name, he immediately turned his head. He thought that you were calling him.”
The king said, “Are you sure?” He thought perhaps his friend was joking with him. Then the king asked, “Can you tell me what he ate half an hour ago?”
The friend said, “Yes, I can easily answer your question.”
The king said, “How do you know? Have you ever seen him before?”
“Never!” said the friend emphatically.
The king continued, “You have never seen him, never talked to him? Then how can you say all these things with such authority?”
The friend told the king, “It is self-evident. The last thing that he ate was honey.”
“Honey?” queried the king. “My friend, are you mocking me by any chance? Why should I believe that he ate honey? It is too far-fetched!”
“I know it is true,” said his friend, “because I saw that there were bees buzzing around his lips. Definitely he has eaten honey. That is why with his palm he was trying to brush aside the bees.”
The king said, “All right. Now I wish to find out the truth of the matter.” He asked his friend Salim to walk ahead and request the man to stop. Salim caught up to the man and said, “Please wait. The king wants to speak with you.”
When the poor man heard the very word ‘king’, he began trembling with fear. He thought perhaps he had done something wrong. But the king spoke to him very kindly and compassionately. The king said, “I have a few simple questions to ask you.”
The man only nodded. He was a very, very humble man. The king said, “First tell me, what is your name?”
The man answered, “My name is Salim.”
The king asked, “What do you do?”
The man answered, “I am just a humble and poor woodcutter.”
Then the king asked, “And what did you eat last?”
The woodcutter said, “I ate only a little honey. I like honey very much.”
Everything that the king’s friend had said was correct. Then the king gave the woodcutter a very large amount of money and told him, “Do not worry. You have done nothing wrong. On the contrary, I am very pleased with you.”
To his friend the king said, “Today you have really proved to me how intelligent a human being can be! You must work with me. I want to replace my prime minister. You are the one to be my prime minister. You have to listen to my request. From today on you shall be my prime minister.”
The prime minister solves the guru's riddleThere was a king who had a guru. The king would not do anything without taking advice from his guru, and his guru was kind enough to offer him advice on a wide range of subjects. As a matter of fact, on the inner level, the guru used to rule the kingdom, and as a result everything was peaceful and prosperous.
Once it happened that a vacancy arose in the court. The king wanted a very high-ranking officer for a special task and he begged his guru to let him know whom to take. The king asked his prime minister to nominate two candidates who had, according to him, both knowledge and wisdom. Then he planned to send those two candidates to his guru, and ask his guru to choose one of the two.
The prime minister selected two well-qualified, high-ranking officers, and both of them went to the guru for an interview. To one the guru gave a sieve, and to the other he gave a winnowing fan. The guru did not explain anything. He simply told them to take these objects to the king.
Both of them came before the king holding the objects. The king said, “What kind of puzzle is this? How can I know which one my guru has selected? Now I am in serious trouble.”
He asked his prime minister, “Can you tell me the significance of the sieve and the winnowing fan?”
The prime minister said, “O King, this is a most difficult question! Please allow me to think it over.” Then to himself he said, “I do hope somebody — some angel or cosmic god — descends who can help me solve this problem. It is beyond my capacity to understand the significance of the fan and the sieve.”
When the prime minister went home, he saw that at one point his wife was using a winnowing fan, and then afterwards she was using a sieve. He noticed the difference between the two. When she used the sieve, he saw that the good things were passing through the wire. They were rejected, while the bad things were left on top. But when she used the winnowing fan, at that time the good things remained, while the bad things were all scattered. All of a sudden, the meaning of the guru’s gesture became clear to him. He knew that the one with the winnowing fan would keep the good and reject the bad, whereas the one with the sieve would neglect or reject the good things and accept the bad things.
The next morning the prime minister hurried to the palace and said, “O King, your guru wants you to give the job to the one who brought the winnowing fan.” Then he explained to the king why he had chosen this one. So the prime minister’s wife illumined him. He did not have to go any further to look for wisdom. She solved his problem.
One sister pleases the old farmerA farmer and his wife were returning from their relatives’ house. They had to travel a considerable distance on foot. Along the way, an elderly man came up to them and said, “Can you do me a very great favour? Where are you going?”
They mentioned the name of the village that was their destination. The elderly man said, “I am supposed to take my three daughters to that particular village. We have relatives there. Now I have some urgent business that requires me to remain here. Will you be kind to me? Will you take my daughters to that village? Once you take them there, then they will find their way to the home of our relatives.”
The farmer and his wife were extremely kind-hearted. They said, “Definitely we will take your daughters. It is not safe for them to travel alone.”
So the three sisters started accompanying the farmer and his wife. Together they covered a long distance. At one point, because the sisters were young and spirited, they were walking a little way ahead of the old farmer and his wife. The farmer’s wife whispered, “Please, please, I really want you to choose one of these young girls to be our son’s wife. They are all beautiful and sweet-natured. I leave it up to you. You choose one, and I will be so grateful if you can make arrangements for the wedding.”
Like many mothers since time immemorial, this farmer’s wife was always thinking of her son’s marriage! The farmer replied, “How can we do this kind of thing? That elderly man has placed all his trust in us. This is not the time to think of your son’s marriage.” And he scolded his wife severely.
But the wife insisted, “Please, please, do me this favour. I see these three are all very nice looking girls. And they are so well behaved. It will not be taking advantage of the old man if we ask for one of them to marry our son.”
Eventually the farmer said, “All right. I will see which one is most suitable.” With great reluctance he walked a little faster and approached the three girls. Then he said, “May I ask you two questions?”
They said, “Yes, yes! You are so kind to us. How may we help you?”
He said, “First of all, have you ever cooked with a wooden pot?”
The first girl answered, “No, no. We have never cooked with a wooden pot. Our parents do not allow us to cook.”
The second added, “We have servants who do the cooking.”
The third girl said, “I do not know how to cook with a wooden pot, but I can make such a pot.”
The farmer asked curiously, “How can you make one?”
By the roadside there was a tree. The girl said to the farmer, “Just cut a small branch. I can make a pot from it.”
The farmer had a knife, and with the knife he cut a small portion of a branch and gave it to the girl. Then she asked for the knife and they resumed walking. As she was going along, she was cutting and shaping the wood. She carved the wood into a pipe. The farmer said, “This is only a pipe!”
The girl said, “Yes, but you have only given me a small piece of wood. Had you given me a larger piece, perhaps I would have been able to make a wooden pot.”
The farmer was so pleased that this girl was able to work with wood. They continued on their way. After they had walked a long distance, they came to a wood. The farmer said to the girls, “My village is still far away from here. It will take many more hours. Is there any way we could shorten the distance?”
The first girl said, “How can we shorten the distance? Whatever the distance is, it is.”
The second girl said, “Here there is only one road. If there were three or four roads leading to that particular village, then we could say that one is the shortest. But there is only one road to follow. How can we shorten it?”
The third girl said, “No, there is a way to shorten the distance.”
The farmer was very curious to know how she proposed to solve the problem. The girl said, “I have been told that I have a very haunting singing voice. If you wish, I can sing as we walk. While I am singing, you will be listening to the songs and appreciating my voice. You will see that the distance will become nothing.”
So she started singing and they continued walking. When they reached the village, the farmer said, “You are so right. While you were singing, the time flew by.” The farmer and his wife did not feel at all tired. Under normal circumstances, they would have been very fatigued after their long journey.
The farmer did not say anything, but inwardly he was very pleased with this girl. Then the farmer and his wife accompanied the girls to the home of their relatives.
Afterwards, on the way back to their own home, the wife said, “Now tell me which one you like.”
The farmer said, “You fool! You do not know which one is the best? The one that answered both the questions correctly. She is the one for my son.”
The wife said, “Then you have to get her.”
“How am I going to do that?” asked the farmer.
A few days later the farmer went to the place where the three girls were staying, and he asked them if he could get in touch with their father. Since the farmer had been so kind to them, they gave him the address. The farmer went to their father’s place and made his request. The father saw that the farmer was very sincere and very nice, so he agreed. In the course of time, the farmer’s son and this particular girl got married and both parties were very happy.
The boat's passengers reject the rich manOnce a river broke its banks and there was an unexpected flood. This flood was destroying everything in its path — trees, houses and farms were all being destroyed. One tiny village was in a serious crisis. All the villagers decided to go to a nearby village where the flood waters were not so devastating. There was only one boat, and they all jumped into the boat. The boat held only a hundred people. They knew that if they did not cast off as soon as possible, then they would be caught in the surging waters and they would drown.
As they were on the point of leaving, they saw two latecomers approaching the pier. One was the richest man in the village. He had a very bad reputation. He was extremely miserly and loaned money to the poor people at a very, very high interest rate. The other latecomer was a beggar.
The boatman said, “I am sorry. I can only take one more passenger.”
The rich man was so haughty. He said, “Since I am so important, I am the obvious choice.”
But the passengers in the boat did not want to take the rich man on board. They wanted the beggar. The rich man became furious. He said, “I have so much wealth and influence — and you want to save the life of an insignificant street beggar?”
The passengers said, “Yes. We want to take the beggar. We do not want you for two reasons. The first is that you are so rich. If you insist on bringing with you all your wealth, the boat may sink. The second reason is that you are so mean and miserly, whereas this poor man is very kind-hearted. God has made him poor. What can he do? If we take him, then he will appreciate us because we are charitable. He needs our charity and he deserves our charity. You have never shown any sympathy to us. Why should we show sympathy to you?”
The boatman took hold of the beggar and pulled him into the boat. The rich man was shocked to the core. He said, “I curse you all! When you come back, you will find that all your houses have been destroyed by the flood. You will have no place to live. Then, when you come to me for money, I will charge you very, very high interest.”
The passengers said, “See! Now your true nature is coming forward. How bad you are! We will not come to you to borrow money. You are a very, very bad fellow.”
A few days later, when the flood waters ebbed, the villagers returned, and they saw that their houses were all destroyed. The rich man’s house was also destroyed and the rich man himself had drowned. His only son was lamenting his father’s death. The son said, “My father had amassed so much money. Now what shall I do with it? Alas, I have lost my father. There is no one to guide me in these matters.”
One of the villagers said, “Do you believe in the other world?”
The son said, “Yes, I do believe in the other world, but my father could not take his money there.”
The villager said, “True, even though your father was so attached to his money, he could not take it with him. You also will not be able to take this money to the other world.”
“Then where is my father now? Does anybody know?” asked the son in a pitiful voice.
One man stepped forward and said, “I know. I am a man of prayer. Your father is roaming between Heaven and hell.”
The son asked, “What do you mean, roaming between Heaven and hell?”
The man continued, “Your father needs our prayers so that he can go to Heaven. Otherwise, he will be totally lost. At this point, even hell does not want him because he was so bad on earth, and Heaven does not want him because he led a useless life. He did not do anything good for mankind.”
The son said, “All right. If I give you all the money, will you pray for my father?”
All the villagers nodded eagerly. The son said, “I want to distribute the money equally.” But the son was unable to do so because some bad people took more than the rest did. Then the villagers began fighting and fighting. They all completely forgot to pray. They just took the money and built new houses.
Meanwhile, the rich man was loitering in between Heaven and hell. His soul found no place to rest.
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.”
The death of the villager's sonA villager’s son was stricken with a most serious ailment. His father was inconsolable. He went from one village doctor to another searching for a cure for his son, but nobody could cure him. Finally the father brought his son to the best doctor in the town. This doctor tried various treatments, but the son’s condition did not improve. One day the doctor said to the father, “I do not think I will be able to cure your son. You have only one option left: pray to God.”
“I have been praying and praying,” cried the father. “Do you think I have not been praying?”
The father felt that any day, at any moment, his son would die. This was his only son. His wife had passed away many years before, so he was both mother and father to the son.
Every day the father would enter his son’s room in the hospital and kneel by his bed. Then he would start sobbing. Late at night he would go home, and then he would come back to the hospital again in the morning. The doctor felt genuinely sad that he could not cure the patient. He knew that in a day or two the patient would die. Eventually the hour of death struck. It was in the middle of the night, and the father had gone home. Death came and snatched away the son.
Although doctors are accustomed to seeing death, this particular doctor felt very sad. How could he tell the poor father that his son was no more? He felt that it would break his heart. For hours the doctor was inwardly preparing himself to give the father the message.
At last the father arrived at the hospital. The doctor saw that on that day, of all days, the father was so happy. In this kind of happy mood he had to hear the worst possible news. With utmost kindness and sympathy, the doctor said, “I am glad that today you are happy. I do not know why you are happy but, unfortunately, I have to give you some bad news. Please, please sit down. I regret to tell you that your son passed away.”
The doctor looked at the father, but the old man was not shedding tears. He seemed quite normal. The doctor said to him, “Perhaps you are in shock. Otherwise, I cannot understand your reaction. You can come and see your son’s body if you wish. Your son has passed away and you are not crying at all!”
The old man went to see his son’s body. Even then he did not cry. Now the doctor could not fathom the mystery. How could a father be so indifferent to his son’s passing? He said to himself, “He has been crying for weeks and weeks. Perhaps he has no tears left.” Then the doctor started questioning the father. He said, “How can this be? For a father not to cry is most strange!”
The father said, “Last night I had a most significant dream. In my dream I was a king and my queen was so beautiful. I had five sons. These young princes were so smart, handsome, well educated and kind-hearted. Everybody appreciated me, everybody extolled my wife’s beauty to the skies and everybody admired my children. As king, I was so great and powerful. Then in my dream I saw that one by one my wife died and all my sons died. I was so happy to have these five sons, but when they died, I did not cry. Why? Because I knew it was only a dream. Now, for only one son do I have to cry? This life is also only a dream. When we are in ignorance, we cry for every little reason. But in my dream, one by one, all my dear ones departed. At that time, I did not cry. So why do I have to cry now? Just because this is reality? Dream and reality are the same. This moment we call something reality and the next moment we call the same thing a dream.”
So the doctor received spirituality’s highest lesson from his patient’s father.
The wrestler-teachersThere was a king who engaged in wrestling in his adolescent years and became an excellent wrestler. When he became king, he encouraged wrestling and gymnastics as well. He kept two extremely strong wrestlers in the palace and asked them to teach wrestling to the young boys of the court. The king was very, very happy to know that these young boys were developing their physical strength.
One day this particular king visited another king’s palace, and there he saw that his host was giving utmost importance to education. There the young boys and girls were all studying a wide variety of subjects. The king said, “I should also give importance to education.”
He spoke to his prime minister about the matter and the prime minister said, “Certainly! Education is absolutely necessary. Let us bring some well eduated scholars to teach our children.”
The king said, “Actually, I was told our two wrestlers are not only strong, but also well educated. Early in the morning they conduct wrestling classes for a few hours, but for the rest of the day they are free. I feel they should give classes in other subjects. In that way we can save money.”
The two wrestlers started teaching on alternate days. Quite a few students attended their classes. After a year had passed, the king said to his prime minister, “Go and see how much progress the students have made.”
The prime minister went and saw that the teacher was in another world. He was sleeping and snoring with his head on the table. The students were just playing games. The prime minister approached one little child and said, “Tell me, who wrote the Ramayana?”
The student said, “No, I just drew a line. I did not do anything wrong!”
The prime minister asked another student, “Who wrote the Ramayana?”
The student started crying, “I have not written anything!”
Then the prime minister asked a third student, “Who wrote the Ramayana?”
The child said, “I am sure one of us did, but I did not do it. I am not the culprit!”
The prime minister said, “I can see how much you have all learned!” Then he went to the teacher and shook him by the shoulder. When the fellow woke up, the prime minister said, “What are you doing? You are supposed to be teaching these children. How is it that here nobody knows who wrote the Ramayana?”
The teacher said, “They do not know? They are lying. They definitely know!” Then he flexed his muscles and said, “I am sure one of them did it! I shall knock out their brains if somebody does not come forward and confess!”
The prime minister said, “Yes, yes. This is what you have taught them.”
Sadly the prime minister went to the king and said, “O King, in one full year our children have not learned anything. Even the teacher does not know who wrote the Ramayana.”
The king said, “How could such a thing happen? Everybody knows who wrote the Ramayana.”
The prime minister said, “Your Majesty, this only proves that for everything we need the right person to teach us. Those two teachers know all about wrestling, and they have taught it very well, but about religion, history, science and other subjects, what do they know?”
The king realised that he had to hire qualified scholars to teach the children.
Giving credit where credit is dueA young boy was very sick, and his parents were quite alarmed. Every day he was getting worse. The poor mother was almost prostrate with grief. Finally she said, “The doctor that we have presently is useless. Let us take our son to another doctor.” This doctor had tried a few medicines, but he could not cure their only son.
The husband said, “Give the doctor time. I am sure our son will be all right in a week or so.”
The wife became annoyed. She said, “No, I do not want to listen to you. I have another idea. I say no more doctors. Let us go to an occultist instead. An occultist just gives a talisman, and it cures the person.”
The husband said, “No, I do not believe in those things. It is all superstition.”
The wife said, “You have to believe in them because this doctor is not able to cure our son.”
The husband said, “The doctor told us that the cure would take two weeks. Now one week is over. There is still another week to go.”
The wife said, “I do not want to listen to you. I do not want to wait even one more day.”
“Please give me another chance,” implored the husband. “I am going to the doctor, and I shall bring back better medicine for our son.”
The husband went to the doctor to get better medicine. To his wide surprise, the doctor’s wife said, “He has gone to the occultist for a talisman because he has been sick of late.”
Then the husband proceeded to the occultist’s house, not to take a talisman, but to meet with the doctor. When he arrived, he saw the doctor coming out holding a talisman. The husband said, “Doctor, what about my son? My son is not getting better.”
The doctor said, “Oh, I have some new medicine.” From his bag, he extracted a bottle of medicine and gave it to the husband. He said, “This new medicine will definitely cure your son in one week.”
The man was so happy that he had been able to get some very powerful medicine for his son. With tremendous joy, relief and pride, he went home. He said to his wife, “Look, this is new medicine.”
The wife said, “I do not need it, and I will not give it to him.”
The husband said, “What? You cannot trust me? You cannot trust the doctor for one week? Just give it to our son and let us see. After one week, if he is not cured, then I shall personally go to the occultist and bring back a talisman.”
The wife said, “You do not have to do that. I have saved you the trouble. I have been to the occultist, and he gave me a talisman. You can see it around our son’s neck. And our son is definitely going to be cured in a week. I asked the occultist. He said that at the outside it would take a week. Otherwise, it will take only a few days.”
The poor husband was caught between the two cures. Finally he said, “Let us have faith. You have faith in the occultist’s talisman, and I will have faith in the doctor.”
The wife became cross. “Still you have faith in that useless doctor?” she said. “Can you not see that our son’s case is only getting worse? That doctor is nothing but a charlatan!”
With all the patience at his command, the husband said, “I told you, it is a matter of one week. Let us use the medicine.”
But his wife was extremely stubborn. She said, “No! You have faith in your fake doctor. I will have faith in my real occultist.”
The husband said, “All right. Let us stick to our respective faiths. In one week, when our son is completely cured, you can give all credit to the occultist, and I will give all credit to the doctor. Let us be happy by having faith in our own methods.”
As fate would have it, the son was cured in a week. The wife proudly said, “It is all due to the occultist’s talisman.” And her husband privately said, “I know it is all due to the doctor’s medicine.”
God pleases everybody in his own wayThere was an elderly hermit who was sincerely spiritual. He used to pray and meditate for hours and hours every day. His wife also used to follow spiritual disciplines. This couple had brought up their only son in the forest. There they had a small hut where they lived with utmost simplicity. To the son, his father was like his spiritual preceptor.
One morning the prince of the kingdom went out hunting on his chariot. He followed a narrow path that led through the forest. For quite a few hours the prince did not see any game. Then, at a distance, he saw a beautiful deer jumping from one bush to another. The prince was very happy. He aimed at the deer and released his arrow. When his arrow struck the deer, this deer started crying in a human voice. It sounded like a young boy was crying.
The prince said, “My God, what have I done?” Then he drove his chariot to where the deer lay, and he saw a boy clad in deerskin. The arrow had penetrated his heart.
The prince was horrified. “Now what will happen to me?” he wailed. “The best thing is for me to jump into my chariot and depart as quickly as possible so that nobody will connect me with this murder.”
So he jumped into his chariot and drove a considerable distance. As he was driving, his conscience began to torture him. He said, “I am such a rogue! My father is the king. He is so well known for honesty and kindness. I am his son. How can I be so bad? No, no, I must go back. Whatever the consequences may be, I must go. I must face them.”
So he returned to that isolated place in the forest. “Somebody has to be the father of that little boy,” he reflected. He searched and searched for some sign of human habitation. Finally he saw a tiny cottage in the midst of a dense grove of trees. With a fearful heart, the prince went and knocked at the door. An elderly man with a long beard opened the door and said, “What can I do for you?”
The prince said, “I do not need anything. Only please tell me, do you have a son?”
“Yes, I have a son,” said the hermit, his eyes alight with love.
Then the prince said, “Can you adopt one son?”
“Why do I have to adopt a son?” said the hermit in a puzzled voice.
The prince said, “I am the prince, but I want to be your son.”
“How can you be my son?” asked the hermit. “You are a prince. You belong in the palace and my son belongs here.”
The moment of truth had come. The prince said, “Please, please forgive me. I have done something very, very wrong.”
The hermit said, “What have you done? What have you done?”
The prince continued, “My crime is unforgivable. Whatever punishment you want to give me, I am ready to accept.” While he was speaking, a young boy exactly like the one that he had killed came and stood beside the hermit. Then the prince said, “Do you have twin sons?”
“No, I do not have twin sons,” replied the hermit.
The prince said, “I do not understand the meaning of this. I killed this boy a few hours ago. I am absolutely sure of it. Now what is happening? With my own eyes I am seeing him standing here. Definitely they are twins.”
The father said, “No, no, no.”
“Then how can it be?” asked the prince.
The hermit explained, “When you aimed your arrow at my son and killed him, immediately I got the message from within. Then I used my spiritual power and revived him. God has given me the boon that in my family nobody will die, either in an accident or in a normal, natural way. For countless years I prayed and meditated to realise the highest. God was pleased with me and, out of His infinite Compassion, He gave me wisdom-light in boundless measure. He also said that as long as I want to live, as long as my wife wants to live and as long as my son wants to live, we will be able to live here on earth. We can command our own death. Nobody will be able to kill us. I know you did not try to kill my son deliberately, but even if you had killed my son deliberately, I could have revived him. God has given me this power.”
The prince was overwhelmed with gratitude to learn that the young boy had been returned to life. He said, “Please, please grant me my soulful desire. My father once told me that whatever I wanted, he would fulfil my desire.”
The hermit said, “In that case, you can ask your father to fulfil whatever your desire is.”
The prince said, “My desire needs the blessings of both you and my father. I want to ask my father to name your son as the crown prince. When the time comes, he will succeed my father as king. I do not want the throne.”
The hermit said, “That is an absurd notion! My son has entered into the spiritual life. You should be the king at the proper time. All your life you have spent in the palace. You have listened to your father dealing with affairs of state. That is your way of life.”
“I no longer want to have my old way of life,” protested the prince.
“Then what would you like to do?” asked the hermit.
The prince said, “Whether you accept me or not, I am going to tell my father that I do not want to be the future king. I want to accept the spiritual life.”
“You are creating a problem for me,” said the hermit. “I am a poor man. When your father receives this news, he will think I am responsible for your change of heart. He will come and destroy my little cottage.”
The prince said, “No, my father is a man of his word. If I tell him the whole story, he will understand.”
So the prince went to his father and narrated the events of the day. He concluded by saying, “Now, Father, you have to fulfil my desire. Once you told me that whatever desire I have, you will fulfil. Now I want to go and become the disciple of this hermit, and you have to allow me. I will live a very simple life. Occasionally you can come and visit me if the hermit allows.”
The king said, “If the hermit allows? I am the king!”
Very bravely the prince said, “True, Father, you are the king, but this hermit is in touch with God. He can easily smash the pride of any human being. Even if you are unwilling, he can compel you to come to his cottage. He can do anything. I know his power. I have seen what he can do. So do not boast that you are the king. His power far surpasses yours. I am respectfully requesting permission to leave the palace. Please make my younger brother the crown prince. He can be king after you. I will not mind at all. But please allow me to pray and meditate under the guidance of this guru.”
The king said, “I will keep my promise. You may go, and occasionally I shall visit you.”
So the prince left the palace and returned to the forest. From time to time his father used to come and visit him. The king would see such beauty, light, delight and divinity radiating from his son’s face. He also saw that his son was so respectful and devoted to his guru. The king was deeply impressed by the transformation of his son.
Eventually the time came when the king himself said, “I want to be like my son. I shall also accept the spiritual life.”
The hermit said, “What is this? How will people take it when they learn that their king has gone into the forest?”
The king replied, “Since my son accepted the spiritual life, I have observed how happy my son is inwardly. I want to be as happy as my son. I am so miserable at the palace. Every day I have to deal with teeming problems. There is no joy for me any more in ruling the kingdom. I want to join you and my son and live the life of a simple renunciate. That will give me the greatest joy. Let my younger son take care of my kingdom.”
The king gave up his throne and came to join his son. He started praying and meditating and having deep experiences. Everybody was happy, and his youngest son was so proud that he had now become the king. He ruled the kingdom wisely and well. So God pleased everybody in his own way.