Life’s bleeding tears and flying smiles, part 9
The treasurer's lampThere was a very kind-hearted king. In every way he was appreciated, admired, adored and loved by his subjects. Unfortunately he received complaints against two of his very high-ranking officers that they were accepting bribes. These officers were so close to him that he could not believe it. Then he said, "How can I trust any human being? These two were so close to me for so many years. Now they are misbehaving. I do not know how I can solve this problem. It will be very painful for me now to fire them. They have been with me for a long time, and it will create many problems for me."
Then he said, "All right. Let me have some consolation. They say that my treasurer is the most honest man in our kingdom. Let me see if it is true or if my treasurer is also of the same type. Two I have caught. I had such faith in them. Let me see if the treasurer also belongs to that group."
In disguise, the king went to the treasurer's place. He was dressed like an ordinary citizen. He said to the treasurer, "I need your urgent advice."
The treasurer could not recognise the king. He said, "Please wait, wait." The treasurer was busy working, so the king sat down and waited. After some time the treasurer said, "I am so sorry that you had to wait. But as you know, I am working for the king and I have to submit my report to the king tomorrow."
The king saw that his treasurer was not using electric light. He had only a kerosene lamp. The king said, "How can it be? This is how he saves my money? He is so kind-hearted."
That was not all. Right in front of the king, the treasurer lit another kerosene lantern, and he extinguished the one he was using previously. The king said, "Why did you not continue to use the previous lamp?"
The treasurer replied, "That one belongs to the king. When I do the king's work, I use that one. But now you have come here for private advice. How can I use the lamp that I use for the king's work? Yours is a private matter. My lamp is for my private use, and you have come here for private advice. What little I know, I will share with you gladly, but for this kind of thing I am not authorised to use the king's lamp."
The king was so pleased with the treasurer. Right in front of him, the king took off his mask and the rest of his disguise. Then the king embraced him and said, "You are, indeed, the most honest person in my kingdom. Now I know that I can trust another human being."
The goddess of truth triumphsThere was a king who was extremely, extremely kind to his subjects, especially to the poor. He said to himself, "I am king. I have material wealth, but I have countless subjects to take care of. What can I do? They say a king can do anything, but it is not true. I am ready to give away everything that I have, but even then I will not be able to raise the standard of my kingdom."
Since the king felt that he would not be able to help each and every one of his subjects, he decided that early in the morning he would stand outside his palace. From whomever he saw first, he would buy something. Every day somebody different would come, since the king had made a general announcement.
This went on every day for years. The king would come out of his palace, and from whomever he saw first, he would buy something. If there were people behind that person, they would not be accepted — only the very first one. No matter what the first one had brought or what price he asked for, the king would agree. He never argued. The king said, "I have to be kind-hearted. Whatever my subjects ask me for is according to their conscience. Whatever they ask from me, I will give."
In this way it went on month after month, year after year. One day a very, very poor man came. He was extremely old. He had nothing important or valuable to sell. He said to himself, "I need money badly. I have become so poor in my old age. Let me see how kind the king is." With greatest difficulty he came and stood first in line early in the morning. His sandals and clothes were covered with dirt. The only thing he had to offer the king was a dirty, filthy cloth.
The king asked him, "You have come to sell this?"
The old man said, "Yes, this is my fate. It is the only thing I have to sell since I am so poor. If you do not give me money, soon I shall die."
The king said, "No, I do not want you to die. Tell me the price."
The old man named an exorbitant price.
The king protested, "The price is so high!"
The old man answered, "Yes, it is true. But if you give me the money, then I will be able to buy the things that I need and I will be able to eat."
The king said, "Oh, you are right, you are right, you are right! Whatever you ask for, I am giving you."
The king gave him the money, and the king was so pleased that he had been able to be of help to this poor man. The king was very happy and proud of his own generosity.
That night the king had a dream. In his dream the Goddess Lakshmi came and said, "I am leaving you! You are squandering your wealth, giving it to poor men. I have made you very rich, and these people are just fooling you. So I am leaving you."
The king said, "O Goddess, what can I do? This is the promise that I made. I want to keep my promise to buy from whoever brings something first. And I also made another promise that whatever price they ask, I will accept. The poor fellow this morning named an exorbitant price. I knew that his cloth was not worth anything, but I had to keep my promise."
The Goddess Lakshmi said, "You keep your promise, since that is so important to you, but I do not want to stay with you." Then the Goddess Lakshmi, the Mother of wealth, left.
Then came another goddess. This goddess told him, "My son, if you continue in this stupid way, then you will lose everything. If you lose your material wealth, then there will be no fame for you. Now you are rich. That is why you are famous. Once you lose your wealth, all your name and fame will disappear, so I do not want to stay with you." Then she, too, disappeared.
A third goddess came and said, "I am the goddess of honesty, but I clearly see that you are so stupid. Because of your stupidity, people will only fool you and take advantage of you."
The king said, "What am I going to do? I cannot break my promise."
The goddess said, "I know, so I am leaving you." The third goddess also left.
Then came the goddess of truth. This goddess started scolding the king most vehemently. She said, "Truth is one thing, but what about your wisdom? You are very kind-hearted and you have so many good qualities. But people will fool you and fool you if you do not exercise your wisdom. Then what kind of truth is that? You are only encouraging them to deceive you." The goddess of truth went on scolding the king.
Finally the king said, "Mother, you are the goddess of truth. If you do not value me, who will value me? By remaining faithful to my promise, I am trying to be truthful. If truth is not valued in this world, then what will be valued?"
The goddess of truth gave the king a broad smile and blessed him profusely. She said, "I was examining you, my son. You are my dearest son. If I had more people like you, then this earth would be inundated with truth. Do not worry. I am never going to leave you. You will continue to keep your promise, and I will be there with you all the time to help you. Truth has to be maintained all the time at any cost."
When the goddess of truth decided to stay forever, all the other goddesses came back. They said, "We know we will never be valued permanently. For some time wealth and honesty will be valued, but it will not last. But ultimately everybody will value truth. Truth will prevail."
India's motto is "Truth ultimately prevails" (satyam eva jayate). Truth will always win, so the best thing is to stay with truth.
The father's questionsThere was a very rich man who was also a kind-hearted philanthropist. He used to give alms to the 'have-nots' of society, and he also used to be very kind even to those who were quite prosperous. He was always giving, giving, giving. One evening a very nicely dressed elderly man came to his place. He said to the rich man, "It is getting dark and I have not reached my destination. Can you suggest to me a suitable inn where I can take shelter?"
The rich man said, "No, no. I do not know of any inn in this vicinity."
The wife of this rich man said, "Since there is no inn available, please come in. You can spend the night with us."
The kind-hearted rich man also agreed, saying, "Yes, yes, you stay at our place, and tomorrow morning you can continue your journey."
They fed this elderly man, and they were having a nice talk. They were quite comfortable with this guest and he told them all about his family and so on. At one point the guest said, "I have a son who is quite well educated, and I see that your daughter is so beautiful and loving. I would like my son to marry her. I hope you will accept this proposal."
The wife was overjoyed because she liked this old man very much. But her husband said, "First you have to answer my questions."
The elderly man said, "I will answer them with all the sincerity at my command."
The husband proceeded, "Do you have rats? Do you have cats? Do you have dogs in your house?"
The old man was surprised and a little offended. He said, "Oh no, I do not have rats. I do not have cats. I do not have dogs."
The rich man said, "Then I will not allow your son to marry my daughter."
The wife was furious. She said to her husband, "What are you talking about? Why do you need rats and cats and dogs?"
The husband said, "I cannot explain it. You will not understand."
The guest was extremely disappointed, but nevertheless he offered his gratitude to the rich man and his wife because they had allowed him to stay overnight. He thanked them profusely and told them he was sad that his son would not be able to marry their daughter.
When their guest went to bed, the wife said to her husband, "I am so angry with you for ruining everything! Now tell me, why did you bring in rats, cats and dogs?"
He said, "Try to understand. I want my daughter to marry a rich person. If this man were rich, then he would have fields and he would have grain. If he had grain in his house, then there would be rats. If he said he had cats, that would mean he would have milk in the house. So he does not even have milk. Otherwise, if there were milk, then there would definitely be some cats to come and drink the milk. And he says he does not have dogs. What kind of person is this? Is there any rich man who does not have a dog? So it is obvious that he is not rich, and I am not going to give my daughter to his son."
The brahmin and the farmer's daughterIn a particular village there lived a brahmin family. The eldest son was very well versed in the Vedas, the Upanishads and other Indian scriptures. All the villagers had tremendous admiration for this young man. As time went by, the brahmin son fell in love with a farmer's daughter. He knew that his father would have serious objections to their marriage because of the difference in their caste. A friend of his said to him, "You are indeed a fool! Just introduce this girl to your father and say that, like you, she comes of a brahmin family."
The young man said, "Do I have to tell my father a lie?"
His friend replied, "Tell me frankly, which is more important in your life: not telling a lie or this girl whom you love with all your heart and soul?"
The young man said, "This girl is infinitely more important in my life than one insignificant lie."
The young man brought the girl to meet his father and said, "Father, you know, we are brahmins, and this girl is also a brahmin. I would like to marry her. Do you have any objection?"
Immediately the girl said, "No, no, no! I am not a brahmin, I am not even a kshatriya. I am fourth class. I am a farmer's daughter."
The father became furious. He said, "You lied to me? Brahmins are not supposed to tell lies. You are my son, and you told me a lie. I never expected that you would tell me a lie. This farmer's daughter is not even third class, and yet she was the one to come forward and tell the truth."
The old man said to the girl, "I am begging you to marry my son because you are the real brahmin here. You have told the truth, whereas my son is a brahmin by birth but not by nature. He has told me such a lie. Now I am begging you to marry my son because you are of a higher class. You have shown us how a real brahmin should behave. Please consent to marry him."
She said, "Yes, I will marry him, but first I have to take permission from my father."
The old brahmin went to the farmer's house and begged the farmer to give his permission for the marriage. The farmer said, "Oh no, no, no! If I allow this marriage, people will hate me. They will say I am an opportunist. I am fourth class. How can I come up to first class? People will be very displeased with me if I do this."
The father of the young man said to his son, "You have ruined everything. Now I want you to marry her because I see that you are low class and she is first class. Unfortunately, her father does not want her to marry you. What am I going to do?"
Then he said to the farmer and his daughter, "I beg of you, please reconsider. I will take full responsibility. If the villagers speak ill of this young girl because she has married a brahmin, I will tell them, 'No, it is I who begged them to get married because I wanted to raise the standard of my family. My son is such a liar, but a farmer's daughter had the courage to tell me the truth. So this farmer and his daughter are the real brahmins, and my son and I are shudras, the fourth class. Please lay the blame on me. I wanted them to get married because I have seen a real brahmin in this girl. There are many young people who tell lies and their parents cannot catch them. When they are in love, the boys say that they are brahmin or the girls say that they are brahmin. But in your daughter I have seen a real brahmin girl. And if people speak ill of me or my family, I do not care. I want them to get married."
The farmer was so moved by the words of the brahmin father that he allowed his daughter to marry the brahmin son.
Timely assistanceOnce, quite unexpectedly, a serious cyclone took place and caused tremendous damage. Everything was destroyed in the fields, and many, many people suffered as a result. When the king heard about the devastating effects of the cyclone, for a few days he thought over the problem. Then he said, "I have to do something. I am quite rich. I will help my subjects."
The king had a very wise minister. This minister came to the king and said, "Your Majesty, I am sure you have heard how people are suffering from the cyclone."
The king said, "Do you think I am wasting my time? I have already sent high-ranking officers to see what my subjects need. They will inform me whether those who are suffering want money or rice or both."
The officers returned to the palace in a few days and said to the king, "The victims want money from you."
The king said, "Then take as much as you need from the treasury and give it to them unreservedly."
The officers took a considerable amount of money and distributed it to all the people who needed it.
Now, the king wanted to hear reports from his subjects about his own kindness; he wanted to hear them sing his praises for having given them so much money. So in disguise, the king went to that part of his kingdom. He talked with many villagers and overheard many of their conversations but, alas, he did not hear his own name mentioned even once. It seemed that all the villagers were only talking about a particular merchant.
When the cyclone first took place and there was lots of damage, this merchant sent a large amount of rice and pickles for the villagers. He immediately delivered cooked rice and pickles because their ovens had all been destroyed. He gave ready-made meals. His house was not damaged because it was well protected.
So everyone was talking about that merchant. Everywhere the king went, he heard the same thing: "How kind the merchant is! He has given us so much rice. He has really saved us. Soon we will finish rebuilding our ovens and we will be able to cook for ourselves. But we shall eternally remain grateful to him for helping us when we needed it most."
Nobody was talking about the king's gift of money. He said, "How ungrateful these people are! I gave so much money to everyone, and nobody is talking about my gift. They are only talking about this fellow who gave them rice and pickles immediately after the cyclone took place."
The king returned to the palace and told his minister, "I am so disappointed and disheartened. How ungrateful these people are! So much money they have received from me through my officers. I am sure they did get money, but they are not talking about the money at all. They are only talking about the cooked rice and pickles that one merchant has given them. What is his gift next to mine?"
The minister said, "O King, for everything there is a right time. When the cyclone took place and destroyed everything, at that time they desperately needed food to survive. And you were so late in responding to their plight. After so many days you started helping them. When one gets timely help, then one is most grateful. Now the crisis has passed and they can manage. They have food, and they are starting to repair the damage. Your money-power will help them, true, but it did not save their lives because you delayed for so many days. When they needed help badly, at that time the merchant was the one who came forward and gave them food — rice and pickles. You have to give help in a timely way. Today if I am extremely hungry and I do not get food, then I may die. Even if I know that in a few days I will be given a banquet, it does not make any difference. Before that day comes, I may die. Whatever I receive today, I will eat, even if it is only rice and pickles. This is how those people were saved. They were given the rice on time."
The king was embarrassed and, at the same time, he was enlightened by the minister's words. Always we have to serve others in a timely way. If we give help not at the right moment but a few days or a few weeks later, then they will not be as grateful to us as they are to those who were timely helpers. Time is a great factor. When someone is hungry, that person will eat the simplest food. Otherwise, if he has to wait for three days until someone comes with his money-power to buy him a huge feast, by then he may pass away. If you are kind, show your kindness as soon as possible. Only then will people derive real help from you.
The disobedient bullockA farmer bought two bullocks to plough his field. The farmer was very happy with his investment. Unfortunately, one bullock was very undivine. It was extremely lazy and it would not listen to the farmer. Try as he might, the farmer could not tame it. Fortunately, the other bullock was extremely obedient. It did not create any problem. But because of the unruly bullock, the farmer was utterly miserable. He needed two bullocks to pull the plough, but one was very good and one was very bad.
One day another farmer approached him and said, "Can you help me? One of my bullocks is sick, and I have only one bullock to work in my mill. Please loan me one of yours."
The first farmer said, "Here, take this one." And so he got rid of the undivine bullock.
The second farmer said, "I am so grateful to you. I will borrow it only for two days and then I will return it."
The first farmer said, "Take your time."
The second farmer took the bullock to work in his mill. There the bullocks go round and round to produce oil. From coconuts, coconut oil is produced, and the machine makes a loud humming noise all the time.
The disobedient bullock was yoked to the mill. Then the bullock started misbehaving, and the farmer struck it very, very hard. When the bullock continued to misbehave, the farmer beat it ruthlessly.
After two days, the farmer's own bullock recovered and he returned the disobedient bullock to its owner. The bullock immediately resumed its old ways and the farmer could not control it.
A few days later, another friend of the farmer came to him and said, "I need a bullock to pull my bullock cart. One of my bullocks is sick. Can you loan me one of yours?"
The farmer said, "Take this bullock and keep it for as many days as you want to."
The bullock cart driver was kind-hearted. At the same time, he was so disgusted with the misbehaviour of this animal. It would not obey any command. So the bullock cart driver struck the bullock with a stick and beat it black and blue.
Finally, the mischievous bullock said to itself, "I will die if this treatment continues! This time, if I am returned to my owner, I will cry and cry. Then my owner will take pity on me. Perhaps he will give me another chance to plough the field."
After one week, the bullock was returned. It was in a miserable condition. Large tears were rolling down its cheeks. The owner felt sorry for the animal and said, "Let me give it another chance."
To his great surprise, when he gave the bullock another chance to plough the field with the other one that he had bought, the mischievous bullock became so obedient.
Punishment sometimes works. This mischievous, naughty, disobedient bullock needed this kind of punishment to become a good bullock. In life also, sometimes on rare occasions people need and deserve a shock. Then they may turn over a new leaf. We should always try to transform others' natures with love, but sometimes love fails.
In the beginning, Sri Krishna always showed his compassion aspect. Before the Battle of Kurukshetra, he showed only compassion, compassion, compassion. In his case, he gave a time limit to the undivine forces. He said, "Change your nature, change your nature." But when they did not change their nature, when his compassion-height did not work, then he used his justice-light. First he tried with compassion. Then, when compassion did not work, he found another way. He had to resort to justice. That was Sri Krishna's philosophy.
Two great poetsThere were two great poets. One of them used to brag all the time that he was by far the best poet in the country. The king definitely appreciated his poetry, and many, many minor poets were his great admirers. The second poet was absolutely a saint-poet, a seer-poet. He did not care for name and fame at all. He felt that whoever was inspired by his poems would read them. He wrote only for God, to satisfy his inner life.
The king wanted to have a poetry festival, so his minister recommended that the first poet be the one to preside over the poetry festival since he was so well known. The king summoned the famous poet and began asking him many questions. The famous poet was so smart and clever that he answered all the questions to the king's satisfaction. Then the king officially appointed him to be in charge of the poetry festival.
This festival lasted for a week. Many minor poets secretly bribed the famous poet so that they could read out their poems. The king attended the whole festival and he was very pleased to find that there were so many poets in his kingdom. He gave all credit to the famous poet who was in charge of the festival and rewarded him with one thousand rupees.
Now, because this famous poet was insecure and jealous of the seer-poet, he did not invite the seer-poet to participate in the festival. The king had asked him to invite all the poets that he knew, but the seer-poet was not invited because the famous poet was afraid that if the king heard the seer-poet's poems, perhaps he would say, "He is by far the best poet."
A few days after the festival, out of sheer curiosity, the famous poet went to the seer-poet and said, "I am sorry, I forgot to invite you. We had such a big poetry festival. Please forgive me. Next time when we have a poetry contest or poetry festival, I will definitely invite you. By the way, did you know that I was the one who presided over the festival? The king appointed me because I am the best poet."
The seer-poet said, "Yes, I have heard all about it. But, to tell you the truth, unless you receive a recommendation or some words of appreciation from a certain king, I will not be able to say that you are the greatest poet. This king is the best judge of poetry."
The famous poet said, "If I receive appreciation from him, what will you do?"
The seer-poet said, "If you receive his praise, then I will consider you to be the greatest poet."
The famous poet said, "I will easily get it. In fact, if I do not receive his praise, I will give you a thousand rupees."
The seer-poet gave him a smile but did not say anything more. He was in his own world.
The famous poet had many flatterers among the minor poets. They said to him, "Easily you will win the praise of that king! After all, our king has appreciated you so highly and that one is just a minor king. Our king is far greater than he is."
So the famous poet was literally brimming with confidence. He and his followers went to that neighbouring kingdom only to find that the king was absent. They waited and waited for hours. Finally the king returned to the palace. He felt sorry that these guests had been waiting for such a long time and he gestured to his wife to offer them something to eat.
The queen exclaimed, "These vagabonds? I have more important things to do than to give them food."
What could the poor king do? He had to go into the kitchen and cook a meal for them himself because they were his guests. The queen saw that they were useless people. But the king had a big heart. So he went to the kitchen, prepared some food and fed them.
After the meal, the famous poet started reading out his poems. After each poem he expected some comment from the king, but the king did not make any comment. One, two, three, four poems went by and still the king remained silent. Then it occurred to the famous poet that if this king came to learn that his own king had greatly appreciated his poems, he would also appreciate them. So he said, "I am now going to read the poem that my king said has touched the pinnacle-heights."
Still this neighbouring king did not say anything. He just smiled.
The famous poet was so disappointed. He did not receive any words of appreciation from that king. So he went back to the seer-poet and said, "I want to be sincere with you since many witnesses were there. I went to see the king you spoke of, and he did not appreciate me or say anything kind about my poems. So I am giving you one thousand rupees as I promised. You have won the wager." The famous poet was so miserable. He lost one thousand rupees plus he did not get the appreciation he felt he deserved.
One day a few followers of this famous poet decided to go and ask that particular king why he did not appreciate their idol's poems. First they started by begging him for a few words of appreciation. When they did not get any appreciation by begging, they started insulting the king. But still the king remained silent. Then the queen began insulting them and screaming, "Go, go, go! Do not bother my husband!"
When the famous poet's followers were about to leave the palace, a kind-hearted minister approached them and said, "I have seen everything that has taken place. Do you not know that our king is mute?"
The seer-poet had deliberately sent the famous poet to that king because he knew the king could not speak. Such was the seer-poet's cleverness.
In search of an honest treasurerThere was a very kind-hearted king. His ministers and other high-ranking officers were all quite honest, but unfortunately his treasurer was a rogue of the first water. This treasurer used to steal money from the treasury regularly. When the ministers discovered that large amounts of money were missing, they made complaints to the king, and the king became very, very sad and upset. He said, "I am an honest person. I feel that everybody in my kingdom should be honest. I will not allow anybody to be dishonest. I will have to replace this treasurer with somebody who is honest to the core."
The ministers said, "O King, God alone knows where we will find that honest person for you."
The king said, "All right, until I find someone, I will do the job myself. Since it is my money, I will count everything. I will be the treasurer."
So the king assumed the duties of the treasurer. After he had been doing the job for weeks, months and finally a year, he felt that it was boring. He had so many important things to do apart from counting his money. The king asked his prime minister, "What am I going to do? I am wasting so much time with this mundane job. I am the king. I have to rule the country with all my concern and wisdom. Can you do this job in my place?"
The prime minister quickly said, "Oh no, no! I do not trust myself, in case anything goes wrong."
The king said, "Then what shall I do?"
The prime minister suggested, "Let us look for someone who is suited for this task. I have an idea, if you approve of it."
The king said, "You are the wisest man in our kingdom. I will always value your advice."
The prime minister continued, "Tomorrow morning I shall make an announcement. I shall say that the king needs a treasurer and those who want to apply for the post should submit their names."
The following morning the prime minister went to a section where there were twenty very high-ranking officers and made the announcement. Afterwards he said, "I do hope that all of you apply for this coveted post."
Nineteen out of the twenty officers submitted their names and their credentials. The next day, in front of the prime minister, the king read all the credentials of these nineteen candidates. He said, "I never knew that I had such qualified people in my kingdom! I should have offered them an even higher post."
Then the prime minister said, "Now, please tell me, O King, what will you do with all these applications? You need someone whom you can trust. You can have only one person. You do not need nineteen."
"Yes, it is true," said the king. "I do not need nineteen, but I am confused. They all have such high qualifications. Whom am I to take?" The king read and reread the applications. Finally he chose one. Then he said to the prime minister, "You have more wisdom than I have. Have I chosen the right person?"
The prime minister said, "I am so sorry, O King. You have to forgive me."
"Why?" said the king.
"You have not chosen the right person," came the answer.
"I have not chosen the right person?" echoed the king. "But you read all their credentials yourself. Each one was worthy. How could I have made a mistake?"
The prime minister said, "O King, in confidence I wish to tell you that these people are all rogues. Only the person who has not submitted his application is the right person."
The king was puzzled. He said, "How can he be the right person? He has not even submitted his credentials."
The prime minister said, "When I made the announcement, I told them how much salary they would get if they became the treasurer. I kept the salary exactly the same as whatever they are now getting as officers. I know a little bit about human nature. These nineteen are such rogues that when one of them gets the post, he will steal money. Money is such a dangerous thing that he will be tempted. So, like the previous one who stole your money, whoever becomes treasurer in his place will also steal money, because the salary is the same as what they are getting now. With the same salary they will not be satisfied. They will only steal money."
"Then what about the other fellow?" asked the king curiously.
The prime minister said, "The officer who has not come forward to submit an application is saying to himself, 'What is the use of having this job? The salary is the same. I do not need this job because the king will not give me a higher salary. I do not have the habit of stealing and, at the same time, I will not get a higher salary, so it is not worth taking this job.'"
The king saw the wisdom of his prime minister's assessment and he summoned the officer who had not applied for the post. He said to this man, "You are the right person to be my treasurer. My prime minister trusts you because you are indifferent to the fact that you will be handling large sums of money. Otherwise you would have applied for the post. Had I chosen someone else, that person would steal money. This is what the prime minister has said, and I trust him."
So the king appointed this man and he did not steal any money. The prime minister said, "You see, I was right." The king was so pleased that he raised the new treasurer's salary tremendously for his honesty. This man remained the king's treasurer for many, many years and he never stole anything.
The king's secret reasonThere was a king whose prime minister was very, very wise. He was also quite old. The king also had a very high-ranking officer or nobleman in his court. The king used to show this nobleman his drafts before he made any announcements. The nobleman was very, very proud that the king used to show him the drafts, and not the prime minister.
In the course of time, the prime minister died. This nobleman was quite inferior to the prime minister in rank. Still, he was hoping that he would be chosen as the new prime minister. Alas, the king chose somebody else. The nobleman was so sad. He said, "The king did not show his announcements to anybody else, not even to the prime minister. He showed them only to me. It is only just that I should be the prime minister."
The nobleman felt that a great injustice had been done to him. So he went to the king and said, "O King, how could you do this? The prime minister did not even know what you were going to announce in advance. I was the only one to whom you showed your drafts. I feel very, very sad that you have not appointed me to be prime minister. This is an act of injustice."
The king said, "An act of injustice? Shall I tell you the real reason why I showed those drafts to you? My previous prime minister was very well educated and also had tremendous wisdom. In terms of knowledge and wisdom, you are no match for him. Such being the case, why did I show the drafts of my announcements to you and not to him each and every time? The real reason, my secret reason, is that you are an idiot. I showed my announcements to you because I knew that if you could understand them, then all my subjects would understand them. If you could understand what I was trying to say, there would be nobody in my kingdom who would not understand!"
A father's last wordsThere were two brothers, Sunil and Anil. Sunil was very kind-hearted, wise and self-giving, but Anil was an idiot. In every way he was a disgrace to the family. There came a time when Sunil and Anil's father was dying. Before their father breathed his last, he whispered something to Sunil. In a sinking voice, he said, "I would like you to take care of your younger brother. I know that he will not be able to sustain his life without your help. If he wants to leave you, please do not allow him to leave. He will be totally ruined. I have kept him under my constant guidance and affection, so please always do the same. You will play my role." Sunil nodded, and the father was so happy. He died peacefully.
Now, Anil's wife happened to be near her dying father-in-law. She was so curious as to what her father-in-law had said. In a few hours' time, Anil came home and they held the funeral service.
The following day Anil's wife said to him, "Just before your father passed away, he said something very, very important to your brother. I am sure it is about something secret. He has kept something hidden. He whispered it so that we women could not hear. But I am sure it is something with regard to his money or property."
Anil said, "I cannot ask my brother to tell me. My brother has been so loving to me. He has never, never deceived me, so I do not want to ask."
But his undivine wife would not let the matter rest. She continually reminded her husband about it. She said, "You are such a fool! When it is a matter of money, everybody becomes undivine. See, he is not telling you what your father said. So many days have passed by, and your brother is not telling you. Here is the proof."
The wife was nagging and nagging, so Anil eventually said, "All right, let me ask my brother." He was quite unwilling to do it, but his wife compelled him.
He said to Sunil, "My wife told me that father whispered something to you before he died. Can you tell me what it was?"
Sunil said, "Father told me to take care of you."
Anil asked, "That is all?"
"Yes," said Sunil. "That was his dying wish."
Then Anil told his wife, "It was nothing special. Father asked him to take care of me and he agreed. Father was right. Sunil is so wise and I am so useless."
The wife refused to accept this explanation. She said, "No, it is not true. It is something else, something very secret and serious. He is hiding it from you." She suspected that Sunil was not telling the whole truth. Then she began spreading gossip that before her father-in-law died, he said something very secretly. She herself could not hear what he said and now her brother-in-law was hiding it from his younger brother.
This was too much for Sunil's wife. Like her husband, she was also very kind-hearted. Although she did not actually know what her father-in-law had said to her husband, she was sure her husband was telling the truth, so she felt miserable. She said to her husband, "You have to do something. This is absurd. It is all lies."
Sunil said, "What am I going to do? I want peace, peace, peace." Then he said, "All right. If Anil feels I am hiding something, that father has told me of a secret place where he kept his money, then I will do something."
He told his wife, "Now, you have to save me. Give me all your jewellery, all your ornaments. I will go to the jeweller and give him the jewellery. Then I will take money from him as a loan. Once I earn more money, I will reclaim your jewellery."
His wife received a shock. She asked, "What are you planning to do?"
Sunil said, "I only want a little peace. If you also want peace, then give me all your ornaments."
His wife said, "All right. I want peace. Take them and do the needful."
So Sunil took all his wife's ornaments and went to the jeweller, who was a great friend of his. He said, "Please keep this jewellery as security and loan me ten thousand rupees." He told his friend that he needed the money to solve this problem with his brother.
His friend the jeweller said, "I shall gladly loan you the money, but I do not want to take anything from you as security." He was, indeed, a true friend.
The following day Sunil said to his brother, "My dearest Anil, I have something very special to tell you. But first you have to forgive me."
"I should forgive you?" Anil said.
Sunil said, "Yes, you see, I told you a lie about what our father said. Last night father came to me in my dream and he was scolding me so severely."
Anil asked, "Why was father scolding you?"
Sunil said, "In my dream father asked why I was hiding the secret from you. With his dying breath, Father told me that at a particular place in our courtyard, he had kept lots of money for you. He said I should tell you at the proper time. But I was hesitating and hesitating because father had said to tell you when the proper time came. I did not know what he meant. Then last night he said it was already time. He said, 'You should have told your brother Anil long ago.' Father scolded me for my selfishness, so that is why I have come to you now. I am begging you to please forgive me. Let us go and dig up the money and then you will take it. It is all for you."
Anil said, "Father came to me also last night, but he gave me a different message."
Sunil was so surprised. He said, "What was that different message?"
"Father also scolded me ruthlessly," Anil said. "He said that he did not tell you anything about money. His only message to you was to take care of me. He said that I have no wisdom and, if I leave you, I will be totally ruined. So Father told me that he begged you not to let me go."
Sunil said, "That is strange. Father asked me why I was not giving you the money."
Anil said, "And Father came and insulted me for suspecting you."
Sunil said, "I do not know what to do. What can I say now? Who is telling the truth?"
All of a sudden, his younger brother burst into tears and fell at the feet of his elder brother. He said, "In your case, I do not know who came to you. In my case, I do know who came. The jeweller came to see me last night and told me what you had done. Your friend scolded me and said that you could never hide anything from me, that you would never deceive your brother. Now let us go and return the money. In the future I will never, never listen to my wife. I want to remain here peacefully with you. Always guide me, guide my life."
Stealing Mother Kali's necklaceThere was a priest who was very, very pious. Everybody loved him and adored him. He had so many divine qualities. He was extremely simple and honest. In every way he was so nice, and all the villagers were proud to have him as their priest. But, alas, his wife was not so divine. She always tried to compete with the other village women. The priest used to spend his days worshipping Mother Kali in the temple. But his wife would always harass him. She would insist that he had to buy her this or buy her that.
"How can I?" he used to say. "You know I am a simple man, a poor man. How can a priest be rich? I cannot afford the things you are asking for. We should pray to God instead of desiring material things. There is joy only in praying."
The more the priest talked about the spiritual life, the more his wife would get angry. She did not want to hear his spiritual philosophy. The poor priest tried so hard to please her in other ways, but he could not fulfil her material desires.
One day this wife said to her husband, "I want you to bring me the necklace that Mother Kali is wearing. Since you cannot afford to buy me any jewellery, you have to bring me Mother Kali's necklace."
"That is blasphemy!" cried the priest. "How do you dare to ask for something so sacred? Alas, what have I done to deserve this kind of wife? How can I steal things from my dearest Mother Kali? First of all, I will not be able to steal from anybody, no matter who they are. How can you ask me to steal from Mother Kali's neck? I will not do it. It is impossible."
"You will not do it?" said the wife. "Then I am giving you two days to change your mind. In two days if you cannot bring me the necklace, I shall commit suicide."
The priest had studied the Hindu shastras, and he knew that suicide is the worst possible crime against the soul. He was faced with a serious dilemma. How could he allow his wife to commit suicide? Again, how could he steal from his Mother Kali, who was his life-breath? He did not know how to solve the problem. So he went to the temple and in front of Mother Kali's statue he began praying, "Mother Kali, save me! I have heard that suicide is the worst possible sin, and stealing is also a terrible crime. How can I take the precious jewellery from your neck just to please my wife?"
At that moment Mother Kali appeared before him and said, "You decide what to do, my son."
Then the poor priest said, "In that case, the best thing is for me to die at your feet at this very moment. I will not be able to solve this problem. Please allow me to die at your feet."
"No, no, you do not have to die," said Mother Kali. "You can take my jewellery. All the ornaments that I have, you can remove and give to your wife."
The priest was shocked. He said, "How can I do this terrible thing? What will people think of me?"
She said, "Nobody will think ill of you."
All at once other cosmic gods and goddesses began appearing. They said to Mother Kali, "What are you doing? You are allowing this priest to desecrate your statue."
Mother Kali said, "This is my decision. He is my most devoted devotee, so I want him to take my jewellery. I have sanctioned it. You have no right to find fault with him." Mother Kali scolded all of them.
Then the cosmic gods and goddesses said, "All right. What can we do? But this priest is such a bad fellow."
Mother Kali said, "He is not a bad fellow at all. He is in some serious trouble and I am trying to solve his problem. He is very devoted to me. I am very, very pleased with him." Then she said to the priest, "My son, there will be one condition."
He said, "Mother, any condition you wish to make, I am ready to accept because you are saving my life. Still I do not know how I will be able to show my face to anybody."
Mother Kali said, "About that you do not have to worry. I want you to tell your wife that if my jewellery is worn for more than three days, then whoever is wearing it past the third day will die. One day, two days, even three days are fine. Nothing will happen. But on the fourth day, the person who is wearing it will die."
The priest was mystified, but he had implicit faith in his Mother Kali. Very carefully he removed Mother Kali's beautiful necklace and carried it home to his wife. She was overjoyed. Then he told his wife Mother Kali's condition. The wife was now in serious trouble. She did not want to die in four days.
The priest said, "You wanted this necklace, so I have brought it for you. Now you have to decide what to do. I have played my role."
The foolish wife began wearing Mother Kali's necklace. Inwardly the priest was crying and crying, "It is blasphemy! O my Mother, O Supreme Goddess, my wife is wearing what is rightfully yours." But then he would console himself by saying, "All right. My Mother has sanctioned it. What can I say?"
At night, when she slept, the wife did not wear the necklace. She kept it right near her bed. It happened that on the second night a thief was inspired to break into the priest's house. The priest and his wife were fast asleep. The thief saw the necklace and stole it. He did not know that this necklace was from Mother Kali.
On his way home, the thief saw that the door to Mother Kali's temple was slightly ajar. He wondered, "What is happening? Why should the door be open?" He entered into the temple and noticed that somebody was hiding behind Mother Kali's statue. The thief crept behind the statue and found another thief lurking there. The first thief started striking the second thief. He said, "You have stolen something from Mother Kali, I am sure of it. Before, Mother Kali had a most beautiful necklace. You have stolen it!"
The second thief said, "No! I have not stolen anything!"
"You are hiding it somewhere," screamed the first thief, and he started beating the fellow who was behind Mother Kali's statue mercilessly.
As the two thieves were fighting, it became the third day. More than the third day, one could not wear Mother Kali's necklace. On the fourth day something would happen.
When the priest arrived at the temple the following morning, the two thieves were still fighting. He saw them and he did not know what to do with them.
Mother Kali appeared to him and said, "Go home!"
The priest said, "Mother, I have not worshipped you. How can I go home?"
Mother Kali said, "No, no. Go, go, go! Come tomorrow."
The following day the priest came and saw both the thieves lying dead. He said, "I know that my wife is responsible for these deaths. Mother Kali warned me that someone would die after the third day and this is what has happened. It is my fault for encouraging my wife." Then he went and lay down between the two thieves and begged Mother Kali to take his life as well.
Mother Kali said, "Get up, get up! You are absolutely innocent. These two were very bad. That is why they are dead. You will find my necklace in the pocket of one of the thieves. Now you can put it around my neck again. It has done its job."
The priest did as Mother Kali asked. Then he removed the bodies from the temple and gave them a proper cremation. Finally, with a heavy heart, he went home. Tears were streaming from his eyes.
His wife saw his condition and cried, "What has happened today?"
The priest said, "To please you, I stole Mother Kali's necklace, and now two people have died as a result." Then he narrated the whole story.
The wife was so ashamed. She said, "I will not do this kind of thing any more. I will be worthy of being your wife. From now on, I will live a very, very simple life. I will never ask you to buy me expensive things. I will be satisfied with whatever you bring for me. I will never break my promise. I will be your most faithful and most devoted wife." And she did remain true to her word from that time on.
Seekers, nuns, Masters — and ghosts!This story took place ten thousand years ago, at least! There was a spiritual seeker named Vivian. She was very, very sincere and she had a spiritual Master of the highest order. This spiritual seeker happened to have a friend who was a nun. Her name was Linda. This friend was extremely devoted to the Saviour Christ. In the religious community where Linda lived, there was another nun who always said things that were contrary to others' beliefs. Her name was Gail.
Vivian used to visit her friend Linda, and she would always say sublime things about her spiritual Master. She would talk about his inspiring activities and also about her own lofty inner experiences. Poor Linda was not getting any high experiences from her Christian faith. She used to pray very intensely to Jesus Christ, but she was not so happy in her spiritual life. Something was lacking. Gradually she was becoming a little bit weaker in her commitment because Vivian was convincing her to leave her path and join Vivian's path. So Linda was seriously considering this course of action.
One day Vivian went to visit Linda, and she found all thirty of the nuns there laughing and laughing. They were roaring with laughter. Linda was also one of those. Only one nun was not laughing at all and that was Gail. She was deliberately not joining the party. So Vivian asked, "Why are all of you laughing and laughing and what is wrong with Gail? Why is she so serious?"
They said, "Nothing is wrong with Gail. It is simply that she never believes us. We all have the same opinion with regard to some things, but she enjoys a different opinion."
Meanwhile, Gail continued to be very serious. She was acting almost like a snob. Vivian asked Linda, "Please tell me if something has happened to upset Gail."
Then Linda explained what had happened. Through their windows the nuns could see a cemetery. There, every evening they used to see ghosts moving around and they would get frightened. Every night without fail it happened. But Gail never believed it. She always said, "No, there are no ghosts." The others saw that there were ghosts, but Gail always scoffed at the notion.
The previous night Gail had said to them, "Prove it! Prove that there are ghosts."
The others said to her, "We can see them. They are making noise, they are crying and screaming. Can you not hear them for yourself?"
But Gail could not hear them. She simply ridiculed the others. Then she said, "I can prove that ghosts do not exist. I am going there! Give me three nails and a hammer. If there are ghosts, then I will drive the nails into them and bring back some blood to show you. And if I do not return with the blood of the ghosts, it will be the proof that there are none."
So Gail walked to the cemetery in the middle of the night carrying a hammer and three nails. At first she did not see anything, so she threw away one nail and then another. She was about to throw away the third nail when she saw a white marble headstone. It was not a ghost, but in the darkness it looked like a ghost. She said, "Perhaps this particular marble stone has fooled the sisters. It is very pale and shines in an unusual way."
So Gail started driving the third nail into the marble. Quite inadvertently, while she was hitting the nail, a piece of her garment happened to get caught under the nail, and she found herself entangled. All of a sudden, she panicked. She started crying and screaming, because she thought that this was actually a real ghost.
The other sisters had come to see what had happened to her, since she had not come home. When they saw how frightened she was, they all started laughing and laughing.
Somehow God had wanted to prove to Gail that there are ghosts. The other sisters told her, "No, no, this is not a ghost."
But she insisted, "No, I have been attacked by ghosts. I can still see them." Then she started seeing the other sisters as ghosts. She cried out, "You are all ghosts!"
This went on for a couple of hours. They could not convince her that they were not ghosts and, at the same time, that ghosts do exist in that cemetery. Poor Gail, first she was of the opinion that there were no ghosts. Then she started seeing everybody as a ghost.
So they all started praying to Jesus Christ to illumine her. Of course, Jesus Christ had more important things to do. He was taking care of countless others. There are many, many widows in Heaven who have lost their husbands, and they are praying to Jesus Christ to give their husbands joy. Similarly, there are many devoted husbands in Heaven who have lost their wives, and they are also praying to Jesus Christ to give their wives joy. So Jesus Christ was busy trying to please the husbands and the wives. He could not come to help them. They all became miserable, especially Gail. They were confused because the Saviour Christ had not answered their prayers.
As I said before, Linda's faith was becoming weaker and weaker because Vivian had been telling her about her own spiritual path. Vivian said to Linda, "I know how we can solve this problem. Tell all the sisters to come and visit my spiritual Master." So at Vivian's request, they all came to visit Vivian's spiritual Master, including Gail.
Strangely enough, when the nuns came to visit Vivian's spiritual Master, for the first time Vivian saw her Master in a different way. She did not see his face the way she always saw it. She saw the face of Jesus Christ. She could not believe her eyes. It was like looking at a different person altogether.
Now it was Vivian's turn to be puzzled. How could her Master be Jesus Christ? Meanwhile, her friend Linda and the other nuns all started bowing down because for the first time they were seeing Jesus Christ. For years they had prayed and meditated on the Christ, but they had not seen him. Now they were seeing him for the first time.
Vivian was confused. How could she pray to Jesus Christ? For so many years she had been praying to her own Master. It was difficult for her to accept that this person who was her Master had somehow become Jesus Christ. She had brought these people with the idea that they would be inspired to follow her Master. Now it appeared that she herself had become a disciple of their previous Master! She did not know how to overcome her confusion.
Vivian went back with the nuns to the religious community where they lived. There, in the chapel, was a large statue of Jesus Christ. Vivian went there to pray and to receive guidance. She was crying and crying while looking at the statue. She said, "I have lost my Master. I am finding it so difficult to feel my Master's presence. I brought some of your disciples to meet him. They saw my Master as Jesus Christ and I could not see my Master at all."
All of a sudden, Vivian looked up and saw her Master's face there. She could not believe it. It was such a vivid experience. When her friends had prayed to that statue, they had not received anything. But when she went there to pray to the statue, she vividly saw her own Master there.
Now Vivian was really confused. The nuns had seen Jesus Christ in her Master, and she had seen her Master in Jesus Christ. Confusion never stops! So Vivian and the nuns all started praying and praying for illumination.
One day they came to realise that the Master and Jesus Christ were one. Then the nuns all became disciples of the Master, because they all had dreams in which Jesus Christ came and advised them to follow the path of the spiritual Master. He told them that the spiritual life is always easier when you follow a living Master, because the living Master is a bridge between earth and Heaven. One can easily see this bridge and walk on it. Even an atheist can cross to the other shore on the bridge. This bridge is visible even to those who are spiritually totally blind.
So sometimes spiritual Masters who are not in the physical body come to their dearest devotees and ask them to go to a spiritual Master who is still alive. In essence, the spiritual Masters are all one, but it is easier to make very fast spiritual progress by following a living Master.
Many people come to a spiritual Master and then leave him because they confuse the message of the Bible and the message of the Master. They do not recognise that the essence of each Master's message is the same: love of God. If one can realise that all the spiritual Masters carry only one message — love of God — then there can be no conflict between any of the true Masters.
The policemenFour policemen were playing cards at the police station. They had nothing else to do. They were enjoying their card game, and they played for a long time. Then they became bored. All of them started complaining, "Life is so boring! For the whole week, there have been no fights, no murders, no accidents — nothing, nothing, nothing. We have had absolutely nothing to do. Sometimes when we have nothing to do, we enjoy relaxing. But now it has gone on for so many days that we feel restless."
The captain overheard their conversation and said, "Wait, wait! Human nature never changes. In a day or two, once again we will have to rush to save people."
As soon as the captain finished speaking, the phone started ringing. Then one calamity after another started taking place. Somewhere there was a burglary. Somewhere someone was murdered. Somewhere a gang was fighting. The phone did not stop ringing.
The captain said, "Look, I told you, human nature will never change. So let us rush, let us run to do the needful."
So all the policemen went in various directions to attend to their urgent duties. The captain was so wise: human nature never changes. That is why it is always compared with the tail of a dog. You can hold the tail and try to straighten it. But as soon as you release it, it curls.
Three lawyersThere was a very distinguished family of lawyers: a grandfather, his son and his grandson. The grandfather founded the practice and he taught his son how to be a great lawyer. Now this son was teaching his own son how to become a great lawyer.
Previously the grandfather had said to his son, "The most important thing is to get money by hook or by crook. Always tell the client that the case is very easy to deal with, and you have dealt with infinitely more serious cases, so his particular case is nothing, nothing, nothing. Always show utmost confidence. Then if you lose, you will say, 'What could I do? I tried very hard, very hard. I thought it would be very easy, but there were some hidden complications.'"
The son said, "If the case is really complicated, if it is very serious, how am I going to tell my client lies?"
The grandfather said, "Then you are not meant for this profession. Do you want to become a lawyer without telling lies? My only advice is to give up this profession and do something else."
The son quickly said, "I will try my best to tell a few lies, but I cannot promise to tell lies all the time if I take up a case."
Now, with your kind permission, I would like to digress from the story a little at this point.
My maternal uncle, my mother's eldest brother, was a lawyer. He wrote to Sri Aurobindo and said, "Is there any day when I do not tell lies in my profession? What can I do now? I want to practise the spiritual life. Please advise me."
Sri Aurobindo wrote back, "You know how many lies you tell every day. Try to decrease the number. Your yoga will be to decrease the number of lies that you tell. Then when you feel really miserable that you are telling even one lie, I advise you to give up the profession."
The barrister who saved Sri Aurobindo's life, C.R. Das, was deeply involved in politics. Sri Aurobindo was also in the political sphere. Then Sri Aurobindo gave up politics and entered into the spiritual life. This barrister remained very, very close to Sri Aurobindo. There came a time when he wanted to follow Sri Aurobindo and practise spirituality. Sri Aurobindo wrote to him, "If you sincerely want God, if you really want to practise spirituality seriously, then you have to change your profession. To be a lawyer, to be involved in politics and to be a real seeker — these three things do not go together."
To come back to my story, here the son told the grandfather that he would try his best to tell a few lies. In the course of time, the grandson was about to obtain his legal qualifications. Then his father began giving him some advice based on his own experience. He said, "You do not have to tell all lies, but charge a very high fee. If others ask for one thousand rupees, you should ask for four thousand. Everybody wants to win the case. Who does not want to win the case? So you have to give them hope. Do not promise anything, but give them very strong hope that you will be able to win the case. And do not forget to charge a very high fee."
The grandson said, "All right. Since you and my grandfather are so successful, I will maintain the family tradition and charge high fees."
The son passed all his examinations. He had become a lawyer. He was now going into practice, and he was eager to apply his father's advice. He was fully prepared to charge a high fee. The very first day he came to his office with such hope that there would be some clients. No sooner had he entered into his office than somebody came in. He told the man, "Please take a seat."
Then he lifted up the phone and started screaming as if to a client, "How many times do I have to tell you? I am not meant for you. I am not going to take your case. I will not budge an inch from ten thousand rupees. You can go to another lawyer if that is how you feel. There are so many. You say that my fee is too high, but do you want to win the case or not? Now do not bother me any more!"
The young lawyer put the receiver back on the hook. Then he said to the man, "Now, please tell me, how can I help you? What do you need?"
The man said, "I do not have any particular need. I am just here to connect the phone."