Weekly Food For Thought

The King & The Shepherd – A Chinna Katha (short story)

Once there was a king in Kapila, who was putting questions to various scholars in his kingdom. He was not satisfied with their answers and so turned them away from his court. A shepherd who heard about this came to the king and said he was prepared to answer any questions put by the king. The king was surprised at his claim and said that if he failed to give a satisfactory answer he would be beheaded. The shepherd agreed to the condition.

Then, he told the king that they should exchange places in keeping with the new situation, in which the king would be the learner and the shepherd would be the teacher. The king transferred his robe to the shepherd and sat at his feet, while the shepherd put on the king’s robe and sat on the throne. He then asked the king to put his questions. 

The king’s first question was, “What does God do in this world?” The shepherd answered, “He makes a millionaire a pauper and a pauper a millionaire. Till now I was a poor man. Now I have been made a king with a seat on the throne. From being a king, you are now wearing a shepherd’s clothing. This is what God has done.” The king was fairly satisfied with the answer.  

His second question was: “Whom does God favor? Who is the recipient of His grace?” The shepherd pointed to a light and said, “The light from the lamp sends its rays in all directions. Likewise, God, who is embodiment of all effulgence, sees in all direction, and showers His grace on all. He does not see in one direction alone.” The king was pleased with the answer.

While the shepherd was wondering what the king’s third question would be, the king addressed him as “Swami!” and said: “Where is God?” The shepherd brought a cup of milk and asked the king, “Can you say in what part of the milk there is butter? In every molecule of the milk there is butter. Likewise, God is all-pervading. What is it that you have to do to see the butter in the milk? You have to make curd out of it, churn it and then the butter will rise to the top. Likewise, God, who is everywhere, has to be enshrined in the heart, turned into curd by good deeds and churned by sadhana. Then there will be direct experience of the Divine.” The king was totally satisfied with the answers of the shepherd. He gave away half of his kingdom to the shepherd and declared that wisdom was to be found more among the common folk than among scholars.

There is nothing great in mere scholarship as such. To give intelligent answers to questions out of wisdom gained from daily life is what matters.

– Baba

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