Moral Story From the East - Miracle in Music

Miracle In Music


Three merchants of Varanasi were on a visit to a faraway town. After a day's business, in the evening, they felt a desire to enjoy some music. "Have you got any good musician here?" they asked their host, a local trader. "We have. He is young, but when he plays his Sitar the listeners forget everything else," claimed the trader. The merchants were happy. They sent an invitation to the young man. He accepted it readily and came to entertain them. He was delighted to know that his fame had reached music lovers of a distant city. The young man played on. The merchants, however, were found to be unmindful. They were busy talking among themselves. The young man, after a while, stopped playing. "Don't you find my music interesting enough?" he asked. The merchants looked a bit embarrassed. "Sorry, young man, we thought you were still tuning your instrument. Come on. We shall now listen very attentively," they promised. The young man played for an hour and the merchants listened to him in silence, but he had a feeling that they were not much impressed. When the merchants paid him for his performance, he asked them if they had heard someone who played the instrument better than he did.

"Indeed, young man, a great Sitar player, a wizard in the instrument, is our friend and neighbour. He is the chief musician in the court of the king of Varanasi," said the merchants. The young man requested the merchants to take him along with them to Varanasi and to introduce him to the great musician. The merchants obliged him. But the old musician, whom other musicians of Varanasi called the Master, showed his unwillingness to give lessons to the young man. That was because the master felt that though the young man was intelligent and studious, he was more eager for fame than for art. But the young man did not leave the master's house. He shed tears and with folded hands appealed to the old man to accept him as his disciple. At last, the master yielded. The young man showed great reverence to him and served him in many ways. He also learnt his lessons with great devotion. The Master was quite pleased with him. Two years passed. The master retired from his position in the king's court. The king asked the master to recommend one of his disciples for the post. The Master had a number of disciples. But he had lately grown attached to the young man. The young man pleaded with him to be recommended to the king. He could not refuse. The young man became the chief musician of the royal court. He stopped visiting the master's house, even though the old man was ailing. At the end of the month, the young man received his salary.

It was a handsome amount, but he knew that the master was paid much more. "My lord, I occupy the same position that the old man occupied. Why should I get less?" he asked the king. "Don't compare yourself with him. He is the greatest musician I have ever known," the king replied. "I bet, my lord, that I am in no way less accomplished than him. You can call experts from other courts and try both of us," said the young man and he insisted on this. At first, the king thought that it would be unfair to ask the master to join a contest with his disciple. But he was overpowered by his temptation to enjoy a grand musical treat. The Master was shocked to hear that his disciple challenged his superiority. He felt humiliated and betrayed. He refused to sit for the contest. But at night he had a different inspiration. The ungrateful and arrogant young man should not go without a final lesson. In the morning he sent word to the king that he had changed his mind and was willing to face the young man in a contest. A day was fixed for the contest. The king invited well-known musicians, music lovers and experts from his own kingdom as well as from the neighbouring kingdoms for the occasion. The contest began. Both the master and the disciple played their instruments charmingly well. The audience applauded. The disciple smiled and nodded acknowledging their appreciation. But the old master looked at nobody. He was thoroughly absorbed in the music. Suddenly one of the strings of the Master's Sitar got snapped. A smile of satisfaction played on the young man's lips.

But to everyone's surprise, the melody of the master's music was not reduced by it. Soon another string gave away and then yet another. Even then he played on. Neither the volume nor the range of his music suffered in the least. In fact, the melody grew in its intensity. The old man sat playing, as though lost in a trance. It seemed the spirit of music was flowing through him while he was quite unmindful of his broken strings. A spell was cast on the audience. Their eyes were glued to the Master. Nobody looked at the disciple. The young man was bewildered at this unexpected situation. In his bewilderment, he thought that he too would do well to snap his strings. He broke them one after another. Zaring notes came out of his Sitar. Many in the audience looked annoyed. The king gestured at him impatiently asking him to stop. The young man stopped. The old master still went on for a while, even though only one string was left in his Sitar. When he finished, the audience sat spellbound for a few minutes and then they broke into a long applause. Many came rushing and bowed down to him, including the king. Everybody forgot the disciple. When they remembered him, he was not to be seen. Shame had driven him out of the City!.   

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