Moral Stories For Kids - Three Questions

 Three Questions

A certain King once asked himself, "When is the right time to begin anything? Whose advice should I seek? What is the most important thing to do?" He thought that he would never fail if he knew the right time, the right man, and the right thing to do, always. He proclaimed all over his kingdom that he would give great gifts to anyone who answered all his questions. Having heard the proclamation, many wise men went to the King. But they answered his questions each in a different manner. To the question regarding the right time for starting anything, some said that the almanac should be consulted, some other said that the right time was different for different things, yet others suggested that things should be undertaken in the order of their importance. To the question regarding the right person to consult or engage, some suggested the ministers, some the great scholars, and some, the vassals who would always help in case of war. The best duty was acquiring scientific knowledge according to some, doing good works, according to others, and making war, according to some others. Among the various answers, not one impressed the King. There was a holy man living in the woods adjoining the capital. The King thought he would put the questions to the sacred man, and get his replies. 

But the holy man never left his hermitage. Only common people could go to the hermitage and see him. So the King rode in simple clothes towards the hermitage, accompanied by his retinue. At the outskirts of the hermitage grounds, he got down from his horse, told his men to wait for him, and went on foot towards the cottage of the holy man. In the garden in front of the cottage, the King saw the holy man digging. He received the greetings of the King and went on digging, without a word. "Sir," said the King to the holy man, "I've come to know your answers to three questions. What is the right time to start any work? Who is the right person to deal with regarding the work? And what is one's duty?" The holy man stopped digging while the King spoke, but, as soon as the king stopped, he resumed digging, without saying anything. The holy man was a very old man. He was very weak on account of frequent fastings and meager eating. "Sir, you rest awhile, and let me do the digging," the King said to him. The holy man handed the crowbar to the King and squatted on the ground. After digging for some time the King repeated his questions. Instead of answering the King, the holy man stood up and made to take the crowbar from the King. But the King did not yield it to him. Till sunset, the King went on digging. 

When the work was finished, the King laid the crowbar aside and said, "Sir, I came to see you because you are a wise man. I thought you could give correct answers to my questions. If you cannot answer to my questions tell me so and I shall go away." "Someone is coming!" the holy man said. "Let us find out who he is." The King turned and saw a man running. He was pressing his stomach with one hand, and blood gushing between his fingers. Coming near the man uttered a groan and fell down unconscious. The King and the holy man undressed him and found a wound in his stomach. The King washed the wound until it stopped bleeding. Then the man regained consciousness and asked for a drink. The King went into the cottage and brought some water and gave it to the man. Now it was dark. The King and the holy man carried the wounded man into the cottage and laid him on a bed. The man closed his eyes and slept. The King too was quite tired after the digging, he leaned against the wall and fell asleep. 

When he woke up the next morning, he did not know, for a time, where he was. He found the man in the bed staring at him steadily. Seeing that the King was awake, the man got off his bed, approached the King, and said, "O King, forgive me!" "I know not who you are," the King said. "Why should I forgive you?" "You don't know me, but I know you. Sometime back you got my brother hanged, and confiscated his property. Since then I bore a grudge against you and swore to kill you. I was your enemy. I learned that you went to see the holy man, and hid in a thicket in order to kill you while you come back. I waited a long time, but you didn't come back. Then I came out of the thicket and came searching for you, and your guards saw me and attacked me. I escaped from them with a wound, I should have died of bleeding. I wanted to kill you, but you saved my life. If you wish that I should live I shall serve you faithfully all my life, along with my sons." 

The King was glad that he made a friend of a foe so easily. He told the man that he would get him treated by the royal physician, and restore to him his brother's property. The King came out of the cottage and saw the holy man planting seeds in the beds that were dug the previous day. The King greeted the holy man, and said, "Sir, you've not answered my questions." "They were already answered for you," said the holy man smiling. "If you did not stay digging the beds because of pity for me, you'd have gone away, and got killed by that man. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds, I was the most important man for you, and doing me good was the most important duty for you. Later, the man came running, wounded. Then the most important time was when you attended to his wound, he was the most important person, and doing him good was the most important duty. Remember, the most important time is now! Because, that is the time over which you have command, and you never know what happens later. The most important man is he who is with you. You never know whether you'll have dealings with another or not. And the most important thing is going to his help. For that alone, we are given this life!" The King was immensely satisfied with these answers, took leave of the holy man, and returned home. 

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