Once an intelligent king called for a debate to select the most knowledgeable living being in his kingdom. On the appointed date many scholars arrived at the king’s court to test their knowledge. To attract participants the king had also announced an award of ten thousand gold coins for the winner. There was also an eminent jury to decide on the winner with the king having the final veto power.
The debate started with a bang. One by one scholars started unleashing their knowledge to win the prize of ten thousand gold coins. Some scholars made a reference to the king himself and argued that he indeed is the most intelligent being in the kingdom but the king knew, that was sheer flattery. Gradually, the tempo of the debate picked up when, scholars, took their turns, walked up to the dais and munificently spoke, about the various scriptures they had read, thus, justifying themselves, to be the most knowledgeable being, in the entire kingdom.
But all this was not making an impression on the king rather he was feeling dejected when a falconer (a bird trainer) entered the court of the king with an eagle perched on his head.
The king was amused to see the falconer, so he asked.
‘What are you doing in this session of scholars?’
The falconer bowed and said,
‘Maharaj, I have a learned scholar for you, from a faraway kingdom, and he will tell you, who is the most knowledgeable being in your kingdom.’
‘But where is he?’
‘Right here Maharaj.’ The trainer pointed at the old hermit (sadhu) sitting amid the crowd. The hermit rose and confidently walked up to the dais. He first greeted the king and the jury members and then said.
‘Your Majesty! Let me begin by saying, the king is the most powerful entity, but only in the kingdom that he rules. The scholars are the most learned beings but sadly their knowledge is limited only to the books and scriptures that they have read. The most knowledgeable person in your kingdom indeed is the eagle perched atop the falconer’s head.’
The jury looked surprised and shocked at what the hermit had just said. They asked how. Give some logic to prove your point. The hermit replied.
‘The eagle in his flights has seen many kingdoms that you have not seen. The eagle has crossed many rivers, lakes, forests which you have not done. The eagle has been to umpteen mountain peaks that you have not been to. The eagle has flown to a number of ashrams, to listen to those divine shlokas, recited by many learned scholars like you, but you have confined yourself to your own shlokas because of your ego. And Maharaj, it is only because of the eagle’s invitation that I have travelled such a great distance to participate in this august debate organised by you. So, he is the most knowledgeable being in your kingdom.’ Addressing the Jury further he said, ‘just as you have acquired your knowledge through reading the eagle has acquired his knowledge by flying, observing, travel and personal experience. The only difference being you’re articulate and the bird is not.’
The king got up from his throne in excitement for he had indeed found the most knowledgeable being in his kingdom and that was the eagle, and that too along with his trainer and the sagacious hermit.
Moral of the story: Knowledge doesn’t only come by reading. It comes by observing and personal experience too like the eagle.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
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