Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Shirt of Happiness


Once upon a time, there was a king who was rich and powerful and respected and feared by the neighbour kings. His ministers were intelligent and hard-working. He had a beautiful wife who loved him very much. He had a son and a daughter who were obedient and fast learners. His subjects were loyal and paid their taxes on time. The Royal vault was full of money.

(I know you are waiting for the "but"...here we go)

BUT he was not happy. Ever since his coronation nobody had ever seen the king smile. As the months passed, his mood stayed dull and actually turned to melancholy.

The Royal Vaidya was summoned. He checked as best he could, but couldn't find a single thing wrong with the king's health. He prescribed some general medicines to try and cheer the king up. Nothing worked. Then other medicine men were consulted, doctors, vaidyas and even tantrics. Needless to say, nobody could figure out what was wrong with the king or how to cure it. The ministers all but gave up.

(You know the twist is coming, right?)

Then one day a sadhu baba arrived in the kingdom (no, not baba Sunilanand). Babaji was famous for his wisdom and his miraculous powers of healing. The king's ministers wasted no time in calling him to the Royal Court to see the king.

The sadhu looked at the king, talked to him, and declared that he had diagnosed the king's disease and he could cure it.

Prime Minister: What's wrong with our king, baba?

Baba: He is sad. He needs to have his happiness replenished.

Prime Minister: How will your cure him, Baba?

Baba: I can cure his disease, I have done so many times. I need only one thing.

PM: What's that?

Baba: Find a man who is happy, truly happy. Then borrow his shirt. The king needs to wear this shirt for one day and then the king will be happy again.

PM: Only that? I will arrange for this right away.

The PM asked the courtier next to him for his shirt. The courtier agreed readily, but before the shirt could be passed to the king, the sadhu asked, "But are you happy? Truly happy?"

"No maharaj", the courtier replied..and out came a list of his problems. It seemed like he had reasons to be sadder than the king himself.

(And now the plot thickens...)

The prime minister asked the next courtier. Same story, eagerness to lend his shirt to the king, but also a list of woes long as his arm. Then it was the turn of the king's ministers. They were much more richer and more powerful than the courtiers so success was almost guaranteed. But to everyone's surprise, these powerful, affluent creatures were also not really happy. Each had something that made him worry, made him sad, or stole his happiness. For some it was an errant son, for some it was an unwed daughter, some were saddened by the family affairs, others  by business matters. But all in all there was not one truly happy man in that court, up to and including the PRIME MINISTER!

So, the net was spread wider. The families of those present in court were asked with the same result. Then the whole city was scoured for a man who was truly happy and could lend his shirt to the king. Unfortunately, not one could be found!

The Prime Minister was dedicated to his king's happiness. He created a special task force and sent messengers all over the kingdom to find such a man. There must be at least one truly happy man in the kingdom!

(Enter, the hero)

While going from village to village one day 2 royal messengers happened upon a shepherd. This man was sitting in a tree playing the flute while his sheep were grazing around. The messengers asked him, like they had asked 19,259 people before him, if he was truly happy. To their amazement, he replied yes!

This was it! This is what they wanted!! The whole puzzle was solved! Now they only had to do one thing..

Messenger1: Listen, we need you to do a big favour for our king.
Shepherd: Anything for the king. Long live the king!
Messenger2: We need you to lend us your shirt for the king.
Shepherd: Sir, I don't have money to buy food for tomorrow, where will I get money to buy a shirt!

Indeed the man was shirtless! This created a problem for the messengers. But dedicated and intelligent men of action as they were they simple took the shepherd with them and presented him to the king with the full story.

(And the climax...)

When the king met this man who had no shirt, no shoes, and had to work every day in order to be able to eat in the evening, he realized that he had many more reasons to be happy than the poor shepherd.

With the sadhu's help and guidance, within a few days the king learnt to find the happiness within him and nothing saddened him again, except when Ekta Kapoor's new serial was announced.

Moral of the story: If you want to be happy, buy a freaking flute!

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