Last Updated 14 January 2010, 10:54 IST

The dream puzzled the king. A diamond studded golden elephant  was laughing, around it a golden deer, a silver monkey and a bronze rabbit danced. When the  elephant became quiet, the animals started quarreling.  The  king asked the wise men to unravel the mysterious dream. They were clueless. Days later  an old woman endowed with the ability to interpret dreams passed   through the kingdom. She agreed to guide the king.

Sitting inside the private chamber the old woman said, “the diamond studded golden elephant symbolizes your majesty, the golden deer – your eldest son, the silver monkey – your second son, and the bronze rabbit – your youngest son. When you are alive   the elephant is laughing, the three animals dance together, showing you their unity. But when the elephant falls silent, that’s after your death, your sons start fighting.”  “What does it mean”? the king asked.

“It’s time to appoint an heir,” the old woman replied. Clutching her reward she left. The king was worried. According to the rule of succession  the eldest son succeeded the father. The eldest prince was incapable and silly. The king couldn’t select an heir from the younger two, without antagonizing his eldest queen (his first wife and the mother of his oldest son ). Suddenly the king thought of his Guru (his spiritual adviser).The Guru’s solutions were universally acceptable. The king arrived at his Guru’s ashram. Hearing the  problem the Guru said “ the test I conduct will help me select the most capable ruler  from your sons.”

“Give your sons 100 gold coins each and ask  them to spend  three months in a neighboring kingdom.”

The king followed his Guru’s advice. After the  three months passed, they  returned to the guru’s ashram.  At the Guru’s feet experiences were narrated.

“ I spent the coins, otherwise some  dacoits would have stolen them,” said the elder son.

 “I buried the gold coins under a tree, ” the second prince dropped a bag at the Guru’s feet.        

“ I invested it in business. 50 gold coins in the grains industry and the  50 in cotton and wood. Food and clothing being the neccessities of life  I doubled my money,”
said the younger son. Giving the 3 princes a banana each, the guru said “ Eat the banana during your walk and return.”    The princes returned after some time.
“What did you do with the peel?” the Guru asked.

The eldest son replied “I ate the banana while taking a stroll   and threw the peel along the path.”

The second son said,” I  ate the banana and threw the peel in a dustbin.”
The youngest son answered “while walking I saw a cow grazing, I ate the banana  and fed her the peel.”

The Guru then asked the 3 princes what they considered important in life – happiness, wealth or luck.

“Wealth,” said the eldest prince. “Happiness,” the second  prince answered.

“ Luck. With luck on his side, man does not have to pursue wealth or happiness, they come alongside,” said the youngest son.

Staring at the king  the Guru said “ your eldest son is unfit to succeed you. A person who spend money to keep it safe  will  be unable to manage a kingdom. Anybody who eats a banana and carelessly throws  the peel  shows a careless streak in life. He will be insensitive to his subject’s feelings.” 

The Guru continued “ your second son will not make a good ruler. Anyone who buries money under a tree to safeguard it, will not be able to double the fortune of the kingdom. By throwing the peel in a dustbin  your second son shows civic sense. Anyone who thinks happiness is important is unrealistic.”

“Someone who thinks that money will be safe in the neccessities of life – food and clothing, will enlarge the kingdom’s fortune.

Your youngest son shows business sense. Eating a banana and feeding a cow the peel, shows his sensitivity towards animals.

Your youngest son knows that wealth and happiness cannot change a man’s luck, but with luck come wealth and happiness.”

“Your youngest son will make a wise and capable ruler,” the Guru concluded.
The king heeded his Guru’s advice. Under the youngest prince’s rule the kingdom flourished.

(Published 14 January 2010, 10:51 IST)

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