Once, an old king puts a queer condition on his son, the prince that he can ascend to the throne only if he attains wisdom from a sadhu (an ascetic holy man) who lives in a jungle. The prince having no other choice quiescently agrees to visit the sadhu.
Deep in the heart of the jungle, the prince finds an old man with very long grey beard and mustache sitting under the tree with his eyes closed; the man’s body is partly covered with orange rags, his chest is covered barely with his beard and chest hairs. The prince quietly sits in front of him. The sadhu without opening his eyes growled, “Go in the jungle and hear all the voices.” The prince waits for while for further instruction but the Sadhu is still so he leaves.
Next day, the prince visits him again and quietly sits in front of sadhu. The sadhu demands, “What did you hear?”
“Oh Sadhu Maharaj! I am afraid, I didn’t hear any voices. There wasn’t anyone there.” The Prince replied hesitantly.
“Then you must go again and hear all the voices.”
“As you say, Sadhu Maharaj.” The prince leaves with apprehension about his future.
Next day, the prince is quite satisfied. “Did you hear anything?” asks the sadhu curtly.
“Yes!” He says confidently, “I heard the roars of lion, chirping of monkeys, trumpets of elephants, screeches of bats and hoots of owls.”
“But these are not the voices that I wanted you to hear!” the sadhu reprimands. “You must listen more carefully.” The prince stands up with effort and his fair countenance sinks. Upon failure the prince cannot go to his kingdom and he is unable to solve this riddle. He is dismayed but still wants to give it a last chance.
Next day, the Sadhu is waiting for him and poses the same question. The Prince quiet elated as if sure of success replies with a royal grace. “Yes, I heard the sound of little birds twittering, crickets chirping; I also heard the sound of rain trickling down the leaves, of waves in the stream; of wind sweeping the wet grass and of leaves rustling when I stepped on them.”
Let’s take a moment of thought here, back to 21st century. Although, we are not kings and queens but we all have authority on someone or other. We are kings and queens; in our offices and houses— We all are supreme authority, at least somewhere. Are we just and wise? In our busy schedules, do we hear those soft and weak voices until the damage has been done? Isn’t our neglect malicious? The voices like,
‘Sir, Please listen to my problem, once, do not fire me.’
‘ I’m sorry, it was not intentional, I wish I could undo, Please forgive me.’
‘Mom, let us play with my toys. Mom, please play with me. No one plays with me, no one cares!’
‘Son, I just want to see you once, can you visit? It has been a long time, I miss you, that’s my only wish before I die.’
‘I wish, I had someone who really cared. I wish I was never born.’
Think—–Let’s check the end now. The Sadhu smiles and assures him of his success. He further reveals the hidden meaning of this test. He says, “A king only knows what he is told by the courtiers about his kingdom. He always hears the loud voices in the court. But for a just and successful king, it is necessary that he hear those low and weak voices in the court. Only then he will prove a strong and effective rule on his kingdom.” The Prince returns to his kingdom happily and is greeted cordially by the king and the courtiers.