Friday, December 1, 2006

King Mahendra's successor

A King wanted one honest successor to pass his throne to, and he had to choose the man of character amongst thousands of candidates. How did he do that? Quite impressively! Read along..

A king in ancient times, by the name of Mahendra, was famous for his wisdom and righteousness. People in his kingdom were very happy because their great king ruled justly, and looked after the needs of his subjects.

Alas, each episode of happiness has its flipside also. The king had one regret. He had no children. The question about the successor to the throne was worrying the king. His ministers were becoming anxious because the king was advancing into old age and his subjects were also becoming unsure about their own future.

To solve the dilemma, the King came up with an idea. He invited people throughout his kingdom that people to the palace grounds announcing that amongst those people, a successor to the throne will be chosen. No wonder huge flocks of people assembled at the palace grounds on the appointed day.

The King declared that he would hand out few seeds to each candidate. The seeds were to be planted and whoever brought back the best-grown and most colourful flowers would be chosen as the crown prince. A person that can take care of plants and make them prosper can also make the kingdom prosper.

The people rushed forward to have the seeds and ran back home.

Some weeks later, people started bringing flowerpots with some amazing results. There were happy plants all around. Each pot plant was bearing the name of the owner written in big bold letters on a tag. Some of the ministers even appointed a team of judges to help select the winner on the appointed day.

One man, however, had not succeeded in growing any plant in his flowerpot. There was just the soil and not even a tiny plant in his flowerpot. When he brought his empty flowerpot to the palace grounds, people stared at him in disbelief. He was ridiculed. His flowerpot with no plant in it was drowned in a sea of colourful flowers. He could only attach his tag to the side of the flowerpot.

Speculations were getting rife as to which flowerpot would get chosen. The ministers looked at the judges and the judges again went into last minute consultations. The harbinger then announced the imminent arrival of his majesty, king Mahendra. There were loud cheers as the king entered the royal pavilion erected specially for this occasion. "Long live the king! Long live the king!" the people started singing in chorus. Accompanied by his staff, the king walked and observed each flower pot before the returning to his royal pavilion for his decision.

The final hour had arrived. The time for announcement about the successor to the throne was approaching by the minute. The king rose from his throne and in a sombre tone inquired about one failed entry where the flowerpot had only soil in it. A man from the back of the huge crowd raised his hand as the owner of that pot, and started to walk towards the king. His shoulders were bent, his eyes fixed to the ground, and his ears getting full of sarcasm and stinging words that were being tossed upon him by an unsympathetic crowd.

The king demanded explanation why his flowerpot had no plant. The man answered that he had tried his best, even adding more fertilizer and carefully watering the seeds, but that he was disappointed and sorry that he could not grow anything. Immediately the king stood up and told the people present that he had chosen his successor.. and it was none else than the man whose effort at growing flowers from the seeds was a total failure!

What?! The people were incredulous and the ministers and the judges were dumbfounded!

King Mahendra placed his hand upon the shoulder of the man that was chosen as his successor and explained "I was looking for a man with character and I have found him. I had all the seeds roasted before I gave them out. It was not possible for any seeds to germinate. People who received the seeds from me bought other seeds for their flowerpots when they did not see any plants growing in their flowerpots. I was on the lookout for that honest person who would produce the correct results and when I saw that one flowerpot without any plant, at that moment I knew that I had found that honest man. The man with the strength of character displaying purity of heart, fearlessness, straightforwardness, truthfulness, and absence of crookedness."

There was pin drop silence. The ministers and the judges stood there with their heads bowed in agreement. A sense of authority prevailed when king Mahendra bestowed the title of the crown prince upon the man whose honesty won over thousands of hearts in an instant.