From the Galpoghor Series:
What is God's Work?
Long long ago and far far away, there lived a King who was very benevolent but also proud. One day he sent for his Prime Minister and said, "My Dear Prime Minister! There is a misgiving that worries me often and it as this.
As you know, all of us in creation have some definite work or assignment to perform. A King rules, a soldier fights a trader trades, a teacher teaches and a preacher preaches, though, as people they do other things also.
This is the law of nature. In the same way, even the Creator should be having a primary function or work. I would like to know about it."
The minister was at a loss for words, as he had never come across such a question.
Nobody ever knew and no book ever explained what God's work was. But the minister was a clever man and thought for a while.
Then he said, "My dear sir, your question is very reasonable, and many times I also face the same query. But my duty here is to advise and assist you on worldly affairs.
This involves spiritual matters and the proper person to answer you is our bishop". Thus saying the minister skillfully shifted the burden on to the chief priest.
When the King repeated his question to the bishop, the latter became quite uneasy. It was impossible for a person to know at first hand God's mind or His work except what the spiritual books said, and they were very general.
The King wanted a specific answer, and the bishop did not want to invite his anger. So he pleaded for a week's time to reply.
"So be it", said the King, "but I must have a clear answer. The bishop went home and ransacked all the libraries for a week but could not find any clue.
At the end of the week, he was sitting under a tree, on the outskirts of the town, thinking whether to face the King's wrath next morning, or to run away from the kingdom during the night.
At that time, a shepherd boy who used to look after his sheep was walking nearby and was surprised to find his master in low spirits.
When he enquired about the cause for his worry the bishop brushed him aside saying that he was deeply worried about a highly spiritual matter.
But the boy was quite insistent and at last the bishop related his trouble, without any hope of solution or solace from the boy.
"My dear master" said the shepherd boy, "Is that all that worries you so much? Please banish your anxiety and go in peace to the King. Tell him that, the shepherd boy knows the answer".
On hearing this, the bishop was really shocked and surprised that an illiterate and ignorant shepherd boy, knew the answer to a question of which even the highly educated were unaware.
He begged the boy to give him the answer, but the boy preferred to meet the King in person. So the bishop went home, relaxed and the next morning, he was at the Court, when the King eagerly asked for a reply.
"My dear King!" said the bishop, "I need not have taken so much time or trouble to give you a reply. However, I would request you to call for my shepherd boy who will satisfy you".
The surprised King immediately sent for the boy who promptly presented himself before the King with his rags.
His appearance was very repulsive to everyone but the full court awaited his words with interest.
"Shepherd boy!", said the king, "Do you know the answer to my question which even my learned scholars, were not aware of. Now out with whatever you know about it".
The boy paused for a while and said, "My dear sir, before I answer your query, may I request that proper protocols observed.
You are a student, as far as this question is concerned and since you want to learn. I am a master since I have to give you the knowledge.
Normally the master occupies a higher seat than the student. But it is not so in this case".
There was an appreciative murmur of assent, among all those present and the king also realized the force of truth in the boy's words.
So after a pause, the king slowly came down from his throne and allowed the shepherd boy to sit on it, so great was his eagerness to know the answer.
But the shepherd boy, after ascending the throne was calmly enjoying his new found dignity and did not speak for a while.
The king became impatient and shouted at the boy, "You fellow! Where is my answer! What is God's work?
To the utter shock and complete relief of every one present, the shepherd boy calmly replied, "What answer?
Here it is! To push down the haughty and to push up the humble that is God's work".
This is one of the one hundred and fifty thousand stories found in the ancient puranas, which have relevance even in modern times.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007