Volume 2 Issue 35 | June 07, 2008 |


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From the Galpoghor Series:

How Long is Human History

Acharya Ratnananda

LONG, long ago and far, far away, there lived a king who wished to read the entire human history from the birth of the first person. So he called all his scholars and enquired about the cost and time of the project.

The scholars discussed among themselves and the wisest of the wisest among them, came forward and said, "Sir, the project of your desire is very vast and also time consuming.

However we will be able to complete the work in 20 years and at a cost of twenty thousand gold coins.

Though the price and the period of the project were rather extravagant, the king's desire for knowledge was much greater. So he accepted the offer, paid the money and waited for the results.

When he ordered the assignment, the king was around fifty years old and he was nearly seventy, when the pundits came back with a big load of 2000 books carried by 20 elephants.

By that time, age had greatly reduced the king's power of sight and hearing as also his general health.

To his query about the time required to read and understand all the books, the scholars replied "around ten years".

"What?" said the king, "Ten years in my present state of health, is too much. Can you please make it a little shorter?"

The pundits held consultations and said, "Sir, we will do it as per your wish, but it would need five years and 5000 gold coins."

The king had no choice but to consent and the scholars came back after five years with 200 books.

In the meanwhile, the king fell ill and became too weak to move about. His sight and hearing had become much worse and he could not even see clearly the big load of books.

"My dear wise men," the king whispered, "while I am thankful to you for your efforts, it is physically impossible for me to read these books. Since it may also take a long time even if one of you were to read to me, I request you to kindly make it shorter."

The scholars again agreed to the same, for a price of 1000 gold coins and one year.

The King had no other way except to consent, and they came back after a year with only three big volumes.

By this time the king was completely bed-ridden, the doctors gave up hopes, and the priests had taken control of the situation.

However, one of the scholars went near the king and whispered in his ears, "Your Majesty we have brought the human history, condensed in three big volumes as per your wishes"

"Oh!" moaned the king with despair, "It is too much and too late, I am going to die soon.

What a pity all my efforts and money have gone waste. Death will snatch away, before I can learn about human history".

"No Your Majesty" said the wise man, "You shall know human history? Shall I whisper it, in your ears?"

"Please do if you can", cried the king even though he was in much pain.

The scholar bent down to his ears and said, "Man was born, He ate and He died. This is human history in a nutshell". "Oh! That's all, is it?" said the king and he also died.

This story from the Indian scriptures indicates, the way in which most of the people in the world live their lives. They are born, and do some work in between eating times and die one day through disease or distress. Maybe we can do something better?

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