Ancient Indian Anecdote in the Shia Islamic Text
The Story of Balohar and Yuzasaf
Source: Ain-al-Hayat, By: Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi
To highlight the defects of the world we narrate in some detail: Bin Babawiah narrates from Muhammad bin Zakaria that in the realm of India there was a king who had sway over large areas and populations! He was fond of all carnal pleasures. He preferred the company of sycophants. He hated those who gave sound advice. But, despite all these, he excelled in governance and control of the affairs of the state. All his subjects were obedient to the last man. With power and pelf, his psyche was flying high! He was fully engrossed with his world of sins and pleasures! The praises of the sycophants had made him more conceited! The king lacked only one thing. He had no son and successor to his crown!
The Satan, taking pleasure from the ways of the king, egged him on to the heights of sinful ways! He hated the pious persons. Idolatry was rampant in his realm. One day he asked people about a person who was considered the wisest in the realm. He asked them about the activities of the person and told that he had an important task for the person. He was told, “Your Majesty! The person is so sick of the world that he never stirs out of his house!” Hearing this, the king was very angry. And ordered his men to bring the man urgently to him.
The king, when the man was brought to him, tried much to convince him to agree to adopt the ways desired by the king. When the man refused to acquiesce to the king’s suggestions, the king asked him, “Who has advised you to be a recluse?” The man replied, “My conscience!” The king said, “Your conscience has killed you! I therefore want to give a punishment to your conscience that is meted out to a murderer!” The man said, “I have very high expectations from your wisdom that you will not make a verdict between us by yourself but you will appoint a sagacious judge whose verdict would satisfy me!” The king asked, “Tell me! Who could that judge be?” The man said, “I can depend on your own wisdom for a fair judgement!” The king now said, “Tell me, what you wish to say!”
The man said: I have heard a wise person say that a foolish person thinks that a useless thing is very valuable and neglects the things that have real value. Then he acquires and adopts the useless things. When I heard this, I started running away from the most worthless thing, this world! Now, in my view life is in death! Every thing including property, health, illness, fame, power and self is just a transit towards death. O King! This world is to be pitied! It makes a person the master and makes the same person a servant! It makes a person smile and the very next moment forces him to cry!
O King! You have said that shunning the world I have hurt my conscience and caused hardship to my dependents! It is, in fact, contrary to what you think. It is for their love that I have put away wrong desires and wishes. Now I can identify friends from foes!
O king! Among the horde of sycophants around you, none is your loyal friend! Everyone is after power and riches! If this realm, the wealth and power is not with you, then you will not get any response from them. The way I live, all the inmates of my surroundings are my friends. Whatever I do, they follow suit. Whatever I say, they say too. I have not shunned the world at the spur of a moment! I have done it after deep thought!
I hope, O King, you will also benefit from my humble thoughts. The king was furious hearing this advice from the man. The king ordered the person to be exiled from his kingdom. He said that the person was misguided and was also misguiding his subjects in general.
Around that time a male child was born to the king. He was so overjoyed that he was close to dying with happiness overwhelming him! He was convinced that the child was the reward for his idolatry. He spent the entire wealth in the treasury on pomp and show. He ordered general celebration in the realm for one year. He named his son as Yuzasaf. He ordered all the astrologers in the country to the court and to make their predictions about the child’s future. Excepting one astrologer, the rest predicted that the child would be superior in wealth and fame in comparison to all the children born in that period. But the only astrologer, who was held in very high esteem by the king for his expertise, predicted that the child will not only be superior in his wisdom but he will excel in nobility and piety. In fact he would be the chief of pious people in the realm.
Hearing this, the king became a little sad. He started planning to keep the child away from getting exposure to piety. He ordered a big mansion to be constructed where the child would live with a selected few companions. It was strictly ordered that there should not be any talk of death or the Hereafter in his presence. He was not to hear anything about religion or piety. To ensure the risk of his getting exposed to piety, all the pious persons from the realm were banished to other countries.
One of the ministers of the king was very wise and tactful. The king used to depend on his advice in important matters. The other courtiers were jealous of this minister for the favor he received from the king. One day the king went out hunting. The minister too was in his company. On the way the minister noticed a grand old man lying severely injured on a boulder. On inquiry, the old man said that the wild animals had mangled him. The minister took pity on his condition. The man said to the minister that if he saved his life, he too would be of help to him sometime in the future. The minister said that even if the man was unable to help him in the future, it was his own humane duty to come to the rescue now. The minister however asked him what sort of great help he was capable of rendering in the future. The man said that he had the skill to mend affairs that go wrong and bring back things into control. The minister didn’t pay any heed to what the man said. However, he brought the man home and got him properly treated and restored to health.
A time came when the envious and jealous courtiers colluded with one another and devised stratagem to put down the minister in the consideration of the king. One envious courtier told to the king in confidence, “Your Majesty! You must exercise care in dealing with the minister! He is bestowing so much attention and gifts on the subjects that he is very popular with them. The secret behind this tactic is that he is planning to overthrow you and occupy the throne. If you wish to test him, call him and seek his opinion that you wish to leave the crown and take to the life of an ascetic. Then decide for yourself the course of action after knowing his mind whether he wants to get rid of you or not!”
One day the king talked to his favorite minister in confidence, “You know what condition I was in before I ascended the throne. I might again fall back to the same condition in the future! Therefore, what is the use of a kingdom that is transitory! I wish to entrust it to some capable person and go into ascetic seclusion. I need your advice in this matter.” The minister cried hearing what the king told him. He said, “Your Majesty! Getting a permanent thing with difficulty is preferable to getting transitory materials without any effort! Your desire is noble and the Almighty will endow you with blessings of both piety and worldly wealth!”
Since the king’s mind was already poisoned, he didn’t like what the minister suggested. The wise minister saw the changed expression on the face of the king and thought that the monarch was not happy with the advice given to him. He recalled the old man whom he had saved sometime ago. He called the man and recounted to him what transpired between him and the king. The man said, “I have reached the depth of the matter! Before anything happens wear the attire of a minstrel and go to the king and tell him that you are renouncing the world before the king adopted asceticism.”
The minister did as the man advised him. When the king saw his minister in the garb of a beggar, he realized that the envious courtier had poisoned his mind to harm the minister. Otherwise the minister would not have abandoned his ministry before he himself went out as an ascetic.
The next day the king ordered all the pious persons out of the kingdom. After a few days he got information that two pious persons were hiding in the kingdom. He got them rounded up and burnt alive. There were no pious persons left in the realm. Some of the pious persons, at great personal risk to themselves and their supporters, remained hidden in the hope that at the appropriate time they would propagate the virtues of piety in the country.
Yuzasaf, the king’s son, was a youth now. He had grown into a wise and sagacious person. He was not worried by the thought that why he was cloistered with a small group of persons. He started wondering about his seclusion and wanted to investigate the reason thereof. He also thought of asking his father about the reason for his segregation. Then he thought it discreet not to ask his father because it was he who had ordered all the arrangements! In the group of learned persons, who were with him, was a man who took special liking to the prince, for his wisdom and cleverness.
One day Yuzasaf told him, “I feel instinctively attracted towards you and consider you as my father. I know, I shall be succeeding my father as the king. At that time either your status will be either very high or you will be reduced to nothing!” The man asked, “Why is there a chance of my status becoming so inferior as you say?” The prince said, “I have a question to ask you. If you don’t give me the correct reply, I shall give you the maximum punishment that will be in my power!” The man was very scared hearing what the prince said and found conviction in the youth’s tone. Therefore he confided with the prince about the predictions of the astrologers, incarceration of the child in a lonely mansion and keeping the prince ignorant about matters of piety. The prince thanked the man profusely for making him wise about the affairs concerning him and congratulated him for a glorious future in store for him.
When the king visited the prince thereafter, he greeted him respectfully and said, “Your Majesty! I haven’t been able to understand why I am incarcerated in this lonely mansion? Why am I forbidden to go out in the open? Is it a punishment for any crime that I have committed? If the reason is to keep me ignorant of the matters of life and death, then how long I could be kept in such ignorance? One day the world will itself inform me of all this! I seek your permission to let me go out. Otherwise the curiosity will kill me one day!”
The king understood that the secret of keeping the prince in seclusion has somehow come into his knowledge. He ordered the special retainers to take the prince out in a procession of horses.
Yuzasaf stirred out in great pomp and pageantry. It was like a festival in the entire realm. From that day Yuzasaf used to go out in the city occasionally. One day he noticed two men. One had a swollen and yellowish face. The other was blind. He asked people about the condition of the persons.
They said, “The person with swollen body suffers from pains that have caused his present condition. The other person lost his sight because of an ailment of the eyes!” Yuzasaf asked them if they were the only two sickly persons or there were any more of them?
People said several persons fall ill.
The prince was affected learning about the suffering of the people.
He went out on an excursion on another day. He saw a feeble, old person. His hair was grey and his back was bent forward that made it difficult for him to walk.
He asked people, “Is the old man the only of his type or there were many more such persons?”
The people said, “Everyone reaches this stage in his advanced age!”
The prince asked, “In how many years a person becomes like the way the old man was?”
They said, “About a hundred years of age!”
The prince asked, “what happens to them, thereafter?”
They said, “The person dies or goes to the other world!”
The prince was much affected hearing all this.
He called the person from his companions in the mansion, who was his confidante. and asked him, “If this world is not the permanent abode of men, and the Hereafter is really the final abode, then why people are so much enamoured of the world!?”
The man related to the prince all the reasons in detail as to why the king wanted to keep him in seclusion.
The prince asked, “Are there any men of God who are not attached to the world?”
The man said there were many such persons in the realm but they have been banished to other countries by the king. It might be possible that a few are still there hiding themselves from the fear of the king’s anger and punishment. They must be awaiting the end to this tyrannical rule to be able to freely preach the people.
From that day onwards the prince became very pensive and contemplative. It was the talk of the town that the prince has turned his mind towards piety. At this time there arrived from the island of Sarandeep (Sri Lanka) a man of piety, Balohar by name, and he got wind of the interest of the prince in piety. Balohar had come to the kingdom by boat and had met the courtier close to the prince in the guise of a merchant. He told them that he had a miraculous medicine that can bring back sight to totally blind persons. It can also give the faculty of hearing to persons who are totally deaf.
The medicine also had, he said, power to cure any incurable ailment. It can give strength to the physically weak, it will make the mentally weak into wise and can give the possessor control over his mortal enemies. He told them that he wanted to show the medicine to the prince. that he thought he was the right person to own it. He requested them to get an audition from the prince for him. The courtier first wanted to see the medicine before he could seek an appointment from the prince. The man said that none other than the prince could bear to look at the medicine.
Hearing this from Balohar, the courtier went to the prince and recounted what transpired between him and the merchant. The intuition of the prince gave him a feeling that he could learn something interesting from the merchant newly arrived from Serendeep(Sri Lanka). He wanted Balohar to meet him privately in the quiet of night. The prince treated him with due respect and courtesy. Balohar said, “I never thought that your highness would give such respect to a total stranger?” The prince said, “The secret that I wish to unravel, seems possible of solution through you!”
Balohar said: I am deeply grateful to you for the kindness you have for me! I wish to tell you a tale. There was a king in a certain country. The king was well known for his good nature and kindness to his subjects. One day while he was riding for pleasure, the king noticed two persons dressed in tattered garments. The king dismounted his steed, greeted them and talked to them with respect. He shook hands with both the persons. The courtiers accompanying the king didn’t like the gesture. They couldn’t tell anything to the king but went to his elder brother and complained about what they thought was the indiscretion of the king. The brother went to the king and admonished him. He heard his elder brother with respect and patience.
The next morning the king deputed the ‘messenger-of-death’ to his elder brother’s house. It was a custom there that the king used to have an official messenger-of-death who would call on the person the king ordered to be executed.
Hearing about the visit of the messenger-of-death everyone started crying at the residence of the king’s elder brother. The elder brother, in a funeral procession, came to the court. Seeing the condition of the brother, the king said: How ignorant and foolish a person are you that for no cause of capital punishment, just for getting a visit to your house from the messenger-of-death you are so worried and disconsolate! Don’t you think of the day when the herald from Allah will call you and question about the treatment you meted out to Adam’s progeny like you, who are as much your brothers as your own brothers are! What reply will you give? My courtiers misled you. They were themselves misled by the shabby and tattered apparel of those two pious persons! They were in fact men of deep piety and knowledge!
Saying this, the king ordered four big chests to be brought. First two were smeared with coal tar and filled with jewels and locked. The other two chests were filigreed with gold and silver. But he got them filled with garbage. Now he called the courtiers who had complained to his brother. And asked them to tell which of the chests were more valuable. They said that the chests with golden filigree are valuable and those with covering of coal tar are not of any value.
The king ordered the chests covered with coal tar to be opened. The jewels inside there illumined the court premises. The king said, “These chests are like those two wise persons in tatters! You considered them with least respect seeing their exterior appearance! You have said that the chests with covering of gold are valuable. They are like those hypocrites who dress in costly garment and pretend to be wise and pious. Such persons, with all their external finery, are full of garbage and trash as are these golden chests!”
Hearing the story, the prince was very much impressed with Balohar. He caught hold of his hand and said, “O wise person! Tell me some more story of wisdom!”
Balohar narrated another story replete with lesson of piety to the prince: Every tiller of the soil sows seeds in the land. In that process some seeds fall on the corners of his holding that are consumed by the birds. Some seeds fall on stones and wither over a few days. Some of the seeds fall on thorny bushes that don’t allow them to grow and flourish. The seeds that fall on properly prepared and maintained soil, grow and yield a plentiful crop. O Prince! Excepting the seeds that drop on the properly prepared soil, the rest are just a waste for the farmer. Similarly words of virtue can only prosper and come from one who has a pure heart!
The Prince said, “O wise person! The contentment that my heart is getting from your words of wisdom cannot be expressed! Relate to me some tale that reflects on the futility of the world!”
Balohar said: It is said that once an elephant chased a man. The man ran scared and the elephant chased him the more! On the way there was a well. Near the parapet of the well grew a tree. The man, in desperation, hung to a branch of the tree. He saw that at the base of the tree there were four snakes and under these snakes a python was lying with its mouth wide open! When he looked up, he found white and black mice cutting away the branch on which he was precariously hanging. He noticed that there was honey on a branch within his reach. He started licking the honey oblivious of the hazards around him. O prince! Life in the world is full of hazards and hardship. The four snakes are the strong passion, bile, phlegm and blood. Any excess or shortage of these in the body of a person can be the cause of his death. The two mice, white and black, are the day and night in the life of a person that are busy cutting short his life. The python with mouth wide open is the death. But the man thinks that the world for him is sweet like the honey! The sweetness of the honey makes him oblivious of the hazards around him!
Yuzasaf said, “O wise man! Tell me some more fables like this.”
Balohar continued: It is said that a person had three friends. He used to love one of them very much. Whatever the person asked him to do, he would do with alacrity. The second friend too he loved dearly, but not as much as he liked the first. The third friend received little attention from the person.
One day the person was summoned to the king’s court on account of a complaint made by someone against him. He was much scared. He went to the first friend and told him of his worry. He asked him for help. The friend said, “I have got a special raiment made for you that you can wear and go to the court.” The man was much disappointed with the reply. He went to the second friend and told him about his problem. He replied, “I have so much work on hand that I cannot give you any time or attention. I can only walk a few paces with you on the way to the king’s court!” The man was disappointed with the second friend too, and came away from him crestfallen. He went to the third friend and begged his pardon that he had always neglected him. But he explained his problem to him. The friend said, “Don’t be afraid! Your repentance at this time has come to your rescue! I shall come with you to the court and help you!”
Balohar continued, “O prince! The first friend was wealth that promised to give him a shroud for his coffin, if required. The second friend was his child who agreed to walk a few paces on the way to his grave. The third friend was his good deeds that would keep company with him even after his death.”
Hearing the parable, the prince said, “O wise person! Please tell me some more tales like this!”
Balohar said: A kingdom had a very strange custom. Whenever the kings place fell vacant, they would catch the first traveler coming their way, they would catch and crown him king! They never told him how long he would remain the king. Then they would remove him from the throne after a year and get another stranger as the king. They used to leave the previous king to roam around the town as a beggar. Once, a stranger, when put on the throne, thought about the strange practice of the place and wondered how long he could remain in power! The people were strangers for him and he expected no sympathy from them. He therefore searched a person from his own town and told him about the strange manner in which he was crowned the king. The man advised him to transfer some wealth to another place for use in time of need. The king did follow the advice.
Balohar said, “O prince! You are that king who acted on the advice and I am the friend who proffered the advice!”
Yuzasaf said, “O wise Balohar! Whatever you have said about the futility of the world has affected me so much that I don’t need any further advice. I wish now to hear from you about the Hereafter!”
Balohar said: O prince! Shunning the world itself is the key to the Hereafter! Whoever rejected this transitory world, got the kingdom of the immortal hereafter. This world involves man in seven types of hardship:
3. Summer heat.
4. Winter cold.
The prince asked Balohar, “The king banished many persons, he burnt alive many more. What happened to the people that they did not rise to help the sufferers at the hands of the king?”
Balohar said, “O prince! When the dogs discover a carcass, then one dog fights with the other to grab a major share of the feast. One wants to eat the complete carcass and the other barks and bites to ward it off. In the meantime if a person arrives there, the dogs leave the carcass and try to attack the person, although the person may not be a claimant of the carcass lying there. Similar is the condition of men in this world. Like dogs they fight over the transitory benefits of the world. When a wise person arrives to guide them about the futility of the world, they go to attack and maul him as did the dog to the intruding person!”
Yuzasaf said, “O Balohar! I have heard your parables and have learnt about the futility of the world! By nature I am not interested in worldly things. I am very grateful to you for your words of wisdom! Now, tell me how could one prepare well for the Hereafter?”
Whatever I have narrated to you so far are also the keys to the doors of virtue and the protection against evil. They are the elixirs of life that make one immortal. They are potions that eliminate the need for any other treatment. It is the rope of God holding which one will never go astray.
Yuzasaf said, “Why people don’t derive benefit from this knowledge of wisdom?”
Balohar replied: Wisdom and knowledge is like the sun that gives its light to everyone. It is for the people to make good use of the light. If people don’t want to derive benefit from the sun, is it any fault of the sun that distributes its light equitably!
Similarly knowledge and wisdom are for people to make use of. Those who strive to acquire them, they get them in plenty.
Knowledge and wisdom is like a bright sun. Those whose hearts are receptive, they acquire the light. Those whose hearts are blind, they see no need for striving to acquire knowledge. Of those who see the light of knowledge, there are some whose psyche turns them towards evil use of knowledge and wisdom.
Yuzasaf asked, “Are there any people who initially don’t accept the truth but come to the right path later on?”
Balohar said, “Yes! These are people whose hearts enlighten after long spells of darkness.”
Yuzasaf asked, “Hasn’t any wise person ever told the words of wisdom to my father?”
Balohar said, “It is possible that your father might not have been motivated by the talk of wise persons and was guided by persons of other type!”
There used to be a king whose vizier was a person of wisdom and knowledge. But to please the king, the vizier too was indulging in idolatry. Out of the fear of the king, he never tried to guide him to the right path. One day the king went hunting. The vizier too was with him. On the way they passed through a ruin from where some light was coming. They went inside and found an ugly looking, ill clad mendicant sitting in a dirty corner. The man had stinking feces all around him. In front of him there was an earthen pitcher full of some beverage. The man had a musical instrument with him. He was playing the instrument. The man had an ugly woman with him. She would give the drink to the man from the pitcher and dance to the tune of the instrument played by him. Both of them appeared so contented and happy that, perhaps, none else in the world would be as happy as they were! The king told to the vizier, “Perhaps both of us have never been as happy as they are!” They are contented despite all the filth around them.” Vizier thought that it was a good opportunity for him to talk to the king. He said, “There is a group of virtuous people who, when they look at us, feel the same way as we are feeling on setting our eyes on these wretches!”
The king asked, “Who are those people?”
The vizier said, “They are the people who are the ardent followers of the True Faith! They are aware of the Kingdom of the Hereafter!”
The king asked, “What is the Kingdom of the Hereafter?”
The vizier said, “It is the place where richness is not aware of penury, where happiness doesn’t know sadness, where health is never affected with sickness where life knows not death, where monarchy never falls! Allah has removed from the inmates of the Hereafter all pain, illness, thirst and death!”
Yuzasaf said, “O wise sage! I have heard from you about the Realm of Hereafter and about the Almighty King. Now, tell me what is your age?”
Balohar said, “Twelve years!”
The prince was surprised to hear this. He said, “To me you appear to be at least sixty years of age!”
Balohar said, “Your guess is right. It is sixty years ago that I was born. But my real life is that during which period I got enlightened about the knowledge of the Hereafter. The other years spent in transient worldly activities I don’t consider as a part of my life.”
Yuzasaf asked, “O wise man! Will you be happy if you meet with death tomorrow?”
Balohar said, “Why tomorrow! Even if I die now and here, I shall be achieving the greatest happiness!”
The prince asked, “If death is such a good thing, will it be right to commit suicide? Give me an example to illustrate to me the matter.”
Balohar said, “A person had a garden. He spent all his time tending the garden. One day he noticed a bird sitting on a branch nibbling a fruit. He was furious and caught the bird in a net. When he wanted to kill the bird, it spoke with Allah’s consent, “ If you eat me, what is the use. I cannot be more than a morsel for you. If you free me, I shall give you counsel that would be more than any riches that you can think of!”
He asked the bird, “What is that advice?”
The bird said, “If you promise to free me, I shall tell you three very invaluable things.”
The man gave her his word.
The bird said, “Listen and remember well:
Don’t mourn over what is dead and gone.
Don’t believe in the impossible.
Don’t try to get things that are out of your reach.
Hearing these words from the bird, the man released it.
The bird flew to the top of the tree and said, “By releasing me you have suffered such a big loss that you can never make good!”
Worried, the man asked, “What loss have I suffered?”
If you had slaughtered me, you would have found in my innards a pearl as big as the egg of a swan. Its value would have made you rich and contented for life!
The man felt very sorry on hearing what the bird said. He told to the bird, “Let bygone be bygone! Come with me to my house where I shall keep you happy!”
The bird replied, “I know what fate would come to me if I go with you! You fool! Awhile ago I told you not to regret over what has passed! Don’t believe in the impossible! Don’t try to acquire what is not in your reach! Now you are regretting over what has passed! You believe on the impossibility that there is a big pearl inside my body! Have you not thought that I am myself not as big as the swans’ egg.”
Balohar said, “O prince! These people of the world have made the idols with their own hands and believe that the idols have made them! They protect the idols and believe that the idols protect them! They approve of all things that are physically impossible! They too are foolish as the owner of the garden!”
Yuzasaf asked, “O sage! Tell me who is the biggest tyrant and who is the most magnanimous?”
Balohar said, “The biggest tyrant is one who considers his tyranny is just! The most just is one who delivers justice to everyone without fear or favor.”
Yuzasaf asked, “What are virtues and vices?”
Balohar replied, “Virtues are truth and righteousness and bad intentions are the vices!”
Yuzasaf asked, “What are good intentions?”
Balohar replied, “Good intentions are equity in thoughts.”
Yuzasaf asked, “What is the most likeable characteristic?”
Balohar replied, “Hospitality, humility and speaking softly with men of piety.”
Yuzasaf asked, “Which trait in a man is most likeable?”
Balohar replied, “Love for the men of truth!
Yuzasaf asked, “A king has been an idolater from his childhood, has been leading a life of lechery and debauchery, has harmed and killed men of piety and not done any good deed in his life. Is there any chance of his reforming himself in his twilight years for a better life in the Hereafter?”
Balohar said, “I fully understand who you refer to. It is your father that you are concerned about! It is natural that you love your father and wish to earn a pardon from the Almighty for his Hereafter! There is always a chance of pardon if a person repents his past acts and refrains from them during the rest of his life.
Listen to one tale:
There was once a king who treated his subjects kindly and with justice. The subjects were very loyal and dedicated to him. The king died. He did not have any male issue. One of his wives was pregnant once and the astrologers had predicted that she would bear a male child. Therefore, a male child took birth. There was general celebration in the realm. For a full year it was like a perpetual festival in the kingdom. The pious and religious persons warned the people against the unnecessary pomp and pageantry. They said that the people were expressing their thanks to their Creator and were indulging in the ways of the Satan. The people took cognizance of this advice and spent one year in prayer and supplication. The astrologers predicted that the prince would adopt bad ways but reform himself later on.
It did happen accordingly. When the crown prince was of age thirty-two, he assembled his ministers and courtiers in a grand mansion. In the grounds adjoining the palace there was the congregation of the kingdom’s troops. The prince was delirious with happiness. To have a look at his happy face, the prince ordered a mirror to be brought. He noticed in the reflection of his face that there was a grey hair in his black beard. He cried at this sight. He thought that his youth had departed him. He thought that the grey hair was the messenger of death for him. He cried and descended from his throne. He told his courtiers, “What sort of a king I was for you?” In one voice they said, “We have no words to express our gratefulness to you! We are your faithful subjects! Give us orders and we shall sacrifice our lives for you!” The prince said, “One enemy of whom I am much concerned has entered the court and none of you is aware of it! No one comes to my help!”
The courtiers cried in unison, “O king! Who is that enemy?”
The prince said, “It is a pity that I have always been thinking that you are all my friends and well-wishers! I showered wealth and riches on you! I did all that for the single reason that you would come to my help in times of need! But the enemy has arrived and you remained oblivious of the fact!” The courtiers said, “Please show us who that enemy is? We shall instantly destroy him!” The king replied, “The enemy is the messenger of death who is reminding me that the days of monarchy, rest and pomp are over for me and I must prepare myself for the final journey!”
The courtiers said, “O King! There is no remedy for death! Every person, howsoever powerful, will be helpless in front of death!” The prince said, “I was under a deception so far! Satan duped me! I was falsely depending on your help in all matters! Now I am determined to shun the love and friendship of the worldly friends and spend the rest of my life in the love and friendship of one who will help me in the Hereafter! I shall have nothing to do with this throne and the crown!” Hearing this, the concourse cried. They pleaded with him not to abandon them. They took a resolve that if the king abdicated, they would, like their monarch, have nothing to do with worldly pleasures from that day. The king acquiesced to their wishes and ruled thereafter for 32 years.
Yuzasaf said, “O wise sage! Hearing this tale, I have felt happiness in my heart! Tell me some more tales like this that would increase my knowledge and understanding!”
Balohar continued: It is said that there was once a king. He was very fond of pomp and pleasure. He was engulfed in carnal sins. The subjects were unhappy with his neglect of the matters of state. The enemies were raising their heads because of the weak administration in the kingdom. The subjects were getting fed up of the raids of the enemies on their lives and property.
One of the sons of the king was very pious and noble. He used to advice the people to be pious and God-fearing. When his father died, this prince ascended the throne. With his pious and noble attitude, the kingdom was able to subdue all the enemies. Peace and tranquility prevailed in the realm. Everything in control, the king turned his attention towards worldly pleasures. His depravity went to the extent that if he found anyone offering prayers, he would slay the person. The depravity went to such an extent that the people started considering the king as a god! Power went so much to his head that his eyes were totally closed from the truth!
Amongst the courtiers of the king there was a man of piety. He used to feel very bad at the state of affairs in the kingdom. He wished to remind the king of his ways that he adopted prior to ascending the throne. He was waiting for an opportune time to open the eyes of the monarch without offending his ire. The man had no other person in the court that could have assisted him in his design. But there was one pious person in the capital, living in a lonely place on the outskirts. One day the pious courtier took a bold step to open the eyes of the king to the reality. He wrapped the skull of a dead person in a scarf and brought to the court. He unwrapped the scarf in front of the king and started kicking the skull with his feet. The skull cracked and the bones scattered on the floor. The king was very angry at seeing all this.
All the courtiers were stunned at what they saw. Seeing the anger writ on the face of the king, the executioners came close to the courtier with swords unsheathed ready to pounce on him at the slightest indication from the king. But in those days the kings had a custom not to order executions at the spur of the moment. They used to deeply consider the matter before pronouncing the final judgement. The king too controlled his anger and did not order the slaying of the courtier.
The courtier repeated the same act on the second and the third day. The king did not say anything. On the fourth day the courtier had tied up a skull on one side and a quantity of sand on the other. He also carried a weighing balance to the court. He kept the skull in front of him In one pan of the scale he put a coin and in the other he put the sand. When both the pans were balanced he started putting the sand through the mouth of the skull and also through the holes of the eyes.
The king was very puzzled with this strange behavior of the courtier. He said, “What is the reason for your mad behavior in my presence? Have you gone bold that I respect and honor you much! Explain, what you mean by this strange act?”
Hearing this, the courtier got up and touched the feet of the king. He said: O monarch! I have to tell you something! If you give me a patient hearing I wish to tell you some words of wisdom! You know that the words of wisdom are like an arrow that pierces a soft thing and doesn’t affect a stone! Good advice is like the rain -water. When it falls on good soil, it brings forth flowers and fruit, on a rocky soil it does nothing! Human beings have innumerable wishes and therefore it will be a constant struggle between wisdom and the desires. If desires dominate, good advice has no effect! When wisdom prevails, good advice has its effect and the person comes to the right path! Now, I shall explain the purpose of my actions!
From childhood I am fond of acquiring knowledge and skills! I used to spend lot of time in search of knowledge. When I acquired knowledge, I started doing experiments. One day, during my researches, I happened to enter the royal graveyard. This soiled skull way lying near an old grave. Because I have great admiration for the kings, I picked up the skull and brought it home. At home I cleaned it and wrapped it in a silk scarf. I used to wash it with rose water and keep it at a prominent place in my house. I thought that if it is a king’s skull, it might revive to its original condition and the king might come back to life! I did the exercise for many days but I noticed no change in the skull. Then I thought that perhaps the skull belongs to some poor mendicant. I trusted it to a poor person to take care of it. He kept it in a shabby and dusty place. But no change came about in the skull.
When all my efforts brought about no change in the skull I visited some wise people. They too were unable to satisfy me. Now I thought that the king is the wisest person in the realm and I must present my problem before him.
I have adopted this stratagem of the demonstrations to seek your help in solving the problem. I wish to know if the skull is that of a king or of a pauper! I have seen that the kings are never satisfied of their possessions! Even if they capture the entire world, they think of capturing the skies! I measured sand equal to the weight of a coin and the eyes of the skull were filled. Similarly I put a handful of sand into the mouth of the skull and it was full. Although I have never seen the mouth of a king being sated any time! If I imagine that the skull belongs to a pauper, then what was it doing in the royal graveyard. How did the poor man reach there? I want to solve this mystery! If the skull belongs to a king, it must have once enjoyed pomp and power as you do now!
O my king! I cannot bear to think that one day you might be rendered to this helpless stage! Your majestic skull trampled by strangers! Your delicate body consumed by the vermin in the grave! Your body transiting from spacious palaces to a grave of two metres! These well-appointed palaces falling into the hands of strangers! When your subjects cry for your help, you are unable to provide it!
The king shivered hearing all this. Tears started rolling down his cheeks. When the courtier saw that his stratagem had an effect on the king, he told many more things in support of the argument. At last, the king came to the right path! He quit pomp and pleasure and adopted piety in his life. In the entire realm there was talk of virtue and piety. Many men of learning arrived in the realm and the people benefited from their company.
Yuzasaf said, “O wise person! My heart is not satisfied with your wise talk! Relate to me some more tales!”
Balohar said, “Listen, o prince!”
In the olden days there was a king who was fabulously rich and powerful. The only thing he lacked was an heir to his crown. He tried all the possible ways to have a son but he grew old in this expectation. However in his twilight years Allah gave him a son. There was great jubilation in the realm. The child was brought up with great care. He grew up, started to crawl, walk and also learned to talk. One day, while he was playing, he took one step and said, “Mi’ad (Resurrection) is bound to come and you are committing injustice!” The child took another step and said, “You will grow old!” The child took the third step and said, “Then you shall die!” Now the child busied himself in play. The king who was observing this, was much amazed at the talk of the little prince.
The astrologers were summoned and informed of the precocious utterances of the little prince. They were ordered to investigate the matter and give their report. The astrologers drew up their charts but were unable to predict anything significant. One astrologer made a wild guess and said that the child would be very pious and kind of nature.
Hearing this, the king was very angry and kept the prince in isolation. He appointed his trusted men to look after the child. When the prince reached his youth, went out of the palace giving a slip to his guardians. He was passing through the bazaar when he saw a funeral procession going. He asked someone, “What is this?” He was told that the people were carrying a dead person to the graveyard. He asked, “What is the reason for the death of the person?”
He was told that the man had grown old and feeble and it was time for his death. The prince asked, “Was he earlier like us, young and healthy?” They replied that in his younger days the man was very healthy and an adept at wrestling! The prince went a little further and noticed an old man. He asked, “What sort of a person is this? Why he looks so weak?” The reply was, “He is much advanced in years, his limbs are weak and all his faculties too are weak because of old age!”
The prince asked, “Was this man ever a youth like me?” They replied, “Yes! He was first a child, then grew into a youth, and adult and is now an old man!” The prince went further up and found a sick person. He asked, “How was this person earlier?” They said, “This man was healthy and strong earlier. His ailment has rendered him weak!” Hearing this the prince stood brooding for a long while and then said, “By God! If whatever has been told to me is true, then the people are foolish that they keep happily moving around. They are mad imbeciles!”
Now the prince turned back and quietly returned to his palace and lay down on his bed. He stared into the roof for sometime. Then he called a servant and asked him, “Have the rafters of the roof been in the same way as they are now or they had some other shape?” The servant replied, “The seedlings grew into huge trees in the soil. Then they were cut into timber that was finally shaped into the rafters that have been fixed on the roof!”
Around the same time the king sent his vizier to inquire about the progress of the prince and to ascertain what he talks about. When the vizier met the prince, he too was asked similar questions. The vizier went to the king and told him that the prince speaks like an abnormal person. The king called for the astrologers and discussed the matter with them. The astrologers felt that the remedy for the prince would be to get him married. The king liked the suggestion and gave orders for arranging a suitable match for the prince. Men of wisdom and discretion were sent to the neighboring kingdoms to search for a girl of exceptional beauty as the consort for the prince.
Therefore, they selected a very pretty princess to be the bride of their prince. Preparations for the royal wedding were afoot. The city was decorated grandly. Arrangements were made for feasts, songs and dances. People from far and near started coming to witness the pageant. The prince started wondering why there was so much commotion in the city. He asked one of the servants about the spate of activity in the capital. The servant said, “Preparations are going on for your wedding! You must be very happy for that!” Hearing this, the prince kept quiet.
Alas, an auspicious day was fixed for the wedding. One day the king called the bride-to-be and told her that she was chosen to consort the heir apparent of the crown. He told her that the prince was his only son and dearer to him than his own life! He asked her to speak with the prince in a manner that he got attracted to her.
When the wedding took place, the princess took good care of the prince. She tried her best to create love for her in the heart of the prince. When food was served, the bride took beverages as was her wont. The drinks intoxicated her and she went to sleep. The prince got the opportunity to slip away from the palace. He started going round the city. In a lane he found a youth of his own age and made friends with him. He made the youth wear his expensive clothes and himself wore the ordinary garments of his friend. With mutual consent they went out of the city and early morning hid themselves in a secluded place.
When the bride woke from her sleep of intoxication, she found the prince missing. When she didn’t find him anywhere in the palace, she sat down losing all hope. At dawn all the servants started searching for the prince in the entire city. At sunset the prince started on his journey with his friend. In this manner they were hiding themselves at dawn in a secluded place and start their onward journey around dusk. They arrived in the capital of another king. The king had a daughter who was a very pretty lass. The king had made a resolution that he would marry his daughter to anyone she personally liked. He had constructed a separate palace for his daughter to live with the husband of her choice. There was a balcony in the palace towards the main thoroughfare from where the princess could watch the youth passing by and make her choice of the consort.
The princess was watching from the balcony when the prince and his friends passed that way. She noticed the youth with majestic manners dressed in the garments of ordinary people. She took instant liking to him. She sent word to the king that she wished to marry the youth. The king was very happy to hear this and rushed to the youths in a disguise. He asked, “Who are you, and from where you are coming?” The prince said, “I am a poor wayfarer. What work you have with me?” The king said, “You look strangers in this city. Tell me about yourself in detail!” The prince said, “I am not poor and needy! What is the need for you to inquire about me?” However much the king tried to ask him, the prince didn’t respond. He returned to the palace and briefed some men to make full inquiries about the youths.
When the agents of the king failed to extract any information from the prince, the king sent his men to bring the youths to his court. He asked the men, “What work has the king with me? Neither I know the king nor do I have to seek any favors from him” When the prince adamantly refused to go along with the king’s men, they forcefully took him to the court. The king was very delighted to see the youth and treated him with affection and respect. He offered him a chair to sit in the court. The king’s wife and daughter too were watching him from behind the curtain.
The king said, “O youth! I have summoned you for a noble purpose. I wish that you agreed to be my son-in-law! I have no dearth of wealth. You will live your entire life in luxury! Your respect and honor will be like that of kings!”
The prince replied, “O noble king! I have no wish for these things! If you permit me, I shall narrate a tale in this connection.” The king gave permission. The prince said, “There was a prince. Some of his friends arranged a banquet for him. After the food, the friends had a round of drinks. They all got intoxicated and slept as the party was in the night. The prince woke up sometime in the night and started alone for his palace.
In a state of intoxication he forgot the way to the palace and reached the graveyard of the place. He found one fresh grave dug up. He thought he had reached home and fell into the grave. He got the smell of the dead body. He thought that his servants had put the fragrance of rose in his room. He also thought the coffin of the dead man was the bed sheet. The prince thought the dead body as his beloved that she had slept after waiting long for his return from the party. He slept there the whole night and periodically kissed the dead man gently.
With dawn he awoke and found himself with the dead body in the grave. He felt very scared and ran towards the city. He felt very ashamed of his condition. Reaching the palace he took a bath of cleanliness, wore fresh clothes and applied perfumes to his body and the garments. He thanked God that he reached the palace safely.” The prince now asked the king, “Having committed the mistake, will he ever repeat the blunder?” The king said, “No! Never!” The prince replied, “My condition is just like that of the prince!” The king turned to his wife and daughter and told them, “You have heard what the youth said! How can we expect to change his decision?”
The queen said, “Perhaps, if our daughter’s qualities are mentioned to him, he might reconsider his decision!” The king said, “O youth! My wife wants to meet you and talk to you. In the past she has never come out to talk to any strange males.” The prince said, “I have no objection if the queen wishes to talk to me.” The queen came out in the court, sat near the prince and said, “O my son! Don’t refuse to marry my daughter. It is a Blessing of God! You will benefit a lot. If you know my daughter’s beauty of face and character, then you will certainly consider yourself lucky to find such a match. You will thank God for blessing you with such a consort!” The prince said: O queen! I shall tell you a tale in this regard. Kindly listen with attention: “There was a king whose treasury was filled with immense wealth. He had innumerable wonders from all corners of the world in that treasury. The thieves planned to plunder the kings treasure. They entered the treasury by drilling into the wall of the building. The thieves might not have seen such wonders even in their wildest dreams. They saw a barrel made of gold and thought that it must be full of valuable treasures. They thought that the things stored in a container of gold must be more valuable than the gold.
The thieves happily picked up the barrel and escaped from the treasury. When they reached the forest, they were curious to look at the contents and divide the booty. They all assembled around the mouth of the barrel and tried to remove the lid. When they lifted the lid, many poisonous snakes came out of the barrel.With the bites of these snakes all the thieves fell dead in the forest. O noble queen! Would a person who knows this tale dare to take a share of the treasure?!” The queen said, “Definitely not!” The prince replied, “Then how could I accept your proposal!”
The princess told to the king, “If you permit me, I would personally like to speak to the youth?” The king consented and the princess came out into the chamber of the court walking gracefully and sat near the prince, She said, “O youth! Tell me frankly if ever you have seen any female so well endowed with beauty as I am! But I am interested in consorting you. If you refuse, you will certainly repent!” The prince said, “Listen to a tale that I wish to relate and then we shall talk further: The king had two sons. During a battle, the enemy captured one of the princes. He was incarcerated in a very small, dark room. He also issued orders that whoever passed that way should throw stones at the prince. When many days elapsed, the other prince had pangs of affection for his lost brother. He asked his father, the king, to permit him to go and try to get his brother released through some clever stratagem.” The king said, “It is a noble design! Prepare for the journey and start without any loss of time!”
The prince took with him lot of merchandise for trading and also a group of dancing girls to give an impression that he was a trader. When this group reached the ramparts of the city of the enemy king, word reached the monarch of their arrival and he asked his men to fetch the trader into the city with full respect.
The servants gave due respect to the travelers. They entered the city, unpacked the merchandise and the slaves of the prince were ordered by him to go to several vantage spots in the city and sell the products at low prices. He particularly asked them to go to the bazaar closer to where his brother was confined.
Therefore the slaves made a beeline to the bazaar near the spot where the prince was held. Their prices were so down to earth that the entire population rushed to buy the wares. The prince crept nearer to the place his brother was incarcerated. He picked up a pebble and threw it on the place to ascertain if his brother was still alive. When the pebble hit him, the prince started shouting. The guards rushed to him and said, “Every day the people throw pebbles at you but you never shout as you have done today? Why are you so distraught today?” He said, “Every day when people throw stones at me I feel that they are strangers and may have no sympathy for me. But today when I was hit by the pebble, I felt as if someone close to me has thrown it!” The men were surprised to hear what the prince said.
The next morning the prince sent his men with more valuable things to sell at the same spot. He sent along with them the dancing girls to entertain the crowds. The men started selling and the women sang and danced. The entire populace got busy with the entertainment. The prince stealthily entered the place of confinement of his brother, cut away his chains and brought him out. He hid him in the house where his group was staying. The wounds of the prince were properly dressed.
When the prince was slightly improved, he was mounted on a fast steed and sent away. He was instructed that on the way, at a certain place a boat waited on the bank of the river to take him safely home. The prince proceeded in the direction where he was told the boat awaited him. Unfortunately, after some time, he lost the way and reached a dense forest. On the way he fell into a well. There was a python in that well. When he looked up, he found several fierce looking bandits with swords in their hands. With great difficulty he emerged from the well and ran from there. After many days of wandering he found a road. Fortunately he was able to reach the boat and sailed safely to his city.”
The prince now asked the princess, “Would a person who had undergone so much hardship, be willing to get involved in further danger?” The princess said, “No! Never!” The prince said, “I am in a similar predicament!”
Hearing all this, the king, the queen and the princess were disappointed. The prince’s friend, the youth, whispered in his ears that if he was not interested in marrying the princess, he could recommend him to the king for the match!
The prince told to the king: If you approve of my friend here, he would be willing to accept the princess as his bride. But his example will be like a group of people who boarded a boat that sank in the middle of a river. All the passengers were drowned but for a sole survivor who held to a small plank of wood and reached an island. There he started looking around the scenic place. The island was inhabited by devils. One she-devil fell in love with the man. She came to him in the shape of a very beautiful woman and took him with her. The whole night they had fun.
In the morning she killed him and gave his flesh to the children to eat. After some days-another person chanced to land in the island. The she-devil saw him. She took him along, spent the night with him and at dawn she wanted to kill him when he escaped from her clutches and ran away. He went to the shore and found a boat approaching. The man started shouting for help. When the sailors noticed him, they came near the shore and took him on board. The man reached home safely. The devils in the island thought that the she-devil had eaten the man herself without sharing with the others. They asked her to search the runaway and bring him, otherwise they would kill and eat her flesh!
In her searches, the devil reached the house of the man. She went there in the form of a young woman. She told him that she was the same she-devil he spent a night with on the island and had come to take him there! The man started crying and begging her to spare him. The she-devil took pity on him and agreed to free him. The man took her to the king of the place. The king asked them, “Tell me, what is the problem between you two?” The she-devil said, “O King! I am his wife. I love him very much. But he dislikes me. He refuses to come to me. I seek justice from you!”
The king fell head over heel in love with her good looks. He thought of acquiring her for himself. He took the man in privacy and said, “If you don’t like the woman, you divorce her. I shall marry her!” The man said, “I agree to your order! I am divorcing her!” With the king’s orders the woman was admitted to the harem. In the night he slept with her. At dawn the she-devil cut the king into pieces and took them to the island and distributed to the devils to eat.”
The prince said, “O king! Will the one who has experienced all this ever dare to visit the island of the devils again?”
Hearing this the friend of the prince said, “Now I cannot consent to be the king’s son-in-law. I shall not abandon the company of my friend!”
Therefore, they both took leave of the king and went their way. They wandered through cities and realms and kept learning lessons from the experiences they had during the journeys. They busied themselves in piety and supplication. They continued giving instruction to people about virtues of piety. Lots of people reformed under their instruction. The prince became very famous throughout the world for his wisdom and piety.
Yuzasaf was very sad when Balohar went away. But he busied himself in prayer. When he attained the status of a pious person, he thought of travelling to other countries and propagating the truth. Allah sent an angel to him. The angel came to him in the human form and said, “Allah sends you His blessings and praises. You are amidst the humans like a human being amongst the wild animals! I have been sent by Allah to instruct you about piety and the Hereafter. Remove the worldly attire and shun the worldly wishes! Abdicate the worldly monarchy that always ends in shame and ruin. Try to acquire the kingdom that has no decline! Adopt truth in talk and actions! Tread the path of justice! Allah has made you the leader of the pious and guide for the multitudes!”
Hearing this, Yuzasaf prostrated. The angel ordered him to guide the people and told him that he must travel to other lands to spread the message!
Therefore, Yuzasaf determined to commence his journeys. He didn’t inform his people about his intentions. At the appointed time the angel appeared again. Yuzasaf took his courtier, his confidante, along. When he mounted the steed, a handsome nobleman held the rein and asked, “Where are you going leaving your subjects behind?” Yuzasaf tried to calm him down saying, “God is with you!” Yuzasaf started on his journey. After riding for sometime, he sent the courtier back to the city along with the horse. He wanted to journey on foot! The courtier said, “O prince! The king would definitely execute me!” Yuzasaf handed over his expensive raiment and the ruby to the courtier and asked him to convey his greetings to the king. When Yuzasaf proceeded further he found delicious fruits in the forest. He thought they were the tidings of prophethood. He received from Allah the knowledge and information about the realm of the spirits.
Yuzasaf expressed gratitude for Balohar and riveted his attention to the cause of reforming his loving father. He thought that bringing his father to the right path was the first step towards achieving the blessing of the Hereafter!
Therefore, he sent a messenger to his father with fondest greetings and said that his beloved son was abandoning the transitory wealth and pomp to prepare himself for the immortal Hereafter. He desired that his beloved father too adopted the path to righteousness. He told him that it was his first duty to bring one who loved him the most to the right path!
The king heard the son’s message. He asked him to visit him. He got motivated to accept the path of piety. Yuzasaf then traveled from city to city preaching the path of truth and piety. He reached Kashmir in the end and motivated the entire population to the right path. It was there that he breathed his last.
The messages that Yuzasaf communicated to the people were not the thoughts of a philosopher but were the truths about piety, the Hereafter and straight forward and attractive instructions. May Allah give the pious people opportunity to benefit from these facts.