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Benefits of solitude

Here is the tale of a hermit who refused to bow in front of a vain king. What happens next? Read on?

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 19:56 IST

Acomtemplativehermit, unaware of the king’s arrival in the neighbourhood did not stand up in his honour. The angry king promptly ordered that the hermit be sent to jail. The hermit tried in vain to justify that he did not notice the arrival and presence of the king.

After a few days in jail the hermit was summoned to the court. The king asked him, “Do you realise the might of state power now?” Calm and happy, hermit replied, “I am better enabled to concentrate on my goal.”

The king was taken aback by this statement and could not understand the mystery of his happiness. The hermit was sent back to prison. Again after an interval of some days, the king called him again. “Haven’t you learnt something about the honour of the king by now?” “Sir, please keep me here for some more time, I am very near my destination,” was the reply.

Surprised at the patience, glow and imposing aura of the recluse, the king asked, “What is the mystery behind your mirth?” The hermit said, “I am grateful to you because out there in the world, I found it hard to travel within. In this world there are two types of deeds, shreya and preya. Shreya is what we should do for attaining liberation while preya leads to transitory worldly pleasures. You have given me ample opportunity here to shun preya and attain shreya in loneliness.”

“To pass the time, I sang songs in God’s praise. But the jailor stopped me from singing. In the unrelieved silence, I went deep into my soul and found the eternal light, unending space the truth of the existence. My mortal body was in the jail but my soul was free.” The king begged pardon, fell at the feet of the hermit and released him. He became the hermit’s follower and requested him to spread his message among the people of his kingdom.

First Published: Feb 16, 2006 15:51 IST