HOPELESS END AND ENDLESS HOPE
There was a wealthy king who was fond of all worldly pleasures. He had a wise and witty jester. One day he announced in his court that he was giving as a gift a specially made staff to the greatest fool in the court. He gave it to the jester, with the words, “Give it to a greater fool, if you happen to find such a person some day.” The jester kept the staff with him.
A few months later, the king fell seriously ill and was on his death-bed. He was worried tremendously. His mental agony worsened his health. The jester was summoned to make him merry. But the jester’s jokes could not remove the king’s worries. Worrying about his impending death, the king told the jester, “I am about to leave this world for a long journey to an unknown land.” The jester enquired, “Lord, have you made all preparations for the journey and your royal stay in the novel land?” The king moaned, “No, dear man. I am doomed. I am not prepared to die!”
The jester took the staff presented by the king and gave it to the king, saying, “Now you may hold this staff. You are more qualified to hold it than I am.” The king admitted that he was the greatest fool and sought the jester’s advice about preparations for death. The jester told him the story of another king:
“In an old kingdom, there was a cruel custom. There a person was anointed as king for only three years. Then he would be sent into exile to a distant uninhabited island, covered by a dense forest full of ferocious wild animals and had to live at the mercy of nature. Most of the ex-kings met with a tragic end there. Then a wise king adorned the throne for three years. He secretly sent all essential articles to the wild island and built a safe palace there for his comfortable stay after the end of his term. After his three-year-term, he happily left for the island and spent his last years in comfort.”
This story narrated by the jester enlightened the king. He was totally transformed. He repented sincerely for all his misdeeds and refined his life. He reconciled with his enemies and the newly gained mental peace gave him a miraculous recovery. He regained his health and reigned for many more years as a wise and saintly king.
There is a meaningful hymn sung at the home of the dead during the funeral rites of the Syro-Malabar Catholic church. In Malayalam, the words are:
“Maranam varumoru naal; Orkkuka marthya nee.
Koode porum nin, jeevitha cheythikalum.
Salkrithyangal cheyyuka nee, alasatha koodathe.”
The hymn may be translated as follows and sung in the same tune:
“Death will reach you once,
Bear in mind, mortals.
Actions done by you
Come along with you.
Do good deeds and be ready
Do not be lazy.”
Man’s way leads to a hopeless end while God’s way leads to an endless hope. Let us plan ahead for the unavoidable departure from this world. Let us remember that it was not raining when Noah built the
©By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.
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