The Mysterious World

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

There lived a wise man, named Nasuruddin in ancient Iran, He was very popular for his wisdom and was greatly respected by all. People used to visit him to seek his wise guidance from far and wide.
The story relates one of such instances of his life.

Submitted: September 03, 2018

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Submitted: September 03, 2018



Once upon a time, there lived a wise man, named Mullah Nasruddin Hodja in Iran. Everyone sought the mullah's teachings because people considered him to be the wisest among wise men.

One summer day, Nasruddin was wandering through the bazaar of Isfahan. He liked to visit it often as he found it to be a friendly and fascinating place.

As he walked along he happened upon a group of men arguing amongst themselves. Even from a distance, he could hear their raised voices. So, naturally, he was curious to know what could cause an argument on such a beautiful day.

"Salaam," he greeted the men, attracting their attention.

"Salaam," they replied but they did not stop their arguing. The mullah saw that they were passing something around to each other.

"What is it?" the mullah asked.

"I say this is a jewel," one man said.

"No, no, an enemy has sent it to harm us," shouted another.

"Not at all," the mule driver cried, "it must be a gift from Allah."

Nasruddin looked closely at the object as the mule driver explained, "I was riding across the desert and it caught my eye. I carried it here to show the wise men but no one knows what it is."

"Perhaps you can tell us," one of the men said to Nasruddin.

"Here, take it," the others said. "Tell us what it is."

Nasuruddin took the object in his hand and examined it closely. It was a tiny box of metal with a glass lid. But inside there were letters indicating four directions, and in the center of those a tiny needle shivered when he shook the box.

"Look," said the mule driver, "that needle quivers when you shake it, but no matter how much you try to move it, it always returns to point the north."

The mullah turned the box over a few times.  He shook it many times in different directions. But each time he looked inside, the quivering needle was pointing to the north.

He began to stroke his beard. This is what he did when he was deep in thought, pondering over what it can be. Everyone waited in abated excitement to know what it is. 

Then, suddenly, the mullah began to cry, tears flowing from his deep brown eyes. Everyone gasped but just as the mule driver was about to step forward to offer solace, the mullah burst out laughing.

"What's going on?" someone asked. Again the mullah burst into tears.

"Can I help?" another offered, but before he could finish his sentence the mullah had again begun to cry and then laugh, and then cry. They couldn’t understand how someone could laugh and cry at the same time.

"Why are you crying?" some asked.

"Why are you laughing?" others questioned.

"It is impossible to cry and laugh at the same time," another said.

Word spread through the city of this extraordinary event and more people gathered to watch it. Finally, a young boy, feeling sorry for the great mullah, called out, "Please, someone help the mullah!"

When Nasreddin heard the child's words, he suddenly stopped laughing and crying. He grew very quiet, and so did all those gathered around.

"Let me explain," he said softly. The people moved closer to listen.

"I cry," the mullah said, "because not one of you among this enormous crowd is wise enough to know what this box is. It is such a tiny box, such an insignificant needle, and yet it has more wisdom than all of you, for it knows what it is. I cry because I am ashamed of your ignorance and stupidity."

The people bowed their heads in shame. Even the children felt ashamed, for they had hoped their elders were wise; now they understood they were not.

But one of the men, who knew the mullah well, began to smile. "But mullah," he said, "tell us why you were laughing at the same time as you were crying."

The mullah looked at each person in turn, one after another, and a smile crept across his face. Once more he began to laugh at the confusion and amazement of his audience.

"I laugh because I do not know what this box is either," he said. "I laugh because I see even the wisest among us still finds wonders in this world."

Soon all the people were dazzled by the profound wisdom of their great teacher, who had clarified another mystery with a great ease.

© Copyright 2018 Dr. Pran Rangan. All rights reserved.

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