A peace loving and generous King in the Himalayas wanted an answer to the question "Who Am I?" This eventually took him to a Sage, who very cleverly led him on a path that revealed the answer to the King.

~~Many years ago, there lived a King. He ruled over a small kingdom in the Himalayas. He was a peace loving and generous ruler. In his kingdom people lived happily.
Sometimes the King used to dress like a common man and visit the market place to see if all was well in his kingdom. On one such occasion, while he was disguised as a common man he found two men shouting at each other. He wanted to know why they were arguing. He went closer to where the two men were standing and heard the conversation.
1st Man: “You don’t know who I am? I can have you jailed”
2nd Man: “I am not an outsider either. I know people in the King’s court and you will be punished”
Soon many people gathered around and intervened. The two men were separated and asked to carry on with their respective work. The King saw all this and was happy to see how the matter was resolved by the bystanders. However, there was something that worried the King. He was deep in thought as he returned to the palace.
Next day at the court, the King sat in silence. He was still thinking about the incidence on the prior day. Seeing the King worried and silent, the Prime Minister finally spoke, “ Your Highness, you are keeping to yourself today. Is there something that I can do to make you feel better?”
The King spoke, “Yes Prime Minister, You can find me the answer for ‘WHO AM I?’
“Who am I?” said the Prime Minister a little surprised, “but of course you are the King, my Lord”
The King explained, “Look, I was made the King because my father was the King. Further, I am the King because all of you in the kingdom have accepted me as the King. Therefore, my identity of that of a King is in relation to the circumstances or acceptability of others. That alone cannot define me. So my question is WHO AM I? What defines me? It has to be something that doesn’t change with change in circumstances.”
The Prime Minister and the others present listened in silence.
The King continued, “I must find an answer to this Prime Minister. I want a message sent to the people in the kingdom that whosoever gives me a satisfactory answer to this question will be generously rewarded.”
King’s order was followed. Soon it became a matter of discussion throughout the kingdom. People from far and near started coming to the court with their answers. But none satisfied the king. The King was upset and started wondering whether he will be able to find an apt answer. Seeing the king upset made the Prime Minister upset. After talking to a few learned ones in the court, the Prime Minister found out about a sage who lived in a cave high in the mountains. Possibly the sage will be able to answer the King’s question, they said. The Prime Minister went to the King and told him about the sage. The King was delighted to hear about the sage and wanted to leave immediately to meet him.
They travelled for five days through mountains and forests and finally arrived at the cave. The Sage was deep in meditation when the King arrived. The King and the Prime Minister waited at a distance with folded hands. The Sage finally ended the meditation and acknowledged the King’s presence. The Sage with folded hands asked the king what brought him so far away in the mountains leaving behind the comfort of his palace.
The King said, “ O, the learned one, I am looking for an answer to a question no one has satisfactorily answered. I have heard a lot about your greatness. I hope to seek the answer from you and satisfy my soul.”
“What is that you seek O King”, said the Sage.
The King expressed the background and his thoughts. He said he is seeking an answer for the question “WHO AM I?”
The Sage smiled and nodded in appreciation. He said,” O King, you are the blessed one. It is the result of your good deeds that you have such pure thoughts. I, however, don’t have an answer to the question. You must continue your search. I will guide you on a path and hopefully by the time you reach the Palace you will have your answer.” The Sage pointed to the path in the forest and asked the King to follow the same to the palace. He told him that on the way if he saw anybody then he must stop and ask him or her “WHO ARE YOU?”
Having said this, Sage folded his hands and went inside the cave. The King was visibly disappointed. He had travelled five days to meet the Sage only to hear that he doesn’t have an answer.
The King argued, “If the learned Sage doesn’t have an answer, how can the common people answer him.”
The Prime Minister convinced the king to do exactly as the Sage had said. Then the two started back their journey through the forest.
After travelling for some time they came to a lake. They stopped there to take some rest. At a distance, they noticed, a man stepping into the lake with fishing net. The King waited for the man to come out of the lake and asked the man, “WHO ARE YOU?”
“Who am I? I am a fisherman”, he said and walked away with his catch.
The King and the Prime Minister continued their journey. Next they met a man cutting a tree. The King posed the same question. The man replied, “Who am I? I am a carpenter. I come to the forest every now and then and cut trees to collect wood and then make furniture for people living in the villages.”
The King and the Prime Minister were crossing through an orchard when they noticed a woman plucking fruits from the trees. The king stopped to ask the same question. The woman said, “Who am I? I am a farmer. I take care of the orchard and sell fruits in the villages every single day.”
The King and the Prime Minister continued their journey. They came closer to the city where the palace was located. On the outskirts of the city they saw a man hurrying towards the market. The King stopped him and asked him the same question. The man said, “Who am I? I am an accountant and I must reach the market now to record today’s transactions.”
The King smiled and it had finally started to dawn upon him the answer that he was so frantically searching. He could sense his soul lift and his head was lighter. There was a glow on his face which puzzled the Prime Minister. On reaching the palace, the Prime Minister could no more stop himself from asking the King about the reason for a smile. The King answered,” That is because I got my answer and I am satisfied.”
The prime Minister was perplexed. He said, “When did you get the answer and what is the answer my Lord”
The King replied, “The great Sage very cleverly changed the question to ‘WHO ARE YOU?’ for me to get the right answer and the meaning thereof. Every time we asked the question, the person replied by defining what they do every single day of their life. So a person is defined by his own skills. A skill is an art developed over years of continuous practice. It is that which cannot be separated from an individual by changing the circumstances. The skill is his own. It is the skill that gives identity to the individual. They who boast about their identity based on acquaintance or relationships are weak in their argument and lack in skills. You and I are administrators. We have sharpened our administrative skills over years of practice. Every single day our skills are put to test while carrying our task. We further improve our skills by practicing it daily in the court.”
“So, my dear Prime Minister, every skill is equally important for our society. It will be wrong to put skills in any descending order of importance. It is not what an individual chooses as skill, what matters is how much time and effort the individual puts in to develop that skill. Prime Minister, let us go and practice our skill in the court now.” Both laughed and entered the Palace.



Submitted: May 05, 2014

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Add Your Comments:


Kenisha Liyanage

Nice story. I remember reading a story similar to this in my child hood with a different approach. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Mon, May 5th, 2014 1:30pm


Thanks a lot. Glad you liked it.

Mon, May 5th, 2014 11:05pm


Hey this is good. Enjoyed reading it till the end! I think you should put up your stories for this ongoing short story contest http://www.tallenge.com/contest/literaturestorycontest.html where viewers visit from across the globe and you can win $100. Also no entry fee!

Tue, May 6th, 2014 12:21pm


Thanks a lot for sharing the link. Will post it there.

Wed, May 7th, 2014 8:40am


Okay Ravi :) Hoping to see you soon there! Let me know when you done.

Thu, May 8th, 2014 6:37am


Hi, took some time but finally it is done! I have five days to collect votes. pl do help me collect some. Thanks

Sat, May 17th, 2014 7:40am


Hey glad to see your story there. You'll have my vote for sure :) You can get more votes by sharing around the link of your Tallenge entry on your social profiles, emailing it to contacts etc. See here for some tips- http://www.tallenge.com/howtopromote.html

Mon, May 19th, 2014 7:37am


Hi, Thanks for your vote. Yeah I am busy promoting it on facebook. lets see how many vote for me. it is interesting. are you organising this? how are you connected to Tallenge.

Mon, May 19th, 2014 3:06am

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