Chinna Katha


There was once a Raja, who had transferred all responsibility of ruling to his Manthri, and who was spending his time in ease. He never worried about anything, be it big or small. He had a personal companion, whom he had always by his side, more or less as a bodyguard. This fellow was very wise, for he never did anything without deep deliberation, about the how and the why and the wherefore. The Raja took all this deliberation to be just foolishness and he nicknamed the companion, "Avivekasikhamani" or "The Crest-Jewel of Fools". He went to the length of actually engraving the title on a plate of gold and compelling him to wear it on his forehead for all to see! Many people were mislead by this and they took him to be an ignoramus at court; they did not heed his words.

Meanwhile, the Raja fell ill and took to bed. The kingdom was combed for physicians who could heal the king. Messengers went to the eight corners, seeking drugs and doctors. Hundred were busy round the royal patient, but, all efforts failed; the illness worsened day by day. The Raja was at the very door of Death.

The Raja suspected that his end was near; so he hurriedly made some dispositions, spoke to all those whom he wanted to meet, and was immersed in sorrow. He had no thought of God or any other auspicious Power. He was in terrible fear of Death and could not think of anything else.

One day, he called Avivekasikhamani to his bedside and whispered feebly in his ear, "Well; I am going soon, my friend!" Then, the Fool asked without any compunction, "What? You are weak and cannot walk a few steps; I shall order a palanquin, please wait till it is ready." "No palanquin can take me there," said the Raja. "Then, I shall order a chariot," entreated the Fool. "The chariot too is of no use," replied the Raja. "Of course, then, the horse is the only means of journey," wailed the companion, who seemed eager to come to the rescue of his master, and spare him the toils of travel. The Raja said that the horse too could not enter there. The Fool was at his wit's end. Then suddenly an idea struck him, he said, "Come on master! I shall carry you there." The Raja became sad; he said, "My dear friend, one has to go alone to that place, when one's time has come. No companion can be taken." The Fool was thrown in great doubt; he asked the Raja, "It is curious, is it not? You say that the palanquin won't reach there, that the chariot can't go there, nor the horse; you say that no second person can join you! Well can't you tell me at least where that place is?" The Raja replied, "I do not know."

Immediately, the Fool unwound the Golden Plate with the engraving of the title, 'Avivekasikhamani', and tied it round the brow of the Raja, saying "Raja! You know so much about the place, even, which things cannot go there, but, you do not know where it is, and still you are going there soon. O, you deserve this title much more." The Raja was overcome with shame. "Alas," he said to himself, "I wasted my years in eating and sleeping and pursuing pleasures, never caring to inquire who I am, whence I came, what I am doing, whither I am going, and why I came. The precious time allotted to me has come very near its end. There is no time for me any more for all that inquiry. Death is knocking at the door; children have started weeping; my subjects are in great anxiety. Can I, under such conditions immerse myself in inquiry? Can a thought that I never entertained throughout my life suddenly arise now, during my last moments? It is impossible. Yes, I deserve the title, Avivekasikhamani more than anyone else, for I wasted my life in useless pursuits; without any thought of the Reality." The Raja let it be proclaimed that Inquiry is the best means of knowing the Truth, that the inquiry must be directed to separating the true from the untrue, the eternal from the temporary, that people should arrive at the conclusion that, 'God is the only true and eternal Entity' and that by their own independent investigation, his subjects must not only grasp the entity intellectually but must also attain the Grace of God, by their pure lives. Announcing this lesson to his subjects, the Raja breathed his last.