Once upon a time there was a pious and benevolent King who ruled over the Lakshana Kingdom with the help of his most faithful Chief Minister Satyavrita, who was equally pious and a highly intelligent statesman. The people respected their King, but loved and adored their Chief Minister.
Time passed on. In the palace daily there used to be Satsang by great saints and sages, poets and pundits. The old king and the minister often discussed the Upanishadic problems regarding the Science of Reality. The King had a son who often was present at their discussions, but the young prince could not follow them. He was too young and was so totally uninitiated.
The old King died; "Long live the King." The young Prince was duly installed on the throne. The aged Chief Minister continued serving the throne, and deep within himself the young King felt a filial reverence towards the noble Chief Minister. And yet, when the Chief Minister showered terms like God, His Grace, His Blessing, His Glory, all over, in his talks and discussions, the King got impatient. In the beginning he kept his irritation well hidden in his bosom. But as time passed on it started to come out, and one day it burst out-with irresistible vehemence. When long suppressed irritations burst out, the floods can be annihilating and devastating.
"Look here, Sir," thundered the young King. "Out of respect for you and for the memory of my father I kept quiet for so long. You talk of God and His Grace. I don't understand it at all. When I discuss this topic with others, all repeat but some vague statements, and mention some unscientific conclusions. Shamelessly they argue illogically to reach but a blind alley of self-contradictions. I think it is all an unprofitable and dangerous superstition. And unless I myself am convinced of it, I will be untrue to my crown if I recognize and encourage such a meaningless superstition in my kingdom. Therefore, I give you. Sir, full 41 days to bring me the answer to these my three questions:
- Who is God?
- Where is God?
- What does He do?
Convince me with your answers, and then I will be with you all the way. But if I am not convinced, then I shall guide my kingdom into a purely material life and initiate secularism as our royal policy. I believe in intellectual honesty. I cannot be dishonest to myself."
The old Minister smiled in dignified silence and walked out. His prayerful anxiety was, "Oh, Lord! Give me the right power of expression to communicate a glimpse of Thy Glory to this young boy's noble heart."
The aged Minister started visiting Sages and Saints Monasteries, Ashrams, Colleges of Theology, Schools of Philosophical Studies, Institutes of Mysticism, Sadhanalayas. He discussed with Pundits, Acharyas, aged Brahmins, learned householders. Everywhere he heard more or less the same type of answers, the same quotations from the Upanishads, the Puranas, and other Sastras. All confirmed what he already knew, but none of them could possibly ignite faith in the doubting heart of the young king. Nothing that he heard could initiate a conviction in the rational bosom of the young boy.
Time was running out. The entire Capital had heard of the command of their young king. Everyone was anxious for the revered Chief Minister to find the solution. The old man silently prayed to the Lord to save his old king's son and the kingdom. He undertook long pilgrimages, and went for short trips, to visit the wise-men and the Masters. Nowhere could he get any direct guidance; no immediate help came to him.
The old, faithful Brahmin-cook in his residence was watching the thoughtful, worried, anxious face of his saintly Master, Satyavrita. The aged Minister was not eating well; he had grown careless of his dress. Not that he was in despair, but he was becoming worried for the future of the country.
The forty-first day dawned. The entire Capital was expectant of what would happen the following day. Surely the far-sighted Minister would resign if he failed to convince the exuberant impatience in the royal bosom.
That evening also the Minister returned home after his last few, futile visits to Mahatmas, and fruitless discussions with Pundits. His despair was written large on his face. The old "cook" was impatient. He approached his master and said, "Sir, during my thirty-five years of service in this house, I have never seen you so unhappy as you are now. I wish I could help you."
The Minister said, "No one can give conviction to anyone else; that is the truth. The Lord alone can give it to the young king. And He will do it, I know. But how? My despair is at my own impatience to understand His Plan".
The old Brahmin said nothing.
* * *
Next day the Darbar Hall was full. The people had closed their shops and business houses and, in a grim mood of expectancy, had crowded everywhere around in the courtyard of the Hall. The King arrived and took his seat on his throne. The Chief Minister's seat was ominously vacant. All other ministers were in their seats earlier than usual.
There was a melancholy silence in the Hall. The King in his royal splendor felt the unusual atmosphere and looked around. Suddenly one old Pundit entered by the main door and came forward. The soldiers stopped him on his path: a whispered talk—and they moved and made way for him.
Approaching the King, the Pundit said, "Long live the king! I am here on behalf of the Chief Minister. He is a Kshatriya and so has sent me, a Brahmin, here to answer your spiritual questions."
The announcement brought relief to everyone. Thrilled expectations rose in the bosom of everyone. The King impatiently said, "Alright. Tell me, then: Who is God?"
The old Pundit smiled and answered: "I am a loyal subject and you are my king. You can command me. But I cannot teach you the Science of Reality, the spiritual wisdom, unless you accept the position of a disciple. A Guru can initiate only his disciple."
The young King had been constantly brooding over this mysterious problem all these six weeks, and so had grown extremely thirsty to know. Therefore, the honest student in the King got up and with folded palms said: "Revered Pundit. Please accept me as a disciple and teach me."
Without the least hesitation the Pundit walked straight to the throne-chair and sat on it. Then he commanded the young King to sit down in front of him. Now the Pundit said, "What is your first question?"
The King in all humbleness now repeated, "Who is God?"
The Pundit smiled and looked around the hall. All faces were eagerly awaiting the answer. Instead of immediately replying, the Pundit called an attendant and ordered him to bring to the Hall the black milching cow from the palace cowshed. In a short time the cow was brought. The Pundit asked one of them to milk the cow. The freshly drawn milk was brought to the Pundit in a golden bowl. He looked into it and passed it on to the young king.
In wonder the King received it. There was a solid and perceptible silence, pierced with a voiceless expectancy, hanging all over the Hall and outside in the courtyard.
The Pundit's feeble voice rang out in the silence. "Do you see. Oh Rajan, the milk in the bowl?" "Yes, Sir." "What is its colour?" "Sir, it is pure white."
"What is the colour of the cow that gave this white milk?" "Black, Sir." "What does the cow eat to produce milk?" "Grass, Sir." "And what is the colour of the grass?" "Green, Sir."
"And who converts the green grass, in a black cow, into white milk? Can anyone do this? Have you any minister-in-charge who can take up a programme of making white milk from green grass in a black cow?" There was silence. The Pundit, after a meaningful pause, said: "My friends! The Power that converts green grass into white milk in a black cow — that is God." There was a wave of murmurs and whispered talks. Evidently all understood. The King smiled his gratitude and asked, "Sir, please tell me now, "Where is God?" You alone can explain it to me."
Again, the Pundit called one of the minor officers and whispered some instructions. In a short time a gold plate with a candle and a match box on it was brought. At a sign from the Pundit, soldiers closed all the doors and windows of the Hall. There was pitch darkness within. The Pundit struck a match and lighted the candle. In the light of the dancing flame, the old Pundit said: 'Till now we were in darkness. The light of the candle has removed the darkness as you all see here. Now tell me, Rajan, where is the light of the candle—not the flame— I am asking where exactly is the light of the candle."
The King immediately anwered, "The light is everywhere."
The Pundit smiled and said: "God is everywhere, as the light of the candle is everywhere in the hall now."
The Pundit clapped his palms together and at that sign all doors and windows were opened. The daylight flooded in.
“Punditji, please explain to me, What does God do?"
-That is easy to explain," said the Pundit -but at that moment he saw the aged Minister coming along the corridor, bent under his sorrow. Gravely he entered the under : without looking right or left, with firms steps he walked straight to his seat, bowed his body and saluted the throne as usual and took his seat. His whole heart was praying “Lord help this young king. He is the noble son of a great man, and it is my last responsibility that I guide him to faith. He is capable of running the country on our cultural values if only he is convinced. And I cannot give him faith. I have not the ability to carry conviction to his heart. You alone can bless him."
In the enfolding silence the old pundit said: -Rajan, if you have understood who is God" and Where is He, then it is unnecessary for you to ask, What does He
Do. Everything happening in this universe is his doing, executed through the names and forms in the Jagath:'
The energetic heart of the youthful king could not appreciate this answer. The audience carried a blank look on their faces. The Pundit sighed and said, "Rajan, see where you are now sitting? Look at our revered Minister—struck with wonder at seeing his stupid old "cook" in your seat— see where am I sitting: on the throne of the Lakshna kingdom! He who brings about all these, including the new understanding and wisdom that you are gaining—all are done by Him alone."
There was a thunderous applause in which even the King joined. When the ovation was over, the old cook got up from the golden throne chair, walked up to the aged Minister, now smiling benignly, and prostrated. "Sir, it was all due to your grace that I am able to answer, in your own words, the King and satisfy him this morning. You were over-anxious to serve the king and so felt incompetent to answer him. A doctor, however great he may be, cannot confidently perform even a minor surgery upon his only son."
Through the continued ovation, with bowed head, humbly acknowledging the satisfaction and joy of the assembled ministers and officials, the "cook" went out.
The King touched the feet of the faithful, revered Minister and taking the royal chain with its pendant of a precious jewel, in the presence of all, the King put it around the neck of the Chief Minister.
By now the crowd outside had heard what had happened within the Hall. They raised their cry of joy: "Maharaj-ki-jai " The king went to the balcony to receive the greeting of his faithful people.