long time ago there lived a king who was in search of the
secret of success. He thought if he could find out the answers
to three questions, he would discover this secret and would
never fail. The questions were:
What is the most important time to start some work? What is
the most important work to do? Who is the most important person
The king asked his minister to announce that whoever answered
these questions, would get a reward of 5,000 gold coins. Many
persons came but none gave the correct answers.
He, then called the wise and learned men of his country to
his court. He discussed the problem with them for many days.
They too, were not able to satisfy him because they could
not see eye to eye with each other. If, some of them gave
one answer, the others argued against it. If one man advised
one thing, the other would advise exactly the opposite. If
one man came out with one suggestion, another would suggest
something totally different. The king did not approve of their
There was a jungle at some distance form the capital. In this
jungle, there lived an old and wise man, who was known as
a saint. His fame had spread far and wide. The king had heard
of him. He wanted to ask his advice. The trouble was that
this man did not like the rich people. He did not want to
mix with them, but he was friendly with the poor.
At last, the king thought of a scheme to overcome this difficulty.
He dressed himself in rags and set out to see the saint. He
wanted to appear as a poor man. He told his servants, who
were in attendance, to stay behind went straight to the saint's
The saint was digging the ground in front of his hut. He was
an old and a very weak man. He was breathing very hard and
stopped frequently to take rest.
The king approached him and said, "Sir! I have come a
long way to find out answers to three questions. What is the
most important time to start some work? What is the most important
work to do? Who is the most important person? Would you kindly
help me by giving answers to these questions?"
The saint, paid no attention to the king and kept digging.
The king waited for a few moments and then said, "Sir!
you look tired, let me dig the ground for
The saint thanked him and gave him the spade. The king started
digging. After some time, he again asked the saint for the
answers but he paid no attention. He said, ."Let me dig
now". The king did not give him the spade, but kept digging.
He remained calm and did not lose patience. He hoped that
he would be able to get the answers. When evening fell, he
stopped digging and said to the saint, "Could you please,
let me know the answers now?"
The saint still gave no answer but pointed to one side. The
king glanced in that direction. He saw a bearded man running
towards them. He was gripping a dagger in his right hand.
When he reached them he felldown and fainted. The king, straightway
carried the bearded man inside the hut, and gently lowered
him to the ground. He managed to stop the bleeding immediately
and put a bandage on his wound. The bearded man soon fell
By this time, night had fallen. The king, felt too tired to
return home. The saint invited him to stay the night The king,
accepted his hospitality. The saint gave him food and a simple
bedding of dry hay to sleep on.
At break of the day the king awoke He found that the bearded
man was awake. The king said to him, "How do you feel
now?" The bearded man replied, "I feel better, thanks
to Your Majesty. Forgive me, I came here to kill you, because
you had got my brother killed. I became your bitter enemy
out of grief. I was hiding and waiting for your return. As
you did not return I came out of my hiding place. Your servants
saw me and recognised me. They wounded me seriously but I
escaped. Had you not cared for me I would have been dead,
I thank you, Now, count me as one of your most faithful servants".
Saying this he saluted the king and left.
When the bearded man had departed, the king again asked the
saint for the answers to his questions. The saint replied,
"You have already been answered. The most important time
was when you wanted to help me; the most important work was
the digging of the ground; and I was the most important person
for you. Had. it not been so, you would have returned and
been killed. The second time, the most important person was
the bearded man and the most important work was dressing his
wound. Had it not been so you would not have won a faithful
servant You are very fortunate".
So this is the moral of the lesson:
The most important time for doing anything is the present;
the most important work is what we are doing now, and the
most important person is the one whom we are with at the moment.