An emperor once ruled a very vast country and yet was not content with what he was blessed. Like Alexander, the Great he prided in invading several other countries, far and near, vanquished their kings and brought them all under his thumb. Day by day, he added country after country to his growing empire. Even then his mind was always on the hunt for more gullible countries.

Very soon, he heard of a very small country in a far off place, ruled by a wise old man. People spoke of that country as ‘heaven on earth’, for the wise man ruled his people with the loving care of an affectionate mother.Deciding to bring that ‘heaven on earth’ under his command, he instructed the chief of his army to take ample measures for that invasion.

“The journey is long, your Majesty…It is going to be a hazardous task for we will have to cross several obstacles on our way. Moreover, it may not be worth the trouble. Heaven is where we are,” advised his sagacious and discerning chief minister.

“No backward steps…Tomorrow by sunrise we begin our march towards our new found heaven,” said the emperor in a stern voice. His words were final. The chief minister lost his voice.

Two long days of continuous journey brought the over ambitious invaders to a thick forest. There they pitched a camp for the night. On the morning of the next day, the emperor and his chief minister moved out of their tents for a refreshing stroll. A few yards away from the camp, they came across a monkey sitting on a curved branch of a tree. The animal had a fist full of blackberries and was found munching happily. When it opened its palm to pick up a berry, a couple of berries slipped off his hand. The monkey quickly jumped down from the branch to the ground. As it landed with a jerk, the berries it had in its hand dashed pell-mell into the grassy floor.

The monkey began to pick up the berries one after the other. During such a process, many of the gathered berries fell off its hand. But the monkey continued to gather them not in the least aware that it was losing several berries when it was collecting the other single berry.

Looking at the funny and foolish activity of the monkey, the emperor laughed and said, “Poor monkey. He is not satisfied with what he has in his hand”.The chief minister too laughed for his share, but said in a low voice, “It is a lesson for us too”. The emperor stared at his minister and then looked at the monkey still at its monkey job. “Pack up! No more invasions,” said the emperor to the joy of the chief minister and his retinue.

What a lesson from the Buddha Jataka story! We can have our lessons from anyone, anywhere provided we keep our eyes and ears open. This is because nothing can be taught, as knowledge is inherent in every being. Teachers can only kindle the knowledge that is slumbering in us. And the best teachers are those who read…read…and read books and also observe and study life on earth. There is a lesson in everything for everyone. In fact, everyday there is a lesson for everyone of us, provided we know the art of studying the people around and the situation that awaits us. We can never disagree with the saying: “Everyman is a novel if you know how to read him”.

Search and you will find. In life, everything is a quest. All learners should necessarily be quest-crazy. It is said in the Bible: “Knock…it shall be opened. Ask…it shall be given.” And for those who do not hesitate to knock everything opens; for those who do not delay asking everything is given. And for those who give all is given.

About the author: P. Raja
P. Raja
P.Raja (October 07, 1952) a son of this divine soil, Pondicherry, India famed for its spiritual heritage, writes in his chosen language, English, and also in his mother tongue, Tamil. More than 5000 of his works – poems, short stories, interviews, articles, book reviews, plays, skits, features and novellas – have seen the light through newspapers and magazines that number to 350 in both India and elsewhere. He has 30 books for adults and 8 books for children in English and 14 books in Tamil. Apart from contributing special articles to Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literature in English (London), Encyclopedia of Tamil Literature in English, and to several other edited volumes, he has also written scripts for Television (Delhi). He broadcasts his short stories and poems from All India Radio, Pondicherry. He was General Council Member of Central Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi (English Advisory Board - 2008-2012) representing the Pondicherry University. He is Editor of TRANSFIRE, a literary quarterly devoted to translations from various languages into English. His website: www.professorraja.comAuthor can be reached at [email protected]

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