The Better King

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Once there was a king named Mallik. He was a very brave, kind and powerful king. He was loved by his subjects and also by his courtiers. One day a thought came to the mind of the King, "Am I really so great that there is no defect in me? How should I find it out?" "Do my people praise me because they could not criticize me at my face? The truth can be known when one hears the true opinion of the people. This can happen only if I am not recognized. People will not afraid to give their true opinion." The King called his charioteer. He told him that he wanted to go on a tour, he would take only the charioteer with him.

The king, with his charioteer, traveled far and wide in his kingdom. Wherever he went, he asked the people what they felt about their King Mallik? Everywhere people, without knowing that they were talking to the king himself, praised King Mallik as great and noble king. One day while he was traveling, his chariot came to a narrow bridge. Only one chariot could move over it at one time. Now, the usual practice of those days was that a lower ranking gave the way to a higher ranking man. Just when King Mallik's chariot reached one end of the bridge, another chariot came to the other end of the bridge which had to come this side. Who was to cross first? The charioteer from this side said, "My friend, le me cross first. The great King Mallik is in my chariot." The other charioteer replied, "If your master is a great king, then my master, the great King Brahmadatta of Kashi is greater. It is you who will have to make way for him."

What was to be done? Then one of the kings suggested that since both of them were kings, their superiority could be decided on the basis of age and the size of their kingdoms. Most surprisingly, it turned out that both the kings were equal in age and the size of their kingdoms. How to decide who was superior? Both the kings started thinking. After much thought King Brahmadatta said, "The greatness of a person is determined by his qualities. You tell me about your qualities to prove your greatness." King Mallik proudly spoke, "I reciprocate goodness with goodness and wrong with wrong." King Brahmadatta said, "If these are your qualities, you cannot be bigger defect in the world than this." King Mallik was shocked, He said, "Maharaj Brahmadatta, what do you say? Well, then, come out with your qualities. King Brahmadatta said, "Listen, O King Mallik, I repay wrong with goodness. Those who harm me, I help even those persons."

When King Mallik heard these words, he bowed his head before Brahmadatta. He acknowledged with his whole heart that King Brahmadatta was indeed greater than he was. He still had many weaknesses which needed to be removed. Thus realization ultimately came to King Mallik that there were greater persons then he was. All his pride vanished.

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Best Short Stories at one place gathered from various sources.