The truth about lies!

There is a story about the emperor of Delhi. India was a collection of many small states. So he was an emperor. The emperor of Delhi had a minister called Birbal. He was a clown too. The emperor himself was a clown. He would lay down funny laws and rules. Once he ordered that in his country” anybody who says a lie will be hanged”. This law was to be implemented. The kings would make their own laws. It was all upto their fancies. There was no Parliament, no congress to sit and debate and pass the law. So the King made a rule that from tomorrow if anyone would tell a lie that person would be hanged.He had heard a lecture on truth and he had become enthusiastic and said “Okay, I will make everybody speak the truth”.

As this law was announced, there was a big commotion in the market place. What was the commotion about? All the lawyers gathered together and said “What is this law? It is a stupid law. It will just flatten our own business. Our profession will be finished. This is an insult to the supreme court. If this law is made then where is the question of debate? All lawyers will be out of their job”. They all got together at the bar association and said   “we have to do something. This cannot go on like this”.

In another corner all the merchants gathered together. All the sales man said “see what is happening. Our king is selling our country. This is disastrous. How can we sell anything? We know that our product is not the best but we claim that ours is the best product. We make it for three pennies and sell if for thirty pennies and we say that we are just making margin, no profit, we are actually giving you for free’. All these gimmicks of business, they would all go flat”. They said that it was outrageous and they could not go on. Then all the astrologers gathered together and said “finished. We all are finished no more clients to us”.

Next, all the priests gathered and it was the same story there too. Then the doctors gathered and said "Oh! We have to migrate to some other country. This law is too dangerous". Doctors promise their patients "do not worry. I will cure this for you. You will be fine tomorrow. I am here. You will not die". They insure their patients. All of them approached this wise minister in the king's court, Birbal and said "come on Birbal you have to do something. What will happen to our trade? He needs a Psychiatric treatment. Anybody who does not speak the truth will be hanged! Anybody speaking a lie will be hanged! This is outrageous". Birbal said "Okay I will do something".

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So the next day Birbal, the minister entered the king’s bedroom. As he was trying to enter, the guards stopped him and asked him where he was going. Birbal said “I am going to get hanged”. Now this was a lie. He was a minister, one of the top ministers of the cabinet. He was getting into the king’s room and saying “I am going to get hanged”. That was not a place to be hanged. So they said, “he has spoken a lie”. He was brought in front of the king. If Birbal was to be hanged then he had not spoken a lie.  Whatever he had said was the truth. Then it means that an innocent man will be punished for no crime of his. It will be a big crime. If he will not be hanged then the law becomes obsolete. Then what to do?

All the pandits were called, all the ministers were called and there was a big debate, “now what should we do? Should we hang him or not? If we hang him we violate a law. If we do not hang him, even then we violate a law”. The king was in a fix. Everybody else were in a greater fix. So they told Birbal, “You yourself suggest to us as to what we should do?” Birbal then said, “truth is not what is spoken. Anything you speak becomes a lie. The moment you open your mouth, you are distorting what is and what is the truth”.

To be contd…

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(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)

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