The Heart Always Wins
A long time ago, there lived a pious family in one of the princely kingdoms of ancient India. The father was a court priest and much revered for his scriptural knowledge. His wife, a simple woman with few needs, tended to the house and their child, a bonny baby born after many years of prayer to God.
This child was growing up fast, sharp in intelligence, with a quick tongue. Soon he was a strapping young lad, handsome of figure & quick of wits. He earned the reputation of a scholar very fast, and there was no one in the kingdom who could match his knowledge of the scriptures. He defeated many renowned scholars in contests at the king’s court, and his home was full of such trophies given by their benevolent ruler. He was expected easily to take his father’s place soon.
But one day, this young man, the hero of our story, and the winner of many trophies, felt the pangs of unfulfillment.
Victory was always too easy for him.
To him, his future appeared bleak: it would be no different from his father’s, the greatest scholar in the kingdom. The thought filled him with dissatisfaction: he did not want the slow, contented life of his father. He wanted adventure, money, and a good name. He wanted to be known not only in his own kingdom, but all across the world. He was already well – known in the kingdom; he wanted his fame to spread far and wide.
Seeing him pensive, his mother sat by him and tried to understand her child; his words filled her heart with dread. He talked of leaving home, of travelling to foreign lands, of exploring the kingdoms far and near, of mixing with cultures alien to theirs. For long hours mother and child talked, and the kind mother tried to reason with him that the life in a King’s Court would be one of contentment and happiness. The son was bent upon a life of adventure; but you know how a mother’s heart is :
The thought of the child not being with her felt like a stone on the heart.
When the father heard them discuss, he agreed whole-heartedly with his wife. But the son seemed adamant, so he decided there was only one solution: Let the young man have his way, for there would be no happiness for him unless he answered the cravings of his heart. It would not be right to tie him to their apron strings, for that would break his heart.
A lifetime of travel
So it was decided, and our young hero set out on a journey, to travel the other kingdoms and learn about the ways of other people. He took with him a note from the King as introduction, a lengthy lecture from his father on how to handle different situations, and detailed instructions from the heart-broken mother on how to conduct household affairs.
In those days there were none of the means of travel that we have today; the young man set off on foot, using a horse or an ox-cart when such was available. Over the course of many years , he went to several kingdoms, met the respective kings and their courtiers, engaged in discussions and debates, learning far more than he would have staying back in his home town, and had a grand time as all who came in contact with him, learned to respect him.
One day, while in the court of a very powerful and influential King, he engaged in a scriptural contest which was attended by scholars from far and wide. The discussions went on for days at an end, and none of the scholars gave in easily, but ultimately, our hero was the winner. So emphatic was his victory that he won over everyone in the kingdom and the King proudly offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to him.
Our Scholar was pleased with this offer, for the Princess was widely-known for her beauty and intelligence. It was also time for him to settle down in life, so he happily accepted and the wedding was duly conducted with pomp & ceremony.
After his marriage, he stayed back in the kingdom, living in the Kings palace and attended the court. He earned a great reputation and became one of the King’s prized ministers. Over the next decade he earned many accolades and was much respected by everyone in the kingdom.
His wife, though born a Princess, was very pious and simple at heart. She wanted nothing more than a kind husband who cared for her. He became the center of her world; soon they were blessed with a beautiful child. She loved and adored both her husband and the child. The Princess found that her husband was far more concerned about the Scriptures, his knowledge and his reputation than about family and child, but he was always kind and considerate, never once exchanging a cross word, and gave in to all her wishes, which made it possible for her to love and care for him.
Now the story moves to the essential part: One day there was another contest held at the King’s court, and scholars from far and wide were in attendance. As before our hero defeated all; but one young fellow from a far-off place called China, continued a fierce debate and was able to outwit our scholar.
He returned home, pensive in defeat, feeling that his life held little meaning. He finally broke his silence to the repeated queries of his wife and told her how much this defeat affected him. He knew how much she loved him, and expected her to be crestfallen and lose respect for him, but her response surprised him. She continued as before, tending to his needs and giving him the same love and affection.
This strange behavior affected him greatly and he thought for long on his entire life. He realized that all his life he had chased a dream, but in the end all of it meant nothing more than the love of his family. Finally after a long-time, he remembered his parents, and realized that they meant more to him that all the accolades he had won in his life. His heart now ached for his parents.
Coming back home
He spoke of this to his wife and she encouraged him to go back to his parents. So, after obtaining permission from his father- in- law, the King, he journeyed with his wife and child to finally reach his parental home. His parents were now elderly; his father could barely move, and his mother was bent over double from the lifetime of toil. Their joy knew no bound to see their cherished son back, with a beautiful princess for a wife, and a lovely little daughter. There was much ceremony and many days passed in catching up with all his friends and regaling them with his exploits.
He sat one day with his mother and told her that his life had meaning only because of the love he got first from his parents and then his wife. She replied, “Son, it is the man’s duty to go out in the world to earn a name for himself. That is why for the man the head rules over the heart. But in the end it is the heart which wins.”
Agreeing to this he replied :
“A man can teach the entire world using his intelligence and his words. But a woman teaches him the meaning of life even without saying anything.”
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