बहुत समय पहले एक नगर में एक बहुत धनी सेठ रहता था। उसके पास कई मकान और सैंकड़ों खेत थे। सेठ का इकलौता पुत्र किशोरावस्था में ही घर छोड़कर भाग गया और किसी दूसरे नगर में जाकर छोटा-मोटा काम करके जीवन गुजरने लगा। वह बेहद गरीब हो गया था। दूसरी ओर, उसका पिता उसको सब ओर ढूंढता रहा पर उसका कोई पता नहीं चल पाया।
कई साल बीत गए और उसका पुत्र अपने पिता के बारे में भूल गया। एक नगर से दूसरे नगर मजदूरी करते और भटकते हुए एक दिन वह अनायास ही सेठ के घर आ गया और उसने उनसे कुछ काम माँगा। सेठ ने अपने पुत्र को देखते ही पहचान लिया पर वह यह जानता था कि सच्चाई बता देने पर उसका बेटा लज्जित हो जाएगा और शायद फ़िर से घर छोड़कर चला जाए। सेठ ने अपने नौकर से कहकर अपने पुत्र को शौचालय साफ करने के काम में लगा दिया।
सेठ के लड़के ने शौचालय साफ करने का काम शुरू कर दिया। कुछ दिनों बाद सेठ ने भी मजदूर का वेश धरकर अपने पुत्र के साथ सफाई का काम शुरू कर दिया। लड़का सेठ को पहचान नहीं पाया और धीरे-धीरे उनमें मित्रता हो गई। वे लोग कई महीनों तक काम करते रहे और फ़िर एक दिन सेठ ने अपने पुत्र को सब कुछ बता दिया। वे दोनों रोते-रोते एक दूसरे के गले लग गए। अपने अतीत को भुलाकर वे सुखपूर्वक रहने लगे।
पिता ने अपने पुत्र को अपनी जमीन-जायदाद का रख-रखाव और नौकरों की देखभाल करना सिखाया। कुछ समय बाद पिता की मृत्यु हो गई और पुत्र उसकी गद्दी पर बैठकर अपने पिता की भांति काम करने लगा।
इस कहानी में पिता एक ज्ञानप्राप्त गुरु है, पुत्र उसका उत्तराधिकारी है, और नौकर वे आदमी और औरत हैं जिनका वे मार्गदर्शन करते हैं।
(A Buddhist story in Hindi)
This parable was told by one of Buddha’s senior disciple Maha-Kasyapa:
Once upon a time, there was a man who had a son. As a teenage, the son took his father’s money and ran away from home to lead an extravagant life. After he had spent all his money, he became very poor, and had to wonder from town to town, begging for a living.
Many years had passed and the father had been looking for him but failed to find him. As time went by, the father became very rich, having a big house with numerous treasures, gold and silver, a large herd of cattle and goat, a group of servants and employees, and a large fleet of elephant and horse drawn wagons.
One day, the son was wondering into his hometown and begging for a living as usual. He came across a fleet of luxurious wagons, accompanied by a group of servants. When he saw the procession, he thought, “he must be a king or some noble knight. Well, I should not have come here. It is difficult to approach someone very high in society to ask for help.”
As he was turning around and going away, the father recognized him and ordered his security officers to get him. As the son was approached by the security officers, he cried out in despair, “I had not committed any crime. Why do you want to arrest me?” The security officers became suspicious. They tied him up and brought him to see the father.
The father looked at him carefully to make sure that he indeed was his son. He knew that his son had a very strong will and it would not work if he tried to lure him back with money or riches alone. So, without saying a word, he ordered his release and let him go. The son was glad that he was free, but he returned to the ghetto and continued to beg for a living.
The next day, the father sent two of his senior employees to the ghetto to look for his son. The two employees found him and said, “our boss is operating a big business and he is looking for someone who is trustworthy to work as a janitor. We will offer you a good salary and benefits. Are you interested in taking the job?” Having been wandering from town to town looking for work, the son was happy that someone offered him a job. He accepted it immediately.
As the son took on a low ranking job as a janitor, the father did not say anything about their relationship to any other employees, customers, suppliers, friends or relatives. However, the son proved himself to be a good worker and soon earned the respect of his fellow employees. As time went by he was promoted to a senior position.
One day, his father got sick, and, knowing that his days were soon over, his gathered every employee, friends and relatives to announce his will. He disclosed the father-and-son relationship to everybody and announced that his son would inherit his business. The son, by this time, a fairly senior employee, had proven his ability to take over his father’s business operation.
Maha-Kasyapa (Buddha’s senior disciple) concluded that the father represented the Lord Buddha and the son represented the followers. (image credit)