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October 14, 2019 Monday 01:47:48 PM IST

Lend an Ear to You Friend


King Amar Sinha was a great scholar as well as an able ruler. His neighboring king Rana Roy also was known for his wisdom and outstanding administrative leadership. Once King Amar Sinha decided to find out how smart Rana Roy was. He sent King Rana Roy three golden figurines of people which exactly looked alike. Ran Roy was asked to point out the differences between them and to decrypt the messages of those statuettes.

Rana Roy examined the statues meticulously. They all looked alike. They had the same workmanship. They had the same height and weight. They had the same texture and gleam. The king could not find any difference between the golden statuettes. He could not identify the message of the figurines. When he failed to meet the challenge of King Amar Sinha, he convened his Advisory Council for help, but they too could not find any difference among the statuettes. They had no clue as to the message that the statuettes provided.


Rana Roy was not ready to give up. He gave orders to bring together all the famous scholars of his kingdom. Though they came as ordered, they too could not find out the difference among the statuettes and what they meant. Word spread like wildfire about the inability of the king, his advisers and scholars to find out what Amar Sinha had asked for. It was then that a prisoner expressed his desire to examine the statuettes. As he was imprisoned for theft, Rana Roy was not initially enthusiastic about taking his advice. However, since nobody else ventured to solve the problem, the king reluctantly allowed him to examine the statuettes.

On close examination, the prisoner found that all the three had holes in their ears. Taking a silver thread, he inserted it into one ear of the first statuette and it came out through its other ear. He took the second statuette and did the same thing. But this time the silver thread came out through the mouth and not through the other ear. When he inserted the silver thread into the ear of the third statue, it came out not through the other ear but through the belly button. 

Rana Roy was happy that the prisoner could find out the difference between the three statuettes. He was eager to learn the underlying messages also. The king looked at the prisoner as if asking for an explanation. The prisoner reflected for a moment and said, “These three statuettes are like an open book. The first statuette has holes in both ears. It represents the people who hear through one ear and allow it to go out through the other ear without paying any attention to it. The second statuette has holes in one ear and in the mouth. This statue represents the people who talk thoughtlessly to others about what they hear. The third statuette has holes in one ear and in the belly button. It represents the people who reflect on the things they hear and talk about them only when needed.”

After giving his explanation, the prisoner asked the king with much respect, “Among these three groups of people whom would you appoint as your counsellors?” “Of course, the people who belong to the third category,” the king replied. “Well, then, please do so,” the prisoner said respectfully.

According to this Persian folktale, King Rana Roy not only released him from the prison, but also showered him with many gifts and made him his chief councilor! The king was especially happy that the prisoner could help him to meet the challenge of King Amar Sinha.


Who should be our close friends and advisers? The people who listen to us without paying any attention, or the people who talk to others immediately after we confide our secrets and problems to them, or the people who give us practical and helpful advice after they listen to us and reflect seriously about what they hear? The answer is very evident. Our close friends and advisers should always belong to the third category. However, the number of people who belong to the third category may be very few. Hence, we should always be on the watch out when we choose close friends and advisers.

Now let us ask these pertinent questions to ourselves. Do we belong to the third category of people who listen carefully to others and give them helpful insights after serious reflection? Or, do we belong to the second group of people who share with others what they hear without respect for the person who confides in them? Or, do we belong to the first group of people who never really pay attention to what others are saying?

If we belong to the first group of people, we can take comfort in the fact that even though we may not do any good for others, at least we do not harm others by talking about them. But if we belong to the second group of people, we need to correct ourselves immediately as we are doing much harm to others. If we belong to the third group, we must continue to remain in that group, paying attention to what people tell us and sharing only what is needed for the occasion. Then we will have the privilege of being genuinely close friends and helpful advisers of others. 

Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, CMI

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