Blind City of the Blind King

Posted on Sat Aug 13 2022

अंधेर नगरी चौपट राजा

I have been thinking about writing this story for some time. I have heard this story from my teacher. This is also a famous saying in India. Literally, it means "Blind City of the Blind King", hence the title. But there is a nice story behind this which, I will tell here.

The Story

Once upon a time, there was a student and a teacher who were travelling. They arrived in a town they had never visited before. As it was already getting dark, they decided to spend the night there. The teacher gave the student one rupee and told him to go purchase some food for them. The student eventually shows up carrying one kilogramme of sweets. The student offered his teacher the sweets.

The teacher told his student that since they were sanyasi (Sanskrit word for asceticism), they should abstain from gluttony after seeing the sweets they had brought back. You ought to have saved money and purchased some plain bread.

The student said that this town is great. Simple bread costs one rupee, but you can also buy 1 kg of sweets for the same price. I have already consumed some sweets. We should stay here indefinitely. It is possible for us to live here comfortably.

According to the teacher, this town appears to be ruled by a foolish king. We should not stay here. We should leave right now. But the student had already decided to stay here. The teacher, sensing the upcoming danger, asked his student, if he wanted to stay here, he was free to do so. If he ever gets in trouble, deeply concentrate upon me. I will help you. After that, the teacher left that place and continued his travels.

Meanwhile, the student saw that town folks were superstitious, so he decided to become a future teller. He was living comfortably. Around that time, some place in the town, a mason built a wall. But after some time, that wall collapsed. A fruit seller was injured in this accident. The case was presented to the king.

The king summoned the house's owner. The owner said that it was not his fault; the mason had built the wall improperly. Mason claimed that while constructing the wall, he was distracted by the wealthy nobility passing nearby. Upon being summoned, the woman said she was wearing the jewels of a famous goldsmith and that it was the goldsmith's fault that she was looking so beautiful that day. So the king directed that the goldsmith should be hanged as punishment.

A noose was prepared and they tried to hang the goldsmith. However, the hangman discovered that the noose was too big for the goldsmith's neck. Upon being informed of this situation, the king said, "Why, you fools are wasting your time." Leave the goldsmith and find someone healthy whose neck will fit the noose. A search was carried out through the town for such a man, and they eventually caught the student, who was now a lot healthier after enjoying an easy life.

The ministers briefed the student about the situation and why he was being punished. Upon hearing that, the student was shocked and realised why his teacher wanted him to leave the town immediately upon arrival. He also remembered his teacher's advice and deeply concentrated upon him.

The teacher appeared in an instant, and he said to the student that he had realised his mistake now. The student was ashamed and asked his teacher for help. The teacher muttered some words in the student's ear. The teacher took the noose out of the student's neck and wore it himself. But the student took the noose out of the teacher's neck and wore it himself. They did this multiple times and started fighting a bit. King was also observing this. He asked the student-teacher pair why both of them were trying to wear the noose.

The teacher said that this is a very auspicious moment. Whoever hangs by this noose will be king of heaven, and whoever hangs after him will be minister in heaven. I am his teacher, so it is my right to get a higher place in heaven than my student. So you should hang me in place of my student.

Upon hearing this, the king decided he would become the king of heaven. So he tied that noose around his neck and died. His minister followed. After that, the teacher-student pair left that town immediately for good. They continued their spiritual journey together.

What do I think

There are many lessons in this story. For me, the primary teaching is that even when a student diverges from a good path and tries to leave his (true) spiritual teacher, that teacher will wish well for that student and try to bring him back to the right path.

There is also a direct message that any organisation run by fools should be abandoned. A fool here is someone who has no control over their senses and minds. Someone who does everything his mind tells him to do and never listens to his or her conscious voice.