Long ago, there was a wise and compassionate ruler, who was the Shah of Persia. He loved his people dearly; he took a personal interest in their welfare and did everything he could to make their lives better.
It was his custom to go out among his people, in disguise, so that he could move about unnoticed and find out about their needs and problems, firsthand.
One day, he disguised himself as a poor villager and went to visit the public bath. People came here to relax in the comfort of a warm steam bath, after a hectic day’s work. A furnace, located in the cellar of the building, heated the water for the steam bath. A man was posted there to keep the furnace going, and to maintain the comfort-level of the hot water.
The Shah made his way down to the cellar and met this man. He was a poor old man, who led a lonely life. For most of the day, he was confined to the dark cellar, and to the uncomfortable heat of the furnace.
He was thrilled that the ‘villager’ had come down to the basement to visit him– for no one ever bothered to go down there! He carried a simple meal with him, which he shared with the Shah. He earnestly requested him to visit the cellar whenever he could.
For the next few weeks, the Shah visited him every day. Then, at long last, he revealed his identity to the man and asked him what he wanted. “Tell me what you need and I shall give it to you,” he told the man.
The old man looked into his ruler’s eyes and said, “Royal Sire! You left your grand palace with its comforts and luxuries, to sit with me in this hot and airless basement. You shared my humble food with me and showed me your genuine care and concern. On other people you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given the most priceless of all gifts– you have given ‘yourself ’. I ask for nothing more!”
(Dada J.P. Vaswani is humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)