Quick-witted Kalidas

​Kalidas was a wise poet in the royal court of King Bhoj. The king himself used to consult Kalidas on many important issues of his kingdom. Kalidas was very humble and used to respect other wise persons. One day a poor Brahmin came to Kalidas. Although he was not a poet like Kalidas, he was very knowledgeable. He had tremendous knowledge in Vedic rituals. He was very simple and innocent, and always followed the virtuous path. With the hope of getting some monetary help from King Bhoj, he had come to his kingdom of Dhar. Kalidas patiently listened to the Brahmin’s plight. Kalidas said to the Brahmin, “One should not go empty-handed to a King’s court. Have you brought anything for King Bhoj ?” The Brahmin replied, “Kalidas, I have brought some stalks of sugarcane with me, that I got as alms from a farmer.” Kalidas said, “Okay, bring them to the King’s court tomorrow.”

The Brahmin had to spend the night in a nearby Dharmashala (A charitable rest-house). He went to the Dharmashala, finished his evening rituals, had dinner and went off to sleep. He kept the sugarcane stalks in a cloth bundle next to his pillow. At night some mischievous youngsters who were also staying at the same place ate the stalks of sugarcane and kept half-burnt wooden sticks in their place.

The Brahmin woke up in the morning, took a bath, picked up his cloth bundle and left for the King’s palace, totally unaware of what had taken place at night. He reached the royal court. The courtroom was full of courtiers and King Bhoj was seated on his throne. The Brahmin slowly moved forward. He fell at the King’s feet and said, “It is said that one should not go empty-handed to meet a king, God and Guru (spiritual master); so, I have brought a small gift for you. Kindly accept it.” Saying this, he loosened the knot of the cloth bundle. To his surprise, instead of the sugarcane stalks, a few half-burnt wooden sticks fell on the ground. The Brahmin was terrified. He was speechless. This was an insult to the King. All the courtiers started shouting, “Punish this Brahmin!”

Just then, Kalidas who was silently watching all this broke his silence and said, “Listen, everyone please calm down. You have all misunderstood the Brahmin. He does not mean to insult the King. He is a wise Brahmin, who has tremendous knowledge about Vedic rituals. However, he is stricken with poverty. The poor fellow is unable to tell this plight to the King, so he has tried to explain his plight by bringing these half-burnt sticks. These sticks are a symbol of his poverty. Look at these sticks; they are half burnt and half fresh. This means that because of his poverty he is neither able to die nor live. He is in such a pitiful condition. So, I request the King to help him monetarily, so that he can live a good life.”

On hearing these words from Kalidas, all the courtiers were speechless. King Bhoj was convinced by Kalidas’s explanation. He gave a handful of jewels to the poor Brahmin. The Brahmin left the palace happily. He later profusely thanked Kalidas for his help.

Children, this shows that one who is honest and quick-witted is always successful.