An Expensive Shawl

Value: Right conduct

Sub value: Discrimination

Once upon a time, there was a king who was hedonistic. He indulged in excessive drinking, sensual pleasures and other such vices.He would tell his prime minister, “One does not get born as a human very often. So one should pursue material comforts and sensual pleasures. One should enjoy life to the fullest.”

The prime minister was a sensible and decent person. He was concerned about the untoward, wild activities of the king and was pained by his disposition. Whenever he had an opportunity, he would try to counsel the king. But to no avail, the king did not understand. When the king was intoxicated, he could not discriminate between right and wrong, very often he would mistreat the public. The king’s subject lived in terror; as the king was extremely cruel, no one dared to oppose or confront him.

One day, just by chance, the king was extremely pleased by some action of the prime minister. As a reward, he gave the prime minister a very expensive shawl. Soon after leaving the court, the prime minister used the shawl to clean his nose.

A courtier who was jealous of the prime minister happened to see this improper gesture. He went to the king and reported, “Your highness, today the prime minister has made an extremely disrespectful gesture.”

The king asked, “What?”

The courtier said, “Your honor rewarded the prime minister with an invaluable shawl. However, he belittled your kind gesture by blowing his nose into it.”

The king promptly summoned the prime minister. He questioned, “How dare you insult me by blowing your nose into the expensive shawl I  gave you?”

With due respect, the prime minister replied, “Your highness, I have only followed what you have taught me.”

“I schooled you to show disrespect?” the king retorted, “How?”

The prime minister said, “You have been blessed with human life that is considerably more valuable than this shawl. However, the way you waste  away your time in pursuit of  material comforts  and sensual pleasure, with complete disregard to decency and morality, has taught me to misuse the shawl.”

The prime minister hit the target. The king realized his mistake  and changed his sensual ways. His life and kingdom were changed for good.


Learn to differentiate between right and wrong. When these are taught to children when they are young, they will grow up to be wise adults and lead a righteous life.


Yashpal Jain


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