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The Actual Destination of Life
Once upon a time, there was a very wealthy king. He had a big kingdom, many queens, a lot of wealth and hundreds and thousands of followers and soldiers. He was living a very happy life and he became so attached to his property, position, prestige and status that he completely forgot God, and his duty towards God One day a sadhu came to his court. Sadhus visit people to enlighten them about God and the goal of life. The sadhu wanted to enlighten the king, but the king was not at all interested. The sadhu contemplated for a while and made a plan. He told the king, "My dear king, you are so eager to wash my feet, and bow down to me, and give me so much donation but you are not interested in hearing about God. So, I have a request for you. If you fulfill that request, then you will satisfy me."
The king immediately agreed and asked, "What can I do for you, Sir?" The sadhu told him, "My dear king, send out your men throughout your country and find out the best among mad people (murkha) in your country. Then call him over to your court, hand over a stick to him and ask him to go around the city every single day for the rest of his life. Pay him some salary every month for this service." The king obeyed the sadhu's order and got a 'murkha' to go around the city carrying a stick in his hand. The 'murkha' continued his service. Days, months and years passed by. The king spent all his time in material enjoyment and gradually became old. In his old age, he became afflicted by a fatal disease.
When the king was on his deathbed, he called all his relatives, friends and near and dear ones. He met all of them one by one. All of them were weeping as the king was very soon going to leave this world. In this way while the king was meeting all his relatives one by one to satisfy himself, in his mind, he had a feeling, "I have not met somebody whom I know very well." Then, the thought of the 'murkha' came to his mind and he called for the 'murkha'. When the 'murkha' came to see the king, the king told him, "My dear fool, now I have to go to a very far off place. I am taking leave of every one, so I thought I may call you and talk to you." The 'murkha' immediately replied, "O king, you are going to a distant place. Please why don't you take me along with you?"
The king replied, "O fool, you cannot come with me. It is not possible."
The 'murkha' replied, "O, now I understand the secret. You want to go with your queens. That is why you don't want to take me with you."
The king said, "O 'murkha', you are proving to be a fool. I cannot take my queens with me, nor can I take my sons, nor any of my relatives - it is not possible". Then the 'murkha' said, "It is alright. Whatever it is I will arrange for a strong horse and a chariot for you so that you can go comfortably." The king said, "0 fool, I can't take a chariot and horses with me."
Then the 'murkha' asked, "0, that means you will walk all the way? Will your legs not pain? How long can you walk? My dear king, if it is your desire to walk, at least carry some eatables and some money, which you can use on the way. I will tell the minister to arrange for a big amount of money from the treasury." The king replied, "O fool, you cannot understand. I cannot carry a single gold coin with me. Although I have so much wealth amassed within my treasury, I can't carry anything with me. O fool, why don't you understand?"
The 'murkha' asked, "My dear king, you can't carry your accumulated wealth, you can't take your wives and your children with you, nor can you take any property from your kingdom It is a great wonder for me."
Then the king told the 'murkha', "Enough of all your talks. Now, I will tell you something. You have done the service of being a fool, going around the city for so many years, faithfully. So I would like to reward you. You should now retire from your job. You will be given pension and you need not work anymore. But before you retire, find another fool just like yourself and hand over this stick to him. Let him too go around the city and he will also be paid a salary every month. Then the 'murkha' asked, "O, my dear king, do I have to find a greater 'murkha' than me to hand over this stick?" The king said, "Yes, that's right." Immediately, the fool took the stick and handed it over to the king, and said, "O 'maha murkha'! Take this stick and keep it with you." The king was enraged. He shouted, "You fool, how dare you give this stick to me. Do you mean I am a greater fool than you?"
The 'murkha' laughed and told the king, "Yes, My dear king, you are right. You are certainly the 'maha murkha' in this world. Do you know why? You just told me that throughout your life you amassed so much of wealth in your treasury by conquering so many kings all around the world, but you told me that you couldn't carry a single farthing with you.You married so many beautiful queens and begot so many children and you just now told me that you couldn't take any of them with you.
My dear king, you led such a lavish life full of luxuries and comfort. Did you not know that death would come one day, and at the time of death you would have to give up your wife, children, property and all that you accumulated? And did you not know that even a useless broken needle without a hole would not accompany you after death? Did you not know these things when you were a king? You knew them well; but you were such a big fool that you never inquired about the goal of your life. You never inquired about where you would have to go after death. You didn't inquire: who is God? Why has He put me in this world? What is my duty towards Him? You never thought of these questions. You were completely infatuated in enjoying all the material comforts and facilities of this world when you were a king, and you were completely blind to the path of self-realizatioa This was your greatest mistake and now, at the time of death, you are lamenting and mourning that you have to leave everything behind. So that is why you are considered the greatest fool."
When the king heard all this, he quickly realized that this fool was not actually a fool; he was a great saintly person. The king immediately fell at the feet of the so-called 'murkha', cried piteously and begged him to reveal his identity. The king asked him, "My dear great soul, please tell me who are you? How are you so knowledgeable about all these things? We were considering you to be a great fool. That was our foolishness. Please tell me how I can become perfect at this last hour of my life." The 'murkha' told him, "Actually I am a disciple of that great sadhu who had visited your court many years ago. At that time you didn't show any interest in spiritual life. So my guru asked me to play this role so that I could deliver you at the right time. Hear attentively from me." In this way the sadhu's disciple started enlightening the king about the knowledge of the soul and the relationship between the soul and God.
The king understood how God loves every living being, and how the ultimate goal of life is to purify one's heart and achieve the kingdom of God, and not just get entangled in worldly affairs. The king became enlightened with this knowledge. He wholeheartedly accepted the instructions of the sadhu's disciple and started chanting the Holy Names of God. In this way, by the association of the sadhu's disciple he was able to perfect his life.
Through the story of the 'maha murkha', we understand that we all are living in this worid and all of us are busy performing many activities from morning to night. We want to do our studies, we want to take up a good job, we want to earn money, and we want to live a very happy and luxurious life. But in this way, if we keep on spending all our time without giving even a moment for God, then we will also be considered like the foolish king, a 'maha murkha'. This is similar to the foolish lady who spent all her time polishing her golden cage, but neglected the bird within that was starving. Our body is like a cage and the soul within the body is like the bird in the cage.
The body is compared to a shirt in Bhagavad-gita. We may wear one shirt today and tomorrow-another one. Similarly the material body gradually grows from childhood to youth, to old age and perishes one day, while the eternal soul passes from one body to another. Foolish people pamper the material body ignoring the needs of the soul.Surely a car needs petrol for functioning, but if one does not feed the driver of the car, then the driver cannot drive the car to the desired destinatioa In the same way, we need to take care of the body, but not indulge in such luxury that we forget the needs of the soul within the body. The soul or atma is the real driver of the body and the body is like a vehicle for the soul. Everyone knows how to give food to the bodily vehicle, but one should know that studying Bhagavad-gita, applying the instructions of the Lord in our lives, and chanting the Lord's holy names is the actual way of giving food to the soul. This can rekindle the dormant Krishna consciousness in our hearts, which are now covered by impurities like lust, pride, anger etc.