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  • Nivan Bagchi

Heaven's Dilemma

There once lived an intelligent king who was afraid he wouldn't go to heaven. His apprehension stemmed from the fact that he indulged himself with arms and warfares his whole life. The quest for glory and triumph had painted his hands red, with the blood of the innocents he slaughtered and vanquished.

In order to find a solution to this divine ordeal he assembled a coterie of Pandits who could

guide him towards a better after life.

"Build a magnificent temple dedicated to Vishnu, O dear king and you would be pardoned for all your sins", prescribed a pandit.

Perform a grand puja dedicated to shiva and feed the hungry, advised another.

But the intelligent king reasoned that how could he be satisfied that that is all it takes to reach heavens as none of the Pandits had themselves seen the afterlife.

The king had a brother who came up with a suggestion that there lives a hermit in the old

"Peeple Forest" who has a reputation of being very wise. He advised the king to go and meet the hermit as it was only him who could potentially answer the King's question to a satisfactory degree.

The King complied and asked his brother to look into governance matters, in his absence.

Escorted by a select group of bodyguards he finally reached the hermit's hut, deep into the

curtains of the forest. The king and the hermit exchanged greetings. The king then proceeded to explain the ordeal he had been struggling with. But instead of answering, the hermit told the king to stay for a while and seep in the natural greenery of the forests.

"It would do a lot of good to your body, O king", said the hermit. "Besides, such a long journey would require a lot of rest."

The king agreed. Surprisingly, the hermit took great care of the king to the point that he didn't miss his luxurious life at the Royal Palace.

One day passed. The king relentlessly questioned the hermit again. The hermit didn't answer. The king got angry by now. But the hermit reasoned with him. He said, "O king, the answer to your question hides in this forest. If you want to know, you have to spend time here, since the answer to your question can't be known, but only experienced."

The king found the argument quite valid. Instead of going away, he decided to stay. For an

entire month he stayed in the hermit's hut. He had to do no work and almost all the luxuries of palace life was made available to him. However, the exhaustion of running administration and military campaigns in his capital was no longer felt by him in the isolated hut which bemused him profoundly. However, he soon starts getting fat and lethargic as there is almost nothing to keep him invested and busy.

After one month, he again asked the hermit, how does a man ensure he knocks the door of

heaven after he dies.

Have you not found the answer yet?

The king replied with an unassuming no.

The hermit proceeded with his wise words, "The question is not if you will indeed go to heaven, but if you really want to go to heaven, your highness."

"What do you mean?"

"Heaven is a place where mortal humans are 'not' adapted to live in. The comfort and

otherworldly satisfaction of plenty stifles human curiosity. There is nothing for humans to do

since humans already have everything there. In a world where all the questions are already

answered and luxuries incessant, there is no place for human curiosity to germinate. What

makes humans better than everyone is their curiosity. With all the comforts of the world and

nothing to think about, humans would lose their essence. They will seize to remain human. I

would wish you, the sufferings and the tensions for the material care of the world, O wise king because that is what makes you a human." The king was flabbergasted yet pleasantly surprised by this reasoning. After pausing for a while, he took his leave.

The king went onto rule without thinking about the ordeal again. He embraced the absurdity of his existence, smilingly

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