Nilu began: There was a Master who wandered the country with his disciples, and they lived on whatever was given them. It was a very hard life, yet the disciples clung to the Master. One day they entered a certain kingdom and found a very strange situation. The King was very capricious and despotic, and his decrees were most odd. For example, a bundle of vegetables and the costliest sweets were the same price and the smallest crime and the greatest merited the same punishment hanging! The Master gave his disciples permission to eat as they wished, and with what money they had, they enjoyed the richest food at the lowest price. This was a wonderful change from their usual fare, so much so, that when the Master said it was time to move on, one disciple pleaded that he be allowed to stay. (Here Baba interjected that this disciple was like Nilu exceedingly fond of sweets.)
Although the Master warned him that this Kingdom was very strange and strongly advised him to come with him, the disciple would not agree. So finally the Master gave his permission but said, 'Well be happy here, but if some real difficulty occurs, remember me and I will help you.' The disciple was delighted and inwardly could not imagine that he would ever need the Master again. The food situation was the best he had ever encountered. So he continued to thoroughly indulge himself and he grew fatter and fatter without a care in the world. But he was the only one in the Kingdom to do so, because everyone else lived in constant fear of doing even the most minor crime, aware that it would bring about the punishment of hanging!
As a result of this fear, everyone except the disciple, was totally emaciated. But the carefree disciple continued to eat to his hearts content. (Here Baba again interjected, 'See, despite My telling him not to do so, Nilu keeps eating and fattening.' All the mandali and visitors were now quite caught up in the story, and the heavy mood that had been created by Baba's frailty lightened considerably).
In the Kingdom some construction work was being done, and in the process a wall collapsed and a donkey was crushed beneath it. The donkey's owner went to the King seeking justice. So the builder was called, but he protested that the fault lay with the man throwing water on the wall because he did not throw enough. So he was summoned, but he said that the goatskin water bag had a hole in it and therefore the goatskin supplier was to blame. That fellow was then called, but he maintained that it was the stitcher of the skin who should be blamed. . . and so it went on until some poor wretch was sentenced to hang. But now that person was so emaciated and thin that no rope was able to hang him!
The King was not to be thwarted, someone had to hang, so he ordered that a fat man should be found in the Kingdom. The only fat man in the Kingdom was the disciple, so he was hauled, bewildered, before the King and told he was to be hung. The disciple pleaded, 'Sire, what have I done wrong?'
'You are the only fat man in the Kingdom!'
Then the disciple, in his desperation, remembered the Master and called inwardly for his help: 'Oh Master help me, I erred in not heeding your words.'
The Master suddenly appeared, and told the disciple to ask to be hanged and leave everything to him. The Master then approached the King, and sought to know what was happening. The King explained, and the Master cried out, 'No, no! please hang me instead!'
But at that the disciple came forward, 'Sire, you said I was to be hanged, and I beg you to do that'.
So thereupon the Master and his disciple appeared to have an argument, each seeking the right to be hanged, until the King intrigued, intervened, 'Why are you both so anxious to be hanged?'
Then the Master said, 'Today is a most auspicious day. Death by hanging today means a direct path to heaven. So naturally we are both seeking the privilege.'
The King was thrilled, declaring, 'The prerogative is mine' and he gave the order for himself to be hanged. All the people were delighted to carry it out and get rid of him, and they promptly did so before he had another caprice and changed his mind!
Nilu, with little asides by Baba, gave a very comical account of the story, and everyone had a hearty laugh.
THE DIVINE HUMANITY OF MEHER BABA, pp. 31-33, Bill Le Page
1999 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust