HAS MY BELOVED ESCAPED FROM MY HEART?
In short, it was almost an idyllic existence, but there was one flaw, one minor thing which prevented the queen from being completely happy. And this was that the king seemed to have no interest in God. It was not that he was against God. He had no objection to his subjects or his wife worshipping God as they saw fit, it was just that he never seemed to join in.
Because the king was such a good man, whose life seemed naturally full of virtue, it was not immediately apparent that he was not a believer. But, as time passed, the queen noticed that the king always seemed to make some excuse so as not to attend religious festivals. And while she understood that the nature of his duties prevented him from worshipping as regularly as she did, she realized after a while that not only had she never seen him perform worship, she had never even heard him utter a short prayer. In fact, she had never heard him mention the Lord's name.
Now, the queen was very religious, and when she began to suspect that her husband, the king, was not a lover of God, she became quite upset. She did her best to persuade him to join her in her devotions, but no matter how hard she tried, he always found some excuse for not joining her. This was the only thing that marred her happiness, but as time passed, it became a bigger and bigger thing.
She would think to herself, "My husband is such a good man, his kingdom is peaceful and prosperous, his subjects are happy. Just think how perfect life would be if only he loved God." Or sometimes she would fear that because her husband did not love God, the peace and prosperity might be taken away, and the more she thought about it, the more upset she got.
She began to lose interest in her duties as queen. Uppermost in her mind was the thought that her husband was not loving God as he should. Next to that, nothing else seemed important. She began to spend more and more time by herself in the palace temple. Her eyes, which previously had always twinkled with delight, now seemed pensive and brooding. Her constant cheerful smile was replace with a frown.
The king observed this and was sad, but whenever he asked the queen what was wrong, she would say, "Nothing." For she had already told the king she would like it if he worshipped regularly, and he had said, "Ask me for anything but that."
And so life went on, with the king attending to his duties, and the queen becoming more and more despondent and withdrawn. Now it so happened that one day, after this had been going on for some time, the king awoke and went to the ramparts of his palace. This was his usual custom. He would rise early and climb up to the ramparts and look out over his kingdom. He used to feel that he could ascertain the pulse of his kingdom from there. He had learned to tell, just from standing there in the early morning hours, whether there was any unhappiness or sorrow in the kingdom that needed attending to.
Well, this morning, as he looked out, he was surprised to see that many people were already awake and were busy putting up decorations. Others were cleaning the streets or their homes, and it was clear that some sort of major celebration was about to take place. This puzzled the king. He couldn't think of any festival or celebration which took place at that time of year. He called his prime minister and asked him what was happening.
"It is the queen's order, sire," the prime minister replied.
"The queen's order?"
"Yes, sire. Early this morning she got up and ordered that today was to be a day of rejoicing. She instructed that orders were to be given to all your subjects that today was a day of celebration."
"Why did she do that?"
"I don't know, sire. She didn't say."
The king was puzzled at this. Of course it was in the queen's power to pass such an order, but as she had taken no interest in the affairs of the kingdom for some time, this was a complete mystery to the king. Why had she suddenly given such an order? He went to see the queen, who greeted him in her best clothes and with a dazzling smile on her face.
"Did you order this celebration?" the king asked.
"Yes," the queen admitted.
"Why? What is it? What has happened that has made you so happy all of a sudden?"
"Oh my king," the queen exclaimed, "I am so happy. At last what I have been praying for all these years has come true. Last night, while you were sleeping, you turned over and I heard you utter the name of God. That is why I have ordered this celebration."
"What!" exclaimed the king, "has my Beloved escaped from my heart and passed through my lips!" And with that the king sighed and dropped dead.
THAT'S HOW IT WAS, pp. 306-309
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust