There was once a court scholar who was very intelligent and though well versed in the scriptures did not lead his life according to the teachings of these holy texts. However, because of his intelligence and experience, the king took his advice on all occasions. Under the patronage of the king, the scholar lived happily with his wife and their only son.
The son however hardly stayed at home, he came there only for his meals and spent most of his time in the company of a holy man who lived in a nearby forest. The scholar was so busy trying to please his king that he had no time to inquire about his son’s whereabouts. Influenced by the holy man ,the son was drawn towards God, and now he spent most of his time thinking about God.
One day the king called the scholar and gave him a very strict order. He said, “Raja Parikshit had attained salvation when he heard from Sukhdev the Bhagabat. It took him only seven days. I am giving you one month’s time to free me from all bondage so that I can attain salvation. If you cannot do that, I shall forfeit your wealth and sentence you all to death.”
This order left the scholar extremely worried and he could now neither eat nor sleep and his tension increased day by day. Then one day, by chance, the family sat together for a meal. Usually the son would have his meals separately and hardly met his father. On this day he noticed that his father was looking very depressed and so he asked the reason.
The scholar was reluctant to give a reply because he took his son to be a good for nothing. The mother, however, told him the whole problem. The son was not perturbed at all and told his father calmly, “Father, do not worry. Ask the king to accept me as his guru and to follow my instructions word by word.”
The father thought that the son was perhaps thinking of some trick to save them, so he went to the king and told him about his son’s proposal. The king agreed and the next day the scholar went to the court with his son. Eager to be free from all bondage, the king received the scholar’s son as his guru and sat at his feet, waiting for the instructions.
The court was crowded and all eyes were on the king and his guru. To the surprise of all, the scholar’s son asked the king to bring a very strong rope. The scholar became very agitated, wondering what foolishness his good for nothing son was up to. He was afraid, and thought would his son tie up someone with the rope, suppose he ties up the king himself?
Just then the son gave the order,”Tie up the king, bind him to the pillar.” The king agreed to be tied up and bound, so he was tied and bound to the pillar.
Next the son ordered his father to be tied up and bound to another pillar. So the scholar too was tied and bound. Now the scholar became very angry with his son and was cursing him under his breath and planning all sorts of severe punishment when his son instructed him, “Now, father, untie the king.”
The scholar became furious and cried in exasperation, “You fool! Do you not see that I am bound? Can a man who is himself tied up, untie the bindings of another man? Don’t you understand that it is an impossible task?”
The king then said in a quiet and respectful voice addressing his young guru, “I understand, my Master. One who is himself tied up in worldly affairs, bound by ‘maya’ cannot possibly free another man who is similarly tied up and bound. Those who have given up worldliness and gone beyond the world of maya, who have attained freedom, they alone can set another man free. They alone can break the bondage of others.”
The author of this story is unknown and greatly appreciated!