ROYALTY CLOTHED IN PEASANTRY
THE SHAH OF PERSIA AND HIS KINGDOM
Many years ago the Shah of Persia sat upon his throne, secure and self-sufficient within his palace. He had every pleasantry, every comfort, every delight to the senses he desired. He had prestige; nations and his own populace revered him; his name was renown. He had power; his word was law, needing only to speak and his every command was fulfilled-he held sway over the entire kingdom. He had prosperity; everything he ever touched prospered and turned to gold-he did all things well. His reign promoted peace; he was called "the King of Peace." Because of his power and righteousness, all nations feared to wage war with him.
THE SHAH LONGED TO IDENTIFY HIMSELF WITH HIS PEOPLE
Yet, the Shah was disturbed. He felt estranged and alienated from his subjects. He longed to touch them, to feel and meet their needs, to identify and empathize with their sufferings. But, if he were to roam the streets with his royal entourage and garments, he would immediately be recognized and afforded the treatment and honor due his office. He would still stand aloof and alone.
Finally, he alighted from his throne. Removed his jewel-studded, golden crown, stripped off his royal garments and donned the garb of a common man. Royalty, clothed in peasantry, was about to step into the realm of his subjects.
THE KING IN A WAY-SIDE TEA SHOP!
Under the cover of darkness, the king left the palace grounds unnoticed and wandered down the paths that led to the city and the bazaars below. Veiled in common attire, he entered into a chaay Khana. Already late, he ordered a pot of tea and, hoping to spend the night, asked for some bedding.
"All full! Go somewhere else," came the curt reply.
"But you must have someplace I can lay my head," he insisted.
"Sorry, you can sleep on the hay out back where we keep the livestock."
So, warmed by the chaay, the king wrapped his shawl tightly around himself, found a mound of hay, and nestled down for the night.
IN THE BAZAAR - RELISHING OBSCURITY, BUT A SUDDEN RUDE SHOCK
After breakfast he weaved his way into the bazaar that was already bustling with activity. All was so new, strange and intriguing to him. He bounced off passers-by as he mingled with the throngs. Cart drivers cursed his slowness; merchants wooed him for his patronage. Veiled in peasantry, the King realized he had truly become one of them.
Relishing his obscurity in a major thoroughfare, his musings were shattered as he heard someone cry out, "the King! There's the King! Greetings, Your Highness! Greetings!" cried an elderly gentleman as he bowed down and kissed the King's hand.
SKEPTICS GALORE - AN OBJECT OF CONTROVERSY
Helping the old man up, the king motioned him to silence and asked him not to say anything to anyone. But by now others recognized him and thronged him. Yet, some skeptics milled alongside the road. The center of attention, the king now became the object of controversy. Arguments ensued over the identity of the disguised guest.
"He can't be the king," said some. "The king lives in a palace, not in a bazaar."
"This is the king," said another. "I've seen him before and know him personally."
"But he's wearing rags," said another. "Kings don't wear rags-they have jewelry, crowns and royal robes."
WHAT CAN A KING DO?
Silently, the king stood by. Then, one of the skeptics stepped forward and approached the king, thinking to settle the dispute.
"So, sir, tell us yourself. Are you the king?"
I cannot lie, thought the king to himself. "Yes, I am the king."
"Well, if you are the king, tell us, what are you doing in this bazaar?"
"I have come to understand and identify with the needs of my subjects, to deliver them from their oppressors, to help free them from their debts, and to make their general living situations better-to give them a better life."
"I see," said the man, more skeptical than ever. "So, you are the king."
Crack! With a slap of his hand the man knocked off the visitor's crumpled hat.
"So, where's your crown?"
Rip! The worn, now torn, shirt hung limp over the king's shoulders. "Where's your robe?"
Thump! A crunching blow to his shoulder brought his eminence to his knees.
"And your subjects. 'O King! where are they to bow before you?"
By now some tried to deliver and defend the king, but those who enjoyed the sport pushed them back.
Lifting himself up with regal composure, the king stood erect and said, "Why do you beat me? I mean you no harm. I came only for your benefit."
Smash! The belligerent's fist shattered the king's cheekbone.
"Not for the benefit you bring do I beat you, 'O king! but because you, being a common peon, a pleb-a peasant-have made yourself out to be the king."
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