King’s Three Questions

“The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy is a story about a king, who had three questions always in his mind that were “what was the right time for every action”, “who were the most necessary people”, and third question was “how he might know what was the most important thing to do”.

Throughout his kingdom, he sent messengers and promised a reward of a heavy amount to the person who will satisfy the king with his answers. Many scholars came and pointed out their suggestions and views, but unfortunately, none of the answers could satisfy the king.

What Wise Men Suggested

One wise man suggested that to know the right time, one must prepare a time table of days, months, years and must strictly live according to it. While, some suggested that the king should consult a magician to know the perfect time, because it is only the magicians, who could identify the perfect time for a particular work.

Answering the second question, people gave suggestions and importance to his councillors, or to priests, doctors or to the soldiers. On his third question, the scholars gave significance to science and religious worship. In this way, many learned and wise men went to try their luck and impress the king with their witty remark, but unfortunately the king was not at all satisfied with anybody’s answers.

Consulting a Hermit

So, the king decided to consult a wise hermit. He went to a hermit all alone. He saw the hermit being exhausted and digging the ground. Out of sympathy, the king helped the hermit. The king asked the hermit the same three questions, but the hermit kept silent. The king kept on asking him the questions and the hermit also kept silent until hours passed and it was sunset.

Later, the hermit saw a bearded and wounded man running with his hands on the stomach. The hermit informed the king immediately and advised him to help the man, in urgent need. The king washed the wound of the man and compressed it with his own handkerchief so as to stop the bleeding. The king and the hermit carried the wounded person into the hut and laid him on the bed.

Wounded Man Apologised

The next day, the king woke up and saw the wounded man apologising to him . On asking the reason behind his guilt, the man replied that he actually came to kill him because his brother was once put to death on his order. He told that when the king did not return for long, he came out of the jungle where he was hiding.

He explained that it was the King’s bodyguards who gave him this wound and he would have died if the king had not saved him. So, he was feeling grateful to the king for saving his life and promised him that he would serve the king as a sincere servant and would always remain faithful to him. The king was filled with joy and forgave him by giving back his property.

Hermit Answered His Questions

The king again went to the hermit and asked him about the three questions. It was then that the hermit explained that the most important time is our present because it is the only time when we have the full power to act.

He answered his second question that we should consider ourselves as the most important person because the future is unpredictable. He answered his third question by telling the fact that we should be good to others because we have been sent in this world for the purpose of serving. So, the most important business is to be kind and generous to the people.