One day, the king summoned Chandrasena to his chambers. Chandrasena went to meet the king. He was surprised to see that the king was pale and weak. The king’s personal physician was attending on him. The king was unwell. The king told him, “Chandrasena, I am very sick. I will soon pass away. “. The minister was shocked. The king then said, “I do not have any children to rule after me. After I am gone, you will have to search for a new king for the kingdom.”
Chandrasena was overcome with grief. “Yes, your majesty.”, he said. The king’s condition deteriorated steadily. He grew increasingly weak. A week later, the king passed away. The kingdom plunged into sorrow. A month of official mourning was declared. Chandrasena presided over the funeral.
Weeks passed. Life began to slowly return to normal in the kingdom. Chandrasena remembered the king’s words to him. He wanted an honest, just and kind person to ascend the throne. Chandrasena conferred with the council of ministers. The ministers discussed this for a long time. They finally came out with a plan. Chandrasena put the plan to action.
A few days later, an announcement was made. Messengers were sent to each and every town and village in the kingdom. Arriving at a village or town, the messengers beat a drum and summoned the people. They, then, read the royal announcement. A new king would be chosen from among the young men in the kingdom. All young men who were interested should present themselves at the royal palace on a certain day.
There was great excitement among the people on hearing the news. This sort of selection had never happened before. Soon, young men from every town were preparing for the great day. Every one of them wanted to become king.
As the day arrived, the prospective rulers assembled in the capital in the royal palace. They were made to write a series of tests on various subjects. At the conclusion of these tests, 25 of them were shortlisted.
The officials-in-charge presented them to Chandrasena. Chandrasena was pleased with them. They were the best that the kingdom had in terms of knowledge and intellect. Yet, he still wanted to know if they were ready to be the king and lead the people and the kingdom into the future.
He had a plan in mind. He summoned the young men and gave each of them a handful of seeds. He said, “Young men, you have cleared all these tests with distinction. I am truly proud of you all. “ But there is one last test I want you to pass. I have given each one of you a handful of seeds. You can go to your villages, plant the seeds in a pot and show me the crop in two months’ time.”
So saying, the minister sent the young men away. They were received as heroes in the villages. Each one of them was sure of becoming the king.
Two months passed. The young men came to the capital again with the pots containing the crops. All the pots were lush green with the fresh looking crops. All except one. One pot alone was barren. All the pots were placed in a grand hall in the palace. Chandrasena, chief of the ministers was to inspect them.
At the appointed time, Chandrasena came to the hall. He went around and looked at the pots. The came near the candidate with the barren pot. He looked at him. The young man was nervous. Chandrasena smiled at him and said, “This is the new king”.
A great silence fell across the room. Chandrasena explained, ”Every one of the remaining men have been dishonest. I had dropped the seeds into hot water before giving it to you. All of the seeds are dead. There is no way they could have sprouted into crops. You have replaced them with new seeds”.
The rest of the young men were ashamed. They knew that what Chandrasena said was true. “Honesty is a great virtue”, Chandrasena said, “Only one among you is fit to be king.”
Soon, the honest young man, Vishwadutt, was crowned king of Nandpur. Chandrasena continued to serve as the head of the council of ministers. The kingdom prospered under the wise and benevolent reign of Vishwadutt and the people lived happily.
Children, this story tells us the need to be honest. We should have the courage to be honest even when we may appear to be at a disadvantage. Honesty will always bring great rewards.