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Zoroastrian Heritage

Author: K. E. Eduljee


Legend of the Grain of Wisdom

An Ancient Story Retold

K. E. Eduljee

Long ago, in the distant past, there ruled over Iran a great king whose name was Vishtasp. Vishtasp had immense wealth and many victories to his name.

One day Vishtasp was returning to his capital from a visit to the provinces, when his entourage passed by an orchard of exceptional beauty. The land around the orchard was desolate. It was clear to the eye that preparing the land for cultivation would have been a task beyond the abilities of most people. The people tending the orchard must have worked with great foresight, wisdom, dedication and diligence. Within the grounds, Vishtasp noticed a group of people engaged in earnest discussion.

Vishtasp turned to a minister travelling with him and enquired about the orchard and the people. The minister told the king that this was the renowned sage Zarathushtra's garden. The king had heard of this wise man and his growing fame. He decided to invite Zarathushtra to his palace to answer questions which the King's many advisors had not been able to answer to his satisfaction.

When Zarathushtra was brought before the king, the king invited Zarathushtra to his palace to discuss how a person could gain wisdom. Zarathushtra asked the king to excuse him since his work in the orchard could not be neglected. However, Zarathushtra reached in to his satchel and gave the king a grain of wheat. Zarathushtra told the king the grain had been his teacher and had answers to many questions.

At first the king felt annoyed with Zarathushtra's response. He nevertheless returned to his palace with the grain. On the chance the grain had some magically properties, the king placed the grain securely in a gold box. Everyday he opened the gold box and looked at the grain hoping to find the answers to his questions. Everyday he was none the wiser.

After some months of frustrated waiting, the king decided to visit the sage once more. The king showed Zarathushtra the grain in the gold box, and asked him what lesson the grain was supposed to teach. Whereupon Zarathushtra asked the king what would have happened if instead of placing the grain in a gold box, the king had planted the grain so that it could receive food and water.

Together they reflected on the many lessons they could learn from that simple act. First, in order to grow and transform, the grain would need to be removed from the gold box and grounded in the earth. As with the grain, the king realized he needed to step out of his comfortable surroundings. Then, in the same way the innumerable forces of nature would flow towards the grain to nurture its growth, so would he be nurtured with knowledge and understanding.

The grain was only as apt to teach, as the king was ready to learn.

The answers to the many questions he had, lay around him. The ability to understand them and grow in wisdom lay within him. Instead of just seeing, he would observe; instead of hearing, he would listen; instead of demanding answers from others, he would develop his own mind and seek answers through insight.

King Vishtasp's quest for wisdom had begun.

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