The Hooligan’s Son
Once there was a hooligan who was destroying the peace and joy of an entire kingdom. The king was miserable because he wanted only peace, joy and harmony in his kingdom. The king’s soldiers tried to capture this hooligan, but they always failed.
The hooligan’s wife had committed suicide because her husband would not give up stealing. At first the hooligan was miserable because he had lost his wife, but even then he would not stop stealing. The only other member left in his family was his little three-year-old son, his only child.
The king, distressed over the situation the hooligan had caused, said, “Since everyone else is failing, I’ll try to catch the culprit myself.” So one night he disguised himself as a thief, broke into the hooligan’s house and kidnapped his son.
When the hooligan returned home the following day and saw that his only son was missing, his heart was completely broken. He said, “My wife warned me not to continue this kind of life, but I didn’t listen to her. Now my only child is gone. What’s the use of continuing to steal and torture people?”
So the hooligan became a mendicant and began leading a very simple, ascetic life. He thought of his wife and child often, especially the child. He kept asking himself, “Who could have kidnapped my only son? I don’t have the heart or the energy to try to find him again. Whoever has stolen him will never return him to me.” He continued
to lead a very pure and pious life, and in six months he was totally changed.
Meanwhile, the king raised the child in his palace. He had a son the same age and he showed both of them the same love and affection. One day both boys fell ill and no physician could cure them. As a last resort one of the court physicians said, “I know of an herb that will cure them. it’s very difficult to procure, but I’ll try.”
In the meantime, the hooligan-turned-ascetic happened to come near the palace to pray and meditate for his illumination. Someone reported to the king that a saint was praying and meditating nearby. The king said, “I need the prayer of a saint. Ask him to come in and I’ll beg him to help me.”
So, at the request of the king, the saint came to the palace. His consciousness had changed so much that no one recognized him as the former hooligan. The king told him, “I have two little children. Both are dying. Would you kindly come to see them and pray to God for their recovery? I will give you whatever you want.”
The saint said, “I will pray to God to save them, but I want nothing from you.”
The king took him into a private chamber and showed him the children. The hooligan did not recognize his son because the child had received such good care. He was clean and well-nourished and, even though he was sick, looked completely different.
The doctor came into the room and told the king, “I have the herb, but there’s only enough for one child. Who cares for the other child! Let your child be cured.”
The king said, “No, I can’t do that. if we have only enough for one child, please give it to the other one.”
“Why?” the ascetic asked.
The king said, “Al though he is not my child, I want him to be cured. Like me, his father has a heart. I stole his child. I know his heart is broken because he’s lost his son. But I had no alternative. His father was a notorious criminal; a thief and a murderer. He was destroying my entire kingdom. When I kidnapped his son, inwardly the man was destroyed. He hasn’t been seen since. This was the only way I could put an end to my kingdom’s suffering. But I will never forgive myself if I allow his child to die, since I have already killed his father’s spirit.”
The king turned to the physician and said, “Give the medicine to the other child and allow my child to die. I hope that one day the hooligan will find his son. if he
gives up his profession, then I will gladly go myself to return his son.”
The ascetic immediately fell down at the feet of the king and would not get up. “What is the matter?” the king asked.
The ascetic said, “My king, I am the hooligan and this is my child. I caused so much trouble for your subjects. I deserved your punishment. Today you’ve proved what kind of heart you have. Please keep my son. I promise I’ll never steal again. I’ve already taken to an ascetic life, but if you want, you can throw me out of your kingdom or kill me.”
The king said, “You have changed your ways and are living a spiritual life. I will gladly take care of your child and I’d like you to remain here as my court sage. I am grateful that you came to pray and meditate for the recovery of the boys.”
Miraculously both sons were cured and together the former hooligan and the king shed tears of gratitude.
from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy
Published by Health Communications