The Vetaal stirred and woke up from its slumber, and noticed that it was being carried by the brave King Vikram towards the kingdom of Ujjain. It smirked, and started “O mighty King, the road is long and arduous”. “Here we go again” said the King to himself. “To lighten the tedium of this journey, I wish to narrate a simple story. At the end of the story, I will ask you a question…”
“Hang on, I wish to ask you a question first, and a simple one at that” said the king. “Who are you?”
“Hahahaha!” laughed the Vetaal, “What an apt question, O great one! I shall answer it later”.
Long long ago, in a land of the ancients lay a village. It was lucky to be graced by a great warrior – who was the commander of its army and police. The village was also cursed, for it bore the brunt of one of the most ferocious bandits ever known. The commander and the bandit faced off on many occasions, but there was never a clear winner. And the menace of the bandit continued. The bandit hated the commander and the village. He vowed to destroy both.
“O wise king”, the Vetaal said, “please explain the bandit’s actions: Why did he hate the commander and why did he leave!”
“Vetaal” thundered the king, “I know the answer”
“First the hatred:
Most of us either hate or are afraid of the people who are different from us. The more different a person is, more is our negativity toward that person.
The human mind is a sucker for coherence. For every event, we seek to know a cause-effect relation. We look at the decisions made by others, apply our own thought process to it, and judge it. If the person has behaved in a way agreeable to us, we like that person. If he has not, we dislike him. It takes a very mature mind to attempt to understand someone else’s thought process, to get into another shoes. To not judge.
Our greatest growth opportunity shall always exist is knowing the person most unlike us. It is only by understanding them, by accepting them shall we realize our own truth.
Because the commander was so different from the Bandit, the bandit felt threatened by him; thus hated him.
Now the second part:
“Ours is a relativistic world. Being such, things derive their identity from the opposite. Ex – what is ‘DAY’? You cannot answer without knowing what ‘NIGHT’ is. Same is for truth and falsity etc. The world is formed by an interaction of opposites.
The identity of each and every entity in the world depends on the thing that lends essence to it. Do you agree?” asked the king. “Agreed” said the Vetaal.
“Since each and every entity in the world derives its meaning from the opposite, it is the opposite force that lends meaning to us all. IN EFFECT, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE NOT. This is a big irony!
In absence of the commander, villainy ceased to be meaningful to the bandit. There was no challenge, there was no expression – no fun. Hence the bandit gave up and faded away.
“Perfect!” shrieked the Vetaal. “You are possessed of a most sublime mind! Now I shall answer your question. Please reflect on your own thought about opposites. Like the commander and the Bandit – the two of us are opposites. I derive my identity from you!”
“I will, O great king, leave you with this thought: ‘Black is white, day is night, green is blue – I AM YOU’!! With this, the Vetaal took off from the king’s shoulder and flew toward its tree…