• A poor shepherd once lived in Iran.
• Though uneducated, he was very wise and helpful.
• The king decided to meet him in disguise.
In a village in Iran there once lived a shepherd. He was very
poor. He did not have even a small cottage of his own. He
had never been to school or learnt to read and write, for
there were very few schools in those days.
Though poor and uneducated, this shepherd was very
wise. He understood people’s sorrows and troubles, and
helped them face their
problems with courage and
common sense. Many
people came to him for
advice. Soon he became
famous for his wisdom and
friendly nature. The king of
that country heard about
him, and thought of
Disguised as a shepherd
and riding on a mule, one
day the king came to
the cave where the wise
shepherd lived. As soon as the shepherd saw the traveller coming
towards the cave, he rose to welcome him. He took the tired
traveller inside the cave, gave him water to drink and a share of
his own meagre meal. The king rested for the night in the cave
and was greatly impressed by the shepherd’s hospitality and
• The shepherd was able to make out that his visitor was none
other than the king.
• The king made the wise shepherd governor of a small district.
• Other governors became jealous of the new governor and called
Though still tired, the king decided to depart the next
morning. He said, "Many thanks for your kindness to a poor
traveller. I have a long way to go. Permit me to leave."
Looking straight into the eyes of his guest, the shepherd
replied, "Thank you, Your Majesty, for paying me the
compliment of a visit."
The king was astonished as well as pleased. ‘He is indeed
very wise,’ he thought to himself. ‘I need people like him to
work for me.’ And the king appointed this humble shepherd
the governor of a small district.
Although he rose to power and dignity, the shepherd
remained as humble as ever. People loved and honoured
him for his wisdom, sympathy and goodness. He was kind
and just to one and all. His fame as a fair and wise governor
soon spread throughout the country.
Now the governors of other provinces grew terribly jealous
of him and began to talk to the king against him. They said,
"He is very dishonest, and keeps for himself part of the money
that he collects as tax from the people." Why did he always
carry with him, they added, an iron chest? Perhaps he carried
in it the treasure that he had secretly collected. After all,
they said mockingly, he was an ordinary shepherd and
could behave no better
• The new governor was called to the palace.
• He was ordered to explain why he always carried an iron chest.
• The chest contained no gold or silver.
At first the king did not pay attention to these reports,
but how long could he ignore these governors and their
endless stories about the shepherd? One thing was certain,
the king discovered. The new governor did carry an iron
chest with him all the time.
So, one day, the new governor was summoned to the
palace. He came riding on his camel, and to everyone’s
delight, the famous iron chest was there fastened securely
behind him on the camel’s back.
Now the king was angry. He thundered, "Why do you
always carry that iron chest with you? What does it contain?"
The governor smiled.
He asked his servant to
bring in the chest. How
eagerly the people standing
around waited for
the shepherd to be found
out! But how great was
their astonishment, and
even of the king himself,
when the chest was
opened! No gold or silver
or jewels but an old
blanket was all that
came out. Holding it up
proudly, the shepherd said, "This, my dear master, is my
only treasure. I always carry it with me."
"But why do you carry such an ordinary blanket with you?
Surely, you are the governor of a district?" the king asked.
To which the shepherd replied with quiet dignity, "This
blanket is my oldest friend. It will still protect me if, at any
time, Your Majesty should wish to take away my new cloaks."
How pleased the king was, and how embarrassed the
jealous governors became to hear the wise man’s reply! Now
they knew that the shepherd was indeed the humblest and
the wisest man in the land. The king made him the governor
of a much bigger district that very day.
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