By Justice Markandey Katju
There is a Sanskrit shloka :
जानामि नागेश तव प्रभावम्
कण्ठस्थितः गर्जसि शंकरस्य
स्थानम् प्रधानम् न च बलम प्रधानम्
द्वारस्थितः कोअपि न सिंघः
“Jaanaami Nagesh tava prabhaavam
Kanthasthitah garjasi Shankarasya
Sthaanam pradhanam na cha balam pradhanam
Dwarasthitah ko api na singhah ? “
which means :
“O King of the Serpents, I know your powers
You are hissing at me only because you are on the neck of Lord Shiva
The position one occupies is important, not one’s strength
At one’s own door, who is not a lion ? “
This shloka admirably suits a great King of India. He had done a lot of ‘Vikas’ ( development ) in India, and had overcome the pandemic crisis in India ( or at least proclaimed he had done it ), due to which God sent him to heaven for his good deeds when he died.
When he reached heaven, he saw on the bricks of the boundary wall of heaven the names of earlier great kings who had predeceased him, but was shocked and infuriated that there was no brick bearing his own name.
He went up to the security guard standing at the entrance to heaven and angrily asked him why there was no brick bearing his name.
The security guard said that all the space on the boundary wall of heaven was already full of bricks bearing the name of some king, and there was no vacant space left. So if the King wanted to place a brick on the wall bearing his own name he had to tear down some brick, and place on the vacant place there a brick bearing his own name.
However, the guard said, there was no guarantee or certitude that a subsequent deceased king would not come later who would tear out the brick bearing the king’s name and insert in the vacant slot another brick bearing his own name. He then pointed at a dump where there were littered thousands of broken bricks bearing the names of kings who had placed them on the boundary wall but were torn out by their successors to make room for bricks bearing their own names.
Having said so, the guard recited Omar Khayyam’s rubai :
“They say the lion and lizards keep
The Court where Jamshed gloried and drank deep
And Bahraam, that mighty hunter
The wild ass stamps over his head
But cannot break his sleep.”