Posted Under: Hindu Story,Mullah Nasrudin,religious story,sufi story,teaching stories,true story
This story is one that I use in my Transformative Imagination seminars. It is typically not so long. I ended up using Mullah Nasrudin as the hero of the teaching story and added a little about Iranian foods and culture. Most words are defined when first used.
The Shahanshah’s son (Shahanshah = king of kings), the heir to the throne, the future Sultan, was mentally ill. He imagined he was a chicken and lived naked in a chicken coop refusing to eat anything other than chicken feed. Each day he was losing weight and was by now more a living skeleton than the “Shahzadeh Valiahd” (the royal prince heir to the throne).
The king of kings was disheartened no knowing who would inherit the peacock throne of Iran. The queen was heartbroken and was sighing each time she thought of her first born. The more the king, the queen, the viziers, and the nobility insisted the prince was not a chicken, the more he retorted that he was as he pecked away at the seeds left for him.
The Shahanshah sent for all the physicians in the country. They were offered ten sacks of gold if they could cure the prince but told that if they failed they would be executed. Not a single doctor, philosopher, or wise man dared attempt to heal the young man.
The king and queen were despairing. They prayed to God to send them a healer. Their prayers were answered in the form of a donkey riding, turbaned old man. This was no one other than Mullah Nasrudin who had not visited Isfahan the capital of Persia for a few years.
When he heard of the king and queens agony he offered to help. He was told that his life would be forfeit if he failed. Nasrudin replied, “My life belongs to you sire. I was on a trip to India and China and that’s why it took me some time to get back to serve you. But for me to heal his highness the prince royal of Persia you must give me full reign to do whatever I want. No one should second guess me or be surprised at whatever I do.”
The king and queen were so pleased to have their old friend and trusted adviser back and gave orders that all had to do whatever the Mullah ordered no matter how weird it may sound.
The Mullah took all his clothes off and entered the chicken coop. He started acting the same as the prince and claimed that he too was a chicken. He started eating the chicken feed and acting like a chicken.
Whenever some one would come by both the prince and Nasrudin would shout, “Go away, I’m a chicken.”
Later the shouts became, “Go away, we’re chickens.”
After three weeks Nasrudin told the king’s servants to bring some chello kabob Sultani (if you don’t know what that is go to the nearest Persian restaurant) past the chicken coop.
The chef prepared the best chello kabob and the servants took it past the chicken coop on the way to Aliqhapu (the royal palace). As the most wonderful kabob odor wafted into the chicken coop, Nasrudin’s mouth watered and he turned to the prince and said, “You and I know that we’re chickens, but who said that just because we’re chickens we can’t eat great tasty foods.”
“No need for us chickens to deny ourselves that wonderful human food,” Nasrudin continued.
This made sense to the prince. I mean jut because we’re chickens, does that mean that we should nor partake in the best that life has to offer?
So, they ordered the servants to serve them the chello kabob which they enjoyed to no end. This was the first time the prince had eaten human food for the last eight months. The king and the queen were jubilant. There were three days of celebration in Isfahan.
From that day on, the prince and the Mullah feasted on the best delicacies the king’s chief chef could provide. Aubergine, okra, zereshk, spices from Samarkand and Bokhara, no expenses were spared. Baby lambs, veal, gees, ducklings and fatted calves were brought from near and far and cooked to perfection.
Weeks passed and the prince was getting his old weight back. At the same time autumn turned to the beginning of winter. As the temperature was going down and the first snows covered the Alborz mountains to the far north, Nasrudin asked the king’s servants to bring them the best gilded clothes the Shahansha’s tailors could make.
There was silk from the land of the Chin (China), muslin from Hindustan (India), cotton from Arabestan (Arabia) each weaved by Armenian weavers in Julfa (little Armenia in Isfehan), then dyed by Turkaman, Baluch, Kurd and Azari (different Iranian tribes) artisans to perfection.
Nasrudin told the servants to bring them some of the most comfortable softest clothes and turned to the prince and said, “It’s cold. Just because we are chickens no need for us to deny ourselves these wonderful human Clothes.” This made sense to the chicken prince and from that day the two of them wore the princely clothes.
That winter the prince and the Mullah remained warm and were the paragons of fashion in Isfahan. As the winter was passing on, one day Mullah Nasrudin turned to the prince and said, “Just because we are chickens no need for us to deny ourselves human rooms. Much better than our coop. We can remain chickens and sleep in comfortable beds.”
So the two of them moved to an apartment in the Aliqhapu palace. March came by. Soon it would be the equinox (approximately March 21 – first day of spring) and the Iranian new year (Norooz) would be upon them. The whole of Iran would be celebrating for fourteen days and nights.
The Tuesday evening before the Norooz was “chahar shanbeh soori” when Iranian people jump over bonfires and have firework celebrations. The two chickens joined in after all as the prince said, “No need for us chickens not to celebrate this glorious evening.”
Two days later at five thirty six and forty eight seconds in the morning the canon fire told all that it was the moment of equinox when the earth’s axis of rotation is exactly parallel to the orbit around the sun (the Norooz – Iranian new year – happens at this exact moment calculated by astronomers and not at an arbitrary time like midnight).
The king was sitting in the peacock throne. The queen was seated to his left and the prince to his right. Mullah Nasrudin asked leave to return back to his village after all just because we’re all chickens there’s no need for people not to live with their loved ones.
Later when the chicken prince became the king, Mullah Nasrudin returned as his grand vizier (prime minister) and the “chicken king” ended up being one if the bravest and wisest kings of Iran.
Here are some Persian cookbooks:
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