“Are you henpecked?”

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

Osho states, “The flower of love can blossom only when there is no ego, when there is no effort to dominate…”

Two horses

I have heard a story…. In the life of one of the great emperors of India, Akbar, there is a small story.

He was very much interested in all kinds of talented people, and from all over India he had collected nine people, the most talented geniuses, who were known as the “nine jewels of Akbar’s court.”

One day, just gossiping with his vice-councillors, he said, “Last night I was discussing with my wife. She is very insistent that every husband is henpecked. I tried hard, but she says, ‘I know many families, but I have never found any husband who is not henpecked.’ What do you think?” he asked the councillors.

One of the councillors, Birbal said, “Perhaps she is right, because you could not prove it. You yourself are a henpecked husband; otherwise, you could have given her a good beating, then and there proving that, ‘Look, here is a husband!'”

He said, “That I cannot do, because I have to live with her. It is easy to advise somebody else to beat his wife. Can you beat your wife?”

Birbal said, “No, I cannot. I simply accept that I am a henpecked husband, and your wife is right.”

But Akbar said, “It has to be found…. In the capital there must be at least one husband who is not henpecked. There is no rule in the world which has no exception, and this is not a rule at all.”

So he said to Birbal, “You take my two beautiful Arabian horses” – one was black, one was white – “and go around the capital. And if you can find a man who is not henpecked, you can give him the choice: whichever horse he wants is a present from me.” They were valuable. In those days horses were very valuable, and those were the most beautiful horses.

Birbal said, “It is useless, but if you say, I will go.”

He went, and everybody was found to be henpecked. It was very ordinary: He would just call the person and call his wife, and ask, “Are you henpecked or not?”

The man would look at the wife and say, “You should have asked when I was alone. This is not right. You will create unnecessary trouble. Just for a horse I am not going to destroy my life. You take your horses, I don’t want any.”

But one man was sitting in front of his house and two persons were massaging him. He was a wrestler, a champion wrestler, a very strong man. Birbal thought, “Perhaps this man… he can kill anybody without any weapons. If he can hold your neck, you are finished!” Birbal said, “Can I ask you a question?”

He said, “Question? What question?”

Birbal said, “Are you henpecked?”

That man said, “First, let us greet each other, a handshake.” And he crushed Birbal’s hand and said, “Unless you start crying and tears start coming from your eyes, I will not leave your hand. Your hand is finished. You dared to ask me such a question?”

And Birbal was dying – he was almost a man of steel – and tears started coming, and he said, “Just leave me. You are not henpecked. I have just come to a wrong place. But where is your wife?”

He said, “Look, she is there, cooking my breakfast.” A very small woman was cooking his breakfast.

The woman was so small and the man was so big that Birbal said, “There is a possibility that perhaps this man is not henpecked. He will kill this woman.”

So he said, “Now there is no need to go further into investigation. You can choose either horse from these two, black and white, a reward from the king for the one who is not henpecked.”

And at that time that small woman said, “Don’t choose the black! Otherwise I will make your life a hell!”

The man said, “No, no, I will choose the white. You just keep quiet.”

Birbal said, “You don’t get either, neither white nor black. It is all finished, you lost the game. You are a henpecked husband.”

There is a continuous fight for domination. Love cannot blossom in such an atmosphere. […] The flower of love can blossom only when there is no ego, when there is no effort to dominate, when one is humble, when one is trying not to be somebody, but is ready to be nobody.

Osho, Beyond Enlightenment, Ch 1, Q 2 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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