A king is getting old; he has three sons, and all are intelligent. They are triplets, born together, so there is no question of who is the eldest. Otherwise, there would have been no problem; the eldest son would have been the successor. The problem was, who out of the three is going to be the successor? They are all of the same age. In horse riding they are all of equal efficiency; in archery they are equally great. In every field it is impossible to decide who is the best of the three.
He asked his master, an old wise man living in the forest, “I am getting old, and somebody has to succeed me and take care of the kingdom. And I am in great difficulty; can you give me some idea how to choose the right person?” And the wise man gave him some advice.
The king came back, and he gave an equal amount of money to all three sons and told them – because they all had their own palaces – “With this money, you have to manage to fill your palaces completely. And after seven days I will come to see. Whoever succeeds in filling his house totally, better than the other two, is going to succeed me as the king of the kingdom.”
They were puzzled, because the money was not that great. They thought of many things, but the palaces were big – how to fill them completely? The first prince went to the municipal corporation and asked, “From today, all the trucks that throw the garbage of the town outside the city should throw it into my palace – because with that money this is the only possible way to fill the palace completely.”
He filled the palace completely. The whole neighborhood was angry; even the traffic on the road stopped – because it was stinking. But they could not do anything – he was the prince, and it was a question of a certain test. The king himself has asked.
The second prince was very worried, asked many people… But they said, “With such a small amount of money it is very difficult. What your brother has done… He has filled the house; you can do something similar. Just purchase cheap grass…fill the house.” He purchased the cheapest quality of grass, which even animals were not ready to eat, but still the house was not full; it was only half full.
They were both worried about what the third brother was doing, because he looked absolutely unconcerned. Six days had passed and he had not done anything. And the seventh day came, and by the evening, as the sun set the king came with the wise old man.
It was impossible to come close to the first son’s house. The king said, “This idiot, he has really filled the house – but with garbage! It is disgusting, I am feeling sick.”
But the old man said, “You had asked…and we have to go and see. Just have a little patience. You need not stay long; just have a look to see whether he has filled the house or not.”
They saw it.
They went to the second son’s house. It was not better, but it was not worse either. It was rotten grass, but the house was only half full.