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04 February, 2008


Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they;
“Even this shall pass away.”

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these;
But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main;
“What is wealth?” the king would say;
“Even this shall pass away.”

‘Mid the revels of his court,
At the zenith of his sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid his figs and wine,
Cried, “O loving friends of mine;
Pleasures come, but not to stay;‘Even this shall pass away.’

Lady, fairest ever seen,
Was the bride he crowned his queen.
Pillowed on his marriage bed,
Softly to his soul he said:
“Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bosom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay –
Even this shall pass away.”

Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield;
Soldiers, with a loud lament,
Bore him bleeding to his tent.
Groaning from his tortured side,
Pain is hard to bear,” he cried;
“But with patience, day by day,Even this shall pass away.”

Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the king, disguised, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly: “What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay;Even this shall pass away.”

Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
Said he with his dying breath,
“Life is done, but what is Death?”
Then, in answer to the king,
Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
Showing by a heavenly ray,
“Even this shall pass away.”

By Theodore Tilton

Commentary by Swami A Parthasarathy

Theodore Tilton presents the king of Persia as a picture of detachment.  The king carved a great maxim on his ring:  EVEN THIS SHALL PASS AWAY.  Rooted in the highest values of life, he lived a life of true renunciation.  He would not identify with the best or the worst of things that this world offered him.  The king was bountifully blessed with wealth and woman, name and fame.  He faced also the pangs of disease, decay and approaching death.  But all along he maintained his serenity and objectivity in life.

       The world is an admixture of fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain, virtue and vice.  The inevitable pairs of opposites in life are inexhaustible.  Your mental equilibrium and intellectual equipoise should remain unaffected by these fluctuations.  You become established in that state by your attunement to higher values.

       The great king of Persia achieved that exalted state.

       Lessons we learn from this poem:

1]  Experience every aspects of your life fully.

2]  When you go on experiencing your life fully, thee is no lingering of past experiences.  This is called as sanyas or true meaning of detachment and this is ephemeral and goes away.  .

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