Once the mountain kingdom of Nepal was ruled by a liberal and kind-hearted king. He liked discussing problems of the state with important people of his kingdom. This practice made him popular and successful.
In one such meeting, he noticed that no one except himself had a comfortable seat. Being kind-hearted, he was concerned. He decided to get suitable seats made for all participants in the meeting.
He ordered the carpenters in country to present suitable models. He announced a handsome cash award for the winner.
All the carpenters in the country got busy designing various types of seats-stools, benches, couches. But the king did not like any of them.
At last, a cobbler decided to win the prize. Sitting in his workshop, he was thinking hard to get some bright idea. Suddenly it came to him. He realised that he was very comfortable sitting in that position. So comfortable that he did not even know how long he had been sitting there thinking. Why not design a seat on which a man could sit in that position?
When he finished the model, he sat on it to test it. By adding a back and two arms to it, he had indeed made it comfortable. His face glowed with pride and satisfaction. He was sure that no one else could think of that design. A cobbler outdoing carpenters in their own trade would certainly make sensational news.
He showed the model to his neighbours. They liked it. He could not wait to carry the seat to the palace and present it to the king.
The king, who had by now almost given up hope, was glad that someone had succeeded in designing the kind of seat he had in mind. He liked it and rewarded the cobbler suitably, and ordered him to make enough seats for the royal conferences.
When the new seats arrived, the king called a conference. When all the honourable men present had taken their seats, he asked them to suggest a suitable name for the seat.
Suggestions started flowing. No two persons agreed. Each one was trying to win the king’s favour, trying to prove that his own was the best suggestion. Excitement was growing. Tempers were rising high. The honourable men, forgetting the presence of His Majesty, started heated arguments, calling each other names. Eventually, they started hurling the seats at one another. All the seats got smashed except one. All scrambled for that one seat that was left. Each one of them asserted his right to sit on it.
At last the king, who was silently watching the drama, asked them all to leave the hall.
The king was worried. He blamed himself for having ordered the seats to be made. All had been going peacefully without them. He sent for his minister and asked his advice. The minister said, “Your majesty, please call the gentlemen again tomorrow and do not give them any seats. They will be all right.”
The next day, all the honourable men were again summoned by the king. There were no seats at all, not even one. They all sat down on the carpet. The king reminded them of what had happened the previous day. Then he asked them again for a suitable name for the seats that they had smashed.
The men lowered their heads and said humbly, “We shall accept whatever name Your Majesty suggests.”
The king smiled and said, “Thank you. The name is not important; what is important is an assurance from you that the seats will not be smashed again.”
The honourable men felt quite ashamed of their behaviour. They nodded, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
The meeting was adjourned. New seats were ordered.
But the fight for the chair had already begun!
[Adapted by Ram Kumar Panday, Translated by Abhi Subedi;]
(From Laughing Together: Stories, Riddles and Proverbs from Asia and the Pacific; Published by The National Book Trust under a UNESCO project.)