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  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Message Without Words

Such “stones” as point out man’s shortcomings and failures, can teach him a lesson provided he shows sufficient receptiveness to the message it conveys

A certain student from Rajasthan had failed in his high school examinations. He appeared again the following year but failed again. After having failed for the third time the next year, he was so ashamed of his performance that he left his home, unable to show his face to his family.

He just kept walking about aimlessly. After a long time, he stopped at a well to quench his thirst. Women and children had gathered around it, filling their pots by turns. There he caught sight of something. Something small, but of great significance. He was deeply moved, and his thirst was gone. All of a sudden, he felt as though he had found something far greater than the water he had come for. What had happened was quite simple. The villagers who visited the well for water usually brought two earthen pots. They would place one pot on a stone near the well while letting the other down on a rope inside the well to draw water. To his astonishment, the part of the stone on which the pot was placed had rubbed away and there was a hollow there. The pot was made of earth, he thought, but when it was placed on the same spot over and over again, it had worn away the stone which was a far harder a substance. The strong element had given way to the weak, just through constant action. “Then why should I not succeed in my examinations if I too persevere? I can surely overcome my shortcomings by putting greater effort into my studies!”

Such thoughts brought him to a halt. He immediately decided to go back home and start working hard on his studies once again. The following year he appeared for the fourth time in his high school examinations. This time the result, astonishingly, was the opposite of the previous one.

He had done his papers so well this time that he had secured first class marks. After having failed three times, he had finally distinguished himself. The lesson of the stone had worked like a miracle and this had altered his attitude altogether. The same student, who had run away from home, unable to face defeat, had come to stand first in all the examinations he took. When he topped in his M.A. examinations, he was given a scholarship to study abroad and from there he earned his doctorate.

This may be a solitary instance that occurred in an isolated village, but, indeed, in every place there exists such a “stone” which, by pointing out man’s shortcomings and failures, can teach him a lesson provided he shows sufficient receptiveness to the message it conveys. If he only cares to look, he will find around him some such “stones” which will set him on the right course again.

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