Great Music Lover


It happened in Lucknow in the time of Vajid Ali Shah…. He was the king of Lucknow, a very crazy man, a drunkard, but a lover of music, art, sculpture, painting a lover of beauty. He used to invite all kinds of dancers, singers, musicians, poets, to his court.

One musician was constantly refusing to come. Vajid Ali Shah went to him – that was a rare gesture from him, he had never gone to anybody. His invitation was enough, and he was ready to pay as much as demanded or more. But the musician was reluctant to come.

When Vajid Ali Shah went to him he said, ”I can come, but you will have to fulfill my condition. I have only one single condition and that is:when I am playing or singing, nobody can move his head.”

Vajid Ali Shah said, ”That is not a difficult thing don’t be worried. I will inform the people who are going to come to listen that’If you move your head, your head will be chopped off!’” He was a crazy man – he could have done that, and he actually prepared for it. He informed the whole capital of Lucknow: ”Those who want to come, they should be aware that it is risky. Soldiers will be standing with naked swords and whoever moves his head, nods his head in appreciation, his head will be chopped off!”

Lucknow had at least ten thousand music lovers – only one hundred people turned up. It was dangerous! You may be simply moving your head because a mosquito has been torturing you, or for some other reason… you may forget because the musician is great and to remember it continuously will be difficult. Even snakes start moving, dancing – it will be difficult. So people avoided, but a hundred people came. They were real lovers of music, they risked their lives – it was worth it. And the people were standing with naked swords. It was a strange gathering!

The musician started playing, and he was such a great musician that within fifteen minutes’ time a few heads started moving. Vajid Ali Shah became very much worried because it was not only one head: a few heads, then a few more joined in, then a few more. Then he became very much concerned: ”Is he going to kill all these one hundred people? And these are the most appreciative people in the whole capital!” He knew them; they were lovers of music.

By the time the musician finished in the middle of the night, all the hundred people were swaying. Vajid Ali asked, ”Now what do you say? Should I cut these people’s heads? My soldiers are ready, and because I have given you my promise I am ready to fulfill it.”

The musician laughed and he said, ”Don’t be worried! This condition was made only so that people who are real lovers would come. One who is ready to risk his life must be a passionate lover. Now these are the people I would like to sing and play for. Withdraw your soldiers! I was waiting: if there had been a few people whose heads had not moved, then those people would have had to be removed from the gathering. Now I will play because all the heads have moved; this is the right gathering I have waited for my whole life. These are the people who forgot completely, forgot even the question of life – it was a question of life and death.”

Philosophia Ultima