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Shri Nathji frequently narrated this parable of Akbar and Birbal on relativity and comparisons.
The emperor, Akbar, once drew a line on a blackboard and asked whether anyone could make the line long or short without touching it. Birbal, his loyal Prime Minister, at once came to the blackboard and offered to do so.
He first drew a longer line over the first line, and said: Look, the first line has become shorter by comparison now!
He then drew a shorter line beneath the first line and said: Look, the first line has become longer by comparison now!
The first line in itself: Was it long or short? It could not be defined. It was only relative to the other lines that it became either long or short. Thus it is that no state in life is small or great. It is only when it is viewed in comparison to other states that it becomes either small or great.
If instead of looking at other states one were to look only at the state that has been given to him, he would not be able to say whether it was small or great and would remain content in it.