Once upon a time, a prince was hunting in the forest. He was so engrossed in the hunt that he got separated from his friends. It was noon and the heat was too much to bear. After searching for his friends, the tired, woebegone prince, who had now lost all hope, began roaming aimlessly. Just then he heard footsteps. Hoping it was a man, the prince cautiously peered from behind a tree. He was right. It was a man.
It seemed that he was the son of a Brahman as he wore saffron robes and carried a brownish water container (kamandalu). The prince rushed to him and asked him the way to the palace but the Brahmin did not know. The Brahmin told him that he was on his way to Rishi Agastya who lived some miles away and he could come along. To this, the prince agreed as he thought that Rishi Agastya might know the way to the capital.
After a while they came across an ascetic who had been practicing meditation for years. He too was on his way to Rishi Agastya and so even he was delighted to be in their company. Sometime later they met a hunter. He was on his way home which was close to Rishi Agastya’s hermitage. He too joined them.
After some time, they reached Rishi Agastya’s hermitage. They all went inside to seek his blessings. There, Rishi Agastya sat on a lion skin under a banyan tree. Seeing the four of them humbly bowing before him, he smiled and said, “O prince! May you live long. O son of a Brahmin! You live or you die, it is your wish. O ascetic! Do not live long. O hunter! You should neither live nor die.”
Hearing this, all the four men were surprised. On asking, the Rishi Agastya replied,” O prince, all kings have to go to hell. You have attained the birth of a prince through your austerities of your previous birth. When you die you will go to hell. So may you live long. O son of a Brahmin, if you live, you will help people attain salvation and if you die, you will go to heaven. So your living or death is your wish. O ascetic, may you die soon for if you live, you will give your body pain and if you die, you will go to heaven due to your austerities. O hunter, neither live nor die as if you live you will kill beings and if you die, you will go to hell.” Hearing this all the men were satisfied.
MORAL:- if one remembers and worships God and serves others selflessly, he will be happy living or dead.