Club of the 99


Stories always have a lot to teach us. We may be familiar with the story of a king who, despite his luxurious lifestyle, was neither happy nor content. One day, the King came upon a servant who was singing happily while he worked.

This fascinated the King; why was he, the Supreme Ruler of the Land, unhappy and gloomy, while a lowly servant had so much joy. The King asked the servant, “Why are you so happy?”

The man replied, “Your Majesty, I am a mere servant, but my family and I don’t require much – just a roof over our heads and warm food to fill our tummies. We’re content with that.”

The king was not satisfied with that reply. Later in the day, he sought the advice of his most trusted advisor. After hearing the King’s woes and the servant’s story, the advisor said, “Your Majesty, I believe that the servant has not been made part of the 99 Club.”

“The 99 Club? And what exactly is that?” the King inquired.

The advisor replied, “Your Majesty, you shall see if you place 99 Gold coins in a bag and leave it at this servant’s doorstep.”

The curious king had it done. When the servant saw the bag lying at the door, he took it into his house. When he opened the bag, he let out a great shout of joy… So many gold coins!

He began to count them. After several counts, he was at last convinced that there were 99 coins. He wondered, “What could’ve happened to that last gold coin? Surely, no one would leave 99 coins!”

He looked everywhere he could, but that final coin was elusive. Finally, exhausted, he decided that he was going to have to work harder than ever to earn that gold coin and complete his collection.

From that day, the servant’s life changed. He became overworked, horribly grumpy, and castigated his family for not helping him make that 100th gold coin. He stopped singing while he worked.

Witnessing this drastic transformation, the King became more curious. He summoned his advisor who explained: “Your Majesty, the servant has now officially joined The 99 Club.”

He continued, “There are those people who have enough to be happy but are never contented, because they’re always yearning and striving for that extra coin. They keep telling themselves: “Let me get that one final thing and then I will be happy for life. And this goes on and on..”

We can be happy, even with very little in our lives, but the minute we’re given something bigger and better, we want even more! We lose sleep, happiness and we hurt the people around us who care; all these as a price for our growing needs and desires. Then we’ve joined the 99 club!

Author Unknown


This story is familiar. We hear such stories but forget the lessons it has to teach us. The fact is we never learn to count our blessings but look at what we don’t have be it in the area of wealth, relationships or even health.  This kind of discontentment does make us dissatisfied with life itself which is why ‘our’ world and by extension ‘the’ world seems a horrible place to be in. On the other hand, if we count our blessings, our perspective changes and the world correspondingly seems an amazing place to be in.


No justifications, only harmony

One of my favourite stories is that of a Zen master who had a beautiful young lady as his pupil. She became pregnant and falsely named her teacher as the father of her child. When the child was born, her family indignantly brought the child to the Zen master and accused him of taking advantage of his beautiful young pupil. His only reply was, “Is that so?” They left the child with the Zen master, who enjoyed caring for it and had many beautiful hours playing with the child. After about a year the young lady was very ill, and not wanting to die with this false accusation on her conscience, she told her family that the real father was a young man who lived in a nearby town. Her mother and father immediately went to the teacher and profoundly bowed and apologized and asked for the baby back. The Zen master gave them the baby back with grace.

When they first accused him, the rational mind of the Zen master did not get caught up in a big chain of ego based arguments indignantly denying that he was the father, protesting that he was unjustly accused, threatening to tell people about the lie that was being perpetrated upon him, etc. He realized
that a mother and father are not likely to believe the word of a man against the word of their pregnant daughter. He simply saw that they were not open and did not want to hear his side of it. They did not ask him whether he had done it , they accusingly told him he had done it. So the Zen master simply flowed with the drama being enacted and did not agree or disagree.

He stayed in a peaceful state and simply enjoyed what was going on and  was able to have the fun of living with the child for a while. When they came back and apologized for their false accusations, his rational mind did not say, “I could have told you, but you wouldn’t have listened.” He simply peacefully saw that they now understood and there was nothing to be said. He could continue to enjoy the new act in the drama.

This story does not tell us that we must never give our side of things in any situation. It simply says that when you are conscious, you have a choice as to whether to get in a discussion when you know in advance whether the argument will bring you and the other person into a closer state of love and oneness or whether it will separate you. Under the circumstances, the Zen Master’s reply, “Is that so?” was the best reply to produce the closest harmony that could be obtained in that situation. Later he willingly and lovingly gavethe child up without recriminations.

We think we do not face such situations in our life but the fact is, most of us do. Most of our lives are spent in justifying ourselves who are anyhow not be ready to listen. Whatever our response may be, let us know that we can create harmony only by remaining at inner peace ourselves.


Stories to empower us

storiesAll human beings are storytelling creatures. For centuries, we have told stories to transmit information, share histories, and teach important lessons. While stories often have a profound effect on us due to emotional content, recent research also shows that our brains are actually hard-wired to seek out a coherent narrative structure in the stories we hear and tell. This structure helps us absorb the information in a story, and connect it with our own experiences in the world.

If I think back on some of my best learning experiences they were often either having to do with hearing a great story…or creating a new story. When I look at what articles I enjoy, they almost always teach me something through a story.

In a world that is increasingly getting fragmented due to isolation and lack of understanding of others and their world, the best thing we can do with and for anyone is to share stories. Stories show us how similar we all are in all our feelings and beliefs.

Often in our techno-focused and data driven world, we fail to take the time to actually teach through stories. I do not deny that technology is a great tool for learning, but guess what, learning and sharing wisdom through stories might be a better tool. Hence, I firmly believe that if apple a day can keep the doctor away, a (positive) story a day can indeed make the world more united and together in all respects.

Now, the next question would logically be which are the stories that one would like to read and think about? Here, just like the company of good people makes us better people, stories of people who have done things that inspire us and perhaps make us at least aspire to do similar things are the best to read, for us, for our society and by extension, for the world.


Teaching Stories – Small stories, big truths

Selected and interpreted by Jamuna Rangachari, Illustrations by Faraaz Tanveer
With its different layers, a teaching story gives us new insights every time we read it ..and we begin to see the world, and even ourselves, differently. At its heart a teaching story encapsulates the wisdom and truth of life and transmits it to the reader in the most pleasurable, palatable way. This collection of timeless tales will offer you hours of entertainment, but more importantly, it may well change your perception of life. The gurus and seekers who have contributed to this volume have sieved through many wisdom traditions, Sufi, Zen, Hindu, folklore and others to carefully pick and choose those that inspire and transform all those who read them, irrespective of age, gender, creed or race.


Through the use of stories and parables people are able to grasp and internalise deep, profound messages for their lives. May these stories and messages teach, touch and transform all who read them.

Spiritual Head, Parmarth Niketan

These stories remind me of the wisdom of teaching through parables. They have so much to say to all of us whatever our age.

author of No Full Stops In India

The collection in the story book is marvellous and the short comment by Jamuna Rangachari after each story is fabulous.

activist and President, Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha
(World Council of Arya Samaj)

Storytelling was once the best form of entertainment for young and growing children. This collection brings the forgotten art to life again.

social activist, story-teller, and author of Dear Popples.

To open the eyes of the intolerant, the impatient, the greedy and the arrogant, in a light humorous way, the deeper insight of these fables can be very powerful.

author of Teachings of the Inner Light and A Journey within the Self

All our tales and legends, whether from the Ramayana or Mahabharatha or the Jataka tales, have a meaningful message on how to live in peace and happiness.

Dean and Director, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Group of Schools, Chennai

Stories with an in-built learning message such as those in this book make fascinating reading for young and not-so-young alike.

Chief Strategy Officer & Exec Chairman, INX Media
%d bloggers like this: