The Story of Three Non-Existent Princes

Three Non-Existent Princes - Peter Malakoff
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Once upon a time in a city which did not exist,

there were three princes who were brave and happy.

Of them, two were unborn and one was not conceived.

Unfortunately, all of their relatives died

and so the princes left their native city to go elsewhere.


Very soon, they fell into a swoon, unable to bear the heat of the sun.

Their feet were burned by hot sand. The tips of grass pierced them.

They reached the shade of three trees, of which two did not exist

and the third was not even planted.


After resting there for some time and eating the fruits of those trees,

they proceeded further.


They reached the banks of three rivers; Two of them were dry

and in the third there was no water.

The princes had a refreshing bath and quenched their thirst in them.


Then they reached a huge city, which was about to be built.

Entering it, they found three palaces of exceeding beauty.

Of them, two had not been constructed and the third had no walls. 


They entered the palaces and found three golden plates;

two of which had been broken

and the third was pulverized.

They took hold of the one which had been pulverized

and took ninety-nine minus one hundred grams of rice and cooked it.


Then they invited three holy men to be their guests; Of them, two had no body

and the third had no mouth.

After these holy men had eaten the food,

the three princes partook of the rest of it.


They were greatly pleased.

Thus, they lived in that city for a long time in peace and joy.


My child, this is an extremely beautiful legend

Pray remember this always and you will grow up into a learned man.


-Yoga Vasishta


 This story is taken from the Yoga Vasishta.

It is told by the sage Vasishta in his instruction to Lord Rama


In this story, words and images, clearly refer to things that cannot exist.

It demonstrates why we can't really explain anything much less everything,

Further, it suggests that the realization of this 'truth'

is directly related to being a 'learned man'!


The Indian tradition was aware of the limits of language as well as the nature of the mind and language. Those limits and that 'nature' are dramatized here.

We are given a participatory experience of how one non-existent thing

builds upon another until we have a complex and interesting story.


It demonstrates how words refer only to themselves

and yet we still seem to have 'something' that we seem to understand

and can talk about

Rather quickly, we are 'deluded' by the story

and we no longer care whether the whole thing is true or not.

It is a mirror of the essence of how we live our lives. . .

at the corner of the circle.



"It is better to understand the mind than to create philosophy with it. "

AdiDa-Easy Death