Chapter 1 The Three Questions

Meet the Author

  • Leo Tolstoy is a 19th century Russian writer known for his famous novels and short stories.
  • Born: 9 September 1828
  • Place of Birth: Russia
  • Died: 20 November 1910
  • Major Works: ‘War & Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’.
  • Best Known for: Tolstoy is known for his novels that are a benchmark in world literature. He is known for bringing in realism in his writing and drawing from historical events in his works.
Graffiti of Leo Tolstoy in Russia
Graffiti of Leo Tolstoy in Russia

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Summary of the Chapter

There was a King who wanted to know the answer for three questions. He believed that if he knew the answer for these three questions he could be most successful.

The 3 question were:

  • What was the right time to begin something?
  • Who were the right people to listen to?
  • What was the most important thing to do?

A lot of wise men came to the King. They gave varied answers. Some of the answers that were given for the 1st question is as below:

  • To know the right time one needs to chart out a strict timetable to conduct the tasks and follow them rigidly.
  • Some said that it was impossible to decide beforehand the right time for everything.
  • Others said that the King must have a council of wise men to help him fix the proper time for each action.

The second question also brought in varied types of responses, like:

  • Some believed that priests were the most important people.
  • Some wanted the King to have a council of most important people.
  • Others said that doctors and warriors are the most important people.

The same happened with the third question. There were multiple answers provided for the same:

  • According to some, science was the most important occupation.
  • Others believe it to be warfare.
  • Some others believed it to be religious instruction.

All the answers were so different that King could not come to a solution!

Then he decides to meet a hermit to make the final decision. The hermit was known for his wisdom!

Specialities of the Hermit:

  • He did not leave the forest.
  • He only welcomed common people

Therefore, the King too had to wear common clothes and get off his horse to meet the hermit. He went alone leaving behind his bodyguards to meet the hermit.

The hermit was digging the ground in front of his hut as the King entered. The hermit was old and was weak to dig the hole. He was breathing heavily after every dig. The King went up to him and put forth his 3 questions. The hermit listened to the King but did not answer him. He carried on with his work.

King understood that the hermit was sick and decided to help him. The hermit thanked the King. Hours passed by, the day was coming to an end. King turned to the hermit and asked,

I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me and I will return home.

Immediately the hermit said that a man was coming running towards them. The King looked around and saw a man coming running from the forest. As he came closer to the King, he fell to the ground, blood was flowing from the wound on his leg. The King washed the wound and took good care of this man. King bandaged the wound with his handkerchief and with the towel offered by the hermit.

Soon, the man felt better and the King offered him fresh water to drink. The night was getting cold, hence the hermit and the king carried the wounded man into the hut. The King was also exhausted from the work and slept in one corner of the hut.

King looking for answers
King looking for answers

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King woke up in the morning noticing the wounded man staring at him intentionally. The wounded man then asked for forgiveness from the King. King was surprised and remarked,

I do not know you and have nothing to forgive you for.

Then the wounded man confessed that he was an enemy of the King as he wrongly took off his property. Hence, he had planned on killing the King. He was aware that the King was alone with the hermit without any bodyguards. He had planned to murder the King when he walked back from hermit’s place.

But soon the King’s guards spotted him. On his attempt to run away he fell and got himself hurt. It was then the King nursed him and it is only because of that he is still alive.

The King was happy to have made peace with his enemy. He not only forgave him, but said he would send his own physician to treat him and promised to restore his property.

Then the King went to the hermit once again with the same set of questions and requested him to provide an answer. Hermit replied that the King himself has already answered all his questions. King was puzzled to hear this.

Hermit explained that if the King had not pitied his situation yesterday he would not have stayed that long to finally help and nurse the wounded man. Only because of that he would make his peace with an enemy. So the important time was when the King was digging the beds and the most important person was the hermit and the most important thing weas to do good to the hermit.

So the most important time was when you were digging the beds. I was the most important person and to do me good was your most important business.

- Hermit

Later on the most important time was when the man came to you bleeding. The most important time was when the King took care of the man’s wounds and the most important business was to do him good. Thus, the King was able to make peace with an enemy.

The hermit went on to conclude his observation as below:

  • The most important time is NOW! This is the only time when one has their control and power over it
  • The most important person is THAT PERSON with you at a moment. No one can predict if you would meet that person again in your life. Hence, the person with you at the current time is the most important person.
  • The most important thing to do is to do GOOD!

These are the answers given by the hermit to the King.

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The Three Questions Questions and Answers

Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.

The three questions are as follows: 1.What was the right time to begin something? 2.Who were the right people to listen to? 3.What was the most important thing to do?

Hermit was a wise man living in the forest. He only entertained local people. He was digging in front of his hut as the King came. He is a simple man living a simple life. He provided King the answers to the questions through his own life and experience. Due to his wisdom, hermit is a popular figure in his kingdom.

The most important person is the person with you at the moment. We cannot be sure if we would meet them again. So it is important to do good to them and treat them as the most important person.