Long ago in a kingdom far away, there lived two friends - Madan and Mohan. They liked each other very much and not once did they have a misunderstanding on any account thus far. They understood each other so well and their thoughts were in perfect synchrony. Each one cared for each other more than himself. To put in a single word, their relationship could be described as the very definition of the word "friendship"

Madan was employed in the King's court and Mohan was a trader. Madan was everybody's favourite because of his good qualities like devotion to God, truthfulness, humility and honesty. Naturally there were some who did not like this and wanted to tarnish Madan's reputation. They tried many a time unsuccessfully. But as fate would have it, it so happened that the King himself thought that Madan was involved a plot against him. He immediately threw him in prison and gave him death penalty. Madan was to be executed in a week's time.

 

Madan thought " Oh God! I have been a truthful person all my life. My heart knows that I have done nothing wrong. But if this Your Will, let thy will be done. " But there was one small thing that bothered him. He had some unfinished responsibilities at home. After the verdict was pronounced, Madan was asked if he had any last wish. Madan immediately requested the King " Great King! I seek just one wish from you. You must allow me to go home as I have some duties to fulfill before I die. I will return to the jail before the time fixed for execution. I give you my word for it!"

 The King was surprised by this unusual request of Madan. He thought for a moment and replied “No! I cannot allow you to go home. How can take your word as the guarantee that you will come back? I cannot grant this wish”

 Madan did not know how to convince the king that he would come back. Mohan who was also witnessing the proceedings stepped up “ Your Majesty! I am Mohan. This man is my best friend and I assure you that he will keep his word. Since you do not believe him, I make an offer that I beg you to consider. You can put me in prison in his place till he returns. Please allow my friend to go home and fulfill his wish”

 The King was totally taken aback by this act of Mohan. The entire court and the public were astonished. Tears rolled down the eyes of Madan who was totally shaken by his friend’s love for him. The King asked Mohan sarcastically “Alright Mohan! I accept your offer. But if Madan does not turn up at the appointed hour, I will have your head instead. Do you agree? If you do I will free Madan” .  To this Mohan replied with a beaming smile “ I fully accept your Highness. Nothing gives me greater joy than to see my friend happy” The King thought to himself that Mohan was a really foolish man to believe Madan to this extent and he would realize that on the day of execution when Madan would definitely not show up.

 Madan left to his home and was quickly finishing off his important duties. All the time he was crying inside thinking about Mohan who was in jail for his sake.  “ Oh! How difficult it must be for my dearest Mohan. I should finish all these works very quickly and return at the earliest. I should free my friend soon. I wonder how many hardships he is facing there. Who will do such a sacrifice other than my best friend? Dear God! I pray to thee to keep Mohan safe in the prison. I will return as quickly as I can”

 Meanwhile in prison, Mohan thought “ God! I have just one prayer. I do not seek anything for myself. Madan is the one I care about most in this world. I want him to live long and happily. If you somehow delay his arrival here, the King will execute me and Madan will be a free man. That’s all I wish for!” Days rolled by slowly and the day was execution was nearing. Madan did not return. Mohan was very happy because that was what he wanted. The King and the guards could not understand how Mohan could be happy. The king thought “ See! I was right. Madan has run away betraying Mohan’s trust”

 But hours before the execution, Madan arrived as he had promised. Everybody was surprised and so was the King. Mohan was freed and brought before Madan. Everyone expected Mohan to be relieved and happy as Madan had returned. But Mohan was crying. He asked Madan“ Why did you come back? I was hoping you would not and that I could take the punishment instead of you” Madan embraced Mohan and said “ What do you say my friend? Every moment that you have spent here in this jail has pricked my heart like the most painful thorn. Please forgive me for putting you through this. If there is one thing I seek from God, I wish that if I am born again, I should be your best friend in that birth too.”

 Everyone who witnessed this scene was moved. The King was practically in tears seeing the friendship of these two. He said, “ Madan! Mohan! I have not seen or heard of such  great friends like you two. You exemplify the true essence of friendship and as a mark of respect to your friendship, I set you free only if you both accept one condition. Include me as your friend too!”

 From that day on, the elite league of two became three.