Story No. 71 – The three wise men
One day some wise men, who were going about the country trying to find answers to some of the
great questions of their time, came to Nasreddin’s district and asked to see the wisest man in the
place. Nasreddin was brought forward, and a big crowd gathered to listen.
The first wise man began by asking,
“Where is the exact center of the world?”
“It is under my right heel,” answered Nasreddin.
“How can you prove that?” asked the first wise man.
“If you don’t believe me,” answered Nasreddin,
“measure and see.”
The first wise man had nothing to answer to that,
so the second wise man asked his question.
“How many stars are there in the sky?” he said.
“As many as there are hairs on my donkey,”
“What proof have you got of that?”
asked the second wise man.
“If you don’t believe me,” answered Nasreddin, “count the hairs on my donkey and you will see.”
“That’s foolish talk,” said the other. “How can one count the hairs on a donkey?”
“Well,” answered Nasreddin, “How can one count the stars in the sky? If one is foolish talk,
so is the other.” The second wise man was silent.
The third wise man was becoming annoyed with Nasreddin and his answers, so he said, “You seem
to know a lot about your donkey, so can you tell me how many hairs there are in its tail?”
“Yes,” answered Nasreddin. “There are exactly as many hairs in its tail as there are in your beard.”
“How can you prove that?” said the other.
“I can prove it very easily,” answered Nasreddin. “You can pull one hair out of my donkey’s tail for
every one I pull out of your beard. If the hairs on my donkey’s tail do not come to an end at exactly
the same time as the hairs in your beard, I will admit that I was wrong.”
Of course, the third wise man was not willing to do this, so the crowd declared Nasreddin
the winner of the day’s arguments.
One day, the Nasreddin said to his friends: “If I die, bury me in an old grave.” “Why”, asked his
friends. “Because”, he explained, “if the angels come, I’ll tell them that I died years before and have
already been questioned and then they will return the way they came.”