The men went and told Sikandar. “Do not worry,” he told his men. “It’s no great task to capture him. How can a poor mendicant stand up against the great Sikandar?”
The village people laughed: “Perhaps you do not know the might of a man of God. It is easy to kill him, but impossible to move him even an inch.”
All this was beyond Sikandar’s understanding, for those who live by the might of the sword cannot imagine a power superior to it. Sword in hand, he set out to meet the fakir. His men went in advance to inform him.
“The mighty Sikandar is coming to see you,” they told him. “Be prepared.”
The fakir laughed: “What! The mighty Sikandar? Does he too think he is great?”
“Certainly” said the men. “And that is what he is out to prove to the world.”
“Tell that fool,” said the sannyasin, “a great man never sets out to prove his greatness. If he does so, he only betrays his smallness within.”
“Sikandar was filled with rage when he heard this. He went up to him and, at the point of the sword, ordered him to follow.
“Whom do you order?” asked the fakir. “Know that I take orders from nobody. When we stop taking orders from others and obey the orders from within, we become sannyasins. We live as we please, obeying no earthly sire – as the wind goes wherever it pleases, so we go wherever we please. It seems you are wholly ignorant of the ways of a sannyasin.”
“I am not prepared to listen to all this. You will have to follow me. My command has never been disobeyed. If you choose to resist, your head will part company from the rest of your body.”
“You poor, foolish, ignorant man,” said the fakir. “The head you threaten to sever, I have long since known to be apart from me. It matters little whether it is on my shoulders or not. If you cut my neck, I shall see the head rolling off to the ground, the same way as you do. You will see and I will see – we both shall see; and do not be under the illusion that you are killing me. That which you destroy is not me, and that which I am, you can never destroy. This is for what I had gone in quest. Now the quest is over, and the experience is complete.”
Sikandar did not know what to do. On his return to Greece, he told his friends: “I met a sannyasin in India, but could not bring him with me. No threat worked on him, for the man did not fear even death!”
No one can have a hold on him who does not fear death. We are afraid of death, and therefore vulnerable. Why are we afraid of death? We are afraid of death because we take all that is perceptible as the actual reality. The visible world is transitory – and hence the fear of death. But those who discover the hidden self within, which is immortal, rise above death.