The birthday of a gallant knight of Rome was being celebrated with great pomp and show. Different types of recipes were being prepared in the kitchen. Lots of friends and relatives had been invited. The atmosphere was full of happiness and zeal.
Suddenly, a few soldiers of the king arrived with bare swords in their hands and said to the knight, "You will be hanged to death in the evening at 6:00 PM." Immediately all the musicians stopped playing. The atmosphere became gloomy. The faces of all friends and dear ones became sad.
Seeing this change, the knight said: "What is the matter? Why is everyone quiet? Let the music play and let us all dance. Fortunately, my death is happening on the same day as I was born. Till now only the dancers were performing, but now even I will dance. Till now only the singers were singing, but now even I'll sing. Where is the time left now to feel worried and to cry? There is not enough time. Smile and sing and dance. Who has seen the next minute... let us celebrate. I'll be hanged in the evening and not now so play the music and let the celebrations go on."
What could the poor musicians play? They had to obey the knight; therefore they started playing the instruments with sad mood. As soon as they started playing music, the knight started dancing merrily on the tune. The musicians were filled with enthusiasm seeing the knight dance so naturally. This scene made others worried. They lost the charm with which they had come for celebrations and their hearts were filled with tears.
In spite of all this the knight kept dancing in happiness. The soldiers who had come with the message of death sentence were surprised at the knight's reaction to the news. It was strange that the knight was so merry even after hearing the news of his death... Bliss was getting reflected from each and every part of the knight's body! It appeared as if time for meeting a dear one and not death was approaching.
Those soldiers informed the king and said: "Out of enemity the message of death sentence was conveyed to the knight to make him frightened. That knight is overflowing with happiness instead of getting worried. He did not panic at all after hearing the news. Will you hang such a man to death? Oh king! At least go and see the man!"
Thereafter, the king himself went and was extremely surprised to see the knight dancing happily. He asked the knight: Have you become mad?"
The knight: "Oh king! Why should I be mad? One day death had to come. These minutes are extremely valuable. The life which smiles even when death is knocking at the door is a true life. Those who have learnt to drink. The poison of sadness, they have learnt the Art of Living, this is the truth. The one who loves death experiences the real pleasure of life. The one who is not afraid of death is not afraid of any thing in this world."
The king felt ashamed and thought, "It is not right to be enemy with such a pious man." Therefore, the king asked for forgiveness from the knight. Then the knight said: "Oh king! What should I forgive you for? So many birthdays arrived and departed, but on this birthday you sent the special gift of life and death together. Oh king! My heartiest thanks to you."