Ananda is a student of class 10 in his village. He paints very well. He wants to learn to paint from a great painter from his village Shiva. But Shiva was no ordinary painter and he doesn’t teach painting for money, which is an advantage for Ananda since he cannot afford the money. But Shiva only teaches to the one who passes his test.
On a nice sunny morning, after breakfast Ananda walks to Shiva’s house situated in a nice green farm. It was a simple hut with only the basic necessities. Shiva grew all that is needed for himself to eat. He only painted for others, there was not a single painting in his house.
Ananda knocks the door. Shiva opens it and greets him with a friendly smile, as if he knew he was coming.
Ananda politely bows down and asks “I am a school boy, I am interested in painting and I come here in humility to learn more in painting.”
Shiva let him in and spoke “This is the test my boy. Here is a white wall. You have as much time as you like. If you paint the most beautiful thing that you can think of, then I will accept you as my student.”
Ananda was very hopeful that he can paint his best.
Ananda was very good in painting nature.
On the first day he began painting mountains, rocks and houses around them. He sat there looking at it intensely for the whole day. He did not leave home. Seeing the boy’s dedication Shiva offered him some food and water. He ate and remained watching it unmoved, adjusting the painting, as the night fell.
Shiva said “My dear boy, I keep the door open. You can leave home and come back next day when you feel like”, as he slept.
Ananda was staring at the wall for too long and he forgot he had to leave home. He slept there on the floor.
He woke up the next day and with a flash of inspiration, began painting a river on this painting. It needed a water body. He continued to stay there and work on the painting.
On the third day, he added a nice orange shade to the subjects on the painting to show the light from the sunrise in his painting.
On the fourth day, he added some flying leaves, flower petals, and flowing hair and clothes of men and women to show the presence of a light breeze.
On the fifth day, he felt his painting was not complete. He wasn’t sure if it was the most beautiful. He sat there contemplating. He stopped painting now.
On the sixth day, he began to think there are too many things in his painting. He began erasing them one by one and continued to do so.
Shiva began to smile now, as if he knew what was happening in his mind and where he was going to get.
At the end of seventh day, Ananda erased the whole painting and turned to Shiva and bowed down to his feet.
Shiva calmly asked “What happened? Why did you erase all that you did for 7 days?”
Ananda got up with tears in his eyes “O master of masters! The most beautiful painting in the world, does not come from me. It is the white wall itself that is beautiful and only that can bring out a perfect painting from me! I do not know anything!”
Shiva held him up with tears of joy in his eyes.
“My boy, you have passed the test. I will teach you the art of listening to the beautiful white wall, which alone can tell you what to paint on it.”