There was once a king who ruled over his subjects well. All his people were happy and his kingdom prospered. One day the King called all the religious heads of his land. Some were well renowned and well versed in Vedas and Puranas and some in the Bible, and yet others in the Koran and other scriiptures. When all were gathered together, the King asked, "Oh holy ones! Today, at the request of my subjects, I wish to declare one particular religion as the religion of my land. I leave it to you O learned ones, to decide amongst yourself and to arrive at a unanimous decision as to which religion deserves royal patronage. However I feel only that religion should be chosen whose teachings are not refused by anyone."
Years rolled past, but no decision was taken. Each felt that his religion was the best, but none of the others agreed.
One day a traveling saint arrived in the kingdom. Upon learning about the king's unfulfilled desire, he immediately went up to the king and said "O! Mighty one! I am willing to show you the religion whose teachings nobody can refute."
The king was delighted. At last after long years of waiting an answer was at hand. "Please tell me soon my dear saint. I am impatient. I have waited for many long years." The saint replied "Be patient my king. I shall reveal the name of this religion to you, only at a quiet, secluded spot. Tomorrow at twelve noon, I shall be waiting for you near the banks of the holy River Ganga. We shall go across to the opposite shore and then I will reveal the best religion."
As decided, the saint and the king met at 12 noon the next day. The king ordered a boat to take them across the river. Immediately a boat was brought. Before the king could step inside, the saint expressed the desire to inspect the boat. "No this boat will not do as one wooden plank at the bottom of the boat is loose," he complained.
Another boat was brought. After close inspection, the saint observed that a few nails were missing along the side of the boat. The king ordered another boat to be brought. After close scrutiny, the saint rejected the boat saying that the paint was chipped. This was repeated many tunes over and over again. The king was slowly loosing his patience and could not stand it any longer
"Respected sir!" he said, "For the past so many hours you have been inspecting one boat after another. You have rejected each one of them. After all, what does it matter whether the paint is chipped or a few nails are missing or a plank is loose? As long as the boat is capable of taking us across the river, I feel that these minor faults should be overlooked."
The saint turned towards the king and smiled. Softly he explained "You have finally discovered that no boat is incapable of taking us across. The religions prevalent in our land are like the boats. Each one of them is capable of taking you to the Lord. To find faults in each other's faith is mere foolishness. Go back to your kingdom and continue to rule wisely, giving each religion as much respect as your own. Live in unity."
The king fell at the saint's feet. When he got up again, he felt himself richer - richer in knowledge and in wisdom, and better able to understand God's plan.