Unconscious Man

An illiterate friend asked Nasruddin to write a letter for him.

Nasruddin, however, refused, saying, “Unfortunately, I can’t do it right now—my foot is sore.”

“Your foot?” the friend said. “What does that have to do with writing a letter?”

“Well,” explained Nasruddin, “since nobody besides me can read my handwriting, I have to go wherever the letter goes so that I can read it to the recipient.”

'Oh, come on, do not try to fool me, you lazy fellow. Now start writing"  enforced the friend.

"Fine, then as you say" agreed Nasruddin and proceeded to write the letter.

After this friend finished dictating the letter to Nasruddin, he said, "Now please read it back to me so that I know nothing is left out".

Nasruddin tried hard to read his writing.  He could just read, "My dear brother" and then gave up, "I am not able to figure out what the next word is."

"Really, your script in ineligible for reading to yourself? I should not have asked you to write this letter."

"Let me remind you, at this moment my job is only to write this letter for you, not to read it.  Understood."

"That makes sense.  Besides the letter is not addressed to you, anyway!"


To be able to read one's own writing one should be conscious while writing.  Man is not able to remain conscious while doing activities.  It can be compared to sleep walk.  So Nasruddin is trying to wake us up through such stories.

What's the difference between this illiterate and Mulla Nasruddin.  Mulla is after all a title of scholarship.  No difference.  An illiterate cannot read or write.  The writing of Mulla Nasruddin is such that nobody, even himself cannot read it.  This illiterate also can scribble something on paper.  That does not make it letters.  That is not writing.  So whether one is knowing like Nasruddin how to act and think in this world or whether one is illiterate to the ways of the world, in either case it simply does not matter.  Because in reality both are not knowing.  In sleep whether you do something or you do not do something, it is still sleep only.  What matters is to awake, is to be conscious.   

One day an illiterate man came to Mullah Nasruddin with a letter he had received.
"Nasruddin, please read this letter to me."
Nasruddin looked at the letter, but could not make out a single word. So he confessed,
"I am sorry, but I cannot read this."

The man cried, "For shame, Nasruddin ! You must be ashamed of the turban you are wearing." Turban is considered the sign of education.
Mulla Nasruddin removed the turban from his own head and placed it on the head of the illiterate man and said,
"There, now you wear the turban. If it gives some knowledge, read the letter yourself."

We put turbans, our hard earned degrees on our heads and shoulders.  But that does not make us any better at conscious living.

If one cannot read one's own writing then why write at all, it means, if one cannot be aware of one's doing then why do anything.

** Read full explanation of this story from the Most In-depth Book on Mulla Nasruddin Ever!