Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy Kumarbharati Maharashtra State Board

The three questions written by Leo Tolstoy and is part of the curriculum in State boards, CBSE board and ICSE board. The story is of a king, who is trying to find answers to the most important questions according to him and .  

Summary of Three Questions

A king announced that whoever gave satisfactory answers to three questions, he would give that person a big reward. The questions were 1] What is the right time to begin anything/something ? 2] Who is the most important person whom you should listen to ? and 3] What is the most important thing to do ? Many people gave their opinions, but the king was not satisfied with any of the answers. He decided to go to a hermit who was renowned for his wisdom. The hermit lived in a small hut in the forest which he never left and only spoke to common folk. So, the king decided to dress as a commoner and talk to him. When the king reached the hermit’s hut, he saw the hermit digging the ground. The hermit greeted the king and continued to dig. After some time, the king put his questions forward, but the hermit continued to dig. The king believed the digging was probably taking up the hermit’s attention so he took the spade from him and started digging. The king asked his questions again, but the hermit still did not respond. The king told the hermit if he doesn’t know the answers then he shall leave and go home. Just then someone came running to the place. It was a bearded person who was wounded very badly in the stomach. The man fainted, because of the wound. The king treated him, bandaged him till the blood stopped. When the man gained consciousness the king and the hermit carried him into the hut. Tired of all the work the king fell asleep in the hut. In the morning the bearded man confessed that he was the king’s enemy who wanted to take revenge, but was caught by his soldiers and stabbed, but after the king’s treatment and sympathy he was ready to serve him. The king was happy as he had made peace with an enemy. The king decided to leave and asked the hermit his three questions one last time time. This time the hermit replied that you have got the answers to your questions which are:- A1] the most important time is now – present; A2] the most necessary person is the one with whom you are AND A3] the most important thing to do is good and the right thing to the person who is with you.


1. Read the story and answer whether the following statements are true or false.

(a) The people convinced the King to make a proclamation. FALSE

(b) The hermit spoke usually to everyone. FALSE

(c) The King received all answers from the hermit. TRUE

(d) The person the King saved and helped was his enemy. TRUE

(e) To do good to people is the purpose of our life. TRUE

Match the titles with the contents of the proper paragraph.

1. Once a certain king …important to do

i. King’s announcement.

2. Many learned people…time for everything

h The king received various answers.

3. Equally varied … gave the reward to none.

g. Questions remain unanswered.

4. When the King arrived,…my first attention.

j. The King meets the hermit.

5. The hermit listened…continued to dig

c. King helps the hermit.

6. The King turned round … gave it to him.

b. the wounded stranger

7. Meanwhile the sun … said the King

d. The stranger begs for pardon.

8. “You do not know… all my life.

f. Stranger’s vicious intention

9. The King was very glad … the day before.

a. King gains a friend.

10. “Do you not see?” … sent into this life!”

e. The hermit points out answers.