A farmer was old and dying. He had three sons and found that they were always quarrelling with one another. This worried the old farmer. ‘What will they do after I die?’ he wondered.
One day he decided to do something before it was too late. He ordered his servant to fetch him a bundle of sticks from the shed. When the servant brought the bundle, he asked him to fetch his sons. The servant found one in the field, the second in the cowshed and the third one grazing the sheep. He told them that their father was asking for them, so they came to the house.
The old farmer looked up and saw his sons. “Have you called us, father?” asked the sons. “Yes, I did. Come here, boys,” he said, “Do you see this bundle of sticks? I want you to take it and try to break the bundle.”
He first asked the eldest son to break it. The young son picked the bundle up and tried to break it but found that he could not. Then the second son struggled till he was sweating, but he couldn’t break it either.
Now, it was the turn of the youngest one. He considered himself very bright. He placed the bundle across his knee and tried to break it. But in spite of all his efforts, he too found that he was unable to break the bundle.
The old farmer asked him to untie the bundle of sticks. So, the young son knelt down and unwound the rope around the bundle. The sticks fell apart and lay scattered on the floor. “I want each of you to pick one stick up and break it,” said the old farmer.
Each of his sons picked a stick up. The three sticks snapped without any difficulty.
“See what happens when they are apart,” asked the old farmer, “If you quarrel, then you can be broken easily; but if you stick together, no one can break you!” Finally, the sons understood their father’s advice.