Jesus narrates this story in Luke 15: 11-32. It is the tale of a man who had two sons. The younger of the two sons being wayward and implacable manages to secure his share in the family inheritance, while the father is still alive. Doing so, he proceeds on a journey to far off lands to lead a life of incontinence and indulgence. Eventually his profligate life makes him loose all his wealth and he has to finally succumb to the level of serving as a swineherd, a task considered to be improper and menial as per the Judaic tradition and beliefs. Finally this spoiled son manages to regain his sense of values and decides to revert back to the mercy and forgiveness of his long ditched and betrayed old father. Contrary to the expectations of the prodigal son, the father instead of denying or disowning his faithless progeny, welcomes him wholeheartedly, without even waiting for him to give words to his repentance and sense of loss. The father not only warmly embraces his sinful son by forgetting his excesses, but asks his servants to sacrifice the choicest calf to celebrate the occasion. Such discernable exuberance on the part of the father makes the elder son think that the father is perhaps more favourable towards his errant sibling and does not appropriately appreciates his loyalty and noble sentiments. The father allays the misgivings of the elder son and placates him by saying that'
"My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found (Luke 15: 31-32, New International Version: Online)."
This parable was the Messiah's way of rebutting the aspersions of Pharisees as to Him being open towards and accepting of repentant and sinners and gives expression to the joy and bliss felt by an individual who has corrected his ways and has come back to the flock of the faithful.
The Story of the Prodigal Son and the Western Art, Literature and Music
In total there exist about thirty parables in the Bible, yet the gravity of the story of the Prodigal Son is such that it tends to be one of the four prominent parables that found a place of eminence in the medieval art (Ross 1996). As the European art progressed to the variety and versatility of Renaissance, the depiction of the scenes from the parable of the Prodigal Son became more ubiquitous, thematic and symbolic in scope (Ross 1996). In fact it happened to be the most preferred story of the medieval and Renaissance artists, writers and poets. The appeal of the story tends to be so strong and gripping that it managed to solicit the attention and respect of even the masters like Albrecht Durer and Rembrandt (Ross 1996). In the late 15th and early 16th century, the story of the Prodigal Son got interwoven in the morality plays with much verve and enthusiasm, the directors and artists resorting to a range of plots and twists to add a sense of novelty and interest to a theme that was ancient and sacrosanct in its scope. The writers further added to the substance of the actual story to make the adaptations more popular and engrossing. It goes without saying that the story constitutes such an integral part of the Western ethics and folklore that even contemporary groups