Every Indian child has spent his childhood marveling over the witty and incredible tales of Birbal and Tenali Raman with unwavering attention and fascination. These stories have always helped children in distinguishing right from wrong.
Tenali Ramakrishna Stories was a prominent scholar, poet, and advisor to King Krishnadevaraya in the Kingdom of Vijayanagara. Today let’s explore five of the best Tenali Ramakrishna stories, which portray his wisdom and knowledge.
1. A Handful of Grain and the Coins
In the kingdom of Vijayanagar, there lived a woman named Vidhyulatha. Vidyulatha prided herself on her achievements and believed that no one could surpass her in knowledge and wisdom. Thus to prove her superior intellect, she put up a board in front of her house, announcing a prize of a thousand gold coins to anyone who could defeat her in knowledge.
One day, it so happened that a firewood seller arrived in front of her house, and started shouting for someone to buy his firewood.
Disturbed and wanting to send away the firewood seller, Vidhyulatha agreed to buy the man’s firewood. The man immediately demanded that he would exchange his firewood only for a ‘handful of grain.’
He further added that if she couldn’t complete his challenge, she had to give him the thousand gold coins promised to the person who outwits her. This eventually led to an argument among the two and resulted in the matter being taken to court. The judge asked the firewood seller to explain his actions.
The Firewood seller explained that he had asked for a ‘Handful grain,’ which meant that he wanted a single grain that would fit in his hand. Hearing this, the judge too agreed with the firewood seller, and Vidhyulatha had to concede defeat. Eventually, after a while, she asked the firewood seller who he was, upon which Tenali Rama took off his disguise and revealed himself. The story tells us not to be arrogant in our accomplishments and to be humble in our achievements.
2. The Cursed Man or King
There was a rumor in the kingdom that whoever saw Ramayya, first thing in the morning, would undoubtedly lose his appetite for the whole day. When the King came to know about this widespread rumor, he decided to test it out himself. Hence one day, the King intentionally met Ramayya first thing in the morning before attending to his duties.
That day, the King was unable to have his food because there was a fly in his food.
When food was served for the second time, the King had lost his appetite. This incident made the King believe that Ramaya was indeed cursed, and hence he ordered Ramaya to be hanged. Hearing this, Ramaya’s wife immediately went to Tenali Rama to plead with him to think of a way to save her husband’s life. Thus Tenali Rama met Ramaya and whispered something into his ear. Accordingly, before he was hanged, Ramaya sent a note to the King, requesting him to read the message. In the letter, Ramaya had asked the King, “who was the more cursed, him or the King, for if anyone sees him in the morning, they lose their appetite, but if they saw the King first, they were destined to lose their life”. When the King read this, he understood his mistake and freed the man.
3. The Dream Palace of the King
One day the King had a dream about a majestic palace that floated in the air. Upon waking up from his sleep, the King decided that he was going to build such a castle and announced that he would give away a thousand gold coins to anyone who could build him such a palace. Upon hearing this, all the courtiers were surprised as they knew that it was impossible to build such a palace, but in fear of angering the King, they kept silent. When Tenali Rama came to know about this, he decided to help the courtiers.
One day, an older man came to the palace of the King and accused the King of robbing him. When further questioned, the man revealed that the night before, he had a dream in which the King himself had arrived at his home with several soldiers and robbed him.
Hearing this, the King got angry and said that dreams are far from reality. Hearing this, the older man removed his disguise, revealing him to be none other than Tenali Rama. Tenali Rama then humbly asked the King, if dreams are not real, then how anyone could build a floating palace that the king had seen in a dream. The King thus realized his mistake and appreciated the intelligence of Tenali Rama.
4. Tenali Raman and the Cat
Once in court, the topic of the debate was on which animal was the smartest. One minister said with conviction that the cat was the most intelligent and smart animal. Everyone agreed with his opinion. Thus the King decided to organize a competition to find out which cat was the smartest. Hence all the courtiers were asked to bring their cats the next day. The King also announced that he would give a reward for the cat that would do something that the other cats don’t.
Eventually, the competition was held. The King brought milk in a golden plate, and soon as the milk arrived, all cats except one ran to drink it. It was Tenali Rama’s cat who refused to drink the milk. Tenali Rama asked the King to reward him as his cat had done something that the other cats had not. And hence the King declared the cat of Tenali Raman as the winner.
Later the King asked Tenali Raman how he had managed to train his cat not to drink milk. Tenali Raman explained that his cat had once unintentionally drunk hot milk and burnt his tongue. Since then, the cat has always been afraid of milk. This incident gave the King a hearty laugh.
5. Tenali Rama and the Weight-Lifter
One day when Tenali Raman and his wife were going on a journey, they witnessed a large crowd. On further investigation, they came to know that the crowd was gathered around a man who was carrying about 500 quintals of rice on his shoulders. Everyone seemed quite amazed and perplexed. Suddenly Tenali Rama said that the man was capable of nothing when compared to him as he could carry an entire hill on his shoulders.
The villagers seemed quite amazed and urged him to do so. However, Tenali Rama said that he would need at least six months for some necessary preparations, as the man who carried mere 500 quintals of rice on his shoulders needed three months to practice.
Everyone agreed to this, and Tenali Rama was allowed to stay in the village for six months. During this time, he was treated with respect and was given good food and everything that he asked for.
Eventually, six months were over, and the day for Tenali Rama to perform arrived. As he had said, Tenali Rama walked to the foot of the hill and stood still. Seeing this, the villagers asked him why he wasn’t carrying the hill on his shoulders. To this, he replied that he was waiting for them to place the hill on his shoulders so that he could carry it, as he had not said that he could lift it. For a moment, the villagers were surprised, and no one spoke. After the initial silence, everyone laughed heartily and congratulated Tenali Rama for his quick wit.
All the Tenali Ramakrishna stories are, though interesting and witty, also embody deep meaning. Through the simple incidents depicted in the story, people of any age can draw invaluable lessons on life. Today the stories of Tenali Rama are quite popular and widely read.