King Sri Krishnadevaraya had a special garden where he grew a variety of rare brinjals. These brinjals were known to be quite tasty and found only in the royal garden. Therefore, the garden was guarded round the clock.
One day, the king hosted dinner for all his courtiers and served a special brinjal curry. Tenali Rama savored the curry and couldn’t forget its taste. After reaching home, he told his wife about the special brinjal curry and praised its taste. Tempted by his narration, Rama’s wife requested him to bring those brinjals home so that she could cook the dish.
Rama replied, “Dear, those brinjals are grown only in the royal garden, which is heavily guarded. How can I get them?” However, his wife insisted on tasting the curry and begged him to get those brinjals. Reluctantly, Rama agreed.
One night, Rama sneaked into the king’s garden and plucked a few brinjals. His wife was delighted to see the brinjals and cooked the curry. She wanted their six-year-old son to taste it too.
To this, Rama said, “Dear, I can understand your motherly love, but do not make such a mistake; we will be in trouble if he tells anybody about the tasty brinjal curry.” However, her motherly affection would not allow her to eat alone without serving the curry to her son, who was sleeping on the roof after finishing his homework.
So, Rama had to think of a solution. He went upstairs and poured a bucket of water on his sleeping son. When the child woke up, he said, “Son, it is raining. Let’s go inside and have dinner.” Once indoors, Rama changed his son’s clothes and served him rice and the brinjal curry. He called his wife, saying, “It is raining outside; let our son sleep in the room.”
The next day, the gardener noticed that some of the brinjals were missing, and he informed the king. The king was furious and took it as a challenge to find out who the thief was. Chief advisor Appaji suspected that only Tenali Rama would be capable of doing such a thing and told the king about his suspicion.
The king then asked his guards to bring Rama to his court. Once Rama was brought to the court, the king asked him about the missing brinjals. Rama replied, “I am not aware of the missing brinjals, your majesty.”
Appaji then suggested that Rama’s son be brought to the court.
The guards brought Rama’s son to the court. The king asked the boy what he had for dinner the previous night. The boy replied, “I had brinjal curry, and it was very tasty.” Appaji then told Rama to accept his crime. Rama replied, “Appaji, my son slept very early last night. He might be telling something he had in his dream.”
Appaji then asked the boy to describe the things he did after returning from school. The boy replied, “After returning from school, I went out to play, did my homework, and slept on the roof. My father woke me up and asked me to get inside as it started to rain. I went inside, changed my clothes, had dinner, and slept inside the house.”
Appaji was surprised upon hearing the boy’s answer, as it did not rain the previous night. So, everyone believed that the boy had dreamt about eating brinjal curry, and Rama was freed without any punishment.
However, later, Rama confessed his mistake in front of the king and Appaji. They pardoned him as they were impressed by his intelligence.
Moral of the story:
One should never steal.