Tenali Rama was a courtier to Emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya, who ruled the mighty kingdom of Vijayanagara. Here is a story where Tenali Rama used his wit and humor to hint the emperor about his hasty decision subtly.
Once, the royal mother fell sick and was bedridden. Sri Krishnadevaraya summoned doctors from all over the kingdom to nurse his mother back to health. However, after examining her, the doctors said that the chances of her survival were slim as she was old, and her body was not responding to the medications.
One day, the mother called out to her son and said, “My dear son, it is time for me to leave this material world. I do not have any hope or wish to live in this body anymore. But I have one last wish, would you fulfill it before I die?
The teary-eyed king asked her what she wished for and promised that he would fulfill it. The mother smiled faintly, and, with difficulty, spoke, “Son, I want to eat one ripe mango before I leave this world forever.”
The son immediately summoned his courtiers and guards and ordered them to scan the whole kingdom and get a basket full of ripe mangoes. Everyone was surprised as spring had just begun, and the mango trees only started to flower. So, it would take some time for the trees to bear fruits.
They were not sure if the royal mother would be able to survive that long. But they did not dare to speak about it to the grief-stricken king.
After a few days, the soldiers managed to get a basket full of ripe mangoes. Sri Krishnadeveraya was extremely happy and rushed to her mother, holding the basket in his hands, but, just when he was about to place the basket near her bedside, his mother took her last breath.
This incident made the king deeply sad; he cursed himself for not being able to fulfill his mother’s last wish. He sunk in guilt and started neglecting his royal duties. One day, he invited his guru, Thathacharya, to his chambers, explained his struggles, and asked for a solution.
Thathacharya thought for some time and said, “Your Majesty, your mother was always fond of giving alms to Brahmins, why don’t you give golden mangoes to all the Brahmins in the kingdom? Maybe then, her soul might rest in peace?”
The king agreed to this solution and ordered to make golden mangoes and distribute them to the Brahmins in the country. Soon, the news of the gold mangoes spread across the kingdom, and hundreds of Brahmins came to the royal palace to collect them. The gold reserves in the royal treasury started to melt. Although Appaji, the Chief Minister, cautioned the king about this, he did not pay heed to it, and the distribution of golden mangoes continued.
Appaji was extremely worried about the future of the Vijayanagara kingdom and approached Tenali Rama to help him solve this issue. Tenali Rama assured Appaji that he would take care of it. The next day, he visited the treasury, where the Brahmins were waiting in a long queue to receive their golden mango.
Rama went inside a nearby empty tent, sat there, and called out the guards standing outside. When the guards came in, he said, “Guards! Send the Brahmins to me before they go to collect the golden mango.” As Tenali Rama was a special advisor to the king, they assumed that this was as per the Majesty’s order and said that they would do so.
One by one, the Brahmins started to enter Rama’s tent. Inside, Rama told them that there was an amendment in the rules, which was that every Brahmin should take one hot-rod burn on the back to be eligible to get the golden mango. The Brahmins agreed and took one burn each before collecting the golden mango.
This continued until one Brahmin asked Rama if he can take two burns and get two golden mangoes. Rama said yes and gave him two burns. But when the Brahmin went to collect the mangoes, the guards gave him only one. The Brahmin started to argue that he has to get two mangoes as he took two burns. Perplexed, the guards took him to the king’s court.
When the king asked the Brahmin what the issue was, the Brahmin said, “Your Majesty, the guards are denying me two golden mangoes even after Tenali Rama promised me to give two mangoes for two burns.”
Saying this, he showed his burnt back to the king. The king became furious and summoned Tenali Rama.
Once Rama was in court, the king demanded an explanation. Rama bowed to the king and said, “I am extremely sorry, your Majesty. But I had no other choice.
“My mother passed away due to a deadly disease. The doctor advised that she could be saved if we gave her a burn on her back with a hot rod. But before I could administer it, she passed away.”
With tears in his tears, he continued, “While on her deathbed, my mother requested to administer this cure on Brahmins so that her soul could rest in peace. However, being a poor Brahmin, I could never gather all these Brahmins. I thought, why not use those who came to your royal court.”
After hearing what Rama said, the king was lost in thought. He dismissed the court and started to ponder over what Rama said. He realized his mistake and asked the guards to stop the distribution of golden mangoes to Brahmins.
Moral of the story
Never take hasty decisions blinded by your emotions.