Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tales of Tenali Raman - Tenali Raman and the Greedy Brahmins

Once when King Krishnadevaraya's mother got very ill, she spoke to the king about her wish of wanting to donate mangoes to the Brahmins. Not being a season of mangoes, the king found it difficult to fulfill her wish and before his guards could find any mangoes in the neighboring states,  his mother passed away. The king was heartbroken that he couldn't fulfill his mother's last wish. Time passed but king couldn't forget this episode at all.

So one day, the king called a Brahmin and asked him for an advice. He said, " O Brahmin! It was my mother's last wish to donate mangoes to the Brahmins. It was not a mangoes season so it was difficult enough and before we could find any, my mother passed away. I couldn't fulfill her last wish  and now I wonder whether my mother's soul will rest in peace?  O dear Brahmin! please help me to bring peace to my mother's soul."

This Brahmin was a greedy man and considered this as a golden opportunity to make some money for himself and the other Brahmins. He said to the king, " O my dear Lord! This is indeed a grave situation. If a person's last wish isn't fulfilled then the soul of this dead person never attains peace and wanders in the dark. Now that you haven't been able to fulfill her wish when she was alive, you will have to make sure that you fulfill it before its too late. But right now the only way to do this is not by donating real mangoes but only pure, golden mangoes to the Brahmins."

Being a religious and faithful man, King Krishnadevaraya readily agreed with the Brahmin's suggestion. He not only distributed golden mangoes among the Brahmins but also offered them other gifts. The Brahmins guaranteed the King that now his mother's soul would rest in peace. This made the king very happy and relieved.

Tenali Raman had witnessed the religious ceremony and was unhappy with the Brahmin's greed. The fact that angered him more was that the Brahmins had actually looted and deceived the king in the name of religion. So he decided to teach the Brahmins a lesson.

As soon as the Brahmins got ready to leave the king's court, Tenali Raman approached them and requested, " O dear Brahmins! I am so impressed with the rites that you performed to liberate the soul of the king's mother. It is my mother's death anniversary today and I request you to come visit my home and perform some religious rites for her. I have made arrangements for some gifts that I wish to give you after the rites are performed."

Hearing about the gifts the Brahmins readily agreed to perform the rites and happily went with Tenali Raman. They were aware of the fact that Tenali Raman always received gifts from the king for his witty answers and intelligence. So they knew that Tenali Raman would offer them expensive gifts. As soon as the Brahmins entered Tenali's house, Tenali locked the doors from inside and lighted a fire in the hearth inside the kitchen. He also put some long iron rods in the fire to heat.

The Brahmins were shocked by Tenali's act and wondered what was going on. They did not see any preparation for the religious rite that was to be performed. On the other hand Tenali was busy heating long iron rods and turning it properly from all sides to heat well.  After losing patience,  the Brahmins asked Tenali, "Dear Raman, can you tell us what is going on here? We don't see any signs of preparation for rites to perform. On the other hand you are busy heating iron rods. If you don't wish to perform any rite, please let us know so we could leave." On this Tenali replied, " O Brahmins! please have some patience. I am waiting for the rods to heat, once that is done you can start with the rituals."

Puzzled, the Brahmins started looking at one another. They started to get a bit nervous. One of them asked Tenali, " Tell us Dear Raman, what has iron rods got to do with the rites that are to be performed for your mother? This just looks like a complete waste of time and we have to return home."

Calmly, Tenali Raman replied, "The thing is my mother suffered from arthritis. She used red-hot irons to relieve pain in her joints. On her last day, she asked me to heat the iron rod, but before I could do so she passed away. Now I know that her soul hasn't attained peace because her last wish was not fulfilled. So I am going to put this red-hot irons on your bodies. This way I am sure her last wish will be fulfilled and finally her soul will rest in peace." The Brahmins looked shocked. Tenali continued, "Why not! If the king's mother can attain peace by you receiving golden mangoes then why can't my mother attain peace if I put red-hot iron on your bodies. If the king's sin can be recompensed by offering you golden mangoes then I am sure my sin can be recompensed by putting red-hot iron on your bodies."

The Brahmins looked aghast. Tenali allowed them some time to recover from their shock. Then he said, "O Great Brahmins! Please have patience. Now in few minutes I will bring red-hot iron to each one of you." And, saying so Tenali Raman went inside. Now the Brahmins had realized what message Tenali Raman wanted to convey them. They were ashamed of themselves. All the Brahmins went to Tenali Raman and asked for his forgiveness. The very next day they went to the king's court and returned the golden mangoes. Wondering why, the king asked for explanation. The Brahmins replied, " O Lord! You have been kind and generous to us. But we have taken undue advantage of the situation. We got greedy and we are ashamed of our behaviour." Now they told the king about their episode with Tenali Raman and how he helped them realize their mistake.

After listening to all this the king said, " O Brahmins! It is against my custom to take back the gifts that I give as charities. So there is no way that I will take back the golden mangoes. Please keep them with you." On this the Brahmins replied, " No way we could keep the mangoes and continue to be the sinners. Please O King! don't force us to keep the mangoes."

The king got very angry on listening all this and started losing his patience. Finally Tenali Raman came to the Brahmin's rescue. He said," O Lord! Please don't force the Brahmins to accept the mangoes against their wishes. Your stand is also right when you say that you can't take the gift back. But I would request you to send the golden mangoes directly to each Brahmin's house. This way the problem will be solved without any trouble." The King readily agreed and was pleased with Tenali Raman. He came forward and hugged him.

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