Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Tales of Tenali Raman - Tenali Raman's Unmatched Wit

King Krishnadevaraya was brave and skilled in the art of war. He was a great soldier too. He conquered the neighboring weak and cruel kingdoms and added vast areas to the Vijaynagar Kingdom. 

Once he had to fight a decisive war with his enemy but he was worried as his enemy was very strong. Before the war, he wanted to be sure of his victory. So he called his royal astrologer to ask him for an auspicious time to march into the war which could lead him to a victory. 

The astrologer was a very wise scholar. He consulted his charts and calculated the positions of the stars and planets in conjunction with the king’s star sign. He made a favorable conclusion and told the king, “Your Majesty, you can start marching with your troops on the coming Sunday. I see that some stars favor you and some don’t. You will have to worship god in a particular way to appease him and only then the victory will be yours.”

However, the king could not follow his astrologer’s advice because his enemy had a huge army which already marched towards him. King knew he couldn’t afford disregarding his astrologer’s advice as he wanted to win the war. 

The king looked at his ministers but none said anything to him. He then looked at his favorite minister, Tenali but even he was quiet. Tenali Raman was blessed with Kalika Goddess and was very intelligent. Tenali could see the king’s predicament and he also shared the king’s worries. 

Tenali said to the king, “Your Majesty, let’s go to the battlefield.” The king accepted the challenge as he had a great respect for Tenali. When they reached the battlefield, Tenali saw that the rival army had already assembled. He made a keen observation of his and rival army’s strength and weaknesses. 

Tenali Raman said to the king, “Your majesty, I have analyzed both the army’s strength and weaknesses. I can now predict a victory for you.” The king was happy with this victorious outcome of the war but he was still uncertain about it because of what the astrologer had said. So he asked Tenali to explain the ideas and conclusions in detail. 

Tenali was very observant and he had judged the armies in a scientific way. He said to the king, “We can see a large number of elephants, less number of horses and a large number of soldiers in the enemy camp. On the other side, we have a few elephants but a powerful cavalry with specially trained Persian horses. We also have large number of young and energetic soldiers.”

He further added, “Our weapons are modern but enemy comes with old and traditional weapons. Their soldiers are old and don’t seem to have any of the enthusiasm. Our soldiers look confident and are highly experienced. You are also a great warrior and you have fought many wars and won them. Hence you have a great advantage over the enemy and more chances of winning.”

The king got a little thoughtful after hearing this. Tenali Raman said, “You don’t need to worry at all, your Majesty. All you have to do is forget that you consulted any astrologer. Leaver your worries aside and think like a great warrior. Decide your own military strategies. Strike the enemy’s elephants and create a havoc in the enemy camp. While the enemy would be in confused, you move in your cavalry and defeat them.”

The king did not show any reaction. Now Tenali spoke aggressively, “Your majesty, if the astrologer had predicted your defeat, then would you have surrendered your empire to the enemy without a fight?” The king replied authoritatively, “No, never! That is impossible! I would have still fought till my last breath.”

Tenali Raman said, “So, why don’t you forget what the astrologer foretold? Do not depend on your stars and planet for victory. I would suggest that you start your war at the right moment when your enemy is at the weakest point. To depend on astrology is a sign of weakness. The predictions of the astrologers differ from man to man. What matters the most is faith in God and faith in yourself. Man can achieve the impossible with the right efforts. All people including me will pray for you. You will definitely win.”

Then the king said with confidence, “Yes, I will win the war.” At that moment, the king realized that Tenali Raman was such an extraordinary person. The king won that war and many other wars too. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Tales of Tenali Raman - Tenali Raman and The Wicked Priest

Appalacharya was the family priest of King Krishnadevaraya.  He was also related the king and performed all the religious rituals for the king and his family. Appalacharya was a very talented scholar. He was respect by all in the court and the king would always consult him for certain issues. 

But even after all this, Appalacharya was neither happy nor satisfied. He always felt jealous of Tenali Raman. He thought he was way cleverer and more intelligent than Tenali Raman but his talent was not appreciated to that extent. After all, Appalacharya was just a priest and Tenali Raman was a minister. 

Whenever someone said anything good about Tenali Raman, Appalacharya got more and more jealous. He got more irritated towards Tenali. He started insulting Tenali often. 

There were two main sects during the time of Krishnadevaraya – the Smartha sect and the Vaishnava sect. Tenali Raman belonged to the Smartha sect and Appalacharya was from the Vaishnava sect. Appalacharya took advantage of this and started spreading rumors that the king was partial towards the Smartha sect and that was the reason why Tenali was made the minister. 

He gathered all the sect members and started misleading them by spreading such rumors. He also told them that Tenali hated the Vaishnava sect. He continued to spread such gossip to bring down Tenali Raman. 

The king was not aware of this jealousy and negative behavior of the priest but Tenali Raman was very much disturbed by this enmity from such a learned man. 

One early morning, Tenali went to Appalacharya’s house for some official work. Appalacharya saw him coming and once Tenali Raman came closer, Appalacharya covered his face with a cloth. Tenali Raman noticed it but did not comment. They discussed the official work and once concluding it, Tenali got up to leave. While leaving Tenali asked him, “Appalacharya, can you please tell me why did you cover your face when you saw me? Why is your face still covered?”

Appalacharya replied sarcastically, “Raman, you are very intelligent and knowledgeable so you should have understood my action. If we, Vaishnavas, see face of Smarthas first thing in the morning then we will be born as donkeys in our next birth.”

Tenali Raman was deeply hurt with this insulting reply. He had many friends from the Vaishnava sect and he knew this was not true. He decided to teach this arrogant and mean priest a lesson. 

Once, King Krishnadevaraya went on an outing with his courtiers. Tenali Raman and Appalacharya were also with him. They all saw some donkeys grazing in the nearby field. Tenali Raman went to the donkeys, knelt and bowed to the donkeys. The whole group stood in silence and looked at Tenali surprisingly. 

King knew about Tenali’s eccentric behavior and he knew there was some good reason behind his action. He asked Tenali, “Why are you bowing to the donkeys? Do they look like saint to you?”

Tenali replied, “No sir, it is nothing like that. I went to Appalacharya’s house sometime back for some official work early in the morning. Appalacharyaji covered his face when he saw me and when I asked him for the reason behind his behavior, Appalacharya kindly explained that when a Vaishnava sees Smartha’s face first thing in the morning, he becomes a donkey in his next birth. So, when I saw some donkeys here today, I thought they must be Appalcharya’s relatives so I felt it was my duty to bow down and kneel in respect and thus ask for their forgiveness on behalf of the Smarthas whose faces they had seen in their previous births.”

The king immediately realized what had happened. Some of his courtiers had disclosed the nefarious activities of Appalacharya to him. The king was appaled by Appalacharya’s behavior and Tenali Raman looked very hurt.

Before he could say anything, Tenali Raman spoke sadly, “Your majesty, I never hurt or harmed anybody. I never wish anything ill for anybody. We are what the God made us. Caste and religion are to worship God and achieve spirituality. It is not to measure one’s high or low position. I believe there is only one Supreme Power who can be called by many names so why do the learned try to hurt or harm us?”

The king felt sorry for Tenali Raman. He said, “Appalacharya, you are a scholar who is respected by everyone, even by me. You don’t have to be jealous about Tenali Raman or anyone. You have a distinctive place in my palace. You should have faith in me and my judgement. I don’t favor or discriminate anybody on the basis of their religion or language. The administration of this kingdom is based on the great Sage Vidyaranya’s principles. I am following his great teachings in all the matters of our kingdom. I can recognize merit and talent. I appoint my ministers and officers. I want my kingdom to flourish on good qualities of my ministers.”

The king further added, “I gave you many chances to prove your merit. It is not good on your part to behave in such manner. In future, if you indulge in activities unworthy of you, I shall not hesitate to send you away with punishment for your wrong actions. Consider this as a warning. Try to be a better man.”

Appalacharya took this advice in the right spirit. He begged the king for his forgiveness. He promised the king that he would behave properly and pledged his life for the betterment of the kingdom. He also assured Tenali Raman that he would only praise him in future and never ever hate him. 

Monday, December 4, 2023

Comprehension Passage - 2

Title: Bad temper - The vice of the virtuous

The next ingredient is a very remarkable one: Good Temper. "Love is not easily provoked". Nothing could be more striking than to find this here. We are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness. We speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing, a matter of temperament, not a thing to take into a very serious account in estimating a man's character.

And yet here, right in the heart of this analysis of love, it finds a place; and the Bible again and again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements in human nature. The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous. It is often the one blot on an otherwise noble character. You know men who are all but perfect, and women who could be entirely perfect but for an easily ruffled, quick tempered or touchy disposition. This compatibility of ill temper with high moral character is one of the strangest and saddest problems of ethics.

 The truth is there are two great classes of sins - sins of the Body,  and sins of Disposition.  The Prodigal son may be taken as a type of the first, the Elder brother of the second. Now society has no doubt whatever as to which of these is worse.  Its brand falls, without a challenge, upon the Prodigal. But are we right? We have no balance to weigh one another’s sins, and coarser and finer are but human words; but faults in the higher nature may be less venial than those in the lower, and to the eye of Him who is Love, a sin against Love may seem a hundred times more base. No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself does more to un-christianise society than evil temper. 

For embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom off childhood; in short for sheer gratuitous misery-producing power, this influence stands alone. 

Jealousy, anger, pride, uncharity, self-righteousness, touchiness, doggedness, sullenness - in varying proportions these are the ingredients of all ill-temper. Judge if such sins of disposition are not worse to live in, and for others to live with than sins of the body. There is really no place in Heaven for a disposition like this. A man with such a mood could only make Heaven miserable for the all the people in it.

                                                                                                    Henry Drummond


1. What is the popular notion about 'bad temper'?

Answer -  According to the author, bad temper is considered as a harmless weakness and is spoken merely as if it is a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing or as a matter of temperament. 

2. How is bad temper 'the vice of the virtuous'?

Answer - Bad temper is one blot on an otherwise noble character. Men and women could be entirely perfect except for a ill-tempered disposition. Hence bad temper is referred as the vice of the virtuous.

3. Which class of sins is the worse and why - sins of the body or the sins of the disposition?

Answer - Sins of the disposition are worse than the sins of the body because evil temper un-Christianise the society more than the bodily sins. 

4. Mention some evils of bad temper?

Answer - Evil temper can embitter life, break up communities, destroy most scared relationships, devastate homes, wither up men and women, for taking the bloom off childhood. 

5. Why, according to the author, will there be no place in Heaven for bad-tempered folks?

Answer - According to the author, there will be no place in Heaven for bad-tempered folks because people with evil-temper can only make heaven a miserable place for all the people in it. 

6. Who is the author of this passage?

Answer - Henry Drummond.

7. What could be the title for this comprehension passage?

Answer - Bad temper - The vice of the virtuous. 

8. Name any three ingredients of ill temper?

Answer - Jealousy, anger and cruelty.

9. What is the nearest meaning for the word 'ruining' in the passage?

Answer - Devastating.

10. Find words from the passage which mean : breaking up, ruining, scandalising, souring, easily or quickly offended.

Answer - 1. breaking up: destroying.

               2. ruining: devastating.

               3. scandalising: withering.

               4. souring: embittering.

               5. easily or quickly offended: touchy.

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