Tenali, who? Why, only the most celebrated Telegu jester-poet in the court of legendary king Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Kingdom, of course! Seriously, though, if his name doesn’t ring a bell, you’ve let your History teacher down. The legendary court poet was known for his unique humour, wit, and offbeat yet simple solutions to everyday problems. Despite that, he was famous for his humility. In fact, so modest was he that even after being one of the Astadiggaj (8 learned men), he called himself a simpleton.
Of course, if you’ve been keeping yourself updated for some time, you will know that he is coming back to life on SAB TV with their new show, the Adventures of Tenali Rama, on July 11th at 8 PM. Thus, tipping our hats to our resident genius, here are 5 instances which prove that we should all be taking lessons in being cool from Tenali Rama.
One summer night, when Tenali and his wife were getting ready for bed, he heard some rustling outside. Presuming that it was some burglars planning to rob their house later that night, he said to his wife in a loud voice, “My dear, there has been an increase in the number of burglaries in our neighbourhood recently. Let us hide all our gold and possessions in a box and throw it in the well.”
Sometime later, the burglars watched Tenali walk out with a box and throw it in the well outside his house. After the lights went out, they went to the well and started draining it, thinking that once the water was gone, one of them would climb down and get the box. They were at it all night, and by daybreak, they finally retrieved the box. To their disappointment, it was full of stones.
When Tenali happened upon this (after a great night’s sleep, mind you), he said to the burglars, “Thank you for watering my plants, my friends. I must pay you for your hard work!”
One day, King Krishnadevaraya’s worried courtiers approached Tenali Rama for help. The king had recently dreamt about a floating palace bedecked with jewels and had promised a handsome reward to one who would turn his dream into reality. The courtiers had tried convincing him of the impossibility of such a palace but had been threatened with dire consequences. Thus, they had come to Tenali to implore the king to see reason.
A few days later, a man rushed into court, crying that he had been robbed of his life savings by a thief. The thief in question, he claimed, was none other than the king himself. The king was enraged at the ludicrous accusation and asked for an explanation. The man claimed, “Your Highness, I had a dream about you last night. In it, you ambushed my house with your soldiers and took all I had.”
The King was baffled, “Are you a fool, man? How can you treat the things in your dreams as reality?”
The man then retorted, “But sir, if you can treat the palace in your dreams as true, why can’t you rob me of my life savings as well?”
While the king floundered for words, the man took off his beard and revealed himself as none other than Tenali, his beloved courtier.
Once, a great painter came to King Krishnadevaraya’s court and, well, charmed the socks off of him with his talents. Impressed with his art, the King praised him in court and rewarded him with a bag of gold. While the courtiers were busy agreeing with the King, Tenali scowled at the painting. Pointing out the faces of the two men in the artwork, he complained that one could not see the other sides of their faces. “You fool,” the King reprimanded, “You can’t see everything in a painting. You have to imagine the bits that are missing.”
Tenali wouldn’t budge. He bet the King a bag of gold that he could make a better painting than the one the King had just applauded. The King agreed and gave Tenali some paints and a month’s time to present to him a painting that would impress him.
After a month, the King and the other courtiers made for Tenali’s home. There, Tenali presented to them the most absurd painting they had seen. The canvas was blank save for a few curved strokes of black on the right and green strokes denoting grass at the bottom. Tenali, however, couldn’t stop boasting, “Sir! Look! What a beautiful horse I’ve made! Look at the magnificent star on his forehead!”
The King was both baffled and annoyed, “What? Tenali! Don’t try to make a fool out of me! There is no horse here!”
Tenali smiled and simply replied, “But sir, you can’t see everything in a painting. You have to imagine the bits that are missing.”
Enjoying the gentle sea breeze, lying in a hammock, Tenali Rama’s friend wore a dreamy broad smile on his face. The friend sighed in longing, “I can’t wait for the day I’m really happy…”
Tenali asked him, “And when will that be?”
The friend declared, “When I have achieved every success and have had a good family life, I can simply put up my feet and enjoy the sun on my face.”
After thinking for a few moments, Tenali replied, “But my friend, you are doing that now – without having to do all that hard work!”
Once Tenali Rama saw a man on the road holding a big round shield over his head in the direction of the sun. Curious to know what the man was trying to do, Tenali Rama went up to him and asked what he was doing.
The man gave an absurd answer, “I am trying to hide the sun. It is too bright.”
Tenali asked, “My friend, why are you troubling yourself so much? I have a simpler solution to your problem.”
Saying this, Tenali Rama picked up a grain of sand in his hand and blew it into the man’s eyes.
Catch Tenali Rama on SAB TV from July 11th, 8 PM.