Tenali Rama the Messenger
His fame spread beyond Vijaynagar (present-day Andhra Pradesh), to areas that come in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka today. Tenali Rama was also a great scholar of several languages that included Marathi, Tamil and Kannada.
The kingdom of Vijaynagar had not been enjoying good relations with its neighbouring state for a very long time. Jealous opponents of Tenali Rama, the king's minister, found it the perfect opportunity to damage his reputation. So they went about poisoning Krishnadeva Rai's mind against him.
One day, when the king sat in his chamber pondering over the affairs of the state, one of his courtiers came up and whispered into his ear: "Your Majesty, have you heard the latest?"
The king was surprised and exclaimed: "No, I have not! What's going on?"
In his gravest voice, the courtier answered: "Your majesty, I will tell you only after you promise not to harm me."
"Don't be silly," laughed the king. "Say whatever you want to; you need not be afraid of me."
"Your Majesty, Tenali is on the payroll of the neighbouring king. He has been spying on us for them."
"What are you talking about?" asked the king angrily.
"I told you, your Majesty. This has been going on for a long time. But you would not listen to a word against Tenali. He has cast such a spell on you that you refuse to even think that he might betray you."
"Tenali Ram is faithful to the kingdom. He cannot do this. You have been misinformed," the king replied with confidence.
But the courtier convinced the king to regard the statement with some gravity and not dismiss it outright. Those were times of great intrigue.
"Your majesty, I am fully confident about the truth of my information. Do you think I would have spoken to you without verifying such the information?" said the courtier.
Now the king was obliged to turn the statement over in his mind. He promised to get the matter investigated and said that if Tenali Rama was found guilty, he would be punished.
The king sent for Tenali Rama the following day. Without wasting time on preliminaries, he asked the minister whether he was in league with the neighbouring state.
The question shocked Tenali Rama so much that he was stunned and could not say anything.
When Krishnadeva Rai found him silent, he became angry and thundered: "Your silence says you accept the charge."
Deeply hurt that the king could doubt his loyalty, Tenali Rama said he refused to answer to such a preposterous charge.
This made the king even more angry. He ordered Tenali Rama to leave his kingdom.
Tenali Rama the Messenger [Folktales for kids]
Retold by Brishti Bandyopadhyay; Illustration by Shinod AP
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