We all know the about the intelligent Tenali Ramakrishna who adorned the court of Raja Krishnadeveraya. This story is about how Tenali escaped the punishment for eating the brinjals grown in Raja Krishnadevaraya’s private garden.
The Emperor Raja Krishnadevaraya had been gifted with a few saplings of an exotic brinjal variety by one of his vassals. The brinjals were so tasty and fleshy that the emperor decided that the saplings should be planted in a private garden and the brinjals should be used exclusively for himself.
Accordingly, the royal gardener who was a very capable fellow created a nice garden with the saplings and soon there were many of them bearing chubby brinjals. Of course the brinjals were used only for the king’s meal and no one even knew of the garden that existed.
One day, Tenali Rama happened to be entertaining the emperor and it was almost lunch time. The emperor wanted Tenali’s company for lunch and Tenali gladly agreed. That day the main item was made of the exotic brinjal. The dish was sooo….good that Tenali fell in love with the brinjals in that short while. He could not ask the emperor as it was not courtesy. He went home savouring the taste of the brinjals and the rest of the day he was raving about the tasty brinjals to his wife.
Over the next few days, Tenali made discreet enquiries with the kitchen staff and came to know of the private garden. He also came to know that the Raja had ordered that all brinjals in that garden should be used for the Raja alone. Somehow, Tenali coaxed the gardener to give him only a few brinjals and also promised him that no one would know of the deal. The gardener unable to bear the nagging gave in . Tenali happily took the brinjals home and told his wife to make his favourite dish for dinner.
While having dinner, Tenali’s eight year old son asked him “Papa, the brinjals are very tasty. Where did you buy them??” Tenali started off “Er.. the King’s garden… Oh no! I mean the shop near the garden…. no.. the Shop on the garden road… Now why do you bother? ha? Eat quietly and go to sleep.. Asking too much ….”
“Papa…” said the son, “I saw you taking them from the Gardener uncle near the palace…..” Tenali was shocked . “Hushhhhhh… no palace, no gardener no brinjal. Don’t you blabber any nonsense ! Go to bed huhh..!” he scolded his son.
In a few days the Raja called Tenali at about 9 pm. “Why is the king calling me at this hour?” wondered Tenali. The Raja was pacing in the balcony seething with anger. It was a stark contrast that the full moon was shining so coolly above the palace and the king was hot with anger. He had come to know of the brinjal incident. “Rama” said the king. “I thought you were close enough to me to ask me what you wanted. Why did you.. like a thief go and get brinjals from my gardener clandestinely huh??” Tenali was flabbergasted but as a first response he had to deny the fact and so he said in a very naïve voice”Maharaja, please forgive my asking but who told you I got brinjals from your gardener? Is there a separate garden for brinjals???”
“Rama… do not try to pretend, Your son has told our minister’s son who has in turn told the minister. I know that an eight year old will not lie. Now.. tell me the truth”
Tenali laughed aloud and said ” Oh…. my son… hahahaha, hahahaha….He is a fool . he talks all nonsense. in face I want to consult a good psychologist for his behaviour.. Maharaja, if you want, I shall produce him tomorrow in court and you just ask him anything and assess for yourself whether he speaks sense.” The Raja agreed half heartedly.
Tenali rushed home. His son was sleeping on a mat in the open balcony with cool full moon shining nicely In those days there were no mosquitoes nor security issues and people enjoyed nature’s bounty in all entirety. Rama drew the curtains in the room adjacent to the balcony. He took a large container of water and threw it on the boy. The boy who was in deep slumber got up shocked and Tenali said, “Come in it is raining heavily” and covering the boy’s head with a towel, he pulled the boy inside the room. He shut the door, wiped the boy and changed his clothes and put another mat and waited for him to go to sleep.
The next day , the boy was taken to the court and the Raja looked at him from head to toe and in a deep voice asked him, “So.. boy, yesterday was Punnami (full moon day) . Did you have dinner in moonlight??” The boy thought for a while and said “Ha Maharaja I had dinner in Moonlight but it rained so heavily after I fell asleep on the balcony and I was totally drenched , that Papa had to change all my clothes”
The boy was very innocent and the Raja looked puzzled at Tenali and there was Tenali giving a look of “See, I told you!!”
The Raja asked the boy once again, “Did it rain?? Are you sure??” The boy shook his head hard in the affirmative “Yes Maharaja… Yes. Did you not know it rained????”
The king was convinced that the boy was in the habit of blabbering and so told him to go home. He also told Tenali that if he ever need brinjals he could ask the king rightfully.
Tenali went home a happier man!!
Ram Mohan Narasimhan
Brinjal or eggplant is really a versatile dish and finds itself into culinary dishes both western and oriental. This story proves that Brinjals are so tasty that it tempts even Tenali Raman to beg/ borrow/ steal to have the vegetable. Hope children of today learn to appreciate the brinjals and that includes Badri and Bhavana.
But shouldn’t Tenali Raman be punished for stealing and then lying? Perhaps, his wife should deny him Brinjals next time when she cooks dinner for him – that would be a good punishment.
Good story, nay stori. Look forward to more such interesting stories.