Once upon a time, a sheikh came to the kingdom of Vijayanagar from the middle east region of the world. The king expressed his happiness when he came to know that the fame of his kingdom had spread so far in the world. King Krishnadevaraya treated the sheikh with utmost hospitality and made sure he got the best treatment as long as he chose to stay in the kingdom. The sheikh was served with the best of food and he ate to his heart’s content.
The cook then brought a sweet dish to the sheikh. He said that it was named rassagulla and it was the favourite sweet of the king. The sheikh said that he did not want the rassagulla, but instead he wanted to taste the roots of rassagulla. The cook was stumped and he did not know what to do.
The cook then went to the king and asked him the same question. The king too did not have a solution for this and so he decided to ask his ministers for a solution. When he posed this question to his ministers, they all began to laugh. The king said that it was no use to laugh as the sheikh will be disappointed and if he gets disappointed, it will paint a bad image of the kingdom. One of the ministers then got up and said that the sheikh was probably playing a trick to test the king. The king then turned to Tenali Raman who was sitting silently till now. He beckoned Tenali to come up with a solution.
Tenali then asked the king for a silver bowl and a knife. He told the king that he would bring the root of rassagulla the next day. On seeing this request made by Tenali, two ministers started to discuss among themselves whether Tenali had gone mad. They went on to gossip that the king too was encouraging such foolish behaviour.
The next day, Tenali came with the bowl in his hand. However, it was covered with a muslin cloth and no one could see what was inside. When the king demanded to see what was inside, Tenali said that the guest must get the first preference in seeing the root of rassagulla. Tenali then went and displayed the bowl to the sheikh.It contained pieces of sugarcane. The sheikh tasted it and was very delighted.
When the king demanded an explanation from Tenali, he replied by saying that sugarcane was the source of all sugar. And since sugar is an essential ingredient in making all sweets, hence it is also the root of rassagulla. The king then praised Tenali for his wisdom that saved the name of the kingdom.
Moral – One must always treat guests with good hospitality.