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Tenali Raman – The Bowl of Water

The king is searching for a solution to make his kingdom prosper. Is he successful or is the kingdom doomed?

Once upon a time, king Krishnadevaraya visited Cuttack and was passing along the banks of the river Narmada. There, he saw a sage meditating intensely. The sage was in fact meditating above the ground. He was floating in the air and the king was impressed to see such a feat. The king then decided to seek his blessings as it would help his kingdom prosper.

He went nearby and called out to the sage. When the sage opened his eyes, the king introduced himself and as soon as he had completed talking, the sage said that he knew why he was here.

The sage said that the king was seeking ways to make his kingdom prosper as some wars had just concluded. Though all the wars were won, there was a massive loss of life and wealth. THe king agreed to whatever the sage said as it was the reality. The sage then manifested a bowl and gave it to the king. He told the king to fill the bowl with water from the Narmada river and then bring it to him. The king did the same and the sage did some chanting to imbue the water with some special powers.

He told the king to take this water back to Vijayanagar and sprinkle it on the kingdom’s treasury. After this, he said that the kingdom would definitely prosper. As the king was about to leave, the sage said that there was an important condition which the king must follow and that was – he had to carry the bowl back to the kingdom without spilling even a single drop of water.

The king wondered who would be capable of this difficult task and then he decided that Tenali would be ideal for this job. So, he called for his army commander. He said to the king that Tenali was sleeping happily and did not care about anything. The king went with the commander and saw that Tenali was indeed deep asleep. He woke Tenali up and questioned him as to his lack of discipline. Tenali replied saying that as he had nothing to do, he chose to sleep. He went on to say that during times of work, he would never close his eyes. The king accepted his explanation and gave him the bowl of water and explained to him the condition which the sage had mentioned.

Tenali agreed, but the army commander was already plotting to make Tenali suffer at the hands of the king. He thought of somehow making Tenali spill the water, but Tenali knew instantly what was passing through the commander’s head and told him that he first needs to have a proper brain to think of something useful. The commander grew irritated at this remark.

On their way back to the kingdom, the commander was the charioteer of Tenali’s chariot and he deliberately took the chariot through a rocky path. The chariot shook left and right and up and down, but Tenali Raman was fast asleep. The commander surely felt that a lot of water must have spilled from the bowl. After a long and bumpy ride, they reached their kingdom.

The commander saw Tenali sleeping and he immediately called the king to show him the same. The king saw this and grew furious. He woke up Tenali and chided him for his irresponsibility. Tenali then gave him the bowl of water coolly without any hesitation. It was placed inside a leather bag and tied at the top. He told the king that not a single drop of water was spilled on the ground. The king was impressed to see this and the commander grew more frustrated.

The king apologised for his actions and praised Tenali. Tenali Raman said that he did not mind this at all as this was regular and everyone was used to it by now. Everyone around laughed heartily.

Moral – One must work sincerely during work and play during leisure time.

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