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Tenali Raman – The Most Valuable Thing

When a sculptor asks for the most valuable thing as a reward for his work, the king is left speechless. Read what happens later in the story below.

Once upon a time, king Krishnadevaraya returned to his kingdom of Vijayanagar after capturing the state of Odisha. He was surrounded by shouts of cheer and victory from all sides. The king then got the idea of celebrating this victory in a grand manner and so in the court, he asked his ministers as to what was the best way to celebrate the victory. One of the ministers stood up and said that it would be nice if a victory pillar was erected in the middle of the capital with intricate carvings. The king was impressed with this idea and immediately ordered the sculptor to commence the work.

The sculptor at once went to the middle of the capital and started to work on the pillar. He worked very hard through day and night without a bit of rest and soon, the pillar was ready to be inaugurated. A grand ceremony was organised where the people were invited and the king inaugurated the victory pillar. The king also made sure that the sculptor was honoured in front of everyone for his exceptional work. He also ordered the people that this place was always to be kept clean and tidy. 

However, the king still felt that the sculptor was not rewarded sufficiently and hence he asked the sculptor to ask for whatever he wanted. The sculptor at first refused, but upon continuous persuasion by the king, he finally agreed to ask for something. He asked the king to give him the most valuable thing on earth. The king offered to give him diamonds and gold, but the sculptor refused to accept them, saying that though they were precious, they all had a certain value fixed to them.

Now, the king was stumped and did not have an answer. The ministers too did not have any answer. Then it finally struck the king that he could ask Tenali Raman for the answer. But then he realised that Tenali was not present there that day. So, he asked the sculptor to come the next day to the court and the reward would be given at that time.

The next day, the sculptor came to the court when Tenali was present. The king then started to explain the circumstances surrounding the sculptor’s visit when Tenali interrupted and said that he already knew what was going on. The sculptor now handed a bag over to Tenali and the king looked on in anticipation as to what he was going to do. Tenali just took a piece of string and tied the bag at the top, closing it tightly. He then handed it over to the sculptor, who walked out satisfied.

Seeing all this, the king was shocked and asked Tenali as to how he convinced the sculptor with just an empty bag. Tenali then said that the bag was not empty. In fact, it contained the precious air from the Vijayanagar kingdom which was ruled by a wise and just king named Krishnadevaraya. And so, it was the most precious thing as no one can survive without air.

The king then punished Tenali Raman for his wit (Yes,he punished Tenali). He said that Tenali was not allowed to go on any holidays anymore as he needed him to make important decisions (This was in fact the king praising Tenali Raman in disguise). Hearing this, everyone started to laugh loudly, including Tenali Raman and the king himself. 

Moral – If one keeps calm, one can find their way out of any difficult situation.

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