One day, Tenali Raman walks into the court holding a box studded with precious gems. It shines with such splendour that even the king is impressed by it along with all the ministers. King Krishnadevaraya then asks Tenali as to which king presented it to him. Tenali Raman replies saying that it was not a king but a tax collector who gave him the box. He also says that the tax collector gave such boxes to all the courtesans in the court. Hearing this, the king got furious as he knew his ministers were bribed. So, the king then decided to go and visit the tax collector along with Tenali Raman in disguise. The king also told Tenali that if he was wrong, he would punish him severely. Tenali replied saying that every time this was the same thing which he would say and in the end he would be rewarded instead.
They then went disguised as common men to visit the tax collector. They hid themselves among the common people in order to see what would take place. They saw the tax collector collecting taxes from the people. But instead of collecting the usual tax of 5 gold coins, he was demanding that each person must pay a tax of 10 gold coins. One person was harassed by him to pay up the amount even though he could not. The tax collector was threatening him to pay 10 gold coins, otherwise he would be spending five years in prison after being arrested for a false crime.
The man then said that he would complain about the tax collector to the minister. THe tax collector replied by saying that a part of this money goes to him also and even if he did complain, only he would be in trouble. Tenali and the king were watching all this from the back and they decided to come forward. Seeing this, the tax collector got enraged and asked them to be disciplined by standing in the line. The king who was in disguise replied by saying that when an officer himself was not disciplined and indulged in poverty, how would the citizens be any different?
The tax collector, in a fit of rage, raised the tax of the disguised king to 15 dollars and asked him to pay up. At this moment, the king and Tenali Raman abandoned their disguise and showed their true selves to the tax officer. He was stumped beyond his wits and he did not know what to do. The king then ordered the guards to put him in prison and so the people were relieved of their corrupt tax officer.
Moral – One who indulges in corruption is bound to get punished someday.