Introduction to Tenali Ramalinga Kavi - Tenali Ramalinga
Tenali Ramalinga Stories The Vijaya Nagar Empire has a prominent place in the pre-independence period of the Indian sub-continent. Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu, among the rulers of the Vijaya Nagar Kingdom, has transformed his regime into a Golden Era for the history books.
This was possible through Rayalu’s courage, righteousness and revered patronage. A Poet named Ramalinga added feathers to the crown of reputation of Rayalu. Tenali Ramalinga or Tenali Rama, as he was famous by, belonged to a town called Tenali and that stuck as his Surname.
Tenali is an important town in Coastal Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur District. Tenali is also famous as “Andhra Paris.”
Rayalu’s court known as ‘Bhuvana Vijayam’ (Global Victor) was strongly upheld by eight poets called “Ashta Diggajas” (Elephants taking care of all the eight sides). Those eight’s combination was the strongest ever and was invincible for any scholar or Master of Arts and Sciences during those days. Tenali Ramalinga shined among the eight as a precious diamond in the diamond studded crown.
Tenali Ramalingam And the Two Thieves
It was the practice of King Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu to visit the jails once a while and review the living standards of the convicted. During one of his visits, two of the jail inmates pleaded for cutting down their punishment period.
They explained that theft was one of the 64 arts in the epics and Vedas and started defining the art of stealing. However, they argued that they would shed the lifestyle and shift for one or the other profession to eke out their living. Rayalu thought for a moment brushing his moustache royally.
“It’s alright thieves. First let me know about your expertise in the art and then decide. You both have to burgle at Ramalinga’s house and return. If you emerge successful, then you will be set free immediately” Rayalu ordered them. “Hey you both listen. You should not deliver any physical blows to the households, take care” he added one condition.
The same night they were ‘officially’ let out for robbing Ramalinga’s residence. Ramalinga was nurturing a beautiful backyard garden fondly. The thieves’ duo crossed over the backyard compound wall and took shelter in the bean bushes to watch the surroundings first.
Ramalinga was not just another ordinary man in the crowd. He spotted the duo hiding in the bushes. He called his wife loudly, “My dear wife! Come here fast. The whole town is on fire with the news about some convicts jumping jail and are said to be at large well within the town. We should immediately protect all our jewellery and other valuables…” watching carefully around the bushes, increasing the pitch “…bring that bundle with all our gold and jewellery.”
A minute later, Ramalinga and his wife with great effort brought a heavy bundle into the backyard and dropped it into the well. Dhhhhhhhhhhhabbbb….spppppplsh sounds of a heavy weight dropping into the water in the well echoed for few seconds. The thieves looked at each other with sparkles in their eyes.
They never thought it would be so easy to rob Ramalinga. Meanwhile, the couple went inside the house and closed the door. After sometime, snores were heard from the bedroom of the house. Slowly the thieves drew themselves out of the bushes, taking care they do not make any noise and went close to the well. While one of them stood guard, the other one slipped into the well. In a minute, the thief came out of the well and discussed with the other that there is much water in the well. The jewellery bundle cannot be taken out as it is. It would be better if some water was drawn out to snatch away the bundle, they decided.
Immediately they started drawing water from the well one after the other bucket. Water started flowing continuously in the backyard spreading all the ways. In the shade of trees and darkness, Ramalinga covering his head with a shawl took one farm tool and started guiding the water to the plants and trees in the yard. As it was too dark and the thieves were concentrating on drawing the water alone, they did not notice Ramalinga doing this.
After drawing water from the well for three to four hours continuously, the thieves were tired. One of them again went into the well and came back, “You, come I need help to bring the bundle out, it is too heavy.” Both of them slipped into the well together again. With great effort both of them brought the bundle out and fell on the ground like logs of woods after opening it.
To their dismay, it was not a bundle of jewellery but a bundle of small boulders and rocks. They never understood until then that Ramalinga hid his precious items somewhere in the house and dropped this into the well.
Ramalinga called them, “Hey dear thieves! Please draw few more buckets of water from the well. Only two of the plants are to be watered. Please hurry up it is close to dawn. Kindly help me quick and little more” like sprinkling chilies on the wounds of burglars.
Both of them were stunned on hearing Ramalinga’s voice. They told each other, “Run! It is Ramalinga!” and sped away crossing the wall with all the tired bodies.
The so-called argument of the thieves about the art of stealing and their expertise did not work on Ramalinga at least.
The Last Wish - Mango Fruit
Tenali Ramalinga Stories Once when King Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu was ruling the Vijaya Nagar Empire, the royal mother fell sick and was bedridden. The medical professionals of the court declared that there was no chance for her to survive this episode and that she grew too old to respond to any medication.
One morning, she summoned Rayalu to her presence. “My Dear Son! I realised that I am close to death's door. I also do not have any hopes that my health would become better. However, I have a last wish.”
She paused and asked, “Can you accomplish it for me before my soul is taken away?”
Rayalu was the King of Kings. His mother was on the deathbed, expressing her last wish. How could he turn away from it? He gently said, “Mother! Please tell me I will definitely accomplish your last wish” he assured.
“I…” she added, “…wish to eat a mango fruit, can you get me one?” in a feeble tone the mother asked Rayalu.
It was early summer. Trees had just started bearing tender fruits. There was no guarantee that royal mother would live until the tender ones ripened on the tree, Rayalu thought. It was also an insult to his royalty, if he was unable to fulfil his mother’s last wish.
Immediately the King ordered his soldiers to scan through the fields of the kingdom and bring some ripe mangoes at any cost, immediately. The soldiers plunged into action. They did their best and returned with a basket filled with ripe mangoes. Eventually, just before the soldiers could place the basket before their King, king’s mother breathed her last.
Rayalu was taken aback, for being unable to fulfil the last wish more than for her demise. He was shook deeply with the thought that his mother was dead even before her quench for mangoes was fulfilled. He slowly started to sink day after the day with the thoughts that were ripping him.
Rayalu invited Royal Master Thathacharya, explained his struggle, and sought an advice that would take the suffering off from him.
Thathacharya thought for a while and told the King, “My king! Your mother was fond of giving alms to the poor and needy. Her soul would rest in peace, if you can fulfil her last wish through donations. Order for preparing mangoes with gold and distribute them to Brahmins of the country.”
The news spread like wildfire in the kingdom that Rayalu was doling out golden mangoes to Brahmins in the memory of his mother. Brahmins from all over the empire started flooding into the capital to accept the golden mango from the King. Day in and out, long queues were always seen only to add people to its tail.
With this, the gold reserves in the exchequer were melting down rapidly. Rayalu not bothering about the consequences was incessantly involved in donating golden mangoes to the Brahmins. He never heeded to the pleas and warnings of the Chief Minister Thimmarusu in this regard.
Thimmarusu was in confusion and did not know how to stop the King. He approached Ramalinga and urged for a solution to this in the interest of the kingdom and its people. Ramalinga assured Thimmarusu that he would check it at the earliest. “Go home and have a sound night sleep, Chief Minister. Everything will be alright by tomorrow evening” Ramalinga sent off Thimmarusu.
Next morning, Ramalinga went near the long queues and watched what was happening. He then selected a yard close to the queues and sat there, ordering the queue maintenance persons to send each of the Brahmins to him before sending him to Rayalu for the golden mango.
Everyone knew that Ramalinga was one of the close associates of the King. They thought that Ramalinga was doing so on the orders of the King and started sending the Brahmins first to Ramalinga before sending them into the palace.
Ramalinga told every Brahmin that there was a slight amendment to the donation process. “The King Rayalu wished to donate the golden mangoes to those who bore a blister from him” Ramalinga explained. Brahmins desirous of the gold first had a burn on their backs and went for the King's gold.
This went on until afternoon. In the later afternoon, one Brahmin pleaded Ramalinga to give him two burns and two golden mangoes. Ramalinga immediately fulfilled the Brahmins wish.
Then the Brahmin approached Rayalu. As usual, Rayalu handed him one mango. The Brahmin immediately requested the King, “My Lord! I had two burns please give me two golden mangoes.”
The King Rayalu did not understand what was happening. He enquired, “What burns?” Then the Brahmin narrated the entire story about Ramalinga and burns to Rayalu.
The King shivering with anger called for Ramalinga and questioned him, “Ramalinga, what is happening. Why are you doing this brutality on these poor and innocent Brahmins?”
Ramalinga very politely and innocently, as if nothing was amiss, explained. “My Dear King! I am an unlucky person. Recently my mother succumbed to a chronic disease. She wished all during her bed ridden period to cauterize her back so that she could become healthy and live longer.”
Wiping the tears dropping on his cheeks, Ramalinga continued, “Probably she would have lived. Nevertheless, I did not heed to her requests. She died with it on her lips. I thought of presenting it to the Brahmins, as I failed to fulfil my mother’s last wish.
However, me being a poor man cannot invite such huge number of Brahmins. Anyway, all of these had come on your invitation and I am trying to fulfil my mother’s last wish in this manner. With all due respects to the King, I beg for pardon for my deeds, if I am wrong.”
Rayalu analysed that Ramalinga was attempting to teach his a lesson. He then recalled Thimmarusu’s pleas about the drastically dropping gold reserves in the exchequer.
Appreciating the presence of mind and loyalty, Rayalu immediately stopped the programmer.