When Krishna Deva Raya used to rule in Vijaynagar, Babur ruled Delhi. Babur wanted to meet Tenali Raman asa he had heard a great deal about Tenali’s quick wit.
Babur’s messenger arrived in Krishna Deva Raya’s court one day. He said, “Greetings, King Krishna Deva Raya. Emperor Babur wishes Tenali Raman would visit Delhi.”
Krishna Deva Raya replied, “So be it.”
Tenali Raman reached Delhi and settled in the guesthouse.
Meanwhile, Babur spoke with his courtiers in court. He had a plan. “No one will laugh at Tenali Raman’s jokes tomorrow! I want to see how he will make us laugh then.”
The courtiers chorused, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
The next day, Tenali Raman arrived in the court.
Tenali Raman started to narrate one of his jokes. “Once there was a …”
The courtiers cut him off by yawning profusely.
On the sixteenth day, Tenali Raman stopped going to the court.
Tenali Raman thought to himself, “Let me follow Babur to see where he goes everyday.” He wore such clothes that no one wold be able to see his face.
Babur and his minister would walk by the Yamuna every morning.
Babur said, while giving gold coins to beggars, “There you go! Make good use of them.”
Tenali Raman thought of a plan.
The next day, Tenali Raman disguised himself as an old man. He also had a spade and mango sapling.
Tenali Raman thought, “Let me wait for the king here.”
Seeing the king approach,, Tenali began planting the sapling.
Babar said, “You’re old, you won’t be alive when this tree bears fruit. Why are you planting it?”
Tenali Raman said, “Your Majesty, I tasted the fruits of trees my forefathers planted. Similarly, my grandchildren will enjoy the fruit of this tree.”
Babar exclaimed, “That is a noble thought!”
Wanting to reward the old man, Babar took a bag and and said, “Here, take this bag of gold coins.”
Tenali Raman replied, “Thank you, Your Majesty. You have given me the fruit of planting this sapling before it has grown.”
Babar, pleased with this answer too, said, “Well done, again. Take this second bag of gold coins.”
Tenali Raman said, “A tree gives fruit once a year, but I am getting the fruit of my labour twice, Your Majesty!”
Babar again appreciated this clever reply. He said, “Bravo! This third bag of gold coins is also yours.”
Babur’s minister whispered to him, “Your Majesty, at this rate you will give all your wealth to him. Let’s go.”
Babar, laughing, agreed.
Tenali Raman took off his fake beard and called out to them as they were going, “Your Majesty, please look at me.”
Babar was astounded at Tenali Raman’s intelligence. He said, “Tenali Raman, you are truly a great wit! Come back to court for more rewards.”
Tenali Raman went back to Babar’s court and entertained him for many days. Finally, he returned home.
Krishna Deva Raya said, “You have brought glory to the kingdom, Tenali!”
Tenali Raman flashed back, “Your Majesty, then I deserve a reward from you too!”
Krishna Deva Raya said, laughing, “Yes, indeed. Here are 10,000 gold coins.”
Tenali Raman replied, “Thank you, Your Majesty!
The videos you are watching from our Tenali Raman series are inspired by the Kathputli style of puppet theatre in India.
The puppets are usually made out of wood, metal and cloth with exaggerated facial features which have been painted on. The movement of the limbs are controlled by string or in some cases, metal rods. The use of puppets can be seen as one of the oldest forms of entertainment and storytelling in India. The stories performed were not just for amusement – they were also a form of moral and social education for the masses, covering subjects such as illiteracy.