The Biggest Fool and the Cleverest Wit | Tenali Raman
The Vijaynagar Empire celebrates Holi, the festival of colors, with a lot of pomp and circumstance every year. King Krishna Dev Raya and the royal family heartily participated in all the events. The king used to present two awards at the end of the day’s events: the biggest fool and the cleverest wit. On that crucial day, this added to the excitement for the courtiers.
Throughout the year, the courtiers would collect all the stories of folly and choose the best to present to the king on that day. However, Tenali Raman has consistently won both prizes over the years. The courtiers were envious of this. They were afraid that things would be the same this year. So, the most astute of them plotted to keep Tenali Raman from appearing in court that day.
With this in mind, they arrived at Tenali Raman’s residence early in the morning. Tenali Raman was reviewing his day’s notes in preparation for the contests. He was surprised to see the courtiers arrive at his residence. The courtiers brought a large bhang jug (opium milk drink).
It was a Holi ritual to eat bhang. They insisted on Tenali joining them for a drink. He concurred. He didn’t realize that the courtiers had produced highly potent marijuana that would keep anyone high for the rest of the day.
Except for Tenali, who drank a cup, they all pretended to drink. They insisted on giving him another cup. Tenali was well aware that this was a bad idea. He realized the drink had a significant level of intoxication. However, he drank another cup and promptly fell asleep.
Tenali was sound asleep, so the courtiers walked to the court to participate in the contests. Throughout the day, the king relished hearing his courtiers’ stories of folly and cunning. He was taken aback by Tenali’s absence.
The intense heat of the afternoon jolted Tenali awake. He looked at the clock and was taken aback. He quickly realized that the courtiers had played him a foul trick. He had approximately an hour to get on the court before the festivities ended and the prizes were handed out. He resolved to repay the courtiers for their deception.
The king was enraged when he saw a drowsy Tenali come to court. He thought it was highly arrogant of his courtier to skip court on such an important day to sleep. The king chose to give the awards to someone else immediately.
Tenali stepped to the center of the court and said, “Your Majesty, I ask you to help me solve a problem.” As you can see from my state, this was such a severe issue that thinking about it made my head hurt. “Since this is the day we give out the prize for the biggest folly, it is only fitting that I have this situation resolved by your highness.”
“This morning, an old man came to see me,” Tenali added, piquing the interest of the courtiers and the king. He wanted me to tell him which of his three boys was the most idiot. He had decided to pass on his successful firm to them, but he did not want to include the most idiotic son, who would spend everything.
His eldest son was harmed by the company of imperfect people who were constantly taking from him. But he had complete faith in them and was unwilling to let them go. His second son was a recovering alcoholic. He squandered all of his money by experimenting with new intoxicants. He would drink all day. His third son had no concept of the value of time. He was continuously squandering his own time.
He had no regard for the time of others. I was constantly late. He didn’t mind if other people were waiting for him. Business under such a person was sure to suffer as well. “This old man wanted me to assist him in making his decision.” The king and his courtiers had become absorbed in the story.
Tenali inquired, “Can someone in this court assist me with this problem?” I was exhausted after racking my brain on it all morning. To me, all of the sons appear silly. I don’t think they will be safe for the company.”
“The inebriated son is the most hazardous and idiotic,” commented a courtier named Chatur Pandit. He has no control over his impulse to consume alcohol. He is the most stupid.”
The king agreed with a nod of his head. Chatur Pandit was overjoyed to witness this. He was overjoyed the entire day because he had duped Tenali in the morning. Chatur’s euphoria, however, did not last long.
“I disagree with Chatur Pandit,” said another courtier. The son with the nefarious buddies is the biggest moron. We know from epics and mythology that a man’s most significant wealth is his friends. This moron is eating from the hands of the devil. They will devastate his life and business. Anyone who cannot see the evil deeds of those claiming to be his friends is the most incredible idiot.
The king began to ponder. The courtier made sense to him. But before the king could conclude, another courtier stood up, saying, “If there is one thing that every man alive has in common, it is time.” It is priceless because we can never make up for a lost time, no matter how hard we try.
A person who does not understand the worth of time does not understand the value of anything else in the world. As a result, that person’s relationships and honor will depart quickly. “As a result, the third son is the biggest fool.” The king was perplexed by this. All three points of view were valid. The courtiers had already divided into groups to support each idea, and a loud debate had broken out in the court.
The king realized that such a problem may have given even the most astute Tenali a headache. Tenali Raman, on the other hand, stood amid the court, smiling and watching the courtiers.
He abruptly clapped his hands. The court was deafeningly quiet. “Your Highness, I believe we can all agree that if one person possessed all three of these attributes, he would unquestionably be the biggest fool on this planet,” Tenali replied.
Hearing this, the king and his courtiers laughed. The king said, “If someone like that exists, he must be the biggest fool ever!”
“Thank you very much, My King,” Tenali Ram said, bowing. “I proudly take the prize for the biggest fool this year as well.”
The king was confused, but the courtiers who had been to see Tenali before knew they had been tricked.
“This morning, a group of courtiers visited me with a plan to fool me,” Tenali revealed. I grew inebriated after accepting their pleasant gesture like a fool. I consumed more alcohol than I should have. Then, like a fool, I fell asleep, utterly unconscious of the passage of time on this important day. I’ve been an idiot on all three counts.”
Tenali’s superior intelligence pleased the king. Tenali Raman received the distinction for both the greatest fool and the cleverest wit that year, according to the king.
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