Once upon a not-so-long time, there was a girl who giggled — a short giggle, followed by quite a long pause, and then a short giggle.
Suddenly, she started to laugh non-stop as if someone were tickling her.
“Oi, what are you laughing about there?” asked Pa.
Ma rolled her eyes and read the title of the book: “Tenali Rama Stories….”
“Who?” asked Pa, just as the bouts of laughter ended.
“You…. don’t… know… whotenalirama is?” asked the girl, breathlessly.
Pa and Ma shook their head. (Psst! They knew who he was.)
“He was the vikatakavi (vi-ka-ta-ka-vi), a court jester, of King Krishnadevaraya… Wait, I will tell you more!” said the girl.
As Ma and Pa settled down, she wrapped a towel around her head. Before her parents could say a word, she began:
A long time ago, long before today, Tenali Rama or Tenali Raman (some even called him Tenali Ramalinga, while some Tenali Ramakrishna) lived in a village near Tenali and away from the capital, Vijayanagara.
Now, he always wanted to be part of King Krishna-deva-raya’s court!
One day when Ta-tha-char-ya, the king’s guru and chief priest, was visiting the temple in the nearby village, Tenali Rama immediately set out to him.
On meeting Tathacharya, Rama said, “O’ honourable guru of King Krishnadevarayalu’s court, I bow to you.”
“There lad, what is that you want?” the royal priest asked.
“I have a childhood dream, your highness, of being part of the King Krishnadevaraya’s court in Vijayanagaram…”
Tathacharya was getting annoyed and thought (in his head), ‘Im-per-ti-nent fool, how dare he?’
But, he only said, “You seem to be a learned scholar… what’s your name?”
“Rama of Tenali, my lord!”
“All right, when you happen to be in Vijayanagara, meet me…!” said Tathacharya, walking away.
Within a few days, Tenali Rama set out for the capital city with his wife and his mother.
A few weeks later, Tenali Rama went to Tathacharya’s house. A guard standing outside stopped him. “Halt, who are you?”
“I am Rama of Tenali. Tathacharya asked me to meet him…!”
“Let me check!” the guard said, going inside.
A moment later, he came waving a stick. “YOU THERE… off you go… knows the royal priest it seems!”
Tenali Rama ran away and as he neared a clump of trees, he saw Tathacharya walking to the nearby pond for a bath.
Rama quickly picked up his clothes and hid behind a rock.
“Brr… I’m fee..ling… cold… who… too-ook… myyyy clothes?” the royal priest asked.
“I did,” replied Rama, standing up, “You’ve to deal with me first!”
“Oo-ow… daa-re yooouuu?”
“I will give them if you apologise… you owe me a favour!” Rama said with a smirk.
“Oo…kay… I… will…!” said Tathacharya.
As soon as he was dressed, Tenali Rama said, “You must carry me on your shoulders and walk through Vijayanagara.”
Although annoyed, Tathacharya decided to carry Tenali Rama on his shoulders.
On and on they went. Soon, they were walking past the king’s palace when King Krishnadevaraya spotted them.
“What? Who is Tathacharya carrying?” he asked in anger.
He immediately asked two of his guards to bring the royal priest back and punish the other person.
In the meantime, Tenali Rama had suddenly gotten down and was at Tathacharya’s feet.
“I am so sorry, your honour…. I understand your greatness… Forgive me… I will carry you on my shoulders instead!”
Tenali Rama quickly picked him up and walked.
“STOP THEM! Stop, you both,” the guards shouted.
On reaching, they beat Tathacharya with their sticks.
“Ow-ow-ow-ow!” the old man cried, as they took an amused Tenali Rama to the king. (They were new and didn’t know who Tathacharya was!)
When King Krishnadevaraya met them, he asked them angrily, “Who is this?”
“I am Rama of Tenali, my lord!”
He went on to explain what had happened with Tathacharya.
By the end, the king was amused and a bit angry with this lad from Tenali.
He will be an asset in my court, thought King Krishnadevaraya.
“Rama of Tenali, I appreciate your honesty and your wit! You can be part of my court!” he said.
That’s how he became part of King Krishnadevaraya’s court!
Just as the little girl finished narrating the story, Ma and Pa clapped. They had been giggling all this while.
“Are there more stories..?” asked Pa.
“Yesss… there are! Do you want to know?” asked the little girl.
Ma and Pa nodded.
And you, dear little reader, do you want to read more stories about Tenali Rama?
Well, we have just the list for you and your child!
12 Short & Witty Tenali Rama Stories
Tenali Rama surely has a certain sense of humour and intelligence, which is sure to tickle our funnybones!
Imagine how Krishnadevaraya must have felt with so much of wit around him. Not a single boring day in the court!
King Krishnadevaray’s mother dies before she could eat a mango — her last wish! The heartbroken king is told to distribute mangoes made of gold to the needy. But soon, Tenali Rama has a problem to solve!
One night, Tenali Rama (Tenali Raman) hears a rustle and knows the thieves are there to rob. He tells his wife, very loudly, to hide the jewels in a trunk and then drop it in the well. Splash!
When a well-read scholar visits Vijayanagara, he boasts that no learned scholar could be a match for his intelligence. Tenali Rama is asked to help. There is a witty solution to this problem! What could it be?
King Krishnadevaraya gets ready to watch a dance performance and tells the guards to let no one in. But then, Tenali Rama (Tenali Ramakrishna) manages to enter after agreeing to split the king’s reward with two of the guards. What does he do?
King Krishnadevaraya loves horses. So, when a trader promises to bring more of them in two days time, the king immediately pays him an advance. And, the wait begins as Tenali Rama makes a list!
One day, King Krishnadevaraya is angry with Tenali Rama and asks him to never show his face. But then, the king learns the truth. What happens then will leave you in splits!
The rats are creating havoc in Vijayanagara and to the people, King Krishnadevaraya gifts cats. But, the cats drink a lot of milk. So, he gifts cows, too. Meanwhile, Tenali Rama’s cat behaves differently! What happened?
Tenali Rama and his wife come across a crowd watching a weightlifter. He is carrying a heavy sack of rice. But, Tenali Rama tells everyone that he could lift a hill on his shoulders! How does he do that?
King Krishnadevaraya hears about a jinxed man named Ramayya and decides to meet him. His encounter goes awry. What follows is a problem that can only be resolved by Tenali Rama’s wit!
10) The Horse Tale
King Krishnadevaraya and his courtiers buy horses from an Arab trader. But, Tenali Rama thinks that Vijayanagara’s horses are better! So, they end up with the horse race as a challenge!
One day, King Krishnadevaraya dreams about a floating palace and commissions his courtiers to build one. The courtiers reach out to Tenali Rama for help. What can the vikatakavi do?
A foreign merchant presents a puzzle of three dolls to the wise courtiers of King Krishnadevarya’s court. They all look the same, but are different! How could that be? Will Tenali Rama have an answer?
That’s not all!
Does your little one wish to read more witty stories of Tenali Rama?
Then, this BONUS list of storybooks will add a dash of fun to your child’s collection.
BONUS: 5 Storybooks Of Vikatakavi For Your Child
Tenali Rama who is popularly and often referred to as the Birbal of the south has been a folk hero of south India.
Stories of Tenali Rama have been retold in many different ways. These storybooks are a good start!
Enjoy the wit and simplicity of Tenali Rama in the comic book format. Read all about this village bumpkin who reaches King Krishnadevaraya’s court and proves to be an unbeatable asset.
This collection of stories by Devika Rangachari has 18 stories that cover every aspect of Tenali Rama(n)’s wit and intelligence as he holds the mirror of human behaviour.
A collection of witty stories about the vikatakavi of King Krishnadevaraya’s court, Tenali Rama(n). Wouldn’t it make a good bedtime read?
This book by Kavitha Mandana gives a peek into the 16th-century kingdom through the eyes of a 10-year-old Sulekha as she meets an ‘apparent’ descendant of Tenali Rama(n).
This collection of storybooks presents 6 select stories of Tenali Rama with illustrations for company.
Well, we do want to leave you with a thought!
What if your little reader has a such a question?
Was Tenali Rama real?
Was he indeed part of King Krishnadevaraya’s court?
In The Real Life
King Krishnadevaraya who ruled during the 16th century had 8 great poets in his court known as Ashtadiggajas. Tenali Rama or Tenali Ramakrishna is said to be one among them.
He is believed to have written the literary work called Paduranga Mahatyam, which is considered to be one of great works in Telugu literature.
However, there is no clear indication if Tenali Rama was as witty and mischievous as he is portrayed in the stories.
So, whether Tenali Rama was as witty in real life or not, his stories surely do leave us with a short giggle, a long pause, and a short giggle!
Leave a comment below and let us know which of Tenali Rama stories are a super hit with your child.