Across The Waters With No Boat Or Bridge – A Children’s Story Of Tenali Raman’s Wit And Wisdom

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The pehalwan from the north was an instant hit. People dropped their jaws watching his amazing acts of physical prowess – he would have a couple of heavy-built locals stand on his out-stretched arm, pull a tree clean off the ground with bare hands or bend iron bars.

It was only a matter of time before he drew the attention of Krishna Deva Raya’s court where he was invited for a display of his strengths before the royalty, senior officials of the court and special invitees. A part of the beautiful palace garden was set up for the show. As a standard courtesy extended to all artistes, on arrival important dignitaries ere personally introduced by Raya to the pehalwan with a few words on who they were. When it was Tenali Raman’s turn Raya went overboard waxing eloquently about his wit. Not given to sharing the stage with anyone else, the pehalwan looked at Raman’s unremarkable presence in a traditional attire, his body language making no secret of where he stood on brawn vis-a-vis brain.  Raya noticed it right away and made light of it cautioning  the pehalwan not to get on the wrong side of Raman.

Introductions concluded, Raya went back to his seat and the pehalwan to his position for commencement of the show. In his opening act he came out cradling a baby, a little large-sized, in his arms; his audience amused at this light-hearted start – a L or XL bear mad with buzzing wasps held in an embrace would have been a more satisfying sight! Soon he was handling the baby like it was a soft-toy, tossing it from here to there, standing it up on his little finger in a ‘Krishna’s Govardhana’ pose, tossing it up overhead and catching it quite nonchalantly. It was in fact a toy for all to see setting everyone at ease – there was no danger to any life. Just when people began to wonder where it was going a wooden table was brought in; and a few of his people joining from the sidelines climbed atop and jumped up and down like they were standing on hot bricks, no one knew why. Were they trying hard to crash the table and failing? The pehalwan holding the baby effortlessly in one hand walked up casually gesturing them to get off. Once the table was clear, he dusted the top with his towel and showing great care and concern laid the baby on its back on the table, seemingly ending the frivolous miming act that no one really understood or even cared.

And perhaps readying himself for his second act, the pehalwan stood a little to the front of the table, taking time to wipe copious sweat streaming off his body. For the first time a few of the onlookers were intrigued – all that sweat in playing with a toy?

Suddenly there was sound like something was crumbling. Next moment they all saw the table crashing down and the baby landing with a thud bringing in a rush the people  who had earlier stomped on the table. They struggled to lift the baby out of the pile of splintered wood. They could not. They devised a rope around its waist and tried to pull with more men joining in to help. The baby wouldn’t budge. All this while the pehalwan stood unperturbed, his face slowly breaking into a hint of a smile.  Finally he stepped forward and shoving aside his men grabbed the baby by its crown and held it aloft on his palm for all to see like it was no more than a soft-toy.

When the penny dropped – this was no ordinary baby to defy the utmost exertions of many and neither was the pehalwan’s feat – he earned a generous round of applause.
And so followed many acts of sheer physical strength that left his audience awe-struck. Like carrying a human pyramid on his shoulders, holding back Raya’s chariot pulled by his prized horses…More than once Raya was seen to be enjoying himself visibly conveying his appreciation. And, so were his guests.

A great show-man he was, the pehalwan played out his acts knowing well how to ratchet up the tempo to a crescendo in a cycle only to be followed by another cycle more challenging, and another, keeping his audience right through on the edge of their seats.
In a final act, he lifted a massive cannon ball of iron and heaved it straight off the palace gardens (of course, landing safely).

As the ovation died down, it was time for Raya to honor the performer suitably and reward the pehalwan with gifts.

Just then, Tenali Raman got up from his seat.

‘Your honor, I’ve a small request to make of our esteemed guest. I’m sure it would be easily accomplished compared to the awesome display we saw today.’

The pehalwan confusedly looked at Raya.

Raya gave his nod.

‘Thank you, my lord, for your kind indulgence,’ Raman bowed.

‘It’s like this. Here it is, no cannon ball, only a small piece of cloth. I would like to see it thrown across this stream only a few feet wide. That’s all,’ Raman offered it to the pehalwan with insincere deference.

It was an artificial stream arranged to flow through the garden, fed from the fountains.

Too full of himself with the adulation showered on him, the pehalwan, seemingly exasperated  at the ridiculousness of the exercise, snatched the piece of cloth without a thought from Raman’s hand, made a mock show of bending down under its weight and then, crushing it in his hand, threw it across the stream with all his might as it were. He felt it was quite beneath him to even turn around to check on the outcome. Alas, for him, the piece of cloth, as it would, sailed through the air no further than a couple of feet  before being blown adrift by the mild breeze and dropping down in a crazy swirl into the stream.

Raman was at hand giving the stunned pehalwan another piece of cloth. Again, the result was no different. It was then the pehalwan realized the impossibility of the situation and his own folly in making the attempts.

When a third piece was offered, he shoved it back into Raman’s hands with a gesture that said: ‘All right, Smarty, I got suckered in.  It’s now your turn; try getting out of it, eh?’

Raman was clumsy dropping  the piece of cloth to the ground. He then picked it up, rolled it into a ball, muttered some mantra’s and sent it across the stream. And lo, there it sailed all the way like a cannon ball landing on the far side almost going out of sight.

How did he do it? When and from whom did he learn mantra’s? Raya was dazed as everyone was. The pehalwan fared the worst looking like someone punched him hard in his gut knocking him out of breath.

But first things first. A large-hearted and wise Raya did not allow Raman’s side-show to take the shine off the pehalwan’s hitherto awesome display of muscle power, bestowing on him the honors, words of praise and gifts rightly due to him. A mortified pehalwan made his peace with Raman – no use crossing swords with a guy who pulls potent mantra’s from his scabbard.

It was then Raman leaked out the secret of his mantra’s – there was no mantra’s, no secret. The ball of cloth that he threw across the stream had a pebble inside making the flight perfectly possible. He had picked it up along with the cloth that he had dropped on purpose.

Why did Raman let the cat out of the bag?

If it were not debunked at the earlies, he feared, people including Raya would want him on occasions to invoke those and other mantra’s for causes right or wrong. He would be held up to ridicule for failures, much worse, his loyalty questioned, despite his protestations of innocence and ignorance.

At this the pehalwan could not help laughing over his own imbecility and Raman’s wit. Preparing to leave the town, he gifted his emblematic silver bracelet to Raman and invited him to his home-land to learn from him some real mantra’s.

End 

Source: www, animationxpress.com

I’ll Be Happy To Know You Didn’t Get It Either!!

No great shakes?

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There are ten people in a house. Everybody wants to make a hand shake with only people shorter than themselves. Assume everybody is different in height.

How many hand shakes are made?

I’ve already given it away!! Go to ‘Comments’ if you still wish to know.

End

 

 

From: braingle.com (beijing200820) and clipartix.com

Tenali Raman And The Vidooshak (A Story For Children)

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Once hearing about Tenali Raman’s wit and wisdom, a neighboring king requested Krishna Deva Raya to send Raman to his royal court for some days. Raya could not refuse.

Raman was received warmly on his arrival and given a seat of honor with a generous introduction at the court by his host. Predictably it aroused envy in the hearts of the native officers. They bided their time for the right opportunity to pull Raman down from his high pedestal. At the same time they had to be cautious not to offend their king as Raman was a guest of the state.

Their wait was not long. An evening of entertainment was arranged at the court to greet the arrival of Spring. The officers planned to use the court vidooshak (jester) for their purpose. It suited them well for a vidooshak’s acts were never considered seriously and there was no risk of earning the king’s ire

That day the program was well underway with a rich fare of songs, dances, skits, acrobatics, mimicry and magic show. When it was his turn, a roar of expectation from the audience greeted the vidooshak for the last act of the evening. He quickly launched himself with practiced virtuosity of a seasoned artiste.  The contemporary events provided him with ample scope for topical humor interspersed with fun moments around stereotypes at home, at the shop, on the street and even at the court. No doubt the crowd was immensely enjoying it as was the king, seen more than once laughing aloud. Raman too was appreciative of the jester’s antics.

In the final moments of his act, without warning, the vidooshak invited or rather pulled a surprised Raman to the center stage.

A sweeping look at the king, the audience and finally resting on Raman, ‘Dear Sir, you don’t mind helping me with this small act?’

A rhetoric that needed no reply.

‘Sir, I seek your indulgence for the next few minutes. Kindly do the opposite of what I’m doing. Won’t you, please?’

‘Here I stand, please sit.’

A dazed Raman obliged.

‘I open my eyes, kindly close yours.’

Followed by ‘I laugh, would you cry for us, Sir.’

By now Raman recovered his wit; deciding to play along, he gave out a feisty howl that caused the vidooshak to miss his steps.

‘Thank you, Sir,’ the vidooshak said in a mock bow, not betraying his surprise at Raman’s ready and rather animated participation. ‘Now you’ve warmed up, Sir, let’s move to more interesting stuff.’

The vidooshak brought in two picture stands and placed them in full view. The first one had a portrait of a man who had a remarkable resemblance to the king. The other portrait showed a  man looking generally annoyed at life.

‘Sir, these men are real, present here in their portraits.’

He spoke about the first portrait: ‘This man as one may guess is of noble birth and immense wealth, a man in god’s own mold…,’ waxing eloquently on his virtues particularly on his generosity towards the less fortunate.

And pointing to the second, pillorying him at length: ‘Well, a man without anyone to call his own, still amassing wealth through usurious lending, he is everything what the other man is not. It’s said there isn’t a crow, a pigeon or a field mouse in this land that has till date taken a grain off him…’

When he was done, on cue, two rose-garlands were brought. With elaborate ceremony, he took one and garlanded the first portrait.

‘Sir, it’s your turn,’ in mock deference.

Did he have a choice? Do or don’t, either way he was damned, it seemed.

Without hesitation, Raman picked up the second garland and arranged it neatly over the second portrait. And, stood there casting a mischievous glance all around.

A gleeful vidooshak saw Raman fair and square in his trap: ‘Honestly, Sir, we’re shocked – I’m sure our majesty too joins me when I say this. Perhaps you saw some merit in him that remained completely indiscernible to one and all in this august assembly. Could you kindly enlighten us on the same?’

‘Oh, that’s simple,’ Raman paused for effect.

All necks craned forward in hushed silence to catch his words.

‘Well, this man of noble birth of course had shared his wealth with others – a very laudable gesture.’ Raman sneaked a glance at the king nodding in approval.

‘But look at the other guy. He denied himself his own wealth living a miserly life unlike the man of noble birth who did enjoy his besides being generous; and the miserable fellow is destined to leave everything he has for others after his time with none to bequeath to;.again, quite unlike the man you garlanded with offspring’s to enjoy their inheritance thereafter.’

A few moments of silence for the words to sink in followed by a long burst of applause from the audience lead by the king himself, thrilled to see the legendary Raman best his poor adversary.

End

Source: Inspired by a story from bhagavatam-katha.com and image from dailymotion.com

A Tale From A Mango Tree (Children’s Story)

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‘You, know, I’m the one taking all the risks, sneaking into houses. You stand at a safe distance ready to run away at the first sign of trouble.’

‘And don’t forget you’ve no act unless I pick you up and drop you over the fence, keep watch and get you back same way.’

The two men, one short and the other tall, were arguing under the Mango Tree over their fair share of the loot taken from an unwilling wayfarer whose misfortune it was to cross their path early in the evening, .

As always their wrangle was inconclusive and it was agreed to maintain the status quo at 50-50. .

The short man now emptied the contents of the wayfarer’s bag into a pile on the ground – it was all silver coins. Didn’t amount to much belying the heft. Cursing their luck over the insubstantial returns for their efforts, he dutifully did the ‘one for you, one for me, watched over by a pair of wary eyes,’

The meager split finished, ‘Okay…means we’re not done for the night.’

‘You’re right. You have anything in mind?’

‘I have heard there’s an widow living all by herself in the village. Old money. I suggest we pay her a visit tonight. A real cinch – we should be done and gone before the clock moves.’

It wasn’t dark yet and a little shut-eye was in order before attending to their business usually conducted after mid-night. The coins were secured in  waist belts covered by the dhoti folds, the turbans straightened and laid out on the ground and in a few turns they were lost to the waking world.

The entire proceedings were watched with dismay by Kaaga, the crow. The hapless wayfarer had rested under the Tree and even shared his food before running into these men. And now they plan to rob the poor lady.

He turned sad:

‘The kind lady…never missed setting aside every morning some cooked rice for us. But how do I alert her to their nefarious plans? We don’t speak their language.’

Awash with despair, ‘A shame that I know what’s going to happen and still helpless to do anything about it.’

‘May be we could do something,’ said the Mango Tree, a mute witness to the happenings till now.

‘How do you mean?’

‘It might just work…go and get Mooshika (the mouse) here – we need him.’

Soon enough an excited Mooshika scampered to the base of the Tree – for, it was quite unusual to be called at this hour.

‘You’ve told me some time ago you hoard things people leave behind or lose at the village tank and it’s getting so full up that you find it difficult to move around in your own home?’

‘That’s right. Badly needs cleaning up – since she’s isn’t around I don’t mind saying this.’

‘Anything in silver? Not coins.’

‘Oh, plentiful – chains, rings, tiny bells fallen off anklets, small diya’s (wick-lamps)…you know we have no use for these.’

Thereupon Mooshika heard from the Mango Tree what was to be done, which it accomplished silently in the next few minutes, helped by a few friends.

Just when the tall man got the spell right to open up the treasure chest inside the cave, he was rudely woken up by faint sounds near his ears of bells tingling.

A light sleeper he was as suited for his trade, he was immediately alert. Unable to discern any immediate threat he calmed down. Nevertheless it was safer for them to be ready for any danger lurking close by; so he woke up his accomplice.

As the short man got up, a rain of silver trinkets fell on the ground from his garment.

The tall man’s countenance hardened.

He fixed the other man with a malevolent glare: ’So you hid these from me…you cheat’.

‘Don’t know what you’re talking about.’

The tall man silently pointed to the silver on the ground.

‘Oh…no idea, really, how they got to me…believe me you’

Trading mutual allegations, the feud heated up.

It was too late…the rising decibels had brought a crowd of unwelcome villagers to the spot.

Without a thought, they took off to keep the hide on their back…as fast as their legs could carry, stumbling and pulling themselves up and helping each other in their flight.

Never mind it was late, Kaaga cawed gustily, Mooshika and his pals danced unabashedly and the Tree sighed in relief.

End

An Unequal Contest In A Forest (For Children)

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Shasha was a young rabbit, grey in color, adopted by other animals when she was a baby.

She was frisky, friendly and intelligent too, liked by everyone but two – the two that made fun of her. One was Mahisha, the bull, strong in body with long horns and a bit boorish. You too would be if all you ha was a tail to whack off the pesky flies buzzing around his unreachable back. And Durchara, the sad and sleepy looking crocodile that animals were wary of. Of course he was neither sad nor sleepy. While meanie Mahisha would say: ‘How I love to play ball with you – you’ll make a nice furry one to kick around,’  Durchara would come up with: ‘One of these days I would like to take you around to interesting places you must never miss – most of all, inside my tummy.’ One had to be careful with him especially when he was not in good humor or he was hungry.

Impetuous young Shasha was not one to take things lying down – whenever she saw, she would tease them, of course, from a safe distance. Finally she would always dart off into the bushes saying with mock solemnity: ‘Just wait for the day you’re going to see how strong Shasha is!’ She was quite blithe about it with no idea what she would do and how she would make it happen.

The old Ulooka, the wise owl, and Kaaga, the crow, took up on themselves to be Shasha’s guardians keeping a close watch over her day and night. They knew about the pests that Mahisha and Durchara were and were thinking about fixing these two for good. At last they knew how. They were sure Gaja, the elephant would oblige them with what they needed.

On their next meeting, Shasha invited Mahisha for a trial of strength: ‘If you wish to see Shasha in true colors, come here to this place near the mango tree this Sunday morning.’

So an intrigued Mahisha presented himself at the appointed place and time

He saw before him a thick rope, retrieved by Gaja from an abandoned lumber-shed, lying on the ground running from where he stood to somewhere out of sight beyond the thick growth of bushes.

‘Mahisha, you hold this end of the rope in your mouth and I’ll be tugging at the other end out there. Let’s see who is stronger. Are you game?’

‘You kidding? One jerk – I’ll have you where I want…at my feet. Try something different. I want it to be fair.’

He relented finally when Shasha assured him of her seriousness.

Kaaga as the referee started the count-down at the top of his voice as Shasha wished Mahisha luck and dashed off to her position beyond the bushes.

On zero, the rope went taut grabbed at both ends.

Mahisha, going about it like a walk down the garden, even before he could register it in his head, saw his body dragged several feet forward.  What was happening? This wasn’t going the way it should. Was Shasha being aided by some spirit getting into her body? In any case he quickly recovered from the initial surprise and stood his ground. With a grunt that made all the animals in the forest stop in their tracks for a moment, Mahisha, now all ready for this strange trial of strength – he would figure it out later, slowly regained his position and was even gaining on Shasha.

Well, it wasn’t for too long before the tide turned again and Mahisha began yielding ground. He was all sweat and snort.

This push-pull went on for a while until the rope, frayed by constant rubbing against thorny bushes, snapped. An exhausted Mahisha, frothing at the mouth, was shot backwards like a shooting star in the skies to be finally stopped by a tree trunk. He lay helplessly spreadeagled, holding fast in his mouth one end of a long piece of rope.

Shasha was declared as the winner.

Strangely Durchara also conceded defeat at the same time in an identical contest with Shasha unknown to Mahisha. He was found in a helplessly grotesque pose on a sand bank by the riverside, holding fast in his mouth one end of a long piece of rope.

From that day Mahisha and Durchara looked at Shasha with new found respect.

Till this date they could not could put the two pieces of rope together to guess what had happened on either side of the bush on that day.  Could you?

End

Source: Adapted from tamilsirukathaigal.com

Mulla Nasrudin And The Seven Wise Men

Seven philosophers, logicians and doctors of law of repute were drawn up at the Royal Court to examine Mulla Nasrudin. This was a serious case, because he had admitted going from village to village saying: “The so-called wise men are ignorant, irresolute, and confused.” He was charged with undermining the social order in the State.

“You may speak first,” said the Sultan.

“May I have some paper and pens brought?”

Mulla folded the sheet of paper, made pieces of it and wrote something on each.

“Kindly have these distributed to these wise men who have happily assembled here for the purpose of indicting me. Let them write the.answer to the question appearing on their paper.”

This was done and the papers were handed back to the Sultan who read them out:

The first said:”It’s a food.”

The second:”It is flour and water.”

The third:”A gift of God.”

The fourth:”Baked dough.”

The fifth:”Affordable to all.”

The sixth:”A nutritious substance.”

The seventh: “It means sustenance.”

There was a moment of silence before Nasrudin addressed the Sultan and the court:

“Isn’t it strange they cannot agree about something they eat each day, yet are unanimous that I am a heretic? Would you entrust matters of assessment and judgment to people like these? When they agree on the question asked of them –  ‘What is bread?’ – it may be possible for them to decide other things.”

Once again Nasrudin walked out a free man.

End

 

 

 

 

Adapted from: Idries Shah at spiritual-short-stories.com

Go Slow…If You Wish To Arrive Early

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One morning a trader obtained asubstantial order for coconuts from a temple in a nearby village. They had to be delivered well in time for the pooja on the following morning.  It was a snappy call to action. There was no time to look for help. He climbed up the trees at the back and knocked off the coconuts onto the ground below. These were collected and loaded onto his donkey with some effort and more ropes. Once done, he was happy with himself for managing it all with just one beast – two of them would have made it easier to pack but trickier to manage on the road single-handedly.

Not losing time he made inquiries about the route and headed for the village with his donkey to deliver the coconuts personally – the business was too important to leave it with hired hands.

Though the sun was not high up yet, a couple of hours on the road had tired him out and his animal. He took a break under the shade of a banyan tree.

Just then a shepherd passed by driving his flock ahead of him.

The trader hailed him: ‘Hey, here, how long does it to take to reach the temple?’

When he looked at him from close he regretted ever asking the shepherd who was plain-as-nose dim-witted.

The shepherd gazed at the trader and his donkey now ready to resume the journey, his gaze going back and forth a couple of times over the duo.

His eyes crinkled at the effort of producing a response: ‘Babuji, at a swift pace you’ll reach the temple from here by sun-set.’

‘Oh, my…!’

The shepherd moved on to keep up with his flock, not before offering his counsel: ‘On the other hand, go slow and you’ll be there in a couple of hours, I guess – well before noon.’

The fellow quite patently didn’t have his marbles in place – the trader cursed himself for his own stupidity.

Refreshed from the break, he set out at a brisk pace.

To cut the long story short, they finished their journey together – the trader and the donkey on the road and the sun above.

A much relieved priest collected his consignment of coconuts from the trader still stricken with severe back-pain – an unfortunate outcome, not entirely unexpected, from bending down so often to pick up the scattered coconuts that fell off the donkey’s back every time it was goaded to speed – a mishap never later than ten minutes in recurrence.

End

Source: Inspired by a tale from Philippines found at pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts2.html and image from animalsclipart.com