Friday, 19 July 2013

Tenali Raman and his cat

The kingdom of Vijayanagar was troubled by rats and people were reaching their wits’ end.One day they all decided to meet Raja Krishnadevaraya and request him to put an end to the pests that were eating into their everyday living. The King patiently listened to his subjects’ woes and promised to look into their problem and find a lasting solution to the same.

Upon hearing the reassuring words from their King, the people left the palace hopefully. Krishnadevaraya then called Tenali Raman and discussed the problem with him. Tenali Raman told the king that an increase in the rat population indicated a decrease in the cat population.“Therefore, in my opinion, we must ask the residents to have one cat each. The cats will eat up the rats and reduce their population. This is the only effective way to tide over this problem”, said Tenali Raman.

The king accepted Raman’s idea and the next day ordered his soldiers to go out far and wide and bring as many cats and kittens as possible. Within a week the soldiers returned with as many as they could find. From that day every household had a cat in addition to the members of the family. In a few days’ time the praja or the citizens of Vijayanagar were back at the palace and told the king that the milk that they were hitherto buying was not sufficient, as the cats were growing in size and needed more milk.

Tenali Raman, who was present in the court, told the king that his cat did not drink much milk and he was able to manage with a little extra milk. The king was confused as the people gathered there told the King that Raman was ill-treating his cat by not feeding it enough milk. The raja heard enough and decided to go on a nagarvalam (a walk/horse ride around the kingdom), to check the real status of the rat menace.

As the king inspected each house, he found the cats were well fed and looked in good health and the king was satisfied. When the King reached Tenali Raman’s house, he ordered Raman to fetch his cat. Raman’s cat was not as fat as the others’ cats. The King was very angry with Raman and demanded an explanation.Raman was unperturbed. He told the Raja that his cat did not like milk. Krishnadevaraya ordered a bowl of milk to be kept in front of the cat. On seeing the milk the cat ran away and as he was running he saw a rat and pounced on it and carried the hunt proudly to the garden.

Raman told the king that the cats were meant to eat the rats. “If we train the cats to drink the milk that is placed in bowl, how will they work hard for their food?” he questioned the King.“From the first day onwards I trained my cat to hunt for its own food. I placed boiling hot milk in front of it. His tongue got burnt and from then on, my cat drinks milk placed in a platter only when absolutely necessary. Otherwise it catches rats and my house does not have rats at all’ said Raman, much to the appreciation of the crowd that had gathered. 

“Both my cat and I like to work hard for our food, Your Majesty” concluded a naughty Raman.