It was the festival of Dussehra. King Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar kingdom, as usual, decided to celebrate the occasion with pomp and show and host all kinds of seminars and discussions. He invited Vallabhacharya, one of the most learned persons in the country, to participate in the proceedings.
The kingdom'srajguru, who was treated as the most learned person in the kingdom, somehow got cold feet as he became nervous that in the debate to be organised, the visitor might defeat him. He approached his dear friend Rangachari for advice.
Rangachari advised him, ?Why do you worry? It is so very simple. Just do not attend court on the day of the debate and leave the rest to me.?
As advised, the rajguru did not attend the court on the appointed day. The king asked his courtiers, ?Where is the rajguru? Why has he not come? He should have been present today.?
Rangachari came forward and said, ?Your Majesty, the rajguru could not come as his brain was itching.?
The king asked in surprise, ?His brain was itching? What do you mean by that??
Rangachari explained, ?Your Majesty, this disease afflicts those who think and ponder a lot.?
The king lost his patience and remarked, ?What kind of foolish disease is this and why did it happen to him??
Tenaliraman, who had been hearing all this, intervened to remark, ?Your Majesty, it can happen to anybody. Even my eyes started itching due to excessive reading.?
A surprised king asked in dismay, ?You and reading? But I have never seen you reading.? At this the courtiers began to laugh. Tenaliraman spoke out, ?Your Majesty, have you ever seen the rajguru do any thinking??
Again the court burst out in loud laughter.
An angry king admonished them, ?I don'tthink this is any laughing matter. When great thinkers like Ramanujacharya, Shankaracharya, etc. have never complained of suffering from such a disease, then how can the rajguru do so??
Tenaliraman continued with his argument, ?Your Majesty, this disease afflicts those who think beyond their capacity.?
Again the court roared with laughter.
Rangachari offered, ?Please do not make fun of the rajguru as he is a very learned man.?
Tenaliraman added, ?This is what the rajguru thinks of himself.? Rangachari said, ?The rajguru can detect the weaknesses of others in no time.?
Tenaliraman offered, ?In that case, what about his own??
Rangachari replied in exasperation, ?You should respect him. I respect him a lot.? Tenaliraman replied jestingly, ?Yes, why not? After all, birds of the same feathers flock together.?
Rangachari could not contain himself any longer and shouted angrily, ?Enough, Tenaliraman. You should know that he is held in higher esteem than you are. Wherever he goes, he is given first priority, then only do you come. You should learn to respect him.?
Tenaliraman replied, ?In that case, as you know, we normally wash our hands first before washing the face. Does that make the hands more important than the face??
The king and the courtiers could not help laughing, while Rangachari hung his head low in shame.