King Krishnadeva Raya returned to Vijayanagar after conquering Orissa, thrilled at his victory. That night the entire kingdom was decorated with streamers, banners and lights. The city of Vijayanagar glittered in the darkness of the night. It suddenly struck the king that he should get a victory tower erected in memory of his victory. Architects and builders from within and outside the country were invited to submit the layout for the design. After approving the design, work on the pillar was started. Masons and sculptors worked day and night. Finally they erected a tall pillar with a beautiful dancing figure carved on it. The king was so happy at the work that he decided to award the chief sculptor. He sent for the sculptor, who came with his tools in his hands.
The king asked him, “I want to give you something valuable for your exceptional skills. Kindly tell me what you would like to have? I have asked my man to bring a casket full of gold coins, emeralds and diamonds for you.”
The sculptor replied, “No, I don’t want anything. Your Majesty has given me more than what I expected.”
But the king insisted and said, “In case you don’t want jewels, would you like to have a complete township instead?”
The sculptor replied, “I want something more valuable than that.”
The king became worried and did not know what else he could give. So he turned towards the head priest for advice but the latter was clueless. The king asked Tenali Raman for help. Tenali Raman asked a servant to get him an empty cloth bag and gave it to the sculptor. The sculptor picked up his tools, his chisel and hammer lying on the floor and stowed them away in the cloth bag. Looking happily at Tenali Raman, he thanked him profusely and left.
The king said to Tenali Raman, “How did you know that he needed a bag?”
Tenali Raman replied, “I had seen the tools lying on the ground and that is why I said to myself that for a skilled person the most valuable items are his tools. Gold and other valuables have no meaning for him. These will not help him for his entire life; only his tools will help him work and earn his livelihood throughout his life.”