KING Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar saw Tenali Raman enter his kingdom with a bejewelled box in his hands. On seeing this beautiful box, the king asked him, “Tenali, what are you carrying in this box? From where did you get it?”
Tenali Raman replied, looking proudly at the box, “Your Majesty, I am not the only one to receive this box. All the people who attended the marriage of a tax officer’s son were gifted this expensive box. I really liked him because he has such a large heart – a heart which is larger than the largest hoard in Vijayangar’s treasury.”
The king became red with anger and literally shouted at Tenali Raman, “How dare you talk like this? What are you trying to imply?”
Tenali Raman folded his hands and said, “Your Majesty, I was invited to this wedding which took place at the borders of our kingdom. Everybody was given a similar box by the groom’s father who is a tax officer so as to win the guests over to his side. Most of the guests were royal courtiers and high-ranking ministers. By bribing them, he hopes to levy an amount of tax without facing any opposition. Once you take a bribe, you are in no position to complain against the person concerned.”
The king ordered an enquiry into the matter and when it was discovered that what Tenali Raman had said was true, the tax officer was given due punishment on charge of bribing the royal officers while Tenali Raman was duly rewarded. The wealth collected by the tax offer was confiscated and put into the royal treasury.