By Manju Gupta
One day King Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar sat with a long face in his court, looking visibly depressed.
His courtier Tenali Raman was distressed to see his king unhappy and asked, “Your Majesty seems to be very sad as if something serious has happened. Is there anything that this minion can do to relieve Your Majesty’s sorrow?’
The king replied, after a long pause, “Today it’s my mother’s death anniversary. I am remembering my mother whose last wish was to eat a sweet mango. I could no fulfil her wish because mangoes do not grow in this season.”
The court priest came forward and said after pondering over the matter for a few minutes, “Your Majesty, I have a solution to this problem and in this way Your Majesty’s mother will find salvation. For this a yajna will have to be performed and 12 Brahmins will need to be fed and gifted a golden mango each.”
The king was pleased at the suggestion and told his head priest to go ahead with the preparations and perform the yajna, as the king ordered the best jeweller in the kingdom to start moulding 13 gold mangoes. The ceremony was organised with full pomp and show and just when the ceremony was about to get over, Tenali Raman said to the visiting Brahmins that since his mother’s death anniversary was falling the next day, he too wanted to get a yajna performed. The Brahmins willingly agreed to visit his house the next day.
So when the head priest as also the 12 Brahmins reached Tenali Raman’s house, Tenali Raman brought out 13 iron rods and began to heat them one by one on the fire lit for the yajna. The Brahmins got perturbed as to why Tenali Raman was heating the rods as they wanted to begin the yajna. The head priest asked Tenali Raman, “If you have finished your work, let us start the yajna.”
Tenali Raman replied, “You see, my mother suffered from severe arthritis and had asked me to place hot iron rods on her aching parts to relieve her pain. But I couldn’t fulfil this last wish of hers, so I thought if I too place a hot rod on the body of each Brahmin and you, the treatment will be conveyed to my mother’s body and her soul will rest in peace.”
At this the head priest shot back, “Are you out of your mind, Tenali Raman? How can the hot rods on our bodies heal your mother’s pain?”
Tenali Raman replied, “If the king’s mother’s soul can be made to rest in peace by gifting gold mangoes to you all, then why can’t my mother get relief from arthritis pain and thus rest in peace if hot rods are placed on you all?”
The head priest got the message and he and the 12 Brahmins agreed to return the gold mangoes they had received from the king. The king was surprised to see Tenali Raman return the 13 mangoes and asked him the reason for doing so. Tenali Raman explained the entire story and the king was so happy with him that he awarded him a large amount of gold coins.
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done!