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April 6, 2011

The Sweet Brinjal (Tenali Raman Story)

Tenali is a village in Andhrapradesh. Our Raman was from that village hence prefixed  “Tenali’. He was a very wise man and was called ‘Vikatavi’ in the court of King Krishnadevaraya. The king had a special place in his heart for Raman for his wit.

One day, a foreign traveller visited Krishnadevaraya’s court and gifted ‘a sweet brinjal plant’ and some sweet brinjals to the king.  Brinjal is common but sweet brinjal sounded new. Everyone was curious to have a look at it and to taste too. 

The king called the cook and told him to prepare a nice curry out of those sweet brinjals and ordered the Gardener to plant the sapling in the royal garden. The order was carried out and  the lunch turned out to be so special with the curry using ‘sweet brinjal’.  As king was very close to Tenali Rama, he invited him also to join for the lunch. There was a huge broad smile in Raman’s face and all the courtiers envied him a lot and blamed their ill-luck.

On the Dining table laid the feast for eyes and toungue with variety of dishes filled to the brim of the vessels, steaming hot. Its was a colourful feast too with lot many vegetables & mouth watering flavours filled the dining hall with its aroma. The banana leaves are neatly laid down, washed and fresh in place.

The king took the main place and seated himself followed by his family and Tenali Raman. The server first served the sweet of the day followed by the curries, pickle, dhal. Then came the white rice which was perfectly cooked with each grains separate, into their leaves followed by a dash of ghee. Suddenly the king noticed something missing. Yes,  ‘the sweet brinjal curry’.  The cook was called to bring it to the table for serving.  Everyone was curious and eagerly they turned their heads towards the dining entrance from kitchen.

First the a delicious aroma filled the air, then slowly steam escaped from the kitchen passage to the dining hall. Then the head of the cook appeared with the lovely piping hot sweet brinjal curry.  There was a great relief seen in everyone’s face when their much waited curry came.

Soon a spoon full of sweet brinjal curry was served in all the leaf. All the diner’s heart was thumping with joy to taste it and their eager hands soon reached the leaf and was controlled forcibly to stay away as its custom to offer some thanks giving prayer to god. Then the king took some curry in his hand and in went the curry inside his watering mouth. Others soon followed him without wasting a second. 

It was a grand feast as the sweet brinjal tasted very yummy! Taking all of them to the heaven with its flavour & taste. The lunch lasted for an extra half-an-hour than the routine as everyone was lost in the thoughts of sweet brinjal.  Finally, the lunch was over and all of them proceeded to the next chamber where beetel leaves & nuts were offered for easing the digestion process. After that nice sumptuous feast, the king and Raman sat and discussed about the sweet brinjal and the feast.

That evening, Tenali Raman ran home to share this with his wife. Their young son was listening to their conversation. Raman’s wife was so eager to taste it hence Raman promised to bring few brinjals for her. After few days, the king was sent a message that the sweet brinjal plant was ready for harvest.  This news reached the ears of Tenali Raman too. The king ordered to harvest it the next day and that more plants be planted.  A separate fenced garden was created with some guards to keep a watch on it. The plants grew up, flowered soon and bore ripen brinjals.  Tenali raman was also secretly watching the garden and that night, he slinked away from his home into the darkness covering himself in a black blanket towards the royal garden. He managed to slip into the garden without being caught and plucked few brinjals. While getting out of the garden, the guards notice some movement and followed the shadow but our clever Raman escaped into the dark and reached his house.

Raman’s wife quickly made a curry and the dinner was served. Tenali Raman’s son was so happy to taste this new dish and kept asking what it was. The mother told him that it’s a sweet brinjal curry, the son said he wanted it daily and finished his dinner quickly.  They put their son to sleep and Tenali raman told his wife not to leak this out.  After the little boy was soon asleep, Tenali raman poured a pot full of water on him. The boy woke up from the sleep crying ‘Its raining! Raining!”  The parents consoled him and soon all of them were asleep.

The next morning in the court, the king was alerted about the visit of a thief to the royal garden and that some sweet brinjals were missing. The king ordered an enquiry and the guards said that they doubt Raman as the shadow was seen heading towards his place. King sent oders to Raman’s wife and son to appear in  the court. When they arrived, our Clever Raman said that he was sound asleep that night and he was innocent. The other jealous courtiers suggested to the king “Oh  King, a child will never lie. So let us ask raman’s son” The king questioned Raman’s son what the menu for their dinner, the previous night.

The innocent child said that he had a special curry which tasted sweet and that he could not recollect the name of the vegetable.  The king was very angry and asked Raman to explain that. Immediately Raman told “Oh my lord, please don’t go by the word of a small child. Please ask him whether it rained the previous night” The king interrogated the boy to which they boy replied “Yes it rained heavily and  I was feeling cold”.  Raman “Now is it clear, oh my king.  It never rained yesterday.” The king was atlast convinced and declared Raman as innocent. He also ordered to strengthen the security around the special fence. Raman with his wit escaped with a clear chit and saved his reputation with the king too.

After lunch, Raman had a meeting with the king and requested him to award a sapling of sweet brinjal to every citizen of their country to avoid the robbery of this kind. King was relieved and immediately ordered to award the sapling to his country men. The whole country of Krishna Devaraya enjoyed their meal with the sweet brinjal curry and no more guards employed to guard the special fence. All of them lived happily.

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