At the time when Krishnadevaraya ruled over Vijayanagar, King Barbar ruled over Delhi. Tenali was a famous jester in King Krishnadevaraya’s royal court. When King Barbar heard Tenali’s tales of wit and intelligence, he wished to meet him. So he sent a messenger to Vijayangar to request Tenali to visit Delhi. With King Krishnadevaraya’s permission Tenali went to Delhi with the messenger.
In Delhi, Tenali was welcomed and settled in the royal guest house. The messenger went to King Barbar to inform him about Tenali’s arrival. The next day’s appointment was fixed between King Barbar and Tenali. Barbar told his courtiers, Tenali, the great witty jester from Vijayanagar has come to Delhi. Tomarrow in the royal court none of us must smile or laugh at his jokes. I want to test him as to how he will make us laugh and win a reward.
The courtiers of Dilli Durbar promised not to smile or laugh that day in the court before the guest. At the given time Tenali also arrived in the Dilli Durbar. He told many witty tales and jokes to courtiers and King Barbar, but all remained silent. No one even smiled at the jokes. This went on everyday for 15 days. From the sixteenth day Tenali stopped going to Dilli Durbar. He disguised himself and followed the King Barbar everywhere to note his daily routine. Barbar used to go for stroll by the river Yamuna with his prime minister every morning. On the way they would give gold coins to the poor and the needy beggars. After observing this Tenali made a plan.
Next morning, Tenali dressed up as an old man. He took a spade and a mango sapling and stood by the river Yamuna waiting for the King Barbar’s arrival. Seeing him at a distance Tenalis tarted planting the sapling. King Barbar came to him and said ,’ Old man, you are very old indeed. You wont live long enough to enjoy the fruits of the tree you are planting. Why are you taking so much trouble?’ ‘Your Majesty, I enjoyed the fruits from the trees planted by my ancestors. This tree’s fruits will be enjoyed by the others . I find joy in giving to others. I am not planting this to myself.’ The king was impressed by the reply and gave a bag full of gold coins. The old man thanked him and said,’ Your Majesty you are indeed a great and kind king. People get the fruits when the tree has grown but you have given me the fruit of my labors even before I had planted the sapling. The thoughts of helping others has really benefited me.’
I like this thought of yours. You can now take this second bag of gold coins as a reward, King Barbar said. ‘ Oh, Your Majesty, This tree will bear fruits once in a year only but before it has been planted you have filled my arms with fruits of joys twice. King Barbar said ,I like your thoughts and impressed by them and gave the third bag too to old man. Now the prime minister got worried and said to king, Your majesty let’s leave now, this man is too intelligent. His witty remarks will claim all the royal wealth from you. King Barbar laughed and got ready to walk away. At this time the old man said, Your Majesty, can you give me just a look? When Barbar turned to look, he saw Tenali holding a false beard in his hands. King Barbar burst out in laughing on seeing what Tenali had been up to. He said, I am pleased, Tenali. You have truly proved that you are witty and a great jester.
King Barbar called Tenali to the court and gave him many more royal rewards. When Tenali returned to Vijayanagar, King Krishnadevaraya was proud to see how Tenali had saved grace. Tenali smiled and said, so Your Majesty I am fit for a reward from you too. King Krishnadeva Raya agreed with a smile and gave Tenali ten thousand gold coins as a reward.