Once, a great pundit from a foreign land visited King Krishna Deva Raya’s court. He claimed that he had knowledge of all subjects and was an expert in every field. He challenged that he would argue with all of his wise ministers and defeat them. The king accepted his challenge. The pundit then proceeded to argue with the learned men of the kingdom on various subjects. The king’s ministers failed miserably. Then, the king summoned his wisest minister, Tenali raman.
Tenali took a small bundle from his home, gave it the shape of a book and tied it up. Then, he went to the court and announced that he was ready to argue against the pundit but on the condition that the topic of their debate would be based on the great book ‘Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam’. The great pundit was stumped when he heard this because he had never heard of any such book. He asked the king to give him one night’s time to prepare for the argument. He was sleepless all night. He could not bear the thought of losing so he took all his belongings and left the city before sunrise. He left a note for the king saying that he had never heard of the great book.
The next day, at the appointed time Tenali appeared in court for the debate. But he was informed that the pundit had already gone away. The king being a learned man wanted to read the great book that Tenali had mentioned, so he asked Tenali about it. Tenali laughed and replied that there was no such book called ‘Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam’. Inside the bundle, there was til which is called Thila in Sanskrit and some sheep dung which in Sanskrit is known as Kashta. These contents were tied by a rope made of buffalo’s hide which is called Mahisha. Bandhanam refers to ‘tying’ in Sanskrit.
This is how Tenali tricked the pundit into believing that there was a great book that the pundit was completely unaware of. The king appreciated Tenali’s intelligence and rewarded him.
Tenali Raman And The Great Pundit – Tenali Raman Stories