Tenali Raman was a counsellor to the king of Vijayanagar. His job was to keep the king happy and that the king should never worry.
One day, when the queen was very ill and close to death, the king asked her what she wanted. “A mango,” she said. “I want a mango.” But it wasn’t the season for mangoes then, so the king ordered his army to get her one -to go wherever it was necessary, but they must come back with a mango for the queen. The horses galloped off at a furious pace, but before they returned, the queen died.
The king was miserable: “I am a powerful king, but I can’t even get a mango for my ailing wife. What’s the point of all this power and wealth?” He called his religious preacher, and narrated him the story how his ailing wife dead with a wish for Mango unfulfilled. “Don’t worry about that,” said the Brahman. “Just give the thousand Brahmins a golden mango, a silk cloth, and a cloth with golden thread; give us these gifts as offerings. If you do that, the sin of her death will leave her. She’ll be satisfied and hail happily there in heaven.”
Being a very learned and wise man himself, Tenali Rama could smell the fish! He knew the preacher is being crook and is trying to extort the king’s wealth.
Throwing caution to the wind, he said, “Oh great preacher, my wife has been sick for three days. It seems to me that she will die very soon”
“I see, well… the king is giving us golden mangoes.”
“I can’t possibly manage that.”
“Well, you’ve got to make some offering if you expect all the Brahmins to come and alleviate her suffering.”
“Fine. Tell them to come directly to my house!” said Tenali Raman.
Next day, Brahmins went to his house, which was really very small. He told them to finish their rituals and then line up to receive gifts. “Stand there in a line and when I open the door, I want you to enter one at a time. As you can see, this is no palace, so I’ve got to conduct a separate ceremony for each of you. When I call you, enter and receive your offering one by one.”
Tenali Ran would serve the offering – money and fruits in a very hot plate. Then he invited one of them in, saying, “Sir, please accept this offering.” When the Brahmin picked up the plate,he would end up burning his hands! He did this to the thousand Brahmins, who ran off in pain to the king. “Tenali Raman has burned our hands. You must punish him.”
The king summoned him and said, “You can’t burn Brahmins like that! It’s a crime, a terrible crime!”
“When the queen died she wanted mangoes, to satisfy the queen’s last wish you gave away mangoes. Now my wife,” continued Tenali Raman, “had been ill, lying on the death bed. She had been felling very cold. She wanted he feel warm, and I had requested my aids to get me lot of woods. I thought I would fire the woods and make her comfortable, but she died suddenly, so I thought if I heated those Brahmins the heat would reach her in heaven; that way her longing would be fulfilled.”
What could the king say? Tenali Raman had done the right thing – he had removed the sin of death! The king was speechless.
Full of anger and anguish the religious advisor and preacher of the king said, “This is sheer ridiculous! How can anything given to the priest here on earth reach to his dead wife?” He added, “Oh great king, he is actually jealous of us and had intentionally hurt us. You should punish him”
The king could now understand what was Tanali Rama up to. He can now see the preacher has just fooled him for gold mangos and expensive gifts in the name of satisfying the soul of his dead wife. The king then issued a warning to the preacher and bewares him not to come to his kingdom ever again.