One day, when king Sri Krishnadevaraya was sitting in his court, he heard a commotion outside the palace gates. He commanded the guards to find out what it was.
A guard came with a man who identified himself as the village head. The king asked him what the matter was. The man replied, “Your majesty, our village is infested by rats. The rats are destroying our food grains and creating chaos in the village. Please save us.”
The king assured the village head by saying, “Fear not, my good man. I will consult with my courtiers and find a solution to your problem.”
King Sri Krishnadevaraya ordered his ministers to arrive at a solution. One of the ministers stood up and said, “Your majesty, since cats eat rats, we can solve this rat menace by giving one cat to each household in the village.”
“But how would the poor villagers feed the cats?” asked another minister. The minister suggested that they could give a cow along with a cat so that the cats can feed on milk.
The king agreed to this solution. All the villagers began feeding the cats with milk. And as days passed by, the cats became healthy and lazy.
Tenali Rama observed this and thought, “There is something wrong with this solution.”
The next day, Rama placed a hot bowl of milk in front of one of the cats. As soon as the cat spotted the milk, it rushed to drink it and burned its tongue. The cat ran away and never touched milk again.
That cat began to hunt, and the owner’s house was clean of rats.
One day, the king wanted to review the situation and ordered the villagers to get the cats to the court. The villages complained that their cats haven’t been hunting rats, except the one owner whose cat stopped drinking milk thanks to Rama.
The king asked the cat’s owner, “Why is only your cat hunting rats? Haven’t you been feeding it with milk?”
Rama stepped up and said, “Your majesty, it is not the owner’s fault. This cat refuses to drink milk.”
“A cat that doesn’t drink milk? How is that possible, Rama?” asked the king.
“Let me show it to you, your majesty,” said Rama and asked the guards to get a bowl of milk. As soon as the cat saw the bowl of milk, it ran away.
The surprised king asked for the reason behind it. Then, Rama said, “Your majesty, I had given the cat a bowl of hot milk which burnt its tongue. From that day onwards, this cat never drank milk.”
“But, why did you do so?” inquired the king.
Rama replied, “Your majesty, cats would hunt the rats only when they are hungry. By drinking milk every day, the cats have become healthy and lazy and do not hunt for the rats. To show you this, I gave hot milk to one of the cats.”
The king understood the flaw in the solution. He asked the ministers to find another solution to help solve the problem. He also rewarded Rama handsomely.
Moral of the story
A wrong is a wrong even if everyone is doing it.
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