Tenali Rama Story: Handful Of Grain And One Thousand Gold Coins

Image: iStock

There once lived a beautiful lady called Vidyullatha in the city of Vijayanagara. She was known for her intelligence and knowledge in poetry and prose. She was also well-versed in dance and music. Despite her beauty and artistic talents, she was not regarded highly. This was primarily due to her pride and arrogance.

One day, she put up an announcement on her compound wall. It read, “Whoever defeats me in a battle of humor, wit, and scholarship will be rewarded with one thousand gold coins.”

The challenge hurt the ego of the scholars in the region. Almost all the scholars in the city took part in the contest but failed in defeating her.

One day, a firewood vendor stood in front of Vidyullatha’s house and began shouting, “Firewood…excellent firewood…best firewood in the city…

Unable to bear the voice of the firewood vendor anymore, Vidyullatha came out of the house and said, “How much are you willing to sell the load for?” 

The vendor replied, “Madam, I will not sell this load for money. But I will give it to you in exchange for a handful of grain.” Hearing this, Vidyullatha assured him that she would give him more than what he asked for and ordered him to dump the load in the backyard.

To this, the vendor replied, “Madam, there is no bargain in this deal. I will give you this firewood for a handful of grain and nothing more or less. A handful of grain, I repeat.

This irked Vidyullatha, and she said, “All right! I will only give you what you have asked for; now, unload the load and collect your grain.” 

Vidyullatha came out with a handful of grains and asked the vendor to take it. The vendor refused to take it and said, “Madam, I made it very clear that there is no bargain for this deal, I said a handful of grain, not less, not more. If you cannot pay the price, then give me one thousand gold coins and remove the invitation from your compound wall.” 

Now Vidyullatha lost her cool and shouted, “What is wrong with you? What nonsense are you talking?” 

The vendor cut her in between and said, “I am not talking any nonsense. I have told you the price beforehand, and you agreed to pay. Now, if you cannot pay me my due, you must give me one thousand gold coins.”

 Now, both Vidyullatha and the vendor started to shout and argue. Vidyullatha decided to approach the provisional court for justice.

At the court, Vidyullatha presented her argument in front of the judge, saying, “My lord, I agreed to pay this firewood vendor the price he quoted for the firewood. Now, he is demanding one thousand gold coins. I need justice.” 

The judge turned to the vendor and asked for an explanation. The vendor said, “My lord, I told her clearly that the price for my firewood is a handful of grain.” 

The vendor continued innocently, “I made it clear that I needed a handful of grain, which means a grain that fits into a hand. She misunderstood it for a handful of grains.” 

Vidyullatha was speechless as she realized her mistake. The judgment was passed in favor of the vendor. Just then, the vendor removed his turban, and everyone was surprised to see Tenali Rama.

Moral of the story 

Do not be arrogant about your capabilities.


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Harshita Makvana

Harshita is a graduate in commerce and holds a PG Diploma in Patent and Copyrights Law from NALSAR University. She has also pursued CA and has more than three years of internship experience in auditing. Her love for travelling has taken her to various parts of the world, and writing the travelogues was what brought out her love for content writing....
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