Raman of Tenali Is Blessed By The Goddess

- April 14, 2021


By Vijita Mukherjee

In the village of Tenali, there lived a very poor yet carefree boy named Ramalingam or Raman. Though his father was dead, he hardly helped his mother in any way.

One day a wandering sadhu (ascetic) saw him wasting his time and chided him. The naughty Raman had no intention of arguing with the holy man as he wanted to continue his siesta. So he told the sage that he wanted to work but unfortunately, he was stricken by a deadly disease.

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Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Kamala Chandrakant

The sadhu believed the lie and felt sorry for the boy who otherwise looked cheerful and bright. He taught him a mantra (chant) and its practice to appease the Goddess Kali. He thought the boy would ask her for good health. Blessed with a razor-sharp intellect, Raman easily learnt the mantra but he was already in the best of health. So, he decided that he would use it to ask for food. 

That night, Raman chanted the mantra a hundred thousand times and the Goddess Kali appeared before him. She was magnificent with huge expressive eyes, a dark complexion, a thousand heads and two hands raised in blessing. However, instead of asking her for anything at all, Raman burst out laughing.  The Goddess was not amused and demanded to know the reason for his mirth. Raman told her that with two hands he found it hard to manage one running nose; he was wondering how she would manage her thousand noses if she ever had a cold! The Goddess could not help but smile at his childlike innocence and imagination. 

Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Kamala Chandrakant

She addressed him as a ‘vikat kavi’ (a jesting poet) and blessed him with the power to be able to make people laugh. Now, anyone standing in the grace of the goddess would be overcome with emotion but not our Tenali. He bantered with her further: while this boon would make others happy, how would it help him, he asked her. She liked his fearless confidence and decided to offer him one of her most coveted boons.

Lo and behold! A golden cup with the milk of learning and another one studded with diamonds and full of the sour curd of wealth appeared in the goddess’s hands. She asked Raman to choose one. Raman of course wanted both and immediately devised a plan. 

Scratching his head and wrinkling his forehead, Raman said that he had no idea what was the flavour of either wealth or learning. After all, he was but a poor lad from a small village. Could he not be allowed to taste both and then make an informed choice? The goddess thought that was quite a fair request and held out both the cups in front of him. Quick as a flash, Raman gulped down both the milk and the curd. 

The cups were empty and the Goddess was furious. But Raman had prostrated himself before her. He closed his eyes and praised her with songs in childlike innocence. In any case, he reasoned, one would not be useful without the other. 

Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Kamala Chandrakant

Goddess Kali relented and smiled yet again. She granted him both the boons but cautioned him that they would earn him many enemies. With that, she vanished.

Quite pleased with this turn of events, Raman went back home. With wealth and knowledge to call his own, Raman of Tenali eventually entered the court of King Krishnadevaraya of the famed Vijayanagara Empire, but that is another story! 

Read the full story of Tenali in our title Raman of Tenali, available on the ACK Comics app, Kindle, Amazon, Flipkart, and other major e-tailers. 

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