Story of the Witty Tenali Ramakrishna


Sri Sathya Sai Speaks
Today, the students are more and more intelligent but there is not a trace of virtue in them. One is a hero in studies and zero in character. In studies they secure ‘O’ grades. They secure 100 % marks in the examination. But in the subject of character they don’t secure even a single mark. Three-fourths of life is character. Education without character is useless. Therefore we should develop character. You may be rich, a great intellectual, a high ranking officer or you may be physically strong. But without the strength of the Divine, the rest will be useless. 


You know what happened in the Mahabharata war. 


With the physical strength and intelligence
Without the support of God, one becomes weak
What happened to Karna – the one of valour and courage?
Oh valiant son of Bharat, listen to this. 


Earlier, there was a king who ruled Delhi. He was a Mohammedan. He heard the mystery and the greatness of the Mahabharata. He recognised the fact that the five Pandavas stood for virtue and character. He wanted to acquire that character. He summoned all the eight scholars and held a great conference. Who were these eight? Nannaya Bhatta, Somayaji, Yerra Pragada, Madalagadi Mallanna, Pingala Suranna, Ramaraju Bhushana and Tenali Ramakrishna. These were like eight elephants in scholarship! What did he say in the conference? He said, “Oh great scholars! I will give you great rewards if you write the entire Mahabharata as my story. The character of Dharmaja signifies truth and righteousness. You portray me as Dharmaja.” Then Nannaya Bhatta said, “Tanesha! We can portray you as Dharmaja. But what about the four brothers?” Tanesha replied, “I have ministers who are very close to me. Take them as my brothers in the story”. They said, “Tanesha, we need the Kauravas. Who are they?” The emperor replied, “All my enemies are Kauravas. They are hundreds in number. You just narrate all those against me as Kauravas.” As everyone was listening Tenali Ramakrishna got up. He said “Tanesha Sir, the Pandavas have been accounted for. You would be Dharmaja, the ministers would be your four brothers; the minister with strength is Bhima, the one of intelligence is Arjuna and the ones of cleverness are Nakula and Sahadeva, your enemies would be portrayed as Kauravas. This is alright. But if you are to be narrated as Dharamaraja, then your wife has to be narrated as Draupadi as the wife of all the other four ministers! Then Oh king who is going to play the role of Draupadi? Shall we write it as your wife?” Alarmed at this suggestion, the emperor replied, “I don’t want the Mahabharata itself”! 

Only after acknowledging the secret; the life source of the story; should we proceed to listen to the story of Mahabharata. Thus, for every individual and every object there is a life source. Once we have recognised the life source then we can understand anything effortlessly.  The ones who don’t know the life source, their plight will be the same as that of the emperor. The students are very intelligent no doubt but what is the use? With all this intelligence, they should also have the character to be successful. 

Utilise your Time wisely 


You may be a very big person with all degrees like M.B.As and M.As.
You may be a meritorious person with all the nobility, effluence and wealth.
You may have a long span of life and you may be physically strong.
You may be scholars chanting the Vedas and doing penance.
They are never equal to a devotee.
If they are not devotees they will never attain liberation.
What else has to be communicated to this assembly of noble students? 

Students! Having been born in sacred Bharat, you have to develop intelligence with character. You must know that intelligence will help you in certain paths but character will bring you glory. Intelligence will help you to achieve certain things but character will bring you a good name. You have to possess both these. Dharma i.e. righteousness and good name i.e. Keerti. These two alone are permanent. This life is transient (Anityam Jeevanam Loke). Everything is momentary. Everything is like a passing cloud. Once a child is born everyone starts addressing the newborn child as ‘child’. After 10 years they address him as ‘boy’. At the age of 30 years he is addressed as ‘man’. At 70 years of age they address him as ‘grandfather’. Child, boy, man, grandfather is one and the same. Only one person is there. Based upon his age, he gets the name or he is addressed with a different title. The most valuable thing that God has given him is time or Kaala. Time is very important. Don’t waste time. Time waste is life waste. Time is God. He is extolled as ‘Kaalaya Namaha. Kaalateetaya Namaha. Kaalaswaroopaya Namaha’. Everything is time. For birth and death also time is essential. If anyone dies we say that his time is up. A fruit also ripens in due course of time. Thus, this is the evidence that time is very essential and important in one’s life. 


Students! You are wasting three fourths of your time. One part of 24 hours is getting used up in food and sleep. What are you doing with the rest of your time? You waste your time in gossip and thinking and talking about others. You also waste your time in accusing, criticising and making fun of others. If you accuse others, you will be committing a sin. You can never run away from the consequences. The so called others are not others in the real sense. Truly speaking they are Divine. Others are not others at all.  They are also a part of the Paramatma (God). If you are accusing someone, then it is equal to accusing the Paramatma Himself. You must never criticise anyone. You are wasting time in doing so. We criticise each other which is not good. Do you not have any other job to do?  If you don’t have any other work then open your bed and sleep. Why should you waste your time in gossip? The one who wastes time in talking about others is worse than a sinner. 


Truly speaking if everybody works hard in Bharat, then there will be no dearth of food. There is no dearth of land in Bharat. There are also many young and energetic people living here. We can grow how much ever crop we want to grow. Conveniences present in Bharat are not present anywhere else on earth. If you really work hard then Bharat is the place of wealth for you. Today we don’t have a person who works hard, that is why we have to beg others for food. We take loans from many countries. Why these loans? We have lots of money with us. We have to make proper use of it. Use the money for sacred purposes. Work hard, then you can live and feed yourself.  If you work with both the hands, can’t you fill one stomach? Though we have two hands we are not able to fill one stomach. Work hard with both the hands. Do your duty sincerely. Hard work is essential. Then we will be very healthy. Not only healthy we will be happy. But nowadays people run away from work but are ready for food. Adding to this we indulge in arguments. The person who argues is a dunce and dull-headed. Books contain knowledge but the head is full of mud. What is the use? There is lot of knowledge in these books. Transform the book into your mind. But never transform your mind into a book. Only a fool argues. A fool, double fool or whatever degree of a fool he may be will argue. We should not be foolish. What is that you know that you argue? You think about what is there beyond the moon. You haven’t seen it. Then on what basis are you arguing? What is that you can decide? If someone asks what is there under your feet, then you can tell there is earth under your feet. Then how is it that you argue on what you don’t know. It is a waste of time, energy and memory power. Very soon you turn old. If argue on matters that you don’t know, then your age advances. 

Source: Respect Your Culture and Heritage, Discourse 5, My Dear Students Volume 4 



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