Table of Contents
One day, Raja Krishnadevaraya and his courtiers watch as an artist shows his paintings to the king. The paintings impress the monarch and the majority of his courtiers. However, one of the courtiers, Tenali Raman, looks displeased.
Raja Krishnadevaraya: King of Vijayanagar
Tenali Raman: Poet and jester in the court
The Cleverest Man in The Kingdom
Raja Krishnadevaraya and his courtiers were impressed by the paintings an artist presented. Raja, happy with the artist gifted him a bag of gold coins and offered the artist a place in his court. However, Tenali Raman disagreed and said the paintings were not that impressive. The paintings presented a picture from a certain perspective, leaving the rest of it to be imagined and this did not sit well with Tenali Raman.
He challenged that he could paint something better and the King bet him a bag of gold, and the title ‘King of Artists’ if he succeeded in presenting a better painting by the end of the month, thus began their bet. The courtiers began to smile as they anticipated that he would lose the wager. The king, however, was still ambiguous because he regarded Tenali as an ingenious man. At the end of the month when Tenali did not arrive on time the other courtiers began to ridicule him. They said that he should pay a bag of gold as a penalty.
When Tenali came, two men were carrying a painting that was draped in a cloth. Tenali made a motion, and the men raised the cloth to reveal an empty canvas. Only a few curving black strokes along the right edge and a few thin green lines below it could be seen in the artwork. Tenali explained that it was a painting of a magnificent black stallion with a white star on its forehead.
This surprised everyone and enraged the king. Then Tenali implied that it was the king who had told him to use imagination while admiring art. He asked the king to imagine that the rest of the horse was outside the canvas grazing on some lush green grass. This impressed the king and he rightfully granted Tenali his bag of gold and called him the cleverest man in the kingdom.
Tenali Raman might not be the best artist but with the correct and clever use of his wits, he always managed to surprise everyone and impress them.