The famous King Krishnadevaraya ruled in Vijaynagar. The great Mughal King Babur ruled in Delhi. King Babur always wanted to meet Tenali Raman since he had heard a lot about the intelligence of Tenali Raman.
One day, Babur sent a messenger to King Krishnadevaraya. The messenger said, “Greetings, King King Krishnadevaraya. The great Mughal Emperor Babur wants Tenali Raman to visit him in Delhi.”
King Krishnadevaraya agreed and replied, “Tenali Raman shall go back with you tomorrow to Delhi.”
Tenali Raman and the messenger reached Delhi and settled in the royal guesthouse. Babur had a meeting in the night with all his courtiers.
Babur said, “No one should laugh at Tenali Raman’s jokes tomorrow. I want to see how intelligent he is. I want to see him try new tricks to make us laugh then.”
The courtiers agreed and said, “Yes, my Emperor. We shall only frown at his jokes.”
The next day, Tenali Raman arrived in the court. He started to narrate one of his jokes, “Once upon a time, there was a famous clown.”
The courtiers yawned very loudly at the end of every joke. Similarly, every day this would happen and Tenali Raman understood what was happening.
Tenali Raman thought, “I will follow King Babur to see where he goes every day. If he does not know that it is me, then I shall make him laugh”
He wore a cloth over his face so that no one would be able to recognize him. He found that Babur and all his ministers would walk by the river Yamuna every morning.
Babur would be giving one coin to the beggars near the river every day. Tenali Raman thought of a very cunning plan. Tenali Raman disguised himself to look like an old man. He carried a spade and a small mango sapling.
When the king came near him, Tenali started to plant the sapling into the ground. He made painful groaning sounds every time he dug into the soil.
Babur said, “My dear man, you are so old. You might not be alive when this tree produces its first mango. Why are you planting it?”
Tenali Raman said, “Your Majesty, I ate the fruits of trees my forefathers planted. Similarly, my grandchildren will enjoy the fruits of this tree.”
Babar exclaimed, “That is such a noble thought!”
Babar took a small bag and said, “Here, take this bag of gold coins.”
Tenali Raman replied, “Thank you, my King. I have proven you wrong. You said that I won’t be alive to enjoy the fruits of this tree. The tree has already given me the fruits even though I have planted it just now.”
Babar laughed loudly and so did his courtiers, “Well done, my old man. You are wise and clever and very funny too. What would you tell me if I gave you a second bag of gold coins?”
Tenali Raman said, “A tree gives fruits once a year. I am getting the fruits twice, your Majesty! Hence I would say that this tree is a magic tree!”
Babar again laughed loudly and appreciated his reply. He said, “Bravo! This second bag of gold coins is yours.”
Tenali Raman said, “Your Majesty, at this rate you will give all your wealth to me. You are too kind.”
Babar laughed and agreed. Tenali Raman took off his fake beard and said, “Your Majesty, please look at me.”
Babar was surprised to see Tenali Raman. He was very happy on seeing his intelligence and wit. Babur said, “Tenali Raman, you are truly a great man.”