The King’s condition
One day, King Krishnadev Rai was in a good mood. He gave each of his courtiers a bag containing fifty gold coins. The courtiers were thrilled. Just then the king said, “You have to use these gold coins within one week. At the end of the week, you will show me all that you have bought with these gold coins. But there is a condition. Every time you spend some gold coins, you will have to see my face.”
All the courtiers were very pleased. They left for the market to do some shopping. But whenever they decided to buy something, they remembered the king’s condition. How could they see the king’s face in the market? And if they did not see the king’s face, they could not spend the gold coins. The courtiers were puzzled. Some of them roamed the market for the whole week. They thought, “If the king himself comes to the market to buy something, we might get to see his face. And then we can spend the gold coins.”
But the king never came to the market. The whole week passed in this way. When the court assembled after a week, the king asked the courtiers, “Well, what did you buy with the gold coins that I had given you?” The royal priest arose from his seat. On behalf of all the courtiers, he said, “Your Majesty, all of us went to the market with great enthusiasm and excitement. We all had our bags of gold coins with us. And we wanted to buy many things! But we could not buy anything at all… Only because of the condition laid down by you. How and where could we see your face in the market?” Pointing towards the bags of gold coins that all the courtiers had brought back, the royal priest said, “Since none of us could see your face in the market, not a single gold coin could be spent.”
Hearing this, the king began to laugh. He then asked Tenalirama, “Did you buy anything?” That day, Tenalirama had come to the court wearing new clothes and ornaments. He said, “Your Majesty, Look at this new dhoti… this silk kurta… this beautiful scarf…And this shining ring… I bought all these things with the gold coins given by you.” All the courtiers were pleased to hear this. They thought, “Tenalirama did not see the king’s face. Yet he spent all the gold coins. He has not fulfilled the condition laid down by the king. Tenalirama will be surely punished today.”
The king said, “Tenalirama! You have not fulfilled the condition laid down by me. You did not see my face in the market. Yet you dared to buy these things!” Tenalirama said, “Your Majesty, I have spent every single gold coin only after I saw your face.”
The king was surprised. He said, “How is that possible?” Tenalirama said, “Your Majesty, Have you forgotten that every gold coin bears the imprint of your face ?” “Oh…” said the King, rather pleased. He smiled gently. All the courtiers were rendered speechless. They hung their heads in shame.