Tenali Ramakrishna, popularly known as Tenali Rama and also as Vikata Kavi ( VI KA TA KA VI ), was a Telugu, a court-poet and court Jester, in the Sixteenth century. He was part of Ashtadiggajas patroned by Sri Krishnadeva Raya of the Vijayanagara Empire. He is also referred as "Tenali Raman" in Hindi media. His family had originally hailed from Tumuluru near Tenali in Guntur District. He was also known as Tenali Ramalinga, a Shaivite name. It is believed that he later converted to Vaishnavism.
Once Tenali, Raman’s village was affected badly due to drought. All the ponds and wells became dry. In the rivers not even a drop of water was available, and all the people were starving. The people assembled in holy places and prayed for rains to come. The saints performed special prayers and recited holy books. But with all this, there was no rain. At that time one well-known saint came there. As soon as the saint arrived it started raining. Very heavy and continuous rains! Everyone was happy. All people praised the saint for having brought rains. They said ”It is all due to the saint’s arrival. Otherwise, Tenali would have become a desert.” Tenali Raman, who was very wise did not like these remarks. He said, ”The rains have come not because of the saint. Even if he had not come, rains would have come at the appropriate time.” The people were not happy about this. They rebuked Tenali Raman and said: ”Why should you talk this nonsense and get a curse from the saint?“ They even wanted to beat him, but Tenali Raman started to tell a story. “There were ripe fruits on a palm tree. Then a crow came and sat on the tree. This did not make any impact on the tree, but a ripe fruit which was about to fall, fell down. Seeing this, one fool said “only because the crow came, the fruit fell.”
At this time, the visiting saint arrived there. The people told him that Tenali Raman was a haughty fellow and that they wanted to beat him for his disgraceful behaviour. But the saint did not believe their words. As a humble and learned person, he wanted to speak to Raman. After talking to Raman for some time, the saint was surprised at his vast knowledge. He paid rich tributes to Raman for his knowledge and awareness of many matters. The saint advised Raman to go to Kali’s temple at midnight and recite certain mantras from scriptures and that Kali would bless him. The people left the place feeling embarrassed at the sudden turn of events.
Once, a magician from North India visited the court of Krishnadevaraya and the King of Vijayanagaram and exhibited several magic tricks. He even showed one special trick in which he separated his own head! After this the magician challenged the members of the court and asked whether there was anyone in Vijayanagaram empire to show such magic tricks.
But there were none in the court that day to show any magic items. The king was ashamed that his court did not have a magician. Then, suddenly Tenali Raman came forward and bowed before the king and senior members. Later, he challenged the magician. ”I will do one item of magic with closed eyes. But you should do it with open eyes. Can you?” “ Oh, it is quite simple. This fellow is doing it with closed eyes. I will not have any difficulty in doing it with open eyes!’ the magician thought. He accepted the challenge. Raman brought a spoonful of chili powder. He closed his eyes and dropped the chili powder into his closed eyes. He waited for two to three minutes. Later, he removed all the powder and opened his eyes.
Then, he brought another spoonful of chili powder and gave it to the magician. He asked him to perform the trick with open eyes. The magician found himself trapped. He expressed several excuses. But people booed him and made fun of him. The magician, unable to perform the act left the scene hurriedly. The King was extremely happy. He offered Tenali Raman the post of court Jester immediately.