The Castle In The Air
All the courtiers saw that the King Krishna Deva Raya was worried that morning.
He sat on the throne lost in deep thought with a frown.
Tenali Ram, being a friend and well wisher of the king, on top of being his cleverest minister wanted to find out what was bothering the king.
Just like how a human cannot function properly if he has a headache, the kingdom will suffer if the king is not his full self.
“Please share with us your thoughts, Dear King, if you don’t mind,” said Tenali bowing to the King.
“The dream I had this morning is haunting me, Tenali”, said the King |”Was it a nightmare, your majesty?” “Quite the contrary, Tenali.
I dreamed of a magnificent castle.
A castle that was virtually floating in the clouds.
It studded with so many precious stones that their shine made the palace brilliant even in moonlight.
Rivulets of honey and milk flow inside its walls.
It is always spring in its fragrant gardens and it rains exactly at the same time every afternoon.
Though I know this is an impossible place, I am finding it impossible to get this vivid, enticing image out of my mind.
It is filling my heart with desire.
” Tenali was about to tell the king about origin and causes of various dreams and the futility of desiring after such castles in the air, when Chatur Pandit intervened.
“You have had a vision, my Lord,” said Chatur Pandit obsequiously, “As a King, you must act on your vision.
That is the behavior that befits a king.
You must immediately assemble the best architects, artisans, masons, carpenters and painters and order them to build for you this palace of your dreams.
This is the greatest empire in the world and nothing is impossible for its king.
We, the dutiful and grateful citizens, shall ensure that every single thing that appeared to you in your dream is achieved” King Krishna Deva Raya was very pleased to hear this.
Afterall he was indeed the king of the greatest empire in India.
It had the best resources and cleverest craftsmen.
Cunning Chatur Pandit however had a hidden agenda.
He knew that this was a best opportunity to loot more from the king’s coffers.
He knew that he could mislead the king about his fantastical dream and make the project a cash cow for himself and other corrupt contractors.
Nothing is more easily manipulated than a man filled with desire even if he is an otherwise intelligent king.
Tenali realized this was Chatur’s idea.
The money that would be poured into this unnecessary enterprise would have been much better used for projects that would benefit the population.
But Tenali did not want to object to the proposal immediately.
He knew that the king was still under the influence of his dream and the flattery of Chatur Pandit, so Tenali decided to wait a while before guiding the king to the right path.
King announced the construction project the very next day.
As expected, Chatur Pandit had full control over the construction.
As days became weeks and weeks became a couple of months, no progress was made.
But more and more money kept on being withdrawn from the royal treasury.
Whenever the King asked Chatur Pandit for a progress report, Chatur would invent new excuses and divert the king’s attention by asking him more details about the dream.
When the king would tell him some more about what he could remember, Chatur would immediately say that this new information leads to some reconstruction and redrawing of the project.
Then one day an old man appeared in the court.
He was visibly very distraught.
He clothes were in tatters.
His grey hair disheveled.
His facial hair unkempt.
“Justice, my King,” he shouted as soon as he staggered to the center of the court, “I need justice.
” The King and the courtiers were taken aback awhile by this sight.
“You are in the court of King Krishna Deva Raya,” proclaimed the king, “You shall receive justice using all means in our power.
” “Please hear my sad story, dear king, but before I tell you that, you must promise me that you will never punish me.
” “I give you my word.
Now tell us your story.
” “My name is Shubhakarmi.
I was a very wealthy merchant in the border town of Varambudesh.
I was living happily with my family till last week.
Now all my wealth has been looted and my family brutally murdered.
I am alone and helpless in the world.
I have nowhere else to go.
O Powerful Emperor, please help this poor frail man.
” “Who is responsible for this calamity? Do you know the looters and the murders?” “Yes, I do, Maharaj.
But I am helpless and powerless against them.
” “Tell me their names and they shall immediately be brought to justice.
” “It is you, King Krishna Deva Raya and your minister, Chatur Pandit, who have ruined my life.
” “What are you saying?, said the King jumping up from his throne.
“You must be a mad man.
I have never seen you before in my life.
How dare you accuse me of looting and murdering? Your arrogance shall immediately be punished severely.
” “Dear King, you cannot go back on your word now.
You promised that you will never punish me.
Please allow me to explain.
Last Sunday I had a dream that you and your minister had committed those grave wrongs on me and my family.
” “You idiot,” thundered Krishna Deva Raya, “How could you ever confuse such an impossible dream with reality?” “I am just a humble citizen of the empire who emperor himself is chasing after a dream,” said the old man calmly.
Hearing this the King looked carefully at the old man.
He recognized it was none other than his favorite minister, Tenali Ram, in disguise.
Krishna Deva Raya understood that Tenali has driven home point well about his futile dream castle project.
Blinded by desire for his own dream, he had forgotten his duties as king.
Commonsense had deserted him.
He had allowed himself to fall victim to flattery and manipulation.
Without delay, the King cancelled the project and diverted the funds to social welfare activities.