The Arabian Horse

by Dr. Pran Rangan

A person from Arabia used to visit the Kingdom of Vijaya Nagar once a year to sell horses. By speaking highly of the qualities of his horses, he could sell some to the Maharaja Krishna Dev Rai every time he came. At times, there were so many horses in the stables that it would become difficult to look after them. When such a situation occurred, he used to give some horses to the courtiers and others to look after them. He gave one gold coin every month to them for taking care of the horses.

Once, Tenali Rama was given a horse to look after. He took it to a small stable at the back of his house and tied it up there. Every day he put some fodder for it to eat through a small window in the stable.

Others cared for the horses seriously as they did not want to invite the wrath of the Maharaja. They subsisted on little food so that they could save to feed the horses well.

This used to go on for three months, after which all those who cared for the horses, brought them at a specific place. The Maharaja came to that place but Tenali Rama didn't bring his horse there.

He asked Tenali: "Why haven't you brought the horse I gave you to tend?"

"The horse has become cantankerous and it's dangerous to go near it. Therefore, I avoid going near it," said Tenali.

The Maharaja then ordered another courtier to go with Tenali to see if what he had said was correct.

Reaching the stable, the courtier said: "Tenali you fool, why have you kept the horse in such a small stable?"

Tenali replied: "Sir, pardon me as I am not as wise as you are. First you have a peep through the window before entering the stable."

As the courtier put the head through the window to have a peep, the horse caught his hair in its bite. With great difficulty he could get the hair out of the grip of its bite. Many of his hair were uprooted, injuring the scalp. Somehow or other, they both managed to take the hungry horse in angry mood to the Maharaja.

Seeing the run-down condition of the horse, the Maharaja asked Tenali: "What is the matter with it?"

"Sir, I used to give lesser fodder than it required. That is why it has become weak and bad-tempered. Do you know that others, who look after their horses, subsist on lesser food so that they can give enough to the horses? Do you realize that they can also become weak and cantankerous?" said Tenali beseechingly, "Sir, besides taking care of their own families, they have to bear an extra burden of looking after the horses. The remuneration offered by you is not enough for them. It's the moral responsibility of the Maharaja to take proper care of the people of the kingdom."

Krishna Dev Rai assured Tenali that he would always heed his advice and awarded him appropriately.

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