Rama Sastry was a renowned scholar in reasoning, logic, and grammar. A wish lied in his heart to compete with Ashta Diggajas in Bhuvana Vijayam of Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu. The wish strengthened with the passage of time. With the desire in him, he appeared before the King Rayalu, one day when he was in his usual literary sessions with the eight jewels of his court.
“Hey King of Kings,” Rama Sastry presented salutations to Rayalu, “You are the beacon of the Vijaya Nagar Empire! With your pleasant looks poetry, literature and composition are flourishing in this region. I bow to you with all respects.” Sastry continued, “The hear and say about the Ashta Diggajas in your Bhuvana Vijayam, their command over various divisions of literature. They all are reputed and their names are uttered with respect in the scholars and learned circles. I seek your kind permission to question them and know about their efficiency in their concerned arenas.”
King Rayalu on listening to the humble request of the visiting intellectual, “Dear learned person! I too carry a thought to know the standards and excellence of our Ashta Diggajas. I would be happy if that wish is accomplished through you Rama Sastry. You attend the court tomorrow and let there be a professional competition.” Rayalu ordered his courtiers to arrange a guest accommodation to the visitor.
Satisfied Rama Sastry presenting salutations to the king again and left Bhuvana Vijayam.
The next day, Rama Sastry presented himself in the court with all preparation. Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Rama Raja Bhushanudu, Madaya Gari Mallana, Dhoorjati, Ayyala Raju Rama Bhadrudu, Bhattu Murthy, and Tenali Ramakrishna besides full house attendance to watch the competition fill the Bhuvana Vijayam. All the seven among the Ashta Diggajas were tensed with the reputation they heard about Rama Sastry about his command and expertise in logic, reasoning, and grammar. Sastry’s name is taken with scare and respect, as he defeated those personalities who were graded to be aces in that division of literature. All the seven were nervous thinking whether there is a possibility of winning the visiting scholar or not.
While Sastry was sitting in all comfort, confidence and the seven of the Ashta Diggajas were worried; Tenali Raman was seated in all ease and pleasant. Raman after salutations to the King Rayalu and taking his permission started speaking, “Mr Rama Sastry! Are you good in poetry.” Rama Sastry thinking that as an insult to him was about to enrage on Raman. However, recollecting that he is present in the royal court of King Rayalu stopped himself from doing so.
Gazing Raman top to bottom sarcastically said, “Do you think that I am no good at that stupid…verses? Do you consider even that a scholarship?”
Instantly replied Raman, “That was good to know Mr Rama Sastry that you are good in stupid poetry. We understood that very well with your words. So nice of you.” Sastry questioned, “Raman, are there two categories as stupid poetry and bright poetry?”
“That was your statement, Rama Sastry!” Raman bounced back, “you asked me whether I think you are no good in stupid verses. That’s all right. Let us keep that aside for now, I request you to keep us informed what are you scholar in?”
“I am reputed for my scholarship in logic and grammar. On both the subjects I have excellent command,” replied Rama Sastry.
Raman innocently said, “Mr Sastry! For quite some time, I have a doubt in a grammar sequence. Can you clarify, if I ask you that?”
“Sure!” Sastry answered with all pride and proud filled tone, “you don’t have to hesitate any more.”
“What is the grammatical rule and theory to be followed for a word, ‘Thriyambaka’” Raman furnished his suspicion.
Rama Sastry moved his body as if he was in laughter within. Later, he said that “is that a doubt? Don’t you know even that? Thri + Ambaka= Thriyambaka. This is known as Dwigu Samasam (A theoretical regulation in Telugu (Andhra) Grammar for combining two meaningful words into one.) God! How is that you are placed so high without knowing such a common basic, strange!” commented Sastry.
“Hey! Is that all?” Raman was ready for another bout of sarcasm, “If this is what you know, and can define then your scholarship is like a dead wood.”
When the two were about to get into the actual and real round of debate and discussion, King Rayalu stopped them and adjourned the competitive session for the next day, as he was to take care of administrative and other affairs.
News spread in the city like wildfire that Raman and Rama Sastry are about to have a literary war in the Bhuvana Vijayam, the next day enthusiasts, scholars, poets, composers and others flooded into the galleries of the court.
When almost all the distinguished personalities of Bhuvana Vijayam including the visitor Rama Sastry, King Rayalu entered the court and occupied the royal throne. All those present in the court saluted the King and took their respective seats. Raman was not seen, and noticing this Rama Sastry grinned within. Sastry thought Raman was scared and was not present. Just then, Raman carrying something fastened in a nice cloth entered in a hurry and sat after saluting the King and the court.
Those present in the galleries whispered among them looking at Raman surprisingly. After the King waved for continuation of the debate and discussion, Rama Sastry questioned, “Raman can I know what is the title of the book you carried in?” Raman not hesitating a moment replied, “This is king of standard books titled, ‘Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam’.” Rama Sastry puzzled on hearing such title, curiously he leaned forward and repeated, “What? Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam?”
“Yes! Mr Rama Sastry!” Raman said, “Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam! Haven’t you read this book earlier? Presuming that this standard book would be helpful for our debate and discussion, I brought this along.”
Rama Sastry could not figure out what to do. First, he never knew that such books of standards existed, secondly, Raman brought that along with him. ‘What to do if he countered my argument and presented one or the other citations from the book in support of his counter-argument? I will be closed and my skills and expertise, command would never be respected again.’ Rama Sastry thought for a while and decided to do something. Turning towards the King Rayalu he said, “My Lord! Raman brought Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam with him to standardise his argument and counter-argument in the session. That being the case, I should also bring some standard books to support my logic and reasoning. If the King kindly grant me permission to bring those from my guest accommodation, I would return immediately…”
King Rayalu acceded his plea and consented, “It’s alright, proceed.” Rama Sastry threw himself out of the court like a whirlwind.
Time was passing by and Rama Sastry did not return. Rayalu was compelled to postpone the session for the next day, as the session cannot continue without the competitor’s presence.
The next morning, again the court was waiting for Rama Sastry. He never appeared. King Rayalu ordered his soldiers to verify and inform the court about the disappearance of Rama Sastry. Soldiers returned like a ball hit to the wall and explained that Rama Sastry in the dark of the night went away with his luggage. Probably this could be the result of the realisation that, he is definite to lose in the debate and discussion. From protecting himself from the humiliation, Rama Sastry should have left not informing anyone.
The total presence in the Bhuvana Vijayam including King Rayalu could not stop getting into laughter. Looking appraisingly at Raman, Rayalu said it was an excellent performance.
“Raman!” Rayalu asked, “Recite to the court some good contents of the book you brought along, Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam, to the court.”
“Hahahahah…Hahhahaha…” Raman said, “with all due respects to the King, is that you also mistook this bundle to be a book? Look at this…” and opened the bundle. Again there was hilarity in the court, as it was a book, it was a tender Sesamum plant tied with reign rope for buffalos. Both were fastened in a nice cloth. Looking at the contents of the bundle, there was amusement for the courtiers and onlookers.
Raman explained, “Thilakashta means a Sesamum plant and Mahisha Bandhanam, a rope used for tying a buffalo, both put together, Thilakashta Mahisha Bandhanam. That is it all. No standards and no books. Rama Sastry fell into dilemma on hearing this name, he did not try to take the title and think. In all confusion, he fled the city.”
King Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu appreciated the intellect of Raman and felicitated him for protecting the reputation of Bhuvana Vijayam. That was how, Raman won the battle long before drawing any sword!