A great pundit came to Vijayanagara. He had mastered all the scriptures and had won the admiration of learned men all over India. He had come to challenge the pundits in the court of King Krishnadeva Raya to face him in a debate.
The scholars in Vijayanagara were reluctant to face this pundit. They felt they were no match to the pundit in scholarship. But the King would be annoyed if they refused to accept the challenge. One of them said, “Let us speak to Raman. Surely, he will find a solution.”
The pundits called on Raman, and explained the situation. Raman assured them that he could take on the challenger. “For one day, you must accept me as the Chief Pundit,” he said. The other pundits readily agreed.
The next day, the pundits carried Raman in a palanquin to the palace hall. Raman and the challenger sat facing each other. Two pundits carrying a huge bundle wrapped in silken cloth entered the hall. They placed the bundle next to Raman and bowed to him.
Raman placed his hand on the bundle next to him.
“We can begin the debate discussing the merits of tila-kashta-mahisha-bandhana,” said Raman.
The other pundit was taken aback. He had read thousands of scholarly works in Sanskrit. But he had never heard of this work mentioned by Raman. If he had not even read anything about it, how could he discuss the merits of this work?
The pundit conceded defeat and quietly left the palace.
The King was curious to know what great work Raman had referred to. Raman removed the silk cloth revealing a huge bundle of sticks tied with a thick rope! The King frowned and asked Raman to explain.
“Maharaj, til is mustard; kashta is a stick, tilakashta means sticks of mustard plants,” explained Raman.
Then, displaying the rope Raman said, “This is rope used to tie up a buffalo — mahisha means buffalo, bandhana means the rope used for tying — so, this is tila-kashta-mahisha-bandhana”
The king burst out laughing.
The poor pundit had gotten scared when he heard such a complicated name! Raman had saved the honor of Vijayanagara by his wit. The king richly rewarded Raman.
Story: Subba Rao | Illustration: Goutam P Sen