Once upon a time Vijayanagar, the state of Raja Krishnadevrai faced severe drought, causing scarcity of water all round. Even the wells had water table down very deep and the need for water grew at alarming rate.
Tenalirama’s house was also on the bank of river. Tungabhagra, which too had very little water, left. He had also a garden in the back of his house. There was a well in the corner of the garden. But the level of water in the well was low that the cost of irrigating his fruit trees was much more than the produce he received.
One day, while he was sitting on the outer wall of his well, lost in his deep thoughts of how to arrange the workers to get his garden irrigated at the cheapest cost. He saw three persons looking intently at his house, when Tenali saw them, he became convinced that the persons must be thieves planning to commit theft at his house. Immediately he thought of a plan and yelled for his son: “My dear son! This severe drought has made people pauper and many thieves are lurking all over. It is no safer to keep our costly gems and jewels inside house. They must be kept at the place where their safety is assured. I think we must keep all the precious gems inside a box and put that box down the bottom of the well. No thief would ever suspect there presence in the well. And when this drought ends, we would take it out.”
Tenali had deliberately said it so loudly as to be clearly audible to the suspected thieves. Tenali thought in his mind: “Now these thieves would have some useful work to do!”
Following his father’s instruction, Tenali’s son collected huge stones in a box with the connivance of his father and threw the box into the well with a loud report.
The thieves heard the sound and were pleased that their job had become easy. But it was not so. Since the well had unwanted growth of some plants inside well, the thieves had to first clean the well. And since the box was heavy it had landed deep down the well and they had to take out its water a little. So they started drawing out the water. And Tenali had made the arrangement quietly to make that drawn out water reach to the desired spots in the garden. So, the situation was that while thieves were drawing out water, Tenali and his son were quietly regulating its flow to reach the desired spots in the garden.
By the time the thieves were able to locate the box inside the well, they had drawn sufficient water to irrigate almost every tree and plant of Tenali’s garden. This entire process continued for the entire night. When, at last the thieves were able to bring the heavy box up, it was almost dawn. Then Tenali sent for the soldiers and had them arrested red-handed. And when the thieves learnt the deception played by Tenalirama to have his garden irrigated, they cursed their luck. But Tenali has served his purpose well. His garden was irrigated by then.
When Tenali narrated the incident to the King Raja Krishnadevrai, he was delighted at Tenali’s cleverness. He couldn’t help saying: “Wow Tenali! You found a great mean of getting your garden irrigated almost free of cost. Really one’s labour brings fruit for the other by dint of one’s superior intelligence.”