The ruler of Vijaynagar, Raja Krishnadevrai was very fond of collecting quaint and rare objects. Courtiers used to look for something strange and unique for the King to impress him with their presentation, hoping to get huge sum in return of their present.
One day, a courtier had an idea. He made a adroit painter color a peacock red. The painter did his job so well that the peacock really looked naturally red. The courtier took the peacock straight to the king’s chamber and after presenting it to him, said: “Your Majesty! This is the rarest red peacock available only in the dense forest of Central India. I have spent a large amount on it, so that you can add this rare bird in your precious collection. Please accept this humble gift from my side!”
The king was surprised on seeing the peacock and observed the peacock as he never heard about the existence of such a peacock or saw it. He was confused. But the peacock looked naturally red and at last the king said “No doubt! It is the rarest peacock. I have not seen anything like it. I am glad to have it. How much did you spent to procure it?”
The beaming courtier replied respectfully “Your Majesty! I had to shell out twenty five thousand gold coins to get it.” “Have it from the royal treasury!” ordered the king.
But, fortunately, Tenaliram was present there when that peacock was presented to the king. Tenali could immediately know that the courtier had played a fast one for a red peacock never existed. While the king was talking to the courtier he was watching the peacock very minutely. He smelled a faint smell of paint, now Tenali understood the secret of the rare peacock.
Tenali left the court and asked his man to find the good painters of the town. One of them confessed having painted a peacock. Tenaliram asked him to paint four more such peacocks.
Next day, Tenali took the painter and four peacocks with him to the court. There Tenali said, ” My Lord! Yesterday you received one red peacock today I have four more peacocks of a better variety. And while you gave twenty five thousand gold coins for one I ‘m ready to sell four for only fifty thousand gold coins.”
The king again saw the peacock and found them naturally red. Although his intellect was telling him that red peacock did not exist, yet he cannot disbelieve his eyes. And the king gave an order to Tenali! “You can take fifty thousand gold coins from the royal treasury!”
On hearing the order Tenali said “Your Majesty! The one who deserves the award is neither me nor anybody else.” Tenali continued ” This painter deserves the award as he painted the peacock so beautifully as to make them look naturally red!”
“What”, said the king in confusion: “They are not naturally red?”
“No sir! You smell them closely and you would get the faint smell of the paint!”
The king did so and awarded the painter handsomely. But that courtier was punished for fooling the king. He had to return the gold coin also.