The world of comics has always been fascinating to kids. Kids have an instant connect with their superheroes. Growing up, every kid wants to emulate all the lead characters it has loved watching or enjoyed reading about. As a kid I was in love with all these parables until I realized that Shaktiman couldn’t really bank on biscuits. We’ve heard a lot of these over the years and apart from the morals, it was also about how these great men (or in some cases great fictional characters) made the best of their supreme thinking.
‘Tenali Rama’ comics have always amazed the young minds. Tenali Rama Krishna was one of the Ashtadiggajas (eight poets) under Krishna Deva Raya, at Vijaynagara Empire which was documented by foreign travelers as paradise on earth. The Vijaynagara Empire was a flourishing economy with open markets & street vendors selling precious gems. Tenali rama was equally as witty as Birbal (and way more uptown than birbal) and unlike Birbal’s stories, Tenali’s stories are not just about wits but also about a humanitarian outlook and always carried a message. Tenali’s stories have always been a step ahead & apart from the humor or wit they impart a moral value which must be imbibed in our daily lives. Birbal’s stories have much to do with the human presence of mind. Tenali’s philosophy of even making a schmuck understand the morale would leave any reader spellbound.
Tenali Rama’s stories were very popular before Independence, even under the British rule. But, once we gained independence & came under the Congress rule, Tenali stories were deliberately sidelined by the Congress. They had an alternative to the eternally witty Tenali Rama & it was birbal. The congress soon started promoting Akbar-Birbal stories, in order to glorify the Mughal rule in India. They were busy eyeing the minority vote & knew exactly what was needed in order to please their ‘secular’ masters.
I need not get Into the Vijaynagar empire details or rather compare it with the Mughal Empire. The Vijaynagar Empire was way ahead of the Mughals, in almost all aspects. If I were to get into the details, one whole book would not be enough to state the glorious facts. The Remains of Hampi have been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, providing testimony to the glorious past, the city was associated with. Unfortunately the legend of Tenali Rama is also beginning to fade. It is high time we enlighten people with these stories and don’t let them catch dust. Indian history is beautiful & every kid deserves to read or hear about it. Every original is a superstar & Tenali was surely one. He deserves credit for all that he came up with. We want the future generations or even the current ones to grow on Tenali folklore.
Schools must have Tenali Stories included & minimize the unwanted Mughal history. The Vijaynagara Empire deserves to be embedded in our memories. We don’t have too many pleasant memories associated with the Barbaric Mughals. Great rulers such as Krishnadevaraya, Shivaji Maharaj, Maharana Pratap, Vikramaditya (yes, Vikram & betaal stories are popular among the kids, too) should be seen as role models. Preserving our culture & tradition is not going to be easy, unless & until we wipe out the slaughter kings- the Mughals from our history books.