|Name||In the Kingdom of Fools|
Short Summary – In the Kingdom of Fools
A.K. Ramanujan’s “FolkTales from India” inspired the well-known Kannada folktale “In the Kingdom of Fools.” This intriguing tale tells the tale of a kingdom of idiots, ruled by a foolish monarch and his foolhardy ministers. He and his ministers gave the kingdom’s citizens the directive to treat day and night equally. They would go about their everyday business at night and sleep the whole day.
A guru and his disciple visited the kingdom one lovely day and were shocked by the opposite regulations that the king and his ministers had instituted. They were even more shocked to learn that everything in the kingdom only cost one rupee. At first, the guru and his pupil were content because they could purchase anything for just one rupee. The guru, however, realised that remaining in a kingdom of fools was not a sensible choice, so he fled. Because there was cheap, readily available food in the kingdom, his pupil did not want to go. He was a huge food enthusiast who consumed a lot of food and quickly gained weight.
One day, a robber cut a massive hole in the wall and crept inside the home of a wealthy merchant. He was returning with the stolen goods when the house’s wall fell on top of him, instantly killing him. However, the thief’s brother went to the monarch and begged him to punish the house owner (merchant) for failing to erect a sturdy wall. The merchant was promptly invited to the king’s court.
The merchant claimed that the bricklayer constructed a flimsy wall when he arrived. An elderly bricklayer was summoned to the king’s court and begged the monarch to punish the dancing girl for keeping him from his work as she walked back and forth along that street all day wearing jingling anklets. The jeweller was to fault for the old dance girl having to repeatedly stroll up and down that street since he had delayed his work. The jeweller was soon hauled before the king and said that he was occupied at the time responding to the demands of a wealthy merchant because of some family wedding rites.
Therefore, it could hardly be assumed that this merchant was the same homeowner whose wall had fallen on the would-be burglar. The merchant stated that because his father had already passed away and was the one who had ordered the jewellery. But the merchant would be punished by the monarch for his father’s actions. The execution was to start over with a new stake. The merchant, however, was far too frail to fit the stake for the execution. The king then gave the order to look for an obese man to suit the stake. The disciple was the best candidate for the stake after the king’s servants searched the entire realm. He begged the monarch, however, not to punish him for the actions of others because he was innocent.No one paid attention to him since it was a kingdom of fools.
The student then recalled his guru’s advice while he awaited execution and asked him for assistance. His guru could see his disciple’s condition in his vision because he was gifted with magical abilities. He came right away to save his pupil. He spoke a few words in his disciple’s ear softly. Then he asked the king to punish him rather than his pupil. The disciple was brought there for execution first, but when he heard this, he asked the monarch to put the stake on him.
The guru dubious informed the king that whomever died on the stake first will be reborn as the future monarch of that kingdom. The king was confused about who should die first and begged to resolve the dispute. The person who passed away next would take over as the kingdom’s top minister. The monarch was perplexed and worried that someone else would take his throne in the next life. After talking with his minister, he ultimately decided that they should be burned at the stake so that they may continue serving as the king and minister in the hereafter. They sneaked inside the prison that evening and released the guru along with his student.
The king and his minister, who had impersonated the guru and his student, were burned at the stake the next day. When the kingdom’s citizens witnessed the execution of the king and his minister, they appointed the guru and his pupil as their king and minister, respectively. The guru originally hesitated but eventually caved in and changed the kingdom’s laws, allowing its citizens to resume their normal lives as in other kingdoms.
About The Author
A.K. Ramanujan’s tale “In the Kingdom of Fools” can be read on two different levels: as a lighthearted amusement, and as an allegory (a story, poetry, novel, etc. that can be interpreted to disclose a hidden meaning) about the foolishness and character flaws of the allegedly “great” monarchs and ministers.