Book Review – The Wit of Tenali Raman by Devika Rangachari

If you are a person who grew up in India or have anything to do with the country then it is inevitable that you will have heard about Birbal or Tenali Raman

The Wit of Tenali Raman is a collection of stories about Tenali Raman, from his childhood to when he was in the court of Krishnadevaraya. After the loss of his father, Raman and his mother moved in with Raman’s uncle in their native of Tenali. This was how he came to be known as Raman of Tenali, or Tenali Raman.

Tenali Raman was known to be a very intelligent child. Despite the lack of a formal education, his thirst for knowledge kept him going. He learnt as much as he could, but despite the passing of time, his mischievous streak was not to be contained.

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The book illustrates tales from Raman’s childhood, how he prayed to the Goddess Kali and got her blessings.  Tales from his time at the court of Krishnadevaraya, and how he grew to be one of the Ashtadiggajas or one of the eight poets of Krishnadevaraya’s  court.

Devika Rangachari’s The Wit of Tenali Raman has simple and plain language but delightfully written. The target audience of the book are mainly primary school children, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy it.

The book shows how Tenali Raman would just observe and apply his knowledge intelligently to impress others around him. There are plenty of tales of his wit that can be found, the book covers but a few.

The best parts of growing up in India are the books. The tales of Krishna and Rama are common, but Jataka Tales, Panchatantra, Birbal and Tenali Raman are favourites.

If you feel like reading something light and fun then I’d recommend this book. It is a quick read – took me less than an hour, start to finish. If you know a child, starting out on their reading adventure then get them this – Strong recommendation

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