Answers can differ for the same question with respect to the knowledge of the speaker and the listener. Once in the royal court of Sri Krishna Devaraya, the king challenged the courtiers with a quest

He asked how much was 4 subtracted from 12. All the courtiers were surprised with the king’s question and started chatting about why king would ask such a silly question in the court of great scholars.  But the court with due respect to the king answered that the answer is 8. King was yet not satisfied and seemed unhappy with the answer.

The question gains its essence by the virtue of the speaker who asked it. Thus the answer should be in the same form of virtue.

All our scriptures especially Upanishads come in the form of Question and Answer between a son and father, or a guru and disciple etc. The seekers and givers of truth in these scriptures are all great enthusiasts and extremely compassionate. Hence, the resultant knowledge is an absolute treasure one cannot miss. This story is only a mere example of how an answer varies depending on the seeker and the giver. Let’s all be truth seekers and delve into doses of Divine knowledge.

Krishnadevaraya was waiting for his special courtier Tenali Rama Krishna. All the courtiers were angry and disappointed with the special respect given to Tenali RamaKrishna by the King.It was then Tenali Ramakrishna entered the court and saw everyone were serious about something. He came to know about the reason for seriousness and with no hesitation asked the royal court for their permission to answer the question.

He quickly responded that 12-4 is zero. The king was happy and satisfied with Ramakrishna’s answer. The court was unsatisfied with answer and demanded explanation.

Ramakrishna thus explained that year has 12 months and is divided into 3 seasons –summer, rainy and winter. Each season has 4 months. These seasons are important for prosperity of the crops. When the 4 months of rainy season is removed from the year, then there are zero crops and hence the answer is 0. Rains are eagerly waited for by the King because he was very keen on the welfare of healthy crops and happy farmers. Hence, Tenali Ramakrishna rightly read the heart of his King, thus enlightening right answer to King’s satisfaction

Continuing to the explanation he mentioned that when a question is asked, it should be judged by the virtue of person who asked and then should be answered. A great king like Krishnadevaraya will never ask such a simple question and if asked will have a reason behind. King was very happy with the explanation and the courtiers were ashamed of their senselessness.

– From the discourse of Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami


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