King Krishnadevaraya was very fond of Tenali Rama. However tricky the question was, Tenali Rama always came with a witty answer. Krishnadevaraya also enjoyed finding such tricky questions and seeing Tenali Rama come out of them as the winner.
One day, Krishnadevaraya thought of a new riddle. So, he called Tenali Rama and asked him, “Tenali, tell me why does not hair grow in anyone’s palms?”
Tenali thought for a moment. Then answered, ” Oh great King! You are always giving gifts to the poor and needy. No one ever goes from your court empty-handed. As your hands are always busy in giving, hair does not get a chance to grow on your palms.”
The answer pleased Krishnadevaraya, but he still wanted to test Tenali further. So, he said, “Ok. That explains why I do not have hair on my palms. What about your palms?”
Tenali replied happily, “My Dear King! Almost every day, I am receiving a gift from you. My hands are always busy accepting the blessing you provide out of kindness. How can hair ever grow on them!”
Now Krishnadevaraya was smiling. But he still was not done with his questions. So, he said. “But tell me, Tenali. This explains why the hair does not grow on your’s and my palms. What about the ministers of the court? I do not give gifts to all of them every day. Why do not they have any hair on their palms?”
This time Tenali Rama was ready and knew that this question would be next. So he replied wittily, ‘My King, you are right. While I am receiving gifts from you daily, the courtiers do not get anything. So every time you give me a gift, they rub their hands in jealousy. That is why no hair grows in their palms.”
Krishnadevaraya burst out laughing and accepted defeat realizing that no one can win an argument with Tenali Rama. The ministers too had to swallow their pride and keep a smiling face, while Krishnadevaraya praised Tenali and gave him some more gifts.