By A.K. Ramanujan

Name of the characters:-

  1. The king

  2. The Minister

  3. The Guru ( a saint with some supernatural power)

  4. Disciple (who loved only tasty food)

  5. The thief ( who was killed during stealing)

  6. Brother of the thief ( who filed a complain in the court of the king)

  7. The Merchant ( who was robbed and was accused)

  8. The bricklayer ( who accused the dancing girl)

  9. The dancing girl ( who accused the goldsmith)

  10. The goldsmith ( who accused the father of the rich Merchant)


                 The story, "In the Kingdom of Fools" is a folktale written by A. K. Ramanujan in which a Kingdom full of fools has been described. There was a Kingdom, the king of which thought himself very clever but was actually an idiot. He made a Peculiar rule that everyone in the entire Kingdom will spend the lives of the day at night and the lives of the night in the day and if anyone doesn't follow the rule, he or she would be sentenced to death. One day a guru with his disciple visited the kingdom and experienced the foolishness of the people there. They also observed that in one Rupee, anything could be bought there. By knowing this the disciple got impressed and decided to stay there but the Guru left. One day a thief entered a merchant's house to rob there. He made a hole in the wall and while getting out of the house, the roof of the house collapsed on his head and he died. His brother complained the king that while pursuing the ancient trade, the wall fell on his brother and killed him. He asked for the justice and requested to punish the merchant as he had built very weak wall. The Merchant was brought to the king and when was told about the punishment, he accused the the bricklayer who had actually made the wall. Then the bricklayer was brought to the king. He explained that while building the Wall one dancing girl was going up and down in the street with her anklets jingling. The lady distracted the mind of him and he couldn't concentrate in building a strong wall. When the dancing girl was brought to the king she gave her explanation that she had given some gold to the goldsmith to make some jewellery but he was not doing the work on time and I had to go to him several times. Goldsmith explained that one reach merchant had ordered him to make his jewellery and was pressurising him for his work. It was confirmed that the rich merchant was none other than the father of the merchant who had been brought to the king at first. The king decided that the same merchant will be executed. But when the stake was prepared the merchant did not fit it as he was so thin. So the king ordered to find a man to be fit for it. After a long search, the men of the king found the disciple. He was selected and was brought to the king for execution as he was so fat. After the prayer of the disciple, the Guru appeared there and made a plan with him. They began to quarrel to be executed first and when the king asked the Guru why they were quarreling, he explained that whoever will be executed first in this Stake will Reborn as the new king of this Kingdom and as the Minister because of the stake being the god of Justice. The king after Consulting with his minister postponed the execution and ordered the executioners to execute the persons accordingly who would come at night. The king with his minister released the Guru and the disciple and went to the executioner at night  and was executed as they didn't want any other to be the king and the Minister after them. When the public identified them, they got panicked and couldn't understand how it happened. But according to their systematic rule and for the future of their kingdom, they convinced the Guru and his disciple to become the king and the Minister accordingly. They both accepted this with the condition that all the old rules will be changed.

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Think about it

Q.1. What are the two strange things the Guru and his disciple find in the Kingdom of Fools ?


Guru and the disciple found that in the Kingdom of Fools people worked during the night and slept for days. Everything was cheaper and  expensive.

Q.2. Why does the disciple decide to stay in the Kingdom of Fools ? Is it a good idea ?


Everything was cheap in the Kingdom of fools. The student had some food differences. He was tempted by cheap food. Therefore, he decided to stay in that kingdom. It was not a good idea to stay there as long as one could be in danger at any time because of the unwise conduct of fools.

Q.3. name all the people who are tried in the King's court, and give the reasons for their trial ?


Homeowner that is a merchant, a bricklayer, a dancing girl, and a gold founder went to court in the king's court. They were all tried because the thief died when the wall of the seller's house collapsed. The trader tried to build a weak wall. The caller tried to do his job with care. The dancing girl tried to distract the potter's attention. The goldsmith was accused of causing the dancing girl to go up and down in her house several times.

Q.4.who is the real culprit according to the King ? Why does he escape punishment ?


The father of the deceased merchant was charged with felony criminal mischief. But according to the king, the rich merchant was a real treasurer because he had inherited both his wealth and his father's wealth. He escapes punishment because he is too young to deserve a stake.


Q.5. What are the Guru's words of wisdom ? When does the disciple remember them ?


The Guru was full of wisdom and knew full well that the misconduct of a fool could be dangerous at any time. Guru's words said, "They are all fools. This will last a very long time, and you will not say what they will do next."


Q.6. How does the Guru manage to save the disciple's life ?


Guru arrives on time to save his student and does a drama. He tells the king that it is not an ordinary pole and that whoever goes to the stake first would be king in the next life. The second one to die would be the future minister of this country. The king wanted to take advantage of the situation. So, the king and his minister go  to the prison and release Guru and his student.


Talk about it

i. In Shakespeare’s plays the fool is not really foolish. If you have read or seen Shakespeare’s plays such as King Lear, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, you may talk about the role of the fool.


(You must think about it yourself and try to answer completely based on your own opinion.)

ii. Do you know any stories in your language about wise fools such as Tenali Rama or Gopal Bhar? You can also read about them in Ramanujan’s collection of folk tales.


(Tenali Rama was a good character, you must read about him in Ramanujan's collection and then write your answer in your own language.)

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