The Chinese ambassador gave the king four beautiful vases.
"Death to anyone who breaks a vase!' proclaimed the king.
A servant accidentally broke a vase and was sentenced to death.
Tenalirama visited him in prison.
At the execution, the servant begged, "Please, Your Highness, let me see the three remaining vases."
The king agreed.
When he saw the vases, the servant burst free and smashed them all.
"They would get broken eventually," he said. "I didn't want anyone else to have to die for it."
The king understood: people matter more than vases.
"Free the prisoner!" he said.
Inspired by: Tenali Raman: Tales of Wit and Wisdom by Kavitha Mandana
Notes: This story is on p. 9 of the book.