Presidents can joke, too

Who hasn’t heard of brave King Porus, or Paurava, to give him his real name?

Long ago, Paurava ruled over a kingdom on the banks of the River Jhelum, in Punjab. One day, a messenger rushed to tell him that his kingdom was being attacked by Alexander of Greece. ‘He commands you to go pay your respects to him, Your Majesty,’ said the man.

King Paurava grew angry. ‘Tell him I’ll meet him on the battlefield,’ he said. ‘Let him come if he dares!’

Paurava then waited with his army on the riverbank. Though the Jhelum was in flood, the Greek prince somehow crossed the mighty river. After a fierce fight, Paurava was defeated, captured and taken to Alexander. When asked how he wanted to be treated, Paurava said, proud to the last, ‘Like a king!’ At once, Alexander gave him back his kingdom.

That was in the year 326 BC. Now, let’s jump 2,287 years, and come to the year 1961.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, second President of India, was Vice-President then. He was known to be a wonderful teacher. But not everyone knows he had a good sense of humour.

That year, Queen Elizabeth II of England, and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were on an official visit to India. Prince Philip, you may not know, belonged to the royal family of Greece.

As Vice-President, Dr. Radhakrishnan held a reception to welcome the royal couple to India. When Prince Philip arrived, Dr. Radhakrishnan went to greet him. Smiling, he shook the royal visitor’s hand. ‘You are the first Prince of Greece to come here invited,’ he said.

Author: Chitra Viraraghavan is Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s great-granddaughter. Her new book for children about him is called ‘Delhi Thaatha: A Great Grand Story’.

You can get it here:

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