Akbar Birbal and the thief minister
Akbar never made a big choice without talking to Birbal first, because he trusted Birbal’s intelligence and wisdom. One day, Akbar sat in his royal courtroom with Birbal and other courtiers. Akbar was listening to what the people in his kingdom had to say. Just then, a courtier came into the room and started to cry, “Your Highness! Last night, someone broke into my house and stole everything of value.”
Akbar said, “How could that be?” You live in the safest place in the whole world. The person who stole must have been brilliant. Akbar turned to Birbal and exclaimed, “Birbal! This is a puzzle. I think the thief is a courtier, not someone outside the court.” Birbal came up with a plan that was to bring a donkey. The whole courtroom laughed. Birbal said, “This donkey can do magic. It will let us know who stole the money.”
“Now, we all lift the donkey’s tail and say, “I’m not the thief.” Even though his idea made them laugh, the courtiers came forward, lifted the donkey’s tail, and said, “I’m not the thief.” Later, Birbal told everyone in the court to show their hands.
Everyone was surprised to see black paint on their hands. But the hand of one courtier was not coloured. Birbal pointed to that courtier and said, “He has stolen! He was afraid that the magic donkey would catch him. He didn’t touch the tail then.
Birbal proved that a thief couldn’t stay out of sight for long. The Emperor was pleased with how smart Birbal was and hugged him. He loved Birbal and trusted him even more. Since Akbar and Birbal were close, the other courtiers were jealous of Birbal. Once, a courtier told Akbar that he was unhappy.
“Your Highness! Birbal is always more important to you. You never heed our suggestions; you ignore us!” He smiled at the courtier. He thought, “I need to show them how important Birbal is to me.” At that time, a wedding procession was going down the palace street. Akbar sent Birbal and the courtier to find out who was getting married.
The courtier dashed and caught up with the wedding party. He found out what Akbar wanted to know, but so did Birbal!
Both of them returned to Akbar. Then Akbar asked the courtier, “Tell me where the wedding party is going.” The courtier couldn’t believe it. He told her, “Your Majesty, you asked me to find out who was getting married!”
Akbar smiled. He turned to Birbal and said, “Birbal! Tell me where the wedding procession is headed.” Birbal told the King, “Your Majesty, the wedding party is going to Allahabad.”
Birbal knew the answer, which surprised the other courtiers. Akbar smiled and said, “Doing more than what is required or asked for is a sign of true intelligence. Birbal is always ahead of the rest of you. I hope you can see why his services are more valuable to me than yours.” Then, Akbar gave Birbal a lot of money.
The next day, Emperor Akbar saw Birbal walking to court. He didn’t expect to see his favourite minister walking! He questioned Birbal, “Why are you walking? Where did your horses go?” “Oh, Your Majesty! My wife and her cousins took the horses and went to see their aunts,” Birbal told the King. Akbar immediately gave the stable boy orders to provide Birbal with a horse. The stable boy chose the weakest horse with the thinnest shins because he was also jealous of Birbal. The horse was also very sick, and it was hard to get to Birbal’s stables.
The poor horse died during the night. Birbal walked to the court again the next day. “What happened?” asked Akbar. Birbal replied, “Your Majesty, the horse you gave me was so fast that he went straight to heaven last night!”
Akbar understood Birbal’s answer. He called the stable boy over and told him, “You should have given him your best horse. You’ll get beaten for this!” “Please give him a break. The next time, he’ll do better, “said Birbal. The stable boy was embarrassed that Birbal had saved his life even though he had given Birbal the weakest horse. So, he gave Birbal a clean, well-shod horse.
The next day, a poor farmer and a man showed up. When they met the Emperor, they folded their hands before him and bowed. The farmer was sad-looking. Akbar asked, “What’s the matter?”
After that, the farmer told his story, “Your Highness! I’m a poor farmer. This man lives next door to me. He sold me a well. Now he wants me to pay for the water as well.” Also, the neighbour begged, “Your Majesty, yes! I sold him the well but didn’t sell him the water in it.”
Akbar thought the problem was interesting, so he asked Birbal to determine the answer. Birbal asked his friend, “We know you sold the farmer your well, but not the water in it. So, the farmer owns the well, and you own the water. Since you’ve kept your water in the farmer’s well, you should pay him rent. Or get your water out right away!” The greedy neighbour asked for forgiveness, saying he had learned his lesson from Birbal.
Then, one of Akbar’s courtiers brought two people to the court. The official told Akbar, “Your Highness! Help them with their problem.” The first man told him, “I’m a businessman and my name is Aamir. But this person here says I work for him and stole his money.” The other man said, “No, Your Majesty! I’m the merchant Aamir.
Before I went to Afghanistan, I gave my trusted servant my money and things. But when I got back, I saw that my servant was doing business with other people in my name!” Akbar didn’t know what to do, so he asked Birbal for help. Birbal said, “I can easily know what you’re thinking. So, I’ll find the thief.” After focusing for a while, he told the guard, “Cut the head off the servant.”
The guard didn’t know who the servant was because Birbal didn’t tell him. Just as the guard moved toward the two men, the servant got up and ran to the King to ask forgiveness. Birbal said, “When I told the servant I could read their minds, he was scared and agreed that he had made a mistake.” Akbar once again told Birbal how wise he was.
One day, Akbar chose to put Birbal to the test. He told Birbal, “My people follow me very well.” Birbal smiled at him and said, “Your Majesty, yes! But they are afraid of you too.” Akbar said, “No, I don’t think this is true. Show it!” “Your Majesty,” Birbal told the King, “tell everyone tomorrow to pour a pot of milk into a tub in the royal courtyard.” Akbar made the announcement the next day after Birbal told him to. Akbar said again that he would be back in two days before he went hunting.
When Akbar returned from hunting, he found the tub full of water. He felt terrible about it. Birbal said, “Next time, say that you will personally check the milk tub when you get back from hunting.”
Birbal told Akbar to do something, and he did it. This time, when Akbar returned from hunting, he found milk in the tub. Birbal said to Akbar, “The first time, no one was there to look in the tub. You checked the tub yourself the second time, so out of fear, all your subjects filled it with milk.”
Again, Birbal’s wisdom won over Akbar’s heart.
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