Birbal and His Limitations | Akbar Birbal

Birbal and His Limitations

Abdul Karim was a courtier in Emperor Akbar’s court. He was blind in one eye. Since Birbal was Akbar’s favorite courtier, Karim was jealous of him. He was always looking for ways to make Birbal appear inadequate before the Emperor.

One day, Karim saw Birbal chewing tobacco and spitting on the palace wall. ‘Ah! Now I can teach him a lesson,’ he cheerfully thought. So, he went to Akbar and complained about Birbal.

Akbar was annoyed when he came to know that Birbal had dirtied the wall. He scolded Birbal and told him that next time he should spit in a place that is of no use and is empty. Birbal apologized and agreed to do as he was told.

The next day, while chewing tobacco in court, Birbal spat into Karim’s blind eye! Karim cried out and ran to Akbar. Akbar asked Birbal to explain his actions.

Birbal replied, “You Majesty, Karim’s blind eye is empty, and of no use, so I followed your orders and spat on it.”

Akbar started laughing. Karim learned that telling tales was not right. Instead, he should have corrected Birbal’s action of spitting on the wall.

Emperor Akbar was in a cheerful mood, and he wanted to have some fun. Also, he found the affairs of the court monotonous. Since the Emperor knew that Birbal would come up with some funny answers, he decided to tease Birbal. His answers always amused him.

Now, the Emperor was sitting on his throne, and Birbal stood far from him.

Emperor Akbar asked him a question, “Birbal, tell me, what is the difference between a donkey and you?”

Birbal immediately looked up at the Emperor and then onto the floor where he stood. Then, he thought for a while. It looked like Birbal was doing some calculations in his mind.

He bowed respectfully before the Emperor and said with a sly smile, “Your Majesty, the difference between a donkey and me is eight feet in the distance!”

Emperor Akbar heard this and laughed loudly. The Emperor knew that Birbal had jokingly made him the donkey as Birbal had calculated the distance between the Emperor and himself. In this way, while Akbar wanted to make fun of Birbal, Birbal turned the joke around on the Emperor!

Emperor Akbar was absent from the court for a long time the next day. Birbal became worried. He went to the chambers to enquire about him. There, he heard Akbar saying silly things to his wives. He thought, ‘I must find out why the Emperor’s silly behavior.’

Without Akbar’s knowledge, Birbal quietly went into his chambers and searched among his things. There he found bottles of wine. ‘Ah! Now I know why the Emperor is being silly. He is drinking this.’

Birbal took one bottle and left the Emperor’s chambers.

Suddenly, he met Akbar at the room’s entrance and shouted, “Birbal! What are you doing here? What are you hiding?”

So, Birbal, who had quickly hidden the bottle under his shawl, said, “It is nothing, just a parrot.”

“What!” “No, it is a horse.” “You are not making sense, Birbal.” “It is an elephant…no, it is a donkey.” “Explain yourself, Birbal!”

“Your Majesty,” said Birbal, “Wine takes away one’s senses. It makes one talk like a parrot and acts like a horse. It makes one walk like an elephant. It turns a man into a donkey.

Those who drink it act foolishly!”

Akbar realized his folly and threw out all the bottles of wine. Through a simple imitation, he thanked Birbal for showing him what was right.

Just then, Akbar’s two sons came along. They wanted to go for an outing. They ran to their father and said, “Father! Let us go outside and swim in the river!” Akbar agreed and asked Birbal to accompany them, too. Thus, the four of them set off for the river.

Once they reached the river, Akbar’s sons became very excited. They flung off their clothes at once and dived into the water. Soon, they were swimming in the river. They were playing and splashing water on each other.

Akbar looked at his sons and smiled. Then, he took his clothes off and handed them to Birbal. He said, “Birbal, stand guard over my clothes and my sons’ while we swim.” Then, Akbar also dived into the river.

Birbal collected all their clothes and put them on his shoulder. Akbar saw Birbal and laughed. He said, “Birbal, you look like a washerman’s donkey, carrying that load on your shoulder!”

To this, the clever Birbal replied, “Your Majesty, a washerman’s donkey carries load enough for one donkey. But here I am, carrying the load of three donkeys’!” Akbar laughed, saying, “No one can beat you in wits, Birbal!”

A wealthy man who lived nearby saw Emperor Akbar and Birbal near the riverbank. The man bowed before the Emperor and said to him, “I need your help. A few months back, I bought a handsome horse. It was perfectly healthy. But it has been limping for the last two weeks, and no doctor has been able to cure it.”

The man had shown the horse to many hakims. In those days, an hakim was a doctor who cured diseases with natural herbs and plants. They found no fracture, sprain, or soreness in the horse’s muscles. Nobody could cure the horse of his limp.

Birbal thought for a while and asked, “Have you changed anything for the horse in the last two weeks?”

The man said, “I changed the trainer for this horse.” “Does the horse get along well with the trainer?” enquired Birbal. “Yes, of course! The horse follows all his commands,” said the man.

Birbal then quipped, “Does the trainer limp?”

The man was surprised. He said, “Yes Birbal, he does limp.” Birbal smiled and said, “Your horse is copying his trainer. We all tend to imitate the one whom we admire the most.”

The man understood and decided to change the horse’s trainer. Akbar praised Birbal’s common sense and wit.

Shortly, a Brahmin named Sevaram passed that way. He saw Akbar and Birbal and came forward to pay his respects.

He said to Birbal, “I come from a family of Brahmins. My ancestors were great scholars of Sanskrit. People called them ‘Panditji’. I live a simple life. I do not want money or wealth. My only wish is that people call me ‘Panditji’, too.”

Birbal said, “Sevaram, it is easy to make people call you ‘Panditji’. However, you will have to follow all the instructions I give you.”

Several readily agreed. Birbal said, “If anybody calls you ‘Panditji,’ yell at them. Tell them not to call you by that name.”

A few children lived next to Sevaram’s house. They did not like Sevaram because he often scolded them unnecessarily.

Birbal told the children, “If you call Sevaram ‘Panditji’, he will not like it.” The children started teasing Sevaram by calling him ‘Panditji.’ As decided, the Brahmin shouted at the children not to call him ‘Panditji.’

The children told everyone about this. Soon, the villagers started calling Sevaram ‘Panditji’. After a few days, Sevaram stopped scolding people for calling him ‘Panditji.’ Eventually, people also stopped teasing Several. However, since then, everyone has always called him ‘Panditji.’

Thus, Birbal showed simple and common imitations to solve many problems.

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