Birbal Teaches Akbar | Akbar Birbal
Every year on his birthday, Emperor Akbar would sit on one side of the scale. On the other hand, food equal to a hundred times his weight would be distributed to fakirs and sages.
Birbal believed these people to be false. One year, Akbar asked him, “Birbal, do you think the miracles these learned men perform are due to their power, or is it the faith of the devotees?”
Birbal replied, “I think our faith makes these men powerful.” Akbar said, “All right, I’ll give you a month to prove it!”
Birbal hired workers to build a monument. His servants spread the word that it was Yakin Shah’s monument. Yakin means belief in Urdu. Stories spread about the miracles that were performed there.
Emperor Akbar and his courtiers also visited the monument. Akbar bowed in reverence, as did all the courtiers except Birbal. Akbar made a wish, and it came true. He was convinced that Yakin Shah had granted his wish. But Birbal disagreed. Your Majesty! His belief in Yakin Shah fulfilled the wish!” he said.
He went to the prayer room and pulled out the bundle placed under a cloth. In it were wrapped the Emperor’s shoes! Birbal had placed the Emperor’s shoes in a holy cloth and kept them in the prayer room. Thus, Akbar understood Birbal’s point.
The next day, people were gathered in front of the court. Emperor Akbar had just solved a difficult case and given an important judgment. Every person present in the court praised him for his fair judgment.
Just then, Birbal came to the court. The worried Emperor turned to Birbal and asked, “Birbal, please tell me when we can see God’s justice?”
The clever Birbal started thinking. Everyone in the court waited quietly. They all wanted to hear Birbal’s witty answer. After a while, Birbal bowed before Emperor Akbar. He answered, “Your Majesty, we see God’s justice when your Majesty’s judgment is not right.”
The Emperor and the courtiers failed to understand what Birbal meant. So, Birbal explained, “Whenever Your Majesty makes a wrong judgment, God sees it.” He corrects the error to the right with some changes. This is when God uses his judgment.
Emperor Akbar always kept this in mind. Whenever he had to pass judgment, he would remember Birbal’s answer. He was careful to avoid injustice intentionally.
Then, an ironsmith came to the court. He made swords and shields for Akbar’s enormous army. He made the strongest shield and the sharpest sword made in his workshop.
He said to Emperor Akbar, “Your Majesty!
I have brought the strongest shield and the sharpest sword in the world. I have come to gift it to you. My shield is so strong that even the sharpest sword cannot cut through it, and my sword is so sharp that it can cut through the strongest of shields!”
Birbal was also in the court and listened to the ironsmith’s description of his weapons. Birbal immediately understood that the shield and the sword could not be equally strong. One had to be better than the other.
Birbal got up from his place and said to the ironsmith, “Dear sir, I can prove you are wrong.” If you have the sharpest sword, it should cut through the strongest shield you have made, or else your sword is not sharp enough.
Emperor Akbar was pleased with Birbal’s wit and quick response. He gave him the sword and the shield made by the ironsmith.
Then, the courtiers began discussing the weapon ever used for protection; some courtiers said it was the sword. The others thought it was either the knife or the spear.
Emperor Akbar asked Birbal what he thought. Birbal replied, “There is no weapon like that.” If there were something like that, every warrior would use it.” Then Birbal added, “Whichever weapon is in one’s hand, that would be the best weapon that would protect him when he is in danger.”
Emperor Akbar did not agree. That evening, Emperor Akbar and Birbal were walking through the city. A mad elephant chased them. They started running. The Emperor took out his sword. But the elephant kept chasing them. Birbal picked a puppy from the roadside and threw it at the elephant. The puppy clung to the elephant’s truck. The street was very narrow. The elephant could not swing his trunk. The puppy’s claws pierced the elephant, and he moved backward.
Emperor Akbar took a deep sigh of relief. Then Birbal said, “Your Majesty, the puppy was the best weapon in our situation.”
Emperor Akbar understood what Birbal had meant earlier. He realized his mistake and thanked Birbal. He rewarded Birbal with his pearl necklace for saving his life and teaching him a good lesson on weapons.
One day, Emperor Akbar and Birbal went for a stroll in the garden. Emperor Akbar sighed and said, “Ah! Birbal!” I wish there were a rule that an emperor could reign over his kingdom forever.
Birbal kept silent and listened to the Emperor’s lament. Then Emperor Akbar said, “Wouldn’t that be fantastic, Birbal?” If a person becomes an Emperor and is allowed to be the Emperor of his kingdom forever.
Birbal thought for a while and replied, “Yes, Your Majesty! It would be wonderful. But there is a small problem. Emperor Akbar demanded, “What is the problem, Birbal?”
Then, Birbal said hesitantly, “Your Majesty, if there were such a rule, you would not have been the Emperor today.” Emperor Akbar looked at Birbal with surprise.
“How can you say that, Birbal?” asked Emperor Akbar.
Your Majesty, if your grandfather, who was the Emperor, did not die and rule forever, then your father could not have been an Emperor. Then how would you have got a chance to be the Emperor?
Then Emperor Akbar understood Birbal’s logic and praised him again for his common sense and for being wise.
He thought, “Birbal is such a clever man.” I wonder what would become of the court without him. I must reward him!’
Thus, he said, “Birbal! I shall reward you soon for your intelligence and wit! ” Birbal was happy now. He said, “Thank you, Your Majesty! May you live long!” Then, he bowed low before the Emperor and left.
However, Akbar soon forgot about his promise. Many days passed, but Birbal still had not received any reward. He wanted to remind Akbar of his promise without appearing greedy!
The next day, while walking in the fields, Akbar and Birbal came across a camel. “Tell me, Birbal, why is the camel’s neck crooked?” Akbar said.
Birbal took advantage of the opportunity to remind Akbar of his promise. He stated, “Your Majesty, the camel must have broken his promise.” You see, people who break their promises have a crooked neck!”
At once, Akbar remembered his promise. The next day, he showered Birbal with gifts and riches in the court. Birbal showed Akbar that sometimes, it is important to demand what we are promised!
Thus, Birbal taught Emperor Akbar in a simple way. He made sure he did it with humor and wit so that the Emperor did not feel offended. Akbar also learned from Birbal graciously, without showing any pride or ego.
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