Birbal’s Honesty | Akbar Birbal

Birbal’s Honesty

Emperor Akbar enjoyed the frequent witty question and answer sessions with Birbal. He would ask Birbal questions on any subject. Or he would give him the trickiest task to do. These sessions gave Akbar the chance to test Birbal’s wisdom.

One day, Emperor Akbar asked Birbal, “If you had to choose between a gold coin and justice, what would you choose?” Birbal paused for a moment before responding, “Greetings, Your Majesty! I will choose a gold coin.”

Akbar was upset to hear Birbal’s answer. He said to Birbal, “I did not expect this answer from you. Do you want to reconsider your answer?”

Birbal, however, insisted that he would still choose a gold coin. Akbar said, “Birbal, I like to be just to my subjects. Even then, you chose money over justice! You are my wisest and most favorite courtier. It disappoints me to think that you, too, are greedy like others!” Birbal was quiet. “But, why did you choose a gold coin over justice?” Akbar asked again. Birbal patiently replied, “Your Majesty! You are a wise and just King. All your subjects receive justice when they come to your court with their problems. I know that I will get it in your Kingdom without fail if I ever need justice. But I do not have enough money; therefore, I chose a gold coin as my answer.”

Akbar was so impressed with Birbal’s honest answer that he gave him a handful of gold coins as a gift. Then Akbar asked, “Birbal, I will now ask you three interesting questions.” Birbal replied, “As you wish, Your Majesty.”

Akbar’s first question to Birbal was, “Is there anything that the Sun and the Moon cannot see?”

“It is darkness, Your Majesty!” replied Birbal promptly. Akbar was satisfied with Birbal’s wise answer. Akbar’s second question was difficult! He asked, “Birbal, tell me, what is the difference between the truth and a lie?”

Birbal responded, “It is the distinction between our ears and our eyes. That is because what we see is true, but what we hear is often false.” Birbal’s wisdom delighted Akbar once more.

Akbar finally drew a line on the floor. “Make the line short without erasing the ends,” he said to Birbal. “I have not erased the one drawn by you, but I have succeeded in making it shorter,” Birbal said as he drew a longer line on the floor just below Akbar’s.

Akbar was content with all the answers that Birbal had given him. He said, “Birbal, you say you do not have enough money, but you have enough wisdom and knowledge that money cannot buy.” He gave Birbal many gifts as a reward for his wisdom.

One day, Akbar asked, “Birbal! Is it possible for a man to be the poorest of all and yet demand respect?” Birbal was a sharp thinker. He had answers to all of the questions. With all respect to the Emperor, he said, “Your Majesty! I think a man can be poor yet be respected by others.” Akbar was surprised. He thought that such a man did not exist. He said, “Birbal! I appreciate your point, but I can’t completely agree with it. Amuse me, find a man and bring him to my court!”

Birbal went around the Kingdom to find a poor man. He came across a very poor beggar. The beggar’s clothes were torn and dirty. He looked weak and walked with the help of a stick. Soon, Birbal brought the beggar to Akbar’s court. Akbar looked at the beggar and asked Birbal, “This man looks poor. But how is he respected?”

“This beggar is respected,” Birbal said with a smile, “because the greatest Emperor has invited him, and that is you, Your Majesty!” Birbal demonstrated that it is not wealth that earns a person respect. Birbal’s display of humility and self-respect impressed Emperor Akbar. In front of his courtiers, he praised Birbal.

That evening, when Birbal went home, he was visited by some relatives. It was a couple and their niece. They came to seek Birbal’s help on a tricky issue. The matter was related to a blind saint, famous for the future predictions he made. The couple said that they had taken their niece to the blind saint. She had lost her parents. When the niece saw the saint, she started shouting, “This man killed my parents! Take him away!”

Everyone in the room was taken aback. According to the saint, “This girl appears to be insane. How can a blind person like me murder someone?” When the couple returned, their niece was still crying, claiming that the blind saint had murdered her parents. The couple believed she was telling the truth. So they’d come to Birbal to figure out the mystery.

Birbal listened patiently to their problem and decided to summon the blind saint to the Emperor’s court. The next day, the blind saint came to the Emperor’s court. Akbar was aware of the story about the blind saint. Birbal had told him his plan to check if the blind saint was a fraud.

The saint stood in the middle of the courtroom. Suddenly, Birbal rushed towards him with a sword in his hand. The alert saint immediately took out his sword and started fighting with Birbal.

Every next moment, the saint realized his folly. Birbal said, “Your Majesty! This saint is not blind. He saw me rushing towards him and took out his sword to save himself.” Emperor Akbar was happy with Birbal’s intelligence. He punished the wicked saint.

Then, out of curiosity, Akbar asked Birbal, “Can you tell me how many people are blind in my kingdom?” Birbal said, “Your Majesty! I request you to grant me seven days off from Court.”

Akbar was annoyed. “I gave you a task, and you want to go on vacation!” he exclaimed. Birbal stated, “Greetings, Your Majesty! I’ll need seven days to respond to your inquiry.”

Akbar was surprised but granted him leave. The next day, Birbal did not attend Akbar’s meetings at the court. Instead, he was found mending shoes in the local market. All the people walking down the street saw Birbal.

For seven days, Birbal has seen mending shoes. Many asked him, “Birbal, what are you doing?” However, Birbal did not reply! The strange news about Birbal reached Emperor Akbar. So, the amused Emperor went to the marketplace to see Birbal. He asked, “Birbal! What are you doing? I heard you have been mending shoes for seven days in the marketplace.” But Birbal did not answer the emperor. Akbar thought, ‘Birbal must be hatching a plan. That is why he refuses to talk to anyone.

After a week, Birbal went to Akbar’s court. He showed him the list of blind people. Akbar was shocked to see the long list. He was angry and surprised when he saw his name, too! Akbar asked, “Birbal! How dare you say that I am blind?”

Birbal said politely, “Your Majesty! Please forgive me. Like all these people, you too saw me mending shoes. Even then, you asked me what I was doing. That is why I listed you on the blind people’s list!”

Akbar laughed at Birbal’s humour and honesty. He said, “Birbal, you are so witty and wise.” Birbal showed that even when people have average eyesight, they can still behave as though they were blind.

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