The Wise Courtier | Akbar Birbal

The-Wise-Courtier
The Wise Courtier

Emperor Akbar was a considerate ruler. He took a lot of interest in the welfare of the people in his Kingdom. Akbar and Birbal often went around the Kingdom to see if all was well among the people.

One day, Akbar decided to go around the villages of his Kingdom. He took Birbal along with him. They both rode on horses and passed through many villages. The villages were charming. The air was cool and clean as green trees and fields surrounding.

While riding through a village, they came across a cabbage farm. Akbar was happy to see the cabbages. He said, “Oh! Look at the green patch! I love cabbage! It is the best vegetable!”

“Your Majesty, I agree with you! Cabbage is the king of all vegetables,” said Birbal. A few months passed by. Akbar and Birbal again went on a tour. When Akbar saw a cabbage farm this time, he was not impressed. He said, “Oh, cabbages! I am tired of eating them. I don’t like them anymore!”

Birbal added, “I agree, Your Majesty! Cabbage is such a tasteless vegetable!” Akbar was surprised at Birbal. He said, “Birbal! A few months ago, you thought cabbage was the king of all vegetables, and now you say it is a tasteless vegetable!”

Birbal nodded and replied, “Your Majesty! I am your servant, not the cabbage’s!”

Akbar laughed heartily at Birbal’s witty reply and understood that Birbal was very faithful to him. Shortly, they heard two men shouting in the village. Akbar said, “Birbal, let us go and find out why those men are fighting each other.”

Birbal went to the men and demanded, “What are your names? And why are you fighting like wild roosters?” When they saw Birbal, they immediately stopped fighting. They stood under a mango tree. One of the men, Shyam, stepped forward and said, “Birbal! Look at this mango tree. I have nurtured this tree with my love and hard work. This man, Ram, is now fighting with me over the ripe mangoes.”

Ram then said, “Birbal! Shyam is telling a lie. This mango tree has always been mine. I am the real owner of the fruits now.”

Birbal was in a fix. He felt both of them spoke the truth. But there could only be one owner. He then had an idea! Birbal said, “I think both of you are the owners. Pluck all the fruits of the tree and divide them between you, then cut the tree and divide the wood too.”

Ram agreed immediately, but Shyam shook his head. He cried, “Birbal! I cannot cut my dear tree into pieces. I have nurtured this tree with a lot of love. It is like my child. Ram can keep the fruits and the tree.” Birbal smiled and said, “Shyam! You win! You could not see your tree being cut.”

Akbar was happy with Birbal, as he had taught the men that we could never see our loved ones in pain! Akbar and Birbal continued their rounds around the villages. When they had gone some distance, Akbar felt thirsty. He saw a well at a distance. However, when Akbar looked inside, he found the well dry. There was no water in it! Then, Akbar’s ring slipped out of his finger and fell into the well. The well was bottomless. Therefore, no one could get the ring out. Akbar said, “Birbal! It was my ancestral ring. I cannot afford to lose it. Please retrieve it.”

Birbal, who was standing in a corner, pondered over the problem. He said to Akbar, “Your Majesty! I will get your ring out of the well if you can wait some time.”

Akbar looked at Birbal in confusion! Birbal searched for some fresh cow dung and threw it inside the well, on the ring. Then, he tied one end of a string to a stone and threw the stone in the dung. After some time, the cow dung dried and hardened.

The stone was stuck inside the cow dung. Birbal pulled the cow dung out of the well. At the bottom of the dung was Akbar’s ring!

Akbar was once again pleased with Birbal’s wisdom. He thanked Birbal and promised to reward him handsomely for his brilliant idea.

One day, an oil merchant came to see Akbar and Birbal. He bowed before the Emperor and complained that a villager was trying to steal his money. Akbar said, “Let us hear the villagers’ story, too.”

The oil merchant was sent to bring the villager. In a few minutes, the oil merchant came back with the villager, and a large, curious crowd gathered around them. The villager claimed, “The oil merchant has my money bag!”

“It is mine. When he buys oil, I keep the money he gives me inside it,” said the oil merchant.

“I have never been to his shop,” said the villager. They argued until Akbar and Birbal’s ears began to hurt. The crowd wondered how Birbal would solve this case. “Silence!” said Birbal. “Someone, bring me a bowl of water.”

A man brought a bowl of water. Birbal dipped the bag in the bowl. After a little while, a few oil globules floated up! “This bag belongs to the oil merchant, as there is oil in it. The villager says he has never been to the oil shop, so it cannot be his!” “Villager, you will be punished for lying,” declared Akbar.

The amazed crowd applauded Birbal’s intelligence. Just then, Akbar saw his old servant, Hassan, in the crowd. Hassan looked very upset. Akbar asked, “Hassan! Why are you so sad and worried?”

Hassan said, “Your Majesty, I have a neighbor called Ali. He always fights with me over small things. I know he does not like me. Now, Ali has reported in the court that I have stolen a necklace from his house.” Akbar called Birbal. Birbal heard the entire incident and said, “Hassan, you are a good man. I think Ali is jealous of you and wants to ruin your good name.”

Hassan said, “Birbal, the Judge has called us to the court. I am going there now.” Birbal said, “Don’t worry! Come to my house in the evening if you need my help.” Hassan thanked Birbal and left for the court.

“Hassan, did you steal a necklace from Ali’s house?” asked the Judge. “No. I am innocent,” replied Hassan. “Let Hassan prove his innocence. Make him hold a red-hot iron in his bare hands. If he is innocent, his hands won’t get burnt. God will protect him!” said Ali.

The Judge declared that the test would be taken the next day. Hassan hurriedly went to meet Akbar and Birbal that evening. He related the incident at the court before Birbal and begged him for advice.

Birbal said, “Hassan, tell the Judge that both should take the test.”

The next day, Hassan said to the Judge, “Sir, I am ready for the test, but only if Ali takes it. If he is truthful, nothing will happen to him.”

Ali realized that he would have to take the test, too. So, he said, “I may be mistaken. I will look for the necklace again. I withdraw my complaint.” The next day, Hassan went to Akbar’s court and narrated the events before the Emperor. He thanked Birbal profusely for his advice.

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