14 Feb How to read it right
Akbar Birbal stories in English
Birbal Stories are very famous and popular in India among all ages of people. They are also called by another name Akbar-Birbal Stories.
There was a Mogul Emperor in India, Akbar The Great (1542-1605). His full name was Jalaludden Mohammed Akbar Padshah Ghazi and he ruled India from 1560 to 1605.
He himself was illiterate, but he invited several learned people in his court. Among these people, nine were very famous and were called Nav Ratna (nine jewels of the Mogul Crown) of his court. Among these nine jewels, five people were more famous – Tansen, Todarmal, Abul Fazal, Maan Singh and Birbal.
1. Tansen … A Great Singer
2. Dasvant … A Great Painter
3. King Todarmal … A Financial Wizard
4. Abdu us-Samad … A Brilliant Calligrapher and Designer of Imperil Coins
5. Abul Fazal … A Great Historian ( whose brother was Faizi )
6. Faizi … A Great Poet
7. Mir Fareh-ullah Shirazi … Financier,Philosopher,Physician & Astronomer
8. King Maan Singh … A Great Man known for His Chivalry
9. Birbal … A Great Man known for His Valuable Advice
Akbar’s son Prince Sultan Salim, later known as Jehangir wrote that nobody could make out that Akbar was an illiterate. Akbar was a very hard-working King. It is also said about him that he slept only three hours a night.
Birbal (1528-1583) is surely one of the most popular figures in Indian history equally regarded by adults and children. Birbal’s duties in Akbar’s court were mostly administrative and military but he was a very close friend of Akbar too, because Akbar loved his wisdom, wit and subtle humour.
He was a minister in the administration of Mogul Emperor Akbar and one of the members of inner council of nine advisors. He was a poet and an author too.
It is believed that he was a son of poor Braahman of Trivikrampur on the banks of River Yamuna. According to a popular legend, he died on an expedition to Afghanistan at the head of a large military force due to treachery. It is also said that when Birbal died, Akbar mourned him for several months.
The exchanges between Akbar and Birbal have been recorded in many volumes. Many of these have become folk stories in Indian tradition. Birbal’s collection of poetry published under the pen name Brahm are preserved in Bharatpur Museum, Rajasthan, India.
Many courtiers were jealous with Birbal and often plotted for his downfall. There are many stories found on this issue too. There are a couple of other stories too which are of the same time and type and are as interesting as Birbal’s ones.
Birbal Bitrays Himself
Birbal was missing. He and the emperor had a quarrel and Birbal had stormed out of the palace vowing never to return.
Now Akbar missed him and wanted him back but no one knew where he was.
Then the emperor had a brainwave. He offered a reward of 1000 gold coins to any man who could come to the palace observing the following condition. The man had to walk in the sun without an umbrella but he had to be in the shade at the same time.
“Impossible,” said the people.
Then a villager came carrying a string cot over his head and claimed the prize.
“I’ve walked in the sun but at the same time I was in the shade of the strings of the cot,” he said.
It was a brilliant solution. On interrogation the villager confessed that the idea had been suggested to him by a man living with him.
“It could only be Birbal!” said the emperor, delighted.
Sure enough, it was Birbal and he and the emperor had a joyous reunion.
Birbal Denies Rumor
One day a man stopped Birbal in the street and began narrating his woes to him.
“I’ve walked twenty miles to see you,” he told Birbal finally, “and all along the way people kept saying you were the most generous man in the country.”
Birbal knew the man was going to ask him for money.
“Are you going back the same way?” he asked.
“Yes,” said the man.
“Will you do me a favor?“
“Certainly,” said the man. “What do you want me to do?”
“Please deny the rumor of my generosity,” said Birbal, walking away.
Birbal Identifies Thief
One fine morning, a minister from Emperor Akbar’s court had gathered in the assembly hall.
He informed the Emperor that all his valuables had been stolen by a thief the previous night.
Akbar was shocked to hear this because the place where that minister lived was the safest place in the kingdom.
He invited Birbal to solve the mystery. Akbar said “It is definitely not possible for an outsider to enter into the minister’s house and steal the valuables.
This blunder is definitely committed only by another minister of that court.” Saying so, he arranged for a donkey to be tied to a pillar. He ordered all the courtiers to lift the donkey’s tail and say “I have not stolen.”
Birbal added “Only then we can judge the culprit.” After everyone had finished, he asked the courtiers to show their palm to him. All the courtiers except Alim Khan had a black patch of paint on their palm.
Birbal had actually painted the donkey’s tail with a black coat of paint. In the fright, the guilty minister did not touch the donkey’s tail at all. Thus Birbal once again proved his intelligence and was rewarded by the king with 1000 gold coins.
Birbal is Brief
One day Akbar asked his courtiers if they could tell him the difference between truth and falsehood in three words or less.
The courtiers looked at one another in bewilderment.
“What about you, Birbal?” asked the emperor. “I’m surprised that you too are silent.”
“I’m silent because I want to give others a chance to speak,” said Birbal.
“Nobody else has the answer,” said the emperor. “So go ahead and tell me what the difference between truth and falsehood is — in three words or less.”
“Four fingers“, said Birbal
“Four fingers?” asked the emperor, perplexed.
“That’s the difference between truth and falsehood, your Majesty,” said Birbal. “That which you see with your own eyes is the truth. That which you have only heard about might not be true. More often than not, it’s likely to be false.”
“That is right,” said Akbar. “But what did you mean by saying the difference is four fingers?‘
“The distance between one’s eyes and one’s ears is the width of four fingers, Your Majesty,” said Birbal, grinning.
Birbal Outwits Cheat
A farmer and his neighbor once went to Emperor Akbar’s court with a complaint.
“Your Majesty, I bought a well from him,” said the farmer pointing to his neighbor,” and now he wants me to pay for the water.”
“That’s right, your Majesty,” said the neighbor. “I sold him the well but not the water!”
The Emperor asked Birbal to settle the dispute.
“Didn’t you say that you sold your well to this farmer?” Birbal asked the neighbor. “So, the well belongs to him now, but you have kept your water in his well. Is that right? Well, in that case you will have to pay him a rent or take your water out at once.”
The neighbor realized that he was outwitted. He quickly apologized and gave up his claim.
Birbal Returns Home
Birbal was in Persia at the invitation of the king of that country.
Parties were given in his honor and rich presents were heaped on him.
On the eve of his departure for home, a nobleman asked him how he would compare the king of Persia to his own king.
“Your king is a full moon,” said Birbal. “Whereas mine could be likened to the quarter moon.“
The Persians were very happy. But when Birbal got home he found that Emperor Akbar was furious with him.
“How could you belittle your own king!” demanded Akbar. “You are a traitor!“
“No, Your Majesty,” said Birbal. “I did not belittle you. The full moon diminishes and disappears whereas the quarter moon grows from strength to strength. What I, in fact, proclaimed to the world is that your power is growing from day to day whereas that of the king of Persia is about to go into decline.”
Akbar grunted in satisfaction and welcomed Birbal back with a warm embrace.
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