Sunday, January 6, 2008

Protection of the Footmark of an Elephant

Once king Akbar had a great quarrel with Birbal so he left the place and went some 30-40 miles away in a village. There he started living hiding his identity.

Now Birbal's position (Deevaan or Minister) could not be kept empty so the king appointed his brother-in-law (wife' brother) in Birbal's place. Although Akbar didn't like this but he had to do this to please his wife. Very soon the city got undisciplined and complaints started coming to the king.

This was the time to test his brother-in-law's intelligence. So he went out to a Peer's Mazaar (the tomb of a saint). While returning from there he saw a footmark of an elephant. He asked his brother-in-law to protect that mark for three days. Baadshaah (king) went to his palace and his brother-in-law starting vigilance around it. The first day passed, the new Deevaan could not get any food; the second day also passed without any food. The third day he got very weak, but somehow survived. The fourth day he went to the king and told everything to him.

Baadshaah thought "I have to call Birbal back, I can't do with this Deevaan." So he found a way to get him back. He announced that there is some quarrel over a government well so all Zameendaar (owner) of nearby villages should come to him with their wells, otherwise they will have to pay fine of 10,000 Rupees (Indian currency).

This order was heard in that village also min which Birbal lived. Its Zameendaar abused the king that "That this king has gone mad. Has anybody ever heard moving wells to other places? But if I did not go then I will have to pay 10,000 Rupees fine which is a lot of money."

When Birbal heard this, he knew that it was a trick to find Birbal. He thought that now is the time to reveal his identity and keep king's words. So he explained something to the Zameendaar and next day the Zameendaar along with Birbal and some of his servants arrived in Delhi. They did not enter the city, they stayed outside the city and sent a messenger to king - "Huzoor, According to your orders we are here with our wells, now you sent your wells to welcome them."

When Akbar heard this, he understood that Birbal was there. He asked the Zameendaar - "Who told this to tell me? Tell me the truth." The Zameendaar said - "Some time ago, a stranger came to stay in our village, he has asked us to tell you this." When asked about his form, it matched Birbal's. Then he sent his people to welcome Birbal and he was brought into the city with a great pomp and show. Birbal was again appointed on his old position.

This time the king asked Birbal to protect that footmark of elephant. Birbal said "Done". He fixed an iron bar near the footmark and tied a 50-yard rope to it and told the villagers that whoever's house will fall inside the circumference of that rope his house will be demolished to protect that footmark."

People requested him not to do so and gave him Rupees as bribery not to demolish their house. Thus he collected approximately 100,000 (1 Lakh) Rupees. He deposited that money in the royal treasury and told the king that the work is done and 100,000 Rupees have been deposited in his treasury.

The king called his brother-in-law and said to him - "You were hungry for three days and gained nothing while protecting the footmark, but see, Birbal has earned 100,00 Rupees in one day only. That is why you can never be my Deevaan." The brother-in-law went away from there hanging his head down.

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Fear is the Key

One day King Akbar said to Birbal, "Birbal, my people are very obedient to me. They love me very much." Birbal smiled and replied, "This is true, but they fear you too, Jahaanpanaah." Akbar could not agree on this, so it was decided that Birbal's statement should be tested.

Next day, according to Birbal's instructions, the King announced that he would be going for hunting, and people should pour a pot of milk in a tub kept in the courtyard. Next day when Akbar returned from hunting, he found that there was no milk in the tub, instead there was only water. Akbar got very disappointed, but couldn't do anything.

Then Birbal said, "This time you will announce that you will come back and see the tub yourself." King did as Birbal said. Once again the tub was kept in the courtyard. This time when King returned from the hunting, he found the tub overflowing with milk. Bitbal said, "I told you. It is your fear which made people obey you. The first time there was no one to check the tub, so people poured the water, but the second time, they knew that you would check yourself, that is why they brought the milk."

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The Three Questions

King Akbar was very fond of Birbal. This made many courtiers very jealous. One day one of those courtiers who always wanted to be the chief minister of the Emperor, got an idea. Since it was not possible as long as Birbal filled that position.

One day Akbar praised Birbal in front of the courtier. This made this courtier very angry and he said that the Emperor praised Birbal unjustly and if Birbal could answer his three questions, he would accept the fact that Birbal was intelligent. Akbar knew that Birbal will win so he immediately agreed.

His three questions were 1. How many stars were there in the sky 2. Where was the center of the Earth and 3. How many men and how many women were there in the world.

Immediately Akbar asked Birbal these three questions and instructed him that if he could not answer them, he would have to resign from the chief minister's position.

To answer the first question, Birbal brought a sheep and said “There are as many stars in the sky as there is hair on this sheep’s body. My friend, the courtier, is welcome to count them if he likes.”

To answer the second question, Birbal drew a couple of lines on the floor and bore an iron rod in it and said “this is the center of the Earth, the courtier may measure it himself if he doubts.”

In answer to the third question, Birbal said “Counting the exact number of men and women in the world would be a problem as there are some specimens like our courtier friend here who cannot easily be classified as either. Therefore if all people like him are killed, then and only then can one count the exact number of men and women.”

Akbar became very happy as always, and that courtier went away without saying a word.

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The Poet Raaydaas

There was a poet named Raaydaas in Akbar's times. He was a very good poet. And there was a rich man also in Akbar's capital. But that rich man was enough miser too. He used to make promises to give something to somebody but never gave it to him. Raaydaas also heard this about that rich man, but didn't believe it.

So one day he went to that rich man and said to him that he had written many good poems and wanted to recite them before somebody who could appreciate his poems. He could not find any other man better than him.

The rich man got very happy, and asked him to recite his poems. The poet recited his poems, some poems were written in the praise of this rich man too. The rich man became very happy to hear those poems. So he promised to give him some money and asked him to come back next day.

Next day Raaydaas came to the rich man's house to take his reward but the rich man refused to recognize him. After some references, he said, "I said it only to encourage you, not that I wanted to reward you." Raaydaas got very disappointed and went away towards his house.

On the way he met Birbal, he told his story to Birbal. Birbal thought for a moment, then took out five gold coins and gave them to Raaydaas, and said, "Arrange a dinner for that rich man on next full moon night." Raaydaas went away.

Raaydaas had a very good friend, Maayaadaas. He arranged the dinner in his house. In this dinner, food was to be served in gold pots and the guest was to take those pots to his house. Rich man was very happy for this invitation.

The full moon night came. The rich man came for the dinner. Now Raaydaas and Maayaadaas have already eaten their food first, so they were not worried about it. They talked and talked a lot but did not talk about the food. Midnight fell. The rich man was very hungry. When he could bear no longer, then he reminded about the food. Raaydaas said, "What food? We don't know anything about the food." Rich man said, "You have invited me for the dinner." Raaydaas said, "That is because we just wanted you to be here, not because that we wanted to offer you any food."

At that time Birbal entered the house and reminded the rich man the happening of Raaydaas. Now the rich man realized his mistake and begged for forgiveness. He said that Raaydaas was a very good poet and he will surely give his reward to him. He took out his necklace and gave to Raaydaas. Then they all sat for a happy meal. Raaydaas was also invited by Akbar and got reward from the Royal Court. Thanks to Birbal.

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Birbal's Khichadee

Once Akbar and Birbal were taking a stroll. It was winter season. Winter was at its peak at that time of season. A thought came to Birbal's mind, and he expressed to the Emperor, "A man can do anything for money." Emperor also thought something, and he just dipped his finger in the almost freezing water of a nearby pond. He drew his hand immediately, and replied Birbal, "I don't think so. Do you think somebody can stand in this almost freezing water for the whole night for money?" Birbal said, "I think so."

Birbal told that he can find such a man who can stand in this water for the whole night for money. Akbar couldn't believe, so he accepted the challenge and said that he would give one thousand gold coins to that man.

Next day Birbal brought a man who was very poor and thin. He told the King that that man would stand in that water. "Good" the King said and sent him to that pond. Because he did not believe this, so he sent some guards too to see whether he was really standing in that almost freezing water for the whole night.

The man went away. Next day the man came back to claim his prize. Akbar asked his guards about the whole thing and they said, "Yes Huzoor, he stood there the whole night." Akbar asked that man, "Just tell me how did you stand in that cold water the whole water?" The man said, "There was a lamp post at some distance. I just gazed at it for the whole night. Heat of that lamp was my only hope."

Akbar refused to give him his prize saying that since he got the heat from that lamp, he was not in the cold water absolutely. Hearing this, the man got very disappointed and went away. When Birbal heard this, he didn't like it. Next day he didn't come in the court. Akbar got worried about him and send his men to bring him to the court.

The men went to his house and came back with the message that Birbal was cooking his Khichadee and only after eating that he will come to the court. One hour passed, two hours passed, several hours passed. Evening fell, but there was no sign of Birbal. Now Akbar got impatient, and got ready to see him himself.

So he went to Birbal's house. What he sees, that Birbal is sitting in a room, fire was burning and a pot was hung about 8-10 feet higher than the fire. The King asked, "Birbal what are you doing?" Birbal replied, "Huzoor I am cooking my Khichadee." Hearing this King and his people laughed loudly. Akbar said to him, "Birbal you can't cook your Khichadee in this way. It is not getting enough heat to be cooked."

Birbal said, "If that man can get the heat from such a distance to keep him enough warm to stand in this cold water for the whole night, then why my Khichadee can't be cooked in this way?"

King understood, and returned to his palace. Next day he called that man and gave his prize to him.

*Khichadee is an Indian dish, made of rice and split green beans mixed normally in equal amount with some salt. Normally people eat it in lunch in dysentery. It is supposed to be light food.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Birbal Helps a Pandit

Once a Braahman named Sevaaraam came to Birbal for his help. He told him that his father was a very good Pandit and all people use to call him Pandit Jee. Since he cannot do all those things, nobody calls him Pandit Jee. Although he was very much contented with his work, life, income but he had this wish that all people should call him Pandit Jee. Birbal said it was not difficult at all, but he had to follow his advice word by word. Pandit agreed.

Birbal said, "Whenever somebody calls you Pandit Jee, you should be very angry and shout at him loudly, that is all." Pandit agreed. Next day Birbal went to the locality where that Pandit used to live. There he talked to the children. He came to know that children didn't like him because he used to scold them. So he told them if you call that man "Pandit Jee, Pandit Jee" he will get irritated, and you could take your revenge. Children were very happy.

From next day the children started calling him "Pandit Jee", "Pandit Jee"; and the Braahman started to shout at them. After some time Sevaaraam got tired of shouting but the children and other people kept calling him Pandit Jee. So the game was over, and the name "Pandit Jee" stuck to Sevaaram.

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