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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
Civil Engineer & CAD Specialist
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Akbar & Birbal

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Birbal is one of the best-loved figures in the folklore of India. The wit and wisdom of Birbal had endeared him not only to Akbar, but also to a vast majority of the subjects of the Mughal empire. He was a good administrator, a good soldier and perhaps what pleased Akbar the most - a good jester. He wrote under the pen-name, 'Brahma' and a collection of his poems is preserved in the Bharatpur museum. Though popularly known as Birbal, his real name as Maheshdas. It is believed that he belonged to a poor Brahmin family of Trivikrampur (now known as Tikawanpur) on the bank of the River Yamuna, but it was only by virtue of his sharp intellect that he rose to be a minister at the court of akbar. According to the popular legent, even his death, while he was on an expedition to Afghanistan at the head of a large military force, was due to treachery. Akbar had found in Birbal a true friend and sympathiser. Of the handful of followers of the Din-e-Elahi, the new faith preached by Akbar, there was only one Hindu - Birbal.

In the olden days, artists often visited various cities and showed their skills at town squares or market places to informally gathered crowds. It was in a way similar to the concerts and the tours that most recording artists do today, except it wasn't at such scale and was not professionally managed as it done today.

This artist called 'bahuroobiya” or a mimic. He was no ordinary mimic just doing voices or different personalities but could mimic even animals. He was an expert performer and an entertainer too. Soon, a crowd began to gather at the market place. People were soon talking about his skill and he was the talk of the little town Tiwkapur.

The mookhiya - local head, heard about this artist and arranged for a performance. The whole village was invited. Men and women, old and young, everyone gathered for the performance. The show began and as the artist had mastered his craft very well, everyone watching was engrossed. The climax of the show reached when the Bahuroobiya turned himself into a bull. The imitation of the bull was so good, the crowd was spellbound. The mookhiya gave the artist a bag of gold coins.

A little boy in the crowd threw a small pebble at the bull. The bull quivered just as a bull. The boy was so pleased, he could not contain his admiration. “Wow, what great imitation!” he exclaimed. He had nothing to give other than his old battered topi (cap). He took his topi off and gave it to the artist, “ take my reward.”

The crowd began to laugh and giggle at the boy. “Who cares for the old battered cap. What use is it to the artist. It will not even fit his head.” they said. The boy came forward and said very courageously, “ The real appreciation is in testing and finding the real value, not just giving away expensive rewards. I threw a stone at the imitation bull and he shivered just like a bull. It was a true test.” The artist agreed with the boy. “He is right. He alone tested me and I treasure this dirty old cap. It will remain as one of my prized possessions.”

The little boy was Maheshdas who grew up to be Birbal.

( Courtesy: )

Birbal caught the Thief?

It so happened that once a rich merchant's house was robbed. The merchant suspected that the thief was one of his servants. So he went to Birbal and mentioned the incident. Birbal went to his house and assembled all of his servants and asked that who stole the merchant's things. Everybody denied.

Birbal thought for a moment, then gave a stick of equal length to all the servants of the merchant and said to them that the stick of the real thief will be longer by two inches tomorrow. All the servants should be present here again tomorrow with heir sticks.

All the servants went to their homes and gathered again at the same place the next day. Birbal asked them to show him their sticks. One of the servants had his stick shorter by two inches. Birbal said, "This is your thief, merchant."

Later the merchant asked Birbal, "How did you catch him?" Birbal said, "The thief had already cut his stick short by two inches in the night fearing that his stick will be longer by two inches by morning."

( Courtesy: )



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