Monday

Raja Birbal and emperor Akbar Illustrations

Lets stay on the same wave with the stories of Raja Birbal and emperor Akbar. Raja Birbal (1528–1586) was the Grand Vizier of the Mughal court in the administration of the Mughal emperor Akbar. He was one of his most trusted members along with being a part of Akbar's inner council of nine advisors, known as the navaratna, a Sanskrit word meaning nine jewels. Birbal was the only person other than Akbar who was a Din-i-Ilahi believer. He is considered one of the world's most intelligent and clever administrator during the medieval period.
Birbal's duties in Akbar's court were mostly military and administrative, but he was also a very close friend of the emperor, who appreciated Birbal for his wit and wisdom, often involving humorous exchanges. These and other stories have become part of a rich tradition of folklore and legend.

This was very funny and interesting project for me. I illustrate 41 stories of this wise Indian men.

Here are few of the stories:


Birbal arrived late for a function and the emperor was displeased.

"My child was crying and I had to placate him," explained the courtier.


"Does it take so long to calm down a child?" asked the emperor. "It appears you know nothing about child rearing. Now you pretend to be a child and I shall act as your father and I will show you how you should have dealt with your child. Go on. Ask me for whatever he asked of you."


"I want a cow," said Birbal.


Akbar ordered a cow to be
brought to the palace.

"I want its
milk. I want its milk," said Birbal, imitating the voice of a small child.

"Milk the cow and give to him," said Akbar to his servants.


The cow was milked and the milk was offered to Birbal. He drank a little and then handed the bowl back to Akbar.


"Now put the rest of it back into the cow, put it back, put in back, put it back..." wailed Birbal.


The emperor was flabbergasted and quietly left the room.


Another one: 

Since Birbal always outwitted Akbar, Akbar thought of a plan to make Birbal look like a fool. He gave one egg to each of his ministers before Birbal reached the court one morning. 

So when Birbal arrived, the king narrated a dream he had had the previous night saying that he would be able to judge the honesty of his ministers if they were able to bring back an egg from the royal garden pond. 

So, Akbar asked all his courtiers to go to the pond, one at a time and return with an egg. So, one by one, all his ministers went to the pond and returned with the egg which he had previously given them. 

Then it was Birbal's turn. He jumped into the pond and could find no eggs. He finally realized that the King was trying to play a trick on him. So he entered the court crowing like a cock. 

The Emperor asked him to stop making that irritating noise and then asked him for the egg. 

Birbal smiled and replied that only hens lay eggs, and as he was a cock, he could not produce an egg. 

Everyone laughed loudly and the King realized that Birbal could never be easily fooled 


And one more:

King Akbar was very fond of Birbal. This made a certain courtier very jealous. Now this courtier always wanted to be chief minister, but this was not possible as Birbal filled that position. 


One day Akbar praised Birbal in front of the courtier. This made the courtier very angry and he said that the king praised Birbal unjustly and if Birbal could answer three of his questions, he would accept the fact that Birbal was intelligent. Akbar always wanting to test Birbals wit readily agreed.  


The three questions were
1. How many stars are there in the sky
2. Where is the centre of the Earth and
3. How many men and how many women are there in the world. 


Immediately Akbar asked Birbal the three questions and informed him that if he could not answer them, he would have to resign as chief minister


To answer the first question, Birbal brought a hairy sheep and said. There are as many stars in the sky as there is hair on the 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 centre of the Earth, the courtier may measure it himself if he has any 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. 


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