Several stories about the famous Mughal emperor, Akbar, and his advisor, Birbal, have done the rounds for many years. It was mostly passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. Many villagers even created new stories with morals and assigned the characters of Akbar and Birbal if they deemed fit. Kids delight listening to the interesting, and sometimes funny, occurrences in the lives of Akbar and Birbal, and hence make for great bedtime stories for kids.
Here are seven of the most famous Akbar–Birbal stories you can read to your kids at bedtime.
1. The farmer who bought a well
A poor farmer once bought a well from a rich man so that he could irrigate his land using the water from the well. The farmer paid the price quoted by the rich man. The next day, when the farmer when to draw water from the well, the rich man stopped him and disallowed him from drawing water. He said that the farmer had bought only the well and not the water from him. So, he cannot draw any water from the well.
Not knowing what to do, the farmer went to the king’s court and told Akbar about his predisposition. Akbar handed over the case to Birbal.
Birbal visited the rich man who was causing problems to the farmer. The rich man reiterated what he told the farmer, to which Birbal said, “Since you have sold the well and not the water to the farmer, you will have to move all the water or pay rent to the farmer to keep the water in the well.”
The rich man realised his ploy was not going to work and let the farmer use the well from the water.
Moral: Do not try to deceive people as you will end up paying the price.
2. The thief who robbed the merchant
One day, a rich merchant went to Birbal and complained to him that his house was robbed. He also told him that he suspects one of his servants to have robbed the house. Birbal went to the merchant’s house, rounded up all the servants and asked them who robbed the house. As expected, the robber did not come forward to confess his crime.
Birbal then handed a stick to each servant and told them that the robber’s stick will grow 2 inches longer the next morning. That way, they will be able to identify who robbed the merchant. The next morning, Birbal asked the servants for the sticks and pointed out the culprit to the merchant. The robber had reduced the length of the stick by 2 inches anticipating the stick to grow by the next morning. That’s how Birbal figured who the robber was.
Moral: No matter how hard you try, you can never hide the truth for long.
Among the many Akbar Birbal stories for kids, this one happens to be a favourite for both my kids!
3. The number of crows in Akbar’s kingdom
Akbar and Birbal were taking a stroll in the king’s garden one pleasant morning. Akbar saw the crows in his garden and wondered how many crows there are in his kingdom. He posed the question to Birbal.
Birbal gave it some thought and said that there are ninety thousand two hundred and forty-nine crows in the kingdom. Akbar was amazed by his quick response and asked him, “What if there is a higher number of crows than the number you just mentioned?”. Birbal replied, “Then, crows from the neighbouring kingdoms must be visiting.” Then Akbar asked, “What if the number is fewer than what you mentioned?”. Birbal calmly replied, “Then, the crows must have gone on a vacation to the neighbouring kingdom.”
Moral: You can always find a way out if you think at ease.
4. Akbar’s stolen ring
Akbar once lost a ring his father had gifted to him. He immediately reached out to Birbal and asked for his help. Birbal said that he will help him find his ring. He then told the courtiers present that he is aware that one of them stole the ring. Akbar angrily asked which one of them stole his ring. Birbal replied that the courtier with the straw in his beard is the one who has the king’s ring.
Immediately, the guilty courtier stroked his beard to check for the straw. Birbal pointed at him and told Akbar that he is the culprit.
Moral: A guilty conscience will always give it away.
5. The pot full of wit
Akbar was once infuriated with Birbal and banished him from his kingdom. Birbal travelled to a faraway village and assumed a new identity and started working as a farmer. After a couple of weeks, Akbar started to miss Birbal and hence asked his soldiers to find where he is and bring him back to the kingdom. The soldiers searched from one end of the kingdom to another but could not find Birbal.
Akbar then came up with an idea to find Birbal. He sent word across the kingdom that the head of each village has to send him a pot full of wit. Anyone who cannot send the pot full of wit can instead fill up the pot with gold and diamonds and send it to him.
The people in Birbal’s village found the announcement absurd and were wondering how to fill the pot with wit. Birbal stepped in to help and came up with a way to give the king what he wanted. He put a small watermelon into the pot without separating it from its vine. He watered it every day and grew it big enough so that all the space in the pot was taken up.
Birbal then separated the watermelon from the vine and sent the pot to the king. The instruction that was sent with the pot read, “You can find the wit in the pot if you carefully remove the watermelon without cutting it.” Akbar realised that only Birbal could have sent the pot. He travelled to the village himself and brought Birbal back to the capital.
Moral: Even the toughest questions can be answered cleverly if you think hard.
These stories, like Akbar–Birbal’s, serve as a channel to teach kids about morals that they can keep in mind throughout their lives.
What’s your favourite story from these? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy: moralstories.org