Here is a collection of some inspirational stories compiled by Asst. Prof. Truptirani Tayade for Project Aakaar of Ashwamedh Foundation. These stories can be used during Value Education sessions to teach students morale values and wisdom.
Akbar and Birbal
Story 1 - Question for Question
One day Akbar asked Birbal, "Birbal, can you tell me how many bangles are on your wife's hand?" Birbal said, "No, Huzoor, I cannot." "You cannot. Although everyday you see her hand, still you cannot tell how many bangles are on her hand. How is that?" said Akbar.
Birbal said, "Let's go to the garden, Your Majesty. And I will tell you "How is that" and they both went to the garden. They both went down a small staircase which led to the garden. After reaching in the garden Birbal asked, "You daily climb up and down this small staircase, could you tell how many steps it has?"
Akbar smiled and then changed the subject.
Story 2 - Who is the Donkey?
Once Akbar went to the river with his two sons and wise Minister Birbal. On the bank of the river, Akbar and his two sons took off their clothes and asked Birbal to take care of them while they took bath in the river.
Birbal was waiting for them to come out of the river. All the clothes were on his shoulder. Looking at Birbal standing like this, Akbar felt like teasing him, so he said to him, "Birbal! you look like as if you are carrying a washerman's donkey load."
Birbal quickly retorted, "Sir, Washerman's donkey carries only one donkey's load, I am carrying three donkey's load." Akbar was speechless.
Story 3- I am Your Servant, Huzoor?
Once Akbar and Birbal passed through some farms while riding on their horses. They happened to pass through a cabbage patch. Looking at the patch, Akbar said to Birbal, "What a delightful vegetable the cabbage is. I like it very much." Birbal said, "Huzoor, cabbage is the king of the vegetables." Akbar did not reply to this, and they went on.
Another day, they were riding past the same cabbage patch again. This time Akbar made a face, and said, "This cabbage is such a tasteless vegetable. How people tolerate it." Birbal replied, “Yes Huzoor, really it is difficult to even look at such a tasteless vegetable." Akbar again listened to this and they went on.
After a while the king remembered something. He said to Birbal, "Birbal, I don't understand you. Last time when we passed through this patch, you told that the cabbage was the king of vegetable, and today you said that "It is even difficult to look at such a tasteless vegetable. What do you mean by that?"
Birbal said bowing, "Huzoor, I am your servant, not of cabbage."
Another Version of This Story
The version goes like this. One day Akbar and Birbal were roaming around the Royal Gardens. Akbar was in a good mood. So he said to Birbal, "Birbal, eggplant is such a good vegetable that I have never tasted such a delicious vegetable till today." Birbal said, "Yes Huzoor, it is. It is very tasty and delicious, that is why God has put a crown on its head." Akbar was very pleased to hear this that his appreciated vegetable has been crowned by God.
After a few weeks again Akbar and Birbal were in the Royal Gardens. Akbar remembered something and spoke to Birbal, "Look Birbal, this eggplant is such a nasty vegetable, that I have never tasted such a tasteless vegetable till today." Birbal said, "Yes Huzoor, it is tasteless. You said it right. That is why its name is "Baygun" (Eggplant's name in India's local language Hindi is "Bengan". Birbal twisted the name which means "without any good nutrients"). Now Akbar got very angry. He said to Birbal, "What is this? Whatever I say, you say the same thing. How is it possible that both the statements are right about eggplant?" Birbal bowed a little and said politely, "Huzoor, I am loyal to you, not to eggplant. It cannot do me any favor, you can." Akbar was very pleased to hear this bold, witty and honest response.
Story 4- How Many Crows in the Kingdom?
One day Akbar was strolling in his palace gardens with his dear minister Birbal. Many crows were flying around. The King enjoyed their flying. Just then he thought that how many crows could be in his kingdom and immediately posed this question to Birbal.
Birbal thought a moment, then said, "They are ninety-five thousand, four hundred and sixty three (95, 463) crows in your kingdom, Huzoor." "How do you know that for sure?" the King asked. "You can get them counted, Huzoor." Birbal said.
The king again said, "If there will be less than that, then?" Birbal replied immediately, "That means that the rest of them have gone on vacation to some neighboring kingdoms." "Or if there were more than that, then?" "Then it means that other crows are visiting your kingdom, Huzoor."
Akbar was very pleased with this answer of his question.
Story 5 - Birbal Solves the Problem
Several courtiers were vying to be the Royal Advisor of Emperor Akbar. So one day, when they came to the court, they said to the Emperor, "We want to be your Royal Advisor." Akbar said, "No problem, but you will have to pass the test before you could be my Royal Advisor. And whoever would pass the test will be appointed my Advisor." They agreed.
The King unfastened his waist cloth and lay down on the floor, and asked the candidates to cover him with that cloth from head to toe. Now everybody tried to cover him, but in vain. If one wanted to cover the head, then feet remained uncovered, or if the feet were covered, then his head remained open.
Just then Birbal entered the court, the king asked Birbal also, if he could cover him with that cloth from head to toe. Birbal paused a moment, then asked the Emperor politely, "Huzoor, Could you pull up your knees a little bit?" The King did so, and Birbal could cover him from head to toe with that cloth.
Realizing that they failed the test, the courtiers left the court quietly and then they never thought about being the King's Advisor.
Story 6 - Birbal's Sweet Reply
Akbar used to ask many odd questions from his courtiers and amused himself. One day he entered the Royal Court, settled in his Royal chair, and asked his courtiers: "What punishment should be given to a person who pulls my mustache?"
One said, "He should be beheaded."
Another said, "He should be flogged."
Yet another said, "He should be hanged."
"What do you think, Birbal?" the Emperor asked Birbal. Birbal kept quiet for a moment, then said, "Jahaanpanaah, he should be given sweets." "What, Birbal? Have you gone crazy? Do you know what are you saying?" Birbal replied politely, "I am not crazy, Jahaanpanaah. And I know what I am saying." "Then how can you talk like this?" the King asked in anger. Birbal again replied politely, "Because, Jahaanpanaah, the only person can dare to do this is your grandson."
So pleased was the King with this answer, that he gave his ring to Birbal as a reward.
On another occasion - Akbar drew a line on the floor and asked his courtiers to shorten it without touching it. No courtier could do it. The Birbal came forward and drew another longer line beside it. Now the King's line was shorter than Birbal's line
Story 7- Just One Question
Once a scholar came to Akbar's Court and challenged Birbal to answer his question. He wanted to test Birbal's wits, whether he was really like that as he heard about him. Birbal accepted the challenge. Then the scholar asked Birbal, "Whether you would like to answer one hundred easy questions or one difficult question. Akbar and Birbal had a very long day, they were in a hurry to go home, so Birbal agreed on one difficult question.
The scholar asked, "Who came first? Chicken or egg?" Birbal answered the question without giving any second thought, "The chicken" The scholar was astonished to hear that, "How do you know?"
"We agreed up on only one question, so no second question." Birbal said. And Akbar and Birbal left the Court without looking back at him.