Akbar and Birbal – Part One

“Akbar and Birbal were just traveling around in the wild, outside their castle, and they see this super cold pond; it was winter. And then, Akbar looks at the pond and says, ‘Whoever can stay in that pond all night and not die, shall be rewarded by me.’ Then this poor guy, like a farmer or something, volunteers because he needs the money, so he says, ‘I’ll do it!’ So he basically – yeah – he just jumps in the pond and he stays there overnight. Akbar comes the next morning and he finds that the guy is still alive, so he’s like ‘Oh, amazing, um, I’ll give you your reward. How did you do it?’ And the villager was like, ‘I was just looking at that light from the castle and it gave me strength.’ And then, Akbar was like, ‘You cheated! That light was probably warm! And it gave you the strength to stay alive!’ And he didn’t give the reward to the villager. So, the next night, there was supposed to be this huge feast at Akbar’s palace, and Birbal was invited. But it wouldn’t begin until Birbal arrived, because he was that important. So Akbar was pretty anger, so he went to Birbal’s house and when he saw Birbal, he was like, um, when he got there he say this candle on the floor, and about ten feet above it, there was this pot with rice in it. And Akbar was like, ‘Why haven’t you come for the feast?’ Birbal says, ‘I’m just trying to cook my rice.’ And Akbar replies, ‘That’s never going to work because that candle is small and far away from the pot.’ And Birbal was like, ‘Oh really, then how did the village from last night get warm from the light from the palace?’ After this, Akbar understood and decided to reward the villager afterall. So, it’s essentially a story to teach the kids that they should be nice.”

This a very entertaining story to hear from my informant. I was told that she learned this story from her father as he told it to her during before bedtime every now and again. She seemed to come alive and relive her childhood for a brief period as told the story again. I’m always fascinated to hear stories wherein wit is used to conquer practical naysayers. As opposed to the tricksters that are prevalent in European culture, I find it interesting to note, that that “archetype” is portrayed in Indian culture as more of a person who outthinks another instead of trying to make the other fall victim to a trap of some sort. Personally I find this to be a very effective to inspire kids to think outside of the box and be creative using their own means instead of trying to force another person to fail, for their own personal gain.