Legend – Indian

Legend – India

“There are these two heroes, Akbar and Birbal, the former was a Mughal emperor and the other supposedly his chief advisor. There are books telling hundreds of stories of the things these two guys got up to. Basically, Birbal is super smart and Akbar, while also quite wise and a good ruler at heart, tends to lose his temper, since he is emperor after all. So the stories usually involve how Birbal plays off Akbar’s weaknesses to teach him important lessons.”

Manoj first told me about this legend a year ago when we were randomly discussing childhood stories. At the time I wasn’t aware that Akbar and Birbal were real individuals and found their adventures rather amusing. However, when I later read up that they were in fact actual people I decided to ask Manoj for more information.

He first came across the two historic figures when his mother bought him ‘101 stories of Akbar and Birbal’ He was in elementary school at the time. Manoj was very amused by their adventures and feels that they teach important lessons to children, while introducing them to two historic figures and entertaining them. “It’s a mix of history, entertainment and morals,” describes Manoj.

It is common to see children’s’ books teach morals but rarely are historic figures, and even less commonly is royalty, used to teach them. I feel that more children’s books should follow the example set by ‘101 stories of Akbar and Birbal’ since it also educates in addition to entertaining and introducing morals.

While I have not read any stories on Akbar or Birbal, I have read similar books. Unfortunately, I feel that stories like this should be limited, historic figures should not be recognized purely due to adaptations in literature, it does not do justice to their legacy. On the other hand, these books do introduce youngsters to the two historic figures and maybe in the future they would pursue deeper into Akbar and Birbal.

Annotation: to enjoy some of Akbar and Birbal’s adventures you could consider reading ‘Akbar and Birbal’ by Amita Sarin and Dipankar Bhattacharya, 2005