Table of Contents
This story talks about Akbar and Birbal. Akbar made his courtiers tell him a story every night so he could fall asleep. But he was never satisfied with the stories and kept asking for more. Finally, Birbal tells Akbar such a story that it makes him realise the foolishness of his actions.
Akbar– the great Mughal emperor
Birbal- Akbar’s adviser and one of the nine jewels of his court
Akbar’s Illness and the Courtiers’ Storytelling
Once when Emperor Akbar fell ill, it prevented him from sleeping till dawn. The royal doctors tried many medicines, but they did not work. At last, a hakim suggested that Akbar should hear a story before going to bed every night, so that he could sleep peacefully. He told Akbar to ask each one of the courtiers in his durbar to tell him a story every night.
But even if the courtiers managed to tell a story, the emperor would not sleep. So, they had to add on another tale to the first and go on with it until the story teller began to feel sleepy, instead of the listener. The durbaris consulted Birbal to solve this problem. He agreed to tell a story to Akbar to put him to sleep.
So, Birbal told a story to Akbar. At the end of it, Akbar asked him what happened then, as was his habit. Birbal told him another tale, but Akbar asked him the same question about what happened next. The same happened with the third story.
Birbal’s Boring Story
To stop this, Birbal began his new tale by saying there was a hut in a jungle. A Bhil stayed in it. Different kinds of birds and beasts lived in the jungle. The Bhil was troubled by the birds who went into his hut and stole grains of corn.
The Bhil thought about how to get rid of the birds for a long time. Finally, he found a way. He went to the market and bought a big basket. The Bhil kept all the grains of corn in the basket and closed its lid tightly.
The birds entered the hut as usual, but not finding their food anywhere, went to the basket. They pecked at the basket but only hurt themselves in the process. There was a clever little sparrow among them. She made friends with a small mouse in the hut and asked him to help her by biting the basket.
Getting to know about this, five hundred birds gathered outside the hut. Then one bird went into the hut, held a grain of corn in its beak, and flew out. Akbar asked what happened then. Birbal replied that the second bird entered the hut, held a grain of corn in its beak, and flew out.
Akbar kept asking what happened then and Birbal kept talking about the third, fourth and fifth birds doing the same thing. Akbar got impatient and asked how many birds were left. Birbal said only five birds had flown out so far. So, there were still four hundred and ninety-five birds left. He started talking about the sixth bird doing the same thing as the previous ones.
Hearing the dull story, Akbar got disgusted and shouted at Birbal, asking when the birds would finish their task of carrying the grain out. Birbal said they would finish their task when Akbar stopped asking what was next. Akbar realised his foolishness and ordered that his programme of hearing a story from his courtiers each night should be stopped.
This story shows us the foolishness of impatience. Akbar impatiently keeps asking his courtiers for more stories, which is why he cannot focus on the story at hand and fall asleep. Birbal’s never ending story makes him realise just how foolish his actions are. So, we must always try to be patient because patience is a great virtue while impatience is a folly.