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Akbar loved to pose interesting questions or problems in his court, and Birbal never failed to come up with equally interesting answers. The chapter is a witty and humorous collection of two such Akbar- Birbal episodes.
The Moustache Puller
One day Emperor Akbar very seriously asked his courtiers to suggest a punishment for someone who pulled his moustache. The courtiers were stunned at the audacity of someone to offend the Emperor like this and they immediately started suggesting punishments varying from flogging, whipping, beating and even starving the offender to finally cutting off his hands.
Birbal was the only one who was silent. He even cracked a small grin. This intrigued the Emperor and he asked for Birbal’s opinion, to which Birbal replied that the offender should be given his favourite sweetmeats. The courtiers were perplexed but Birbal smiled and explained that it could only be Akbar’s grandson who would be bold enough to pull his moustache.
When Akbar heard this, he burst out laughing because that is exactly what had happened in the morning!
Once when Akbar was relaxing with his courtiers, some of them viewed this as an opportunity to lavish him with praise in exchange for favours. They began to praise Akbar in competition with one another. They went as far as to call him greater than God Almighty, this piqued the Emperor.
Akbar was no fool. He did not care for false praise. He asked them to either prove his superiority or leave his court forever. The courtiers had gotten themselves into a pickle. They pondered for a long time but came up with no solution. In the end, they went to Birbal, who heard their story and told them not to worry.
The next day when Akbar asked for the answer, Birbal stepped forward and presented it. He said that there was one thing that Akbar could do that the Almighty couldn’t. Akbar could banish anyone from his kingdom, but God’s kingdom extends everywhere. The Almighty cannot banish anyone from his kingdom. This impressed Akbar and he forgave the courtiers for their foolishness.
Every problem has a solution, one must just think carefully. Flattery more often than not will only lead to problems.