Birbal : The Wise Man
In the town of Agra there lived a rich businessman. But he was also quite a miser. Various people used to flock outside his house everyday hoping for some kind of generosity, but they always had to return home disappointed. He used to ward them off with false promises and then never live up to his word.
Then one day, a poet named Raidas arrived at his house and said that he wanted to read out his poems to the rich man. As the rich man was very fond of poetry, he welcomed him in with open arms.
Raidas started to recite all his poems one by one. The rich man was very pleased and especially so when he heard the poem that Raidas had written on him, because he had been compared with ‘Kubera’, the god of wealth. In those days it was a custom for rich men and kings to show their appreciation through a reward or a gift, as that was the only means of earning that a poor poet possessed. So the rich man promised Raidas some gifts and asked him to come and collect them the next day. Raidas was pleased.
The next morning when he arrived at the house, the rich man pretended that he had never laid eyes on him before. When Raidas reminded him of his promise, he said that although Raidas was a good poet he understood very little of human nature. And that if rich businessman truly wanted to reward him, he would have done so the very same night. Raidas had been offered a reward not because he was really pleased or impressed, but to simply encourage him.
Raidas was extremely upset, but as there was nothing that he could do, he quietly left the house. On his way home he saw Birbal riding a horse. So he stopped him and asked for his help after narrating the whole incident. Birbal took him to his own house in order to come up with a plan. After giving it some thought he asked Raidas to go to a friend’s house with five gold coins and request the friend to plan a dinner on the coming full moon night, where the rich man would also be invited. Birbal then asked Raidas to relax and leave the rest to him.
Raidas had one trustworthy friend whose name was Mayadas. So he went up to him and told him the plan.. The next day, Mayadas went to the rich man’s house and invited him for dinner. The dinner has been planned for the coming full moon night. He said that he intended to serve his guests in vessels of gold, which the guests would get to take home after the meal. The rich man was thrilled to hear this and jumped at the offer.
After sunset on the full moon night, the rich man arrived at Mayadas’ house and was surprised to see no other guests there but Raidas. Anyhow, they welcomed him in and started a polite conversation. The rich man had come on an empty stomach and so was getting hungrier by the minute. Raidas and Mayadas were quite full as they had eaten just before the rich man’s arrival.
Finally at midnight the rich man could bear his hunger no longer and asked Mayadas to serve the food. Mayadas sounded extremely surprised when he asked him what food was he talking about. The rich man tried to remind him that he had been invited for dinner. At this point Raidas asked him for proof of the invitation. The rich man had no answer. Then Mayadas told him that he had just invited him to please him and had not really meant it. He then went on to say that even though they did not do anything good for other people they also would never try to hurt another human being. He asked the rich man not to feel bad.
At that point Birbal walked into the room and reminded the rich man of the same treatment that he had himself meted out to Raidas. The rich man realised his mistake and begged for forgiveness. He said that Raidas was a good poet and had not asked him for any reward. He himself had promised to give him some gifts and then cheated him out of them. To make up for his mistake he took out the necklace that he was wearing and gifted it to Raidas. Then they all sat down to eat a happy meal.
Raidas was all praise for Birbal and thanked him profusely. Emperor Akbar also invited him to his court and honoured him, all thanks to Birbal.
Birbal really was a wise man.