How Birbal Taught Akbar A Lesson Of His Life !
How Birbal Taught Akbar A Lesson Of His Life !5 mins 408 5 mins 408
One evening, while Emperor Akbar was strolling in a garden with his Chief Minister Birbal in tow, they came upon a " Tulsi Vrundavan " or a small grove of the Basil plant which is considered to have high medicinal and air purifying qualities . Especially Hindus, light an oil lamp near it at the twilight time and revere it as a holy or sacred plant.
Seeing the lit lamp and the basil plant, as was the custom, Birbal at once removed his footwear and slowly perambulated the plant with his bare feet on the moist grassland. With deep breaths, he inhaled its surrounding pure air, and reverently paid obeisance to the plant.
Akbar was a bit miffed as he considered it a senseless ritual and asked Birbal why he did it.
Birbal humbly replied, " We respect the Basil plant as we respect our mother. So I paid my respect for spotting her. It is considered a sin to pluck her leaves after twilight. "
" Oh is that so? A plant like a Mother indeed! I am surprised that a learned person like you believes in such stupid grandmother tales!
Saying so, in an action suiting his mocking tone, Akbar uprooted the basil plant and threw it away.
Birbal said nothing but made a mental note of it.
Soon they came to another plant and again Birbal, at once, although from a bit far, did his Pranams to it too, but this time, with an exaggerated show of reverence.
" I suppose this plant is also considered holy. What utter nonsense! "
Birbal replied. " Yes Oh, great king! It is so holy, we dare not go near it. Let alone touch it. We desist from even touching its leaves "
At this Akbar got furious and said, " Mama Mia! Here we go again! My my! How can I resist this !"
Catching the plant with both his hands, he uprooted it. However as if to prove a point, and to add insult to injury, he plucked a bunch of its leaves and crushing them in his bare palms, threw away the plant.
Now this plant was not an ordinary harmless plant.
Known as Mucuna pruriens or the monkey bean or velvet bean plant or Bicchu patti or Khujli vaala plant or the itching plant; It induces an agonizing intense itching and burning sensation wherever its micro bristles spread, causing the affected part to swell and burst into red hives
Sure enough Emperor Akbar got a full-blown allergic reaction and started scratching wildly all over his body. The more he scratched, the more the burning and stinging sensation spread and grew more intense.
If any of you dear reader or listener have ever had the misfortune of touching this Bicchu patti, you will understand the unbearable burning and itching agony of Emperor Akbar!
Taken by surprise by this sudden invisible yet painful attack, Emperor Akbar screamed in pain and fear, Birbal! Save me! What is this strange sorcery inflicted upon me? And by whom? "
As if rubbing salt in the Emperors inflated scratch wounds, Birbal shook his hands and neck, and said in false despair,
" Alas dear Jahanpanah, All-powerful Emperor of Hindustan! The mighty curse for disrespecting the sacred plants is upon you! There is no remedy! The victim scratches himself endlessly to a horrible slow painful tormenting tortuous death! Death caused by his own scratching! By his own hands is he doomed! "
All this drama of Birbal made Akbar more scared and he really believed he would die in agony!
Confronted with death, the mightiest are humbled. So also was it with Akbar.
" Please please save me from this curse Birbal! I will do anything in atonement and to escape alive from it! Akbar pleaded.
" Well," said Birbal. "Perhaps there may be a way to appease the angry plant deities. Repeat after me,
I Emperor Akbar, beg for forgiveness for my wanton cruelty towards mute plants and never again will I senselessly uproot or harm any plant or tree! And I will not allow anyone else in my kingdom to do it either! This is my solemn Royal promise and proclamation! "
Such was the itching agony that Akbar recited the words immediately! But Birbal had not yet finished.
" Now pull both your ear lobes simultaneously and repeat after me ...
" In the name of my God Allah, I solemnly promise never again will I mock any other deities! Ameen! "
His nostrils fuming and flaring in helpless anger, Emperor Akbar did as he was told.
Birbal then took him to a nearby cowshed and said " Now pay your respects to my another mother like deity .. the Sacred Cow, and ask her to give you her prasad or a gracious holy gift. "
Muttering silent curses under his breath, Akbar again did as he was told.
The nonchalant cow just gave a big grunting moo and tossing her head, lifted up her tail which was hitherto flicking off flies, to ease herself and ejected a lot of dung ( called as Gobar in Hindi ).
The infuriated Emperor said What in Jahannum's name is this? ( Jahannum ... means Hell ) Birbal replied ;
" This my dear King is the cows prasad a gracious holy gift for you. Do not disrespect it. Apply it all over your body at once !"
Swearing to himself for this self-invited humiliation Akbar did as prescribed and Miracle of miracles! Strangely enough, the cow dung and cow urine ( Gow mutra ) mixture gave him instant relief from his horrible agony!
In reality, what seemed as a miracle to Akbar, was actually due to the medicinal curative healing properties of the cow dung. It was the most ideal naturally processed mud pack easily available to remove body heat or to cure allergic hives.
By now the Emperor had been totally humbled by Birbals mother like deities and in a subdued voice pleaded,
" Please Birbal I promise not to take revenge for this entire episode. But save my honor! I cannot enter my palace smeared with cow dung! Even if my courtiers won't dare laugh, Queen Jodha and my harem will never lose a chance to taunt me if they see me in this state until my dying day!
Birbal noticed that Akbar's repentance was genuine! So he said, " Alright follow me!
( In Hindi tapori lingo ... Chal nibhaate hai apni yaari !
Tu bhi kya yaad rakhega )
Taking him to a riverbank Birbal said, This is my holy mother, the river Goddess Ganga! Bathe in her flowing waters and wash off all the dung!
Akbar dived into the river at once and after a thorough cleansing bath emerged fresh and in a buoyant mode!
In a cheerful tone, he said, " Thank you Birbal! I have been properly chastised and taught an unforgettable lesson of my life! Never again will I hold your culture and deities in disdain and disbelief! May Lord Allah forgive me for my prior arrogance and ignorance! "
Birbal only smiled mischievously in reply as they entered the palace pretending as if nothing had happened!
Moral of the story: Mocking other people's religious beliefs invites trouble and chastisement.
Authors note :
This story is dedicated to Sameer , Natasha , Sameeksha and Shriyans Karkhanis,
Sourav Santikari and Santikari family
Special thanks to Alisha Santikari for finding suitable cartoons to illustrate my stories .
Pandemonium is the pseudonym of Mr Parag Raje