Bedtime Stories for Kids - Birbal And The Barber

Birbal And The Barber

Emperor Akbar had many ministers and amongst them, Birbal was his favorite. His jokes and his ability to get out of difficult situations pleased the emperor immensely. The other ministers were jealous of Birbal because he was always in the company of the emperor and was highly esteemed by him. But the person who hated Birbal most was the emperor's barber. This barber had also served under Akbar's father and grandfather, and when he cut the Imperial beard he talked of things which nobody else knew about, not even the emperor's spies. Because, of this, he was another favorite of the emperor. However, the emperor liked Birbal more than him and this made the barber very jealous. One day when the barber was cutting the emperor's hair he found him in an extremely good mood. He took this opportunity to do Birbal an ill turn. He talked about the great fame of the emperor's victories and of the width and wealth of his kingdom. "Your Majesty," said the barber, "If your forefathers in heaven, knew of your greatness on earth, how pleased they would be." "Yes, but how can this be made possible?" asked the emperor. "All we need is to send a messenger," replied the barber "Who should also be able to return to earth, to tell us how pleased your forefathers are with your greatness." "It is a difficult task indeed, my man," replied the emperor. "To go to heaven one must die, to return to earth, one must come back alive." "Your Majesty," replied the barber "this is not a difficult job for Birbal.

Akbar smiled secretly at the barber's malice. He knew Birbal could get out of any situation with the utmost ease and that he would not let himself be beaten by a mere barber. Birbal was immediately sent for and told of his mission to heaven. He knew at once who the mischief-maker was. Bowing low before the emperor he said, "Your majesty, what a delight it will be for me to see your grandfather and your father, and to tell them of your greatness. As you know, Your Majesty, going to heaven is not easy and getting back is worse," continued Birbal "Being a Hindu I have to be burnt to death in order to go to heaven and to return to earth, I have to cheat the god of death. But nothing is impossible in your service your Majesty." "That is the spirit Birbal," said the Emperor pleased with his minister's reply. "Then will you be able to start your mission tomorrow?" "No, your Majesty" answered Birbal, "I need a month in which to plan my departure and a lakh of your silver coins." "We can wait for a month but why a lakh of silver coins?" asked the Emperor. "My old mother will not agree so easily to my being burned alive" said Birbal, "But it will be quite another matter if you give her a lakh of silver coins." "It shall be done," said the Emperor. "May I be permitted to choose the spot where I am to be burned?" asked Birbal.