Akbar, Birbal First Meeting

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Akbar-Birbal companionship is one of the strangest things of history. As yet a young man of twenty with no career of his own, Birbal, a Brahmin scholar, left his place of birth in Madhya Pradesh for Delhi, Capital city, in search of work. He heard a herald that emperor Akbar would reward a thousand gold coins to the artist who pleased him with the portrait of the emperor, which should be the replica of what exactly he was.

In fact, this contest was the brainchild of Akbar himself who wanted to select a man of wit among his citizens to give him "comic relief" to the growing political and administrative seriousness in his royal court.

On the appointed day and time, there was the beeline of artists before the court; each had a covered picture of the emperor. Everyone in the court was anxious to find who would get the coveted prize of one thousand gold coins.

Akbar, sitting on a high-throne, received the folded portraits, and rejected them one by one with his cryptic comments.

"No. This is not what exactly I am now."

The poor Brahmin, Birbal, was waiting for his chance. He was the last to show the thing he carried on his arms. When Birbal's turn came, emperor Akbar piqued:

"Are you like the rest of the incapables who have unsatisfactorily produced my portraits which don't exactly show me what I am now"?

Thereby, Birbal without fear, yet in a tone of humility, barbed:

"Portray, my emperor, into it and satisfy."

Strangely, it was not a drawing or a painting; but a mirror opened from the folds by Birbal to show the emperor exactly what he was then.

"The best replica of emperor Akbar."

Eureka! The emperor got the man he wanted. With all his love and respect for his master, Birbal throughout his career in Akbar's court as a minister tried his best to show Akbar what he was. Akbar received Birbal with open arms to the applause of everyone in the open court, and rewarded him with a thousand gold coins.

From that time onwards, Akbar never willingly parted from Birbal's company. The friendship of Akbar-Birbal went on and on. In Akbar's court, Birbal was the spice in all-general discussions. He had the access to go to the palace whenever he liked. He was a sure companion of emperor Akbar on his walks in palace-garden. Their fruitful friendship had given rise to many anecdotes that have become permanent stock in the world treasure of ready wit and humour.