The Royal Cock

akbar-birbal-the-royal-cock

Emperor Akbar was a great man of wit and wisdom. Those twin abilities made him consolidate his position as the undisputed king of kings that posterity should remember. However, he felt himself unhappy that he was not able to beat his favourite minister, Birbal, in wit. He hoped against hope in outwitting Birbal at least once.

He summoned all his ministers except Birbal a few minutes before the session in the royal court. He handed them over each an egg and told them secretly his plan how to play a practical joke on Birbal to embarrass him. All of them were happy that they could see Birbal keep his chin-down in the open court.

When Birbal arrived on time, Akbar narrated to the courtiers a concocted dream he had the previous night.

"In my dream, I was told that I would be able to identify honest ministers among my staff of ministers. All of my ministers should go to the royal garden pond and dive there and come back. All the honest ones will come back with one egg each".

Birbal was in confusion for sometime. Slowly he realized that it was a trick aimed at playing on him by Akbar to hoodwink him. But there was no other option than to stand this acid test.

At the sounding of bells, the contest started; one by one, the ministers left for the pond, and came out with an egg each on hand. Birbal's turn came. There was a flash in his mind. He rushed into the garden pond and dived. Unlike his other ministers, he brought no egg.

Birbal surfaced the water crowing like a cock and kept on crowing as he came back:

Cock-a-doodle-doo, cock-a-doodle-doo"

That horrible cry almost tore the assembly hall.

Akbar felt annoyed at this renting, along with all the members in the assembly.

"Stop cracking like a cock, and show me your egg."

Birbal stopped his cocking and coolly said in the following words:

"Jahapana, only hens lay eggs. But I am a cock and I can't produce any egg."

The entire court burst out in a peal of laughter that resounded the hall.

Emperor Akbar said to himself:

"It is not easy to fool this wise man."

So he embraced Birbal and rewarded him profusely.

Activity For the Young Mind

  • Where do you think each minister hid his individual egg till Birbal arrived in court?
  • What reply would have Birbal given if there had been a female minister in Akbar's court? What would have been your reply?
  • Do you think this story truly happened? Or was it made up?
  • Can you use your wit to make a story that involves Akbar's sympathy and Birbal's wit?