Akbar and Birbal
Akbar and Birbal (pronounced as Beerbal)
stories are very famous and popular in India among all ages of people.
There was a Mogul Emperor in India,
Akbar the Great (1542-1605). His full name was Jalaaluddeen Mohammed Akbar Padshah Ghazi
and he ruled India from 1560 to 1605 AD. He himself was illiterate, but he invited several
learned people in his court. Among these people, nine were very famous and were called
"Nav Ratna" (nine jewels of the Mogul Crown) of his court. Among these nine
jewels, five people were more famous - Tansen, Todarmal, Abul Fazal, Maan Singh and Birbal.
Nine Gems of Akbar's
Tansen - see also
2. Dasvant - a great painter
3. King Todarmal -
Todarmal was a financial wizard who from 1560 onwards
overhauled the revenue system in the kingdom. He introduced standard weights
and measurements, revenue districts and officers. His systematic approach to
revenue collection became a model for the future Mugals as well as the
British. Raaj Todar Mal was also a warrior who assisted Akbar in controlling
the Afgaan rebels in Bangaal. Raajaa Todar Mal had learnt his craft from
another able administrator Sher Shaah. In 1582, Akbar bestowed on the Raajaa
the title of Diwan-e- Ashraf.
4. Abdu us-Samad - a brilliant calligrapher and designer of Imperial coins
5. Abul Fazal (1551-1602) -
Abul Fazal was a great historian and was
the chronicler of Akbarís rule. He authored the biographical Akbarnaamaa,
which was the result of seven years of painstaking work. He documented the
history meticulously, giving a full and accurate picture of the prosperous
life during the monarchís reign. His account also shed light on the
brilliant administrative capacity of the Emperor.
6. Faizi (1547-1605) - was Abul Fazalís brother. He was a great poet
writing verses in Persian. Akbar had enormous respect for this genius and
appointed him as a tutor for his son. His famous work is Leelaavatee, on
mathematics. It is a translation of
7. Mir Fareh-ullah Shirazi - financier, philosopher, physician and astronomer,
8. King Man Singh -
Raajaa Maan Sinh
is known for his chivalry. Man Singh was the Kachchwaahaa
Raajpoot Raajaa of Amber, later Kachchwaahaa built Jayapur, close to Amber).
This trusted lieutenant of Akbar was the grandson of Akbarís father-in-law.
His family had been inducted into Mugal hierarchy as Ameer (nobles). Raajaa
Man Singh assisted Akbar in many fronts including holding off advancing
Hakim (Akbarís half-brother, a governor of Kaabul) in Lahore. He also led
campaigns in Orissa.
9. Birbal (1528-1583) - Birbal is known for his valuable advice. Birbal was a poor
Braahman who was appointed to the court of Akbar for his wit as well as
wisdom. Born by the name Mahesh Daas, he
was conferred the name Raja Birbal by the Emperor. A man of tireless wit and
charm, he enjoyed the Emperorís favor in administration as his trusted
minister, and for his entertainment as his court jester. There are many
witty stories of exchanges and interactions between the monarch and his
minister that are popular even today. The stories are thought provoking,
intelligent as well as educational. Birbal was also a poet and his
collections under the pen name ĎBrahmaĒ are preserved in Bharatpur Museum.
Raajaa Birbal died in battle, attempting to quell unrest amongst Afgaanee
tribes in Northwest India. Akbar was said to have mourned for a long time on
hearing the news.
Akbar's son Prince Sultan
Salim, later known as Jehangir (pronounced as Jahaangeer), wrote that nobody could
make out that Akbar was an illiterate. Akbar was a very hard-working King. It is also
said about him that he slept only three hours a night.
Birbal (1528-1583) is
surely one of the most popular figures in Indian history equally regarded by adults
and children. Birbal's duties in Akbar's court were mostly administrative and military
but he was a very close friend of Akbar too, because Akbar loved his wisdom, wit, and
subtle humor. He was a minister in the administration of Mogul Emperor Akbar and one
of the members of inner council of nine advisors. He was a poet and an author too.
It is believed that he was a
son of poor Braahman of Trivikrampur (now known as Tikavanpur) on the banks of River
Yamuna. According to a popular legend he died on an expedition to Afghanistan at
the head of a large military force due to treachery. It is also said that when Birbal
died, Akbar mourned him for several months.
The exchanges between Akbar and
Birbal have been recorded in many volumes. Many of these have become folk stories in Indian
tradition. Birbal's collection of poetry published under the pen name "Brahm" are
preserved in Bharatpur Museum, Rajsthan, India.
Many courtiers were
jealous with Birbal and often plotted for his downfall. There are many stories
found on this issue too. There are a couple of other stories too which are of the
same time and type and are as interesting as Birbal's ones.
Books on Akbar and Birbal
There are many books published
about them, some of them are listed here.
(1) Sawhney, Clifford. 50 Wittiest Tales of Birbal. Delhi: Pustak Mahal. [ISBN: 81-7806-050-7].
(2) Birbal the Inimitable.
(3) Birbal the Wise. Amar Chitra Katha (Children Books).
(4) Moseley, James. The Ninth Jewel of the Mughal Crown. Pasadena, CA,
Summerwind Marketing. 2001. (Children Books) [ISBN: 0970444710]
(5) Pai, Anant. Birbal the Clever. Paperback Comic Book. India Book House. 2003. (ISBN: 81-7508-032-9]
(6) Sarin, Amita. Akbar and Birbal. Delhi:
Penguin. 2005. [ISBN: 0-14-333494-8]
(7) Matba Jauhar-e-hind. Lata'if-e-Akbar -
Hissah Pahli: Birbal Namah. Delhi: Mahanarayan. 1888. (In Urdu language).
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