Emperor Akbar was very fond of Birbal and favoured him. This made the other courtiers at Akbar’s court jealous of Birbal. They, and many other people in the kingdom, continuously plotted for Birbal’s downfall, but were never able to succeed in their plans.
The Emperor’s barber was also very jealous of Birbal. One day, he hatched a vicious plan against Birbal. He went to trim the Emperor’s beard and said, “Sir, last night I dreamt about your father.” The Emperor got interested, so he asked, “Really? What did he say to you?”
The shrewd barber replied, “Sir, he said that he was extremely happy in the paradise, but sometimes he feels a great absence of a quick witted man who can amuse him.” He further added, “Jahanpanah, you must do something about it. You must send someone with a good sense of humour for his recreation. I am sure your father will be very happy with you then and shower you with his choicest blessings.”
On seeing the Emperor caught in a dilemma as to whom to send, he suggested Birbal’s name. Akbar also whole heartedly agreed with the barber.
Next day, the Emperor summoned Birbal and said, “Birbal, I firmly believe that you are extremely loyal to me and can sacrifice anything for me. Am I right? “
Birbal instantly replied, “Yes Jahanpanah! That is absolutely right.”
“Then Birbal, please go to the heaven to give company to my dear father,” said the Emperor.
Birbal did not take time to understand that this was another diabolical plan of somebody to get him killed.
He politely said, “I will do so, but I need a few days to prepare myself to go to the heaven.”
The Emperor said, “Yes, sure! I grant you one week to prepare yourself to go to the heaven.”
Birbal went back to his home and started to think of a suitable plan to save his life and then, a nice idea struck him. He dug a ditch near his house which would serve as his grave, and thorough that ditch, dug a tunnel that opened in one of the rooms of his house.
Once everything was done, he reported back to the court and said, ” I am ready, His Majesty, but there two conditions.”
The Emperor said, “Yes Birbal, it would be my pleasure to fulfill your last wishes. Tell me, what are your conditions?
Birbal said, “His majesty, I wish to be buried near my house. And I want to be buried alive so that I can reach heaven alive to amuse your dear father.”
Akbar readily agreed upon Birbal’s conditions. All the jealous courtiers and the barber were elated to know that soon they will get rid of Birbal.
So, a date was chosen and Birbal was buried alive near his house. After the burial, Birbal made his way to his house and lived there in confinement for six months. Meanwhile, he also came to know that the Emperor’s barber had masterminded the plan of getting him killed. After six months, he came out of hiding with a grown beard and shabby hair and presented himself before the Emperor.
Akbar was overjoyed to see Birbal once again. He asked him excitedly, “Birbal, you are back! How is my father? Did he send you back or is there something else?”
Birbal said, “Your Majesty, all is well in the heaven. I was there with your dear father. He was so happy with my services that he gave me special permission to return to earth to entertain his favourite son.”
Akbar was very happy to hear this and wanted to know more about his father. He asked Birbal, “Did he send any message for me?”
Birbal said, “Yes Your Majesty, there is not even a single barber in the heaven. You can easily make this out by looking at my grown beard and shabby hair. So, he has asked to send your own barber to him immediately.”
Akbar understood everything. He handsomely rewarded Birbal and sentenced his barber to life imprisonment.
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