September 30, 2014 1 Comment
One more of Akbar-Birbal stories never told before!
Emperor Akbar held an open court on certain days of the month when any of his subjects with a grievance could walk in and seek help or justice from the court. On some occasions, the emperor himself would hear the matter and deliver judgment. On other days it was left to a senior minister to stand in for him.
On this day when the brothers Ram and Kishan took their matter to the court, Akbar himself was in the seat. The two brothers inherited a large tract of fertile cultivable land from their deceased father. Unfortunately there was no will, the father’s death being unexpected and sudden. Goaded by their wives the siblings decided to part ways and were at loggerheads over equitable division of the property.
It was a pretty straightforward matter to resolve. Akbar had one of his officials do some measurements and calculations on the map produced by the brothers. Very quickly an area was marked for Ram and another for Kishan.
Kishan felt let down:
‘My Lord, my brother gets 600 fully grown mango trees while there are only 400 for me. If you permit me, doesn’t seem fair to me at all.’
Akbar went into consultation with his official and found it to be true. More measurements and more calculations and the boundary was redrawn.
It was Ram’s turn now to voice his disappointment:
‘My Lord, to Kishan you’ve given away eight water-holes to draw water and there are only three for me. How does one grow crops without water?’
For the first time Akbar’s visage broke into what could be described as a frown. Back to the drawing board. This time they were more careful to propose a solution that took into consideration several considered important by the brothers.
Kishan took one look and cried in dismay:
‘My lord, my brother’s property is directly accessible from the main trunk road while mine is pushed out to the far end on a kaccha road. Is this fair?’
An exasperated Akbar concluded there was just no way of arriving at a mutually acceptable division between the two brothers. This was worse than a cat’s ball of wool. No, he knew exactly what he would do. Now he would propose a solution that is as fair as possible and the brothers would have no choice but to lump it. That was that. No one can fault him for not trying hard enough.
Just then he saw Birbal enter his court. A thought struck in his mind: ‘Why not ask Birbal to solve this one? He always tries to be clever. Let me see how he gets out of this one.’
So Birbal was summoned and briefed about the dispute. The details of Akbar’s unsuccessful attempts in solving the dispute were tactfully held back.
Birbal smiled for he had come in a little earlier and was fully in the know of what had happened.
‘My Lord, you did right by turning this irksome matter over to me. May I request you, Sir, to retire without any misgivings on the outcome. I assure you they will be quite satisfied with what I suggest.’
Beset with curiosity, Akbar let it be known he wasn’t budging and asked Birbal to proceed forthwith.
Birbal bowed in assent and walked up to the brothers:
‘We’re going to toss a coin. Ram you’re going to call. If you call right you get to carve up the land for your brother and yourself. If you fail, Kishan divides up the land.’
No longer had Birbal finished, both the brothers were immediately up in arms. They cried:
‘Are you seriously suggesting we divide up on our luck with the toss of a coin? We came here for a fair judgment that would be satisfactory to both of us.’
Calming them down, Birbal added:
‘Well, I had not finished. While the winner draws the boundary, the loser gets to choose first.’
Silence reigned for a while as the ingenuity of Birbal’s clever scheme slowly sank in.
And when it finally did, Ram and Kishan had to agree this was best for them.
Akbar shook his head in disbelief turning into admiration at the simplicity of Birbal’s solution to what seemed to him only moments ago as an intractable problem.
Credits: folknet.in and shortstories.co.in for images and inspired by raykiwsp.wordpress.com