Who were Akbar and Birbal? Birbal is undoubtedly one of the best-loved figures in the folklore of India. For generations, Birbal stories have delighted children and grown-ups alike, from one end of India to the other.
AKBAR – THE GREAT
Before we learn about who was Akbar and Birbal, let’s learn about Akbar.
King Akbar was courteous and respectful towards all. At times he could be violent and overmastering. His magnetic personality won him love and affection of his people. Also won him respect and admiration of his enemies.
Akbar was superb at riding, polo, and swordsmanship. He was a crack shot at musket. He was often found fighting personally in the heat of battle. He was a brilliant general, a master of speed, surprise, and logistics.
Akbar worked hard and slept only three hours at night. Although he could neither read nor write. He had legions of scholars who would read to him.
His son, Prince Sultan Salim, later Emperor Jahangir, wrote that no one could have guessed that Akbar was illiterate. He was a man of interest who loved religion, philosophy, music, architecture, poetry, history, and painting. He forged an Empire that enjoyed long-lasting peace and high cultural refinement. But who was Akbar and Birbal- keep reading. Akbar and Birbal jodi/pairing are the most talked about.
The Empire of the Mughals was vast and fabulously wealthy. Akbar’s lower taxes and rising conquests created prosperity for his people. It also bought floods of treasure for the Crown. European visitors estimated that just one province of Akbar’s Empire, Bengal, was wealthier than France and England combined.
Akbar’s court had “Nava Ratna – The Nine Jewels of the Mughal Crown.” Nine of these exceptional men were gifted.
One of them, Tansen, was a singer so skilled that candles burst into flame at the mystical power of his song.
Another, Daswant, was a painter who became the first Master of that Age.
Todar Mal was a financial wizard.
Abul Fazl was a great historian,
Faizi – Abul Fazl brother, was a famed poet.
Abud us-Samad was a brilliant calligrapher and designer of Imperial coins.
Man Singh was a mighty general.
Mir Fathullah Shirazi was a financier, philosopher, physician, and astronomer.
But of all Akbar’s Nine Jewels, people’s favorite was his Minister – or Wazir – Birbal. Birbal was the clever, the generous, and the just. Now that we have learned about Akbar let’s focus on Birbal – who was Akbar and Birbal?
BIRBAL – THE BRAIN
Birbal was born to a poor Brahmin family of Tikawanpur. Tikawanpur is located on the banks of River Jamuna. Because of his sharp wits, he rose to a sound level of a minister (or “Wazir”) at Akbar’s court.
He was a great poet, and a collection of his verse is preserved until today in the Bharatpur Museum.
Birbal’s duties at court were administrative and military. But his close friendship with Emperor was sealed by Akbar’s love of wisdom and subtle humor.
In Birbal, the young King found a true sympathizer and a companion. Many courtiers were jealous of Birbal’s fortune and power, and according to popular accounts, they were endlessly plotting his downfall.
The character of Akbar and Birbal in these stories is rather fanciful and historical. Village storytellers probably invented many of these tales. Over the ages, these stories attributed to Akbar and Birbal because their characters seemed to fit.
Now when we have learned who was Akbar and Birbal-let’s see how they met and further, we will explore more witty tales about Akbar and Birbal.