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Birbal Makes a Journey to Heaven
by Minal Saran & G.F. Wear

A Birbal Story

As time passed, Birbal became more and more liked by the king, but many of the courtiers did not like him. They thought his position was too high, and that he was becoming too famous, especially as he was now nearly always with the king. At first they only laughed at him, but after a while they tried to cause his death.

After discussing the matter with his friends, one of the courtiers thought of a plan to catch Birbal and put an end to him forever. The plan needed the help of the king’s barber.
As everyone knows, a barber’s tongue is no quieter than his scissors. Indeed, the two seem to work together. Every morning when he shaved the king, he told Akbar stories about the court and the town. The barber himself used to say that he put ideas into the king’s head.

One day the courtier who had thought of the plan to catch Birbal went to the barber and told him all about it. At first the barber refused to take part, but he was offered a large sum of money. Next day, he spoke to the king as he was shaving him.

“Sire, I used to attend your father also. What beautiful hair he had! It was like silk.”
“Really?” said Akbar, without much interest.
“And my father acted as barber to his father, your grandfather. His hair was smooth as silk also.”
“Perhaps,” was the reply.
“May I have permission to ask a question, Sire?”
“Of course, what is it?”
“You, Sire, are enjoying great wealth and power on earth, but what do you think your father and ancestors are doing in Heaven?”
“How can anyone here on earth know what is happening in heaven?”
“Ah, Sire, even that can be known. Some people can find out what others cannot.”
Akbar asked the barber to explain, and the latter went on: “Sire, I know a clever person who can send messages to Heaven. If you desire he will send a messenger up there. This messenger can bring news of your ancestors.”
“Is that so? I should like to hear news from Heaven,” said Akbar. “Please arrange it.”

A few days later, the barber told the king that the clever man was ready to use his secret and send a messenger to Heaven, but he could not decide whom to send. Akbar thought for a while, and then said the messenger should be a courtier whom he trusted.

“I think, Sire, that Birbal is the man to send. Where else will you find a person so wise and whom you can trust?”
“You are right,” said the king. “Birbal shall go.”

The barber then explained how simple the whole matter was. Birbal had to go at the head of a huge procession to the burning ground, and sit on a special chair for burning. The Brahmins would sing some holy songs, and then the chair would be burnt as if Birbal had died. By the time the fire was out, Birbal would have reached Heaven. Then he would do his work and come back by himself.

Akbar thought this was simple, and sent for Birbal. He told him what the barber had said.

“But, Sire, this is not possible,” was Birbal’s immediate answer.
“It has been done,” said Akbar. “My barber knows a clever man who can send a messenger. I have told you about it.”
“Have you heard of anyone returning from Heaven?” asked Birbal. “This man is a mere barber; how should he know?”
“The truth, Sire,” said the barber, “is that your courtier is afraid, perhaps.” He laughed.
“Why don’t you go yourself?” asked Birbal, turning to the barber, but, before the latter could answer, the king said: “It would not be right to send a barber as messenger. My ancestors are proud; they would not like it. No, Birbal, I think you should go.”

Birbal knew that this was a plan to send him away for ever, for once he was burned alive, he would never come back to earth again, whether he reached Heaven or not. But he agreed to go, first asking for two things. One was that a sum of money should be given to his family in case he should be away for long, the other was for a delay of two months in which to prepare for the long journey. The king agreed. It was decided that Birbal should set out two months later.

During these two months Birbal got some workmen to make an underground passage from his house to the place in the burning ground where his chair was already put up. At each end of the passage was built a small door. All this was done secretly. No one except the workmen and Birbal’s family knew anything about the underground passage.

The appointed day came and Birbal was led to the burning ground at the head of a huge procession. The day was made a public holiday, so everyone in the town was there. Even Akbar and all his court were there to see the burning. Birbal sat in the chair, wood was put all around him, Brahmins sang holy songs, then the wood was set on fire. But Birbal, as soon as he was covered with wood, slipped away into the secret passage and went to his home. There he put on some old clothes, and, pretending to be a poor workman, hurried out to join the crowd at the burning ground. By listening to the talk going on around him, he discovered the name of the courtier who had made the plan to kill him by burning.

When the fire had burnt down, the people thought that Birbal had gone to Heaven; the courtiers who hated him thought he would never be seen again, and they were glad. But Birbal was at home, where he waited for three weeks to let the hair grow on his head and face. Then he put on new clothes, and went back to court, wearing a beard.

At first king Akbar did not know him. Then he said: “Ah! So you have come back, Birbal? How are my ancestors? Do they remember me?”
“Yes, Sire. They are all in good health, and very proud that you have become famous. They have food, clothing, everything except –“ and Birbal stopped.
“Except what?”
“Oh, nothing, Sire. It is not important.”
“But what is it? Tell me, and I can say if it is important or not. I must know what they are in need of,” said Akbar.
“Ah, Sire, there is no barber in Heaven, that is all.”
“Isn’t there a barber who had died, and gone to Heaven?”
“No, Sire, answered Birbal. “Not one has been good enough to go to Heaven. It makes things difficult for your ancestors, some of whom have very long beards. Indeed, once or twice they have stepped on their own beards, and fallen flat. One or two even tried to shave themselves, but as they had not done so on earth they did not succeed in Heaven: they only cut themselves.”
“We must send them a barber immediately,” said Akbar.

This was the moment which Birbal had been waiting for. He advised the king to send his own barber. “It is only right,” he said, “ and as the way is not easy, we ought to send a clever courtier with him,” and he added the name of the man who had thought of the plan against him. “He is a good man to go with the barber.”

The king agreed and sent for the courtier. He told them that at the end of the month he and the barber would both be sent to Heaven to see Akbar’s ancestors. They had tried to catch Birbal, but in the end he caught them.

A Birbal Story by Minal Saran and G.F. Wear

Birbal Brings a Princess from Heaven 
Birbal Cooks Khichadi  
Birbal Enters Akbar's Court 
Birbal Makes a Journey to Heaven  
Bull's Milk
Gulbo The Tailor 
Pandit Ji 
The Ghee Merchants and the Gold Mohur 
The Old Woman's Money-Bag  
The Ten Foolish Men 
The Three Cases 

16-Apr-2007
 
Views: 8034
Dear Minal Saran and G.F. Wear,

Its a very good story. My child likes this story very much. She reads it everyday. Birbal and Akbar stories are the best. Thank You for writing it. You have also used good language. Onece again thx!

Regards,
Rithika Gosh

P.S. My child wants to write to you
Krithkan - Very nice story!
Ritika Gosh
Jun-22-2011
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