Birbal and his Rice Pudding

Once upon a time, King Akbar and Birbal were walking besides a lake. Birbal joked to the king that a person would do anything for money. Akbar then checked the water in the lake and found it to be very cold. Akbar then said “I don’t someone would spend an entire night in this cold water of the lake for any amount of money.” Birbal then replied, “I am sure there are many such people.” Akbar then asked Birbal to find someone who could spend an entire night in the cold water and that he would reward the person with thousand gold coins.

Birbal sent out a notice asking anyone who would be willing to accept the challenge throughout the country. Sure enough, a poor man came forward. He then entered the lake at night and King posted guards near him to make sure that he stayed in the lake all night. The next morning the guards took the poor man to Akbar. King Akbar then asked the poor man if he had indeed spent the night in the lake. The poor man then said that he had. Akbar then asked how he managed to spend the night in the lake. The poor man replied that there was a light burning in a distance and he kept his eyes on the light. Watching the light kept the cold away from him. Akbar then said that the poor man had cheated as the light had kept him warm. The poor man looked to Birbal for help.

The next day, Birbal was nowhere to be seen. The king wondered where he was, and sent a messenger to his home to check if he was alright. The messenger came back
saying that Birbal would come once his pudding was cooked. The king waited for hours but Birbal did not come. Finally the king decided to go to Birbal’s house and see what was taking so long. He found Birbal sitting on the floor where he had made a fire, and had a bowl filled with rice hanging five feet above the fire. The king and all the people laughed at that sight. Akbar then said to Birbal, “How can the pudding be ready if it is so far away from the fire?” Birbal answered, “The same way the poor man received heat from a light so far away while standing in the cold water”

The King understood his mistake and gave the poor man his reward. Birbal was praised as being very clever, and helping the poor man get his justified reward.

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