Tales : Birbal finds the greatest fools

Sometimes the great Emperor Akbar used to charge his minister Brbal with strange tasks. One day he summoned Birbal before him and said, “Find me the five greatest fools in my kingdom.”

“Your majesty desires to study foolishness?” Birbal. inquired.

“I do,” said Akbar. “I rely on you to fulfil my command.”

Accordingly, Birbal began to wander through the countryside. As he went, he found a woodcutter who was struggling to hoist a great load of wood on his back, but it was too heavy to lift. Instead of removing some of the wood from the load, the woodcutter began adding more wood. When Akbar questioned him about this, the woodcutter explained that the additional pieces were lighter than the other wood, and therefore he expected to be able to lift it all and carry it.

“Leave your wood and come with me, ” Birbal commanded.

Next Birbal found a man who was trying to bring water from a well in a sieve, and he commanded this one also to accompany him.

On the bank of a river Birbal found a fisherman who was holding the hook, and had cast his rod into the water. “I wait for the fish to catch me,” the man said, and Birbal again said, “Come with me.”

At the end of the day, Birbal presented the three men he had found to the Emperor, and explained the foolishness of each one.

“Well done,” said Akbar, “but I commend you to find five fools. Where are the other two?”

“Majesty,” Birbal replied, “what is more foolish than to study foolery? Therefore the other two are here…” And he pointed to himself and to Akbar.

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