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The Innocent Punishment

The Innocent Punishment
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The Innocent Punishment

A Hindi Story by Maitreyee Patki


This is a story about Akbar, the Emperor of India, and his loyal and witty advisor Birbal.

It was a fine morning in the palace. The royal courtroom was buzzing with conversation as Akbar’s advisors awaited the arrival of their Emperor. Soon enough Akbar arrived, but he was not in his usual pleasant mood. He seemed bothered and frustrated. The advisors quietened on seeing the Emperor’s stern face.

‘What is the problem, Your Majesty? Is something bothering you?’ asked one of the advisors.

‘Today someone dared to pull on my moustache!’ exclaimed Emperor Akbar. ‘What punishment do you think this person should be given?’

One by one the advisors suggested the fiercest of punishments for the rogue who dared to pull on the Emperor’s moustache.

‘He should be hung in the public square!’ cried one.

‘His head should be cut off!’ exclaimed another.

‘He should be flogged one hundred times!’ insisted a third.

The Emperor listened to them all, but he noticed that his most trusted advisor remained silent throughout.

‘Birbal, do you not have anything to say on this matter?’ he asked.

Birbal calmly replied: ‘Forgive me, Your Majesty. I do not agree with any of the punishments suggested.’

Emperor Akbar was very surprised indeed and asked of his trusted advisor, ‘What punishment do you suggest for such a crime?’

‘I think,’ said Birbal, ‘that the person who dared to pull on your moustache should be given a box of sweets.’

Upon hearing this advice, the royal court was abuzz with conversation once more. The other advisors were shocked to hear Birbal’s suggestion. They all wondered how such a trusted advisor could suggest that the Emperor give this rogue a box of sweets as punishment for his crime. ‘Surely,’ they protested, ‘this is not the correct punishment!’

The confused Emperor asked: ‘Birbal, why would you suggest such a thing?’

‘Your Majesty, the only one who would dare to pull on your moustache is none other than your son the Prince. He often sits upon your lap, and today he must have pulled your moustache playfully. Such an innocent culprit should only be given an innocent punishment. I suggest you give the young Prince a box of sweets.’

Proving a pointBirbal’s witty retort made the Emperor smile. ‘You are right, old friend,’ said Emperor Akbar. ‘It was my son who pulled on my moustache. And he shall indeed receive a box of sweets as his punishment!’

Birbal smiled softly as the other advisors looked away in shame for suggesting such harsh punishments without first considering the facts of the situation.

To this day, stories of Birbal’s wit and wisdom continue to be told and retold to generation after generation.

The Innocent Punishment
Find out more
about the contributors

The Innocent Punishment

A Hindi Story by Maitreyee Patki


एक मासूम सज़ा

यह कहानी है हिंदुस्तान के शहंशाह अकबर की और उसके वफादार और चतुर सलाहकार - बीरबल की.

दिन सुहाना था. अकबर के महल के दरबार में उनके सलाहकार उनके इंतज़ार में खड़े बातें कर रहे थे. बहुत जल्द अकबर आये, लेकिन वह आज हमेशा जैसे अच्छे मिजाज़ में नहीं थे. वे परेशान थे. अकबर का गंभीर चहरा देखकर उनके सलाहकार शांत हो गए.

"बात क्या है, जहापना? क्या आप को कोई तकलीफ है?", एक सलाहकार ने पुचा.

"आज किसीने मेरी मूंछें नोचने की जुर्रत की!" अकबर चिल्लाये. "आपको क्या लगता है, क्या सज़ा दी जाए उस बदमाश को?", अकबर ने अपने सलाहकारों को पूंछा.

एक एक कर, उन सब ने शेहेंशाह की मूछें खींचने वाले बदमाश के लिए भारी से भारी सज़ा सुझाई.

"उसे चौराहे पर फांसी पे चढ़ा दिया जाए!" एक ने कहा.

"उसका सर काट दिया जाए!" दूसरा चिल्लाया.

"उसे सौ बार चाबुक से मारा जाये!" तीसरे ने जिद्द की.

शेहेंशाह ने सबकी बातें सुनी पर उन्होंने देखा की उनके सबसे भरोसेमंद सलाहकार ने अब तक कुछ नहीं कहा था.

"बीरबल, तुम्हे कुछ नहीं कहना इस बात पर?", उन्होंने पूंछा.

बीरबल ने शांत चित्ती से कहा, "माफ़ कीजिये जहापना. मैं सुझाई हुई किसी भी सज़ा से सहमत नहीं हूँ",

अकबर बिलकुल चौक गए और उन्होंने अपने वफादार सलाहकार को पूछा, "तुम इस जुर्म के लिए क्या सज़ा सुझाते हो?"

"मुझे लगता है," बीरबल ने कहा, " की जिसने आपकी मूंछे खींचने की जुर्रत की, उसे मिठाई का डिब्बा दिया जाए."

यह सुन कर, दरबार में फिर से बातें होनी लगी. दुसरे सलाहकार बीरबल का सुझाव सुन कर चौक गए. वे सब सोचने लगे की ऐसा वफादार सलाहकार शेहेंशाह को बदमाश को मिठाई का डिब्बा देने का सुझाव कैसे दे सकता है.

"जरूर," उन्होंने विरोध किया, "यह सही सज़ा नहीं है!"

गडबडाकर शेहेंशाह ने पूंछा: "बीरबल, तुम ऐसी सज़ा क्यों सुझा रहे हो?"

"जहापना, सिर्फ आपका बेटा - राजकुमार ही आपकी मूंछे नोचने की जुर्रत कर सकता है. वह आपकी गोद में खेलता है, और आज उसने खेलते हुए आपकी मूंछे खींच लीं होंगी. ऐसे मासूम गुनेहगार को सिर्फ एक मासूम सज़ा दी जानी चाहिए. मेरा सुझाव है की आप नादान राजकुमार को एक मिठाई का डिब्बा दें."

बीरबल के चतुर प्रत्युत्तर ने शेहेंशाह के चेहरे पर मुस्कराहट लायी.

Proving a point "तुम सही हो, मेरे यार," शेहेंशाह अकबर बोले. "वह मेरा बेटा ही था. और उसे जरूर सज़ा की तौर पर एक मिठाई का डिब्बा ही मिलेगा!", अकबर ने कहा.

बीरबल मुस्कुराये जब की स्तिथि न समझकर भारी सज़ा सुझाने की शर्म से बाकि सलाहकार आँखें न मिला पाएं.

और आज तक, बीरबल की चतुराई और होशियारी के किस्से पीढ़ी दर पीढ़ी को दोहराए जाते है.

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