Friday, 11 October 2013

Guilty conscience breaks the stick

One fine sunny morning, when the Emperor Akbar and his trusted minister Birbal were enjoying a stroll outside the palace, a rich merchant requested a meeting with the wise minister Birbal. 

Emperor Akbar was curious to know who it was and asked the merchant to be ushered in. When the merchant arrived at the garden, the King asked him what the matter was. 

The merchant seemed quite upset and told the King and Birbal that there were frequent episodes of theft in his house and he suspected that one of his servants was involved in it. Nevertheless, he did not wish to conduct any check on the servants as most of them were loyal and honest. Therefore, he did not wish to insult them in any manner.

Birbal told the merchant that he would visit his house the following day and help him find the thief.
The merchant thanked the minister and left. After the merchant left, the Emperor was curious to know how Birbal proposed to solve the case. Birbal was not ready to let the cat out the bag. But he could not tell that to his King. Instead he asked the King if he was willing to help him. The King agreed and Birbal left abruptly.

The following day, Birbal requested Akbar to dress up as a holy man and come to the merchant’s house with a bundle of sticks. For once, the King obeyed his subject’s orders. 

Curiosity does strange things to people, we understand!

On reaching the merchant’s house, Birbal called all the servants employed by the merchant. He then told them that, to find out how things went missing from the house, he had met a holy man. The holy man promised Birbal that he had some magical sticks that would reveal the identity of the thief.

Just then Akbar entered the house. Birbal bowed in front of the ‘Swamiji’ and asked him to hand over the sticks to the servants one by one, after sprinkling the holy water on each of the stick. 
Birbal asked the Swamiji to hand over the sticks to the servants...

Well, Akbar proved to be a living example of the well-known fact, ‘he who knows how to obey knows how to command’!

The servants took the sticks one by one. Birbal then cleared his throat before he addressed the gathering. He told the servants that the sticks had the power to reveal the offender by increasing its height. 

“Generally the stick is known to grow by about two inches overnight. Only the stick in the hands of the wrong doer grows, while the rest will remain unchanged” said Birbal, studying the faces of the servants.
He then asked the merchant to keep watch over his servants till he returned the next morning.

On the way back, Akbar, who by now had realised Birbal’s strategy asked Birbal how he expected the offender to react. Birbal told Akbar that, the merchant watching over them will ensure that the thief did not have the opportunity to measure the stick any time soon. It will take a while before the merchant felt tired and dosed off, providing the first break for the thief to be able to do something. 

The next morning, Birbal arrived at the merchant’s house. Things had not changed much and the merchant admitted to having dozed off for a couple of hours. Birbal went around collecting the stick. Soon it was the turn of the thief to hand over his stick. The hesitation in handing over the stick instantly made Birbal realise that the man was guilt ridden. He immediately measured the stick against the others’ sticks and sure enough, the stick was smaller in size.

Once all the sticks were collected, Birbal called the guilty man and told everyone, that the Swamiji’s magic had worked, but instead of making the stick grow, it has broken it and thereby shortened it.

Everyone had a hearty laugh and the merchant got the answer he wanted without offending the honourable servants.

The Swamiji's magic had worked!