A story my brother wrote….a long time ago…
The Proud Akbar
The Emperor Akbar was feeling very proud of himself. In the last two hours he had already sent out an army to conquer a new city for his empire, punished two men for hunting in his private park, and refused
at least ten other requests. His son Salim had wanted permission to get a new companion admitted to the palace. But the emperor refused because he was a poor merchant’s son and told Salim to remember his
position. “You are my son, the son of Badshah-e-Jahan, Jalaluddin Akbar!
I don’t want you to keep common people near you!” After that he decided he didn’t want to do any more court
business that day even though he had only been sitting there for two hours and had started late that morning as well. “No more work today! Come back tomorrow!” Saying this he started to leave the throne-room. Of course when he got up from his throne, everyone bowed to him and as he walked out he was feeling more
than a little proud of the fact that he was a great emperor and so many people served him and were affected by him. Prime-minister Birbal, his best friend, did not like this.
“The emperor has been getting more and more proud of himself lately,” he thought. “This could become a problem. He will lose the love of the people if it continues. I must try to talk some sense into him.” Birbal rushed out after the emperor saying “Huzoor! Sire! Let me accompany you!” The emperor turned and saw him running up. “Why certainly Birbal! I was just thinking that I had not heard one of your excellent stories for a long time. Let us walk in the garden together and you can amuse me.” “Make sure we are not disturbed for any reason at all,” he commanded his guards in a stern voice. They walked into the garden together and the emperor went towards his favorite orange tree that grew next to a beautiful fountain in the shape of a swan. He usually sat here in the summer because the shade of the tree and the splashing water made everything cool and pleasant. The sound of the water and the scent of the orange blossoms also helped calm him down and recently he had ordered that no
one was to sit in this spot without him. “So Birbal, what new tale do you have for me today? Tell me something about being proud, strong and great. I am a great emperor and those are the qualities that I should have. I want to hear about how the world treats these qualities,” he ordered. Birbal smiled to himself and thought mischievously, I have the perfect story for you! But he replied politely, “I have a new story for you sire, one that I just heard myself. It is exactly the kind that you wanted to hear.” “Let’s begin then,” exclaimed the emperor as he settled himself comfortably on the edge of the fountain in a cushioned seat. “Well sire it is about a conversation that a wise, old story-teller who travelled from village to village with news and stories once overheard between a large Peepul tree and a blade of grass. The wise man was passing the field where they grew and it seemed they were having an argument so he stopped to listen. The tree was in fact making fun of the grass blade because he was so small and weak. ‘Hello down there! You! Straw! Hey you, next to the pebble, I am talking to you’, shouted the tree at the grass blade. ‘You are such a weed! Look at me I am strong and I have been here so long. No-one dares to cut me down because of the shade I give and I do not have to give any part of myself to anyone else. Everyone walks on you and rips you up. You are food for animals and a roof for huts and made into baskets. When the wind blows you must bend, when the rain falls you must drown’.” “Well that is certainly true,” said the Emperor. “What did the grass reply?” “The grass replied in a very friendly manner sire. It said
‘You are right elder brother tree. You are strong and powerful and important. I am not of the same level as you. But I enjoy being here. I have my friends and family to talk to. And storms can blow me down or cover me with water but then the sun comes out and I can get dry immediately. It is a simple life that I have, but it is a good
one and useful to others’.” The Emperor laughed out loud. “The grass is foolish! How can a common thing of the ground be happier than the lord of the field? It is like saying that the people of my kingdom are happier or stronger than me, their ruler! Hah! Impossible!” “Of course sire,” agreed the wise Birbal politely, “but don’t
you want to hear the end of the story before you make your judgment?” “Well finish it then my friend!” The Emperor was an intelligent man and he saw that Birbal was trying to make a point here, so he wanted to get to the
end to prove his own argument right. He was after all, the Emperor. “A few days later the old story teller was passing the same field again. There had been a very bad storm in the area that lasted three whole days. Thunder had shook the roofs of the village and lightning had lit the sky for miles around and there had been very strong winds. He had only just left the village he had been in because it was too dangerous to travel and the people wanted to keep him there to entertain them during the storm.” “Stop delaying the story,” the Emperor interrupted, “you know I want to hear about the tree and the grass-blade!” “Unfortunately the tree had fallen Sire. Its branches were too big and they held too much water and caught too much wind for the roots of the tree to keep it in the ground. It had overturned in the field. But it was still alive because the man heard the grass talking
to it. ‘O brother tree! Brother are you still alive? I wish you had bent a little during the storm, then the wind would not have pushed you so hard and some of the water would have fallen off you and you would still be alright’!
The tree replied weakly. ‘You are right little brother. I was foolish to think that I could stand straight and alone against the weight of the storm alone. Look at you. You bent down with your family and you held each other and so you are safe. But I was too proud and too alone and now I have fallen’. “So, the tree fell because it was proud and alone and it did not want any help or advice from others eh Birbal?” asked the Emperor with a sudden smile.
“You know best sire” smiled back the wise Birbal. “Yes, well I am the Emperor and it is to be hoped that I have
more wisdom than a tree is that not so? I think you have been trying to tell me something in your usual secret way Birbal.” And then he laughed and clapped Birbal on the back, “but that is why you are my friend, so you can help me when I take the wrong path right?” “The Emperor knows best sire,” Birbal replied again. He knew that things would return to normal now — the Emperor had heard his story and taken his advice. To be too proud and removed from the people was dangerous for a ruler.
Here ends the story, but it is a good reminder for all of us. When we are highly educated and everyone wants our help, it is good to recall that we all need help. The best way to stay humble no matter how rich, famous, educated or talented you are is to be grateful to God. To apologize when you make a mistake and make sure you set things right.