THE TOTAL NUMBER OF CROWS IN AGRA
Emperor Akbar had great liking for Birbal. Akbar would often be found in the company of Birbal. Akbar used to discuss many important matters with Birbal. There were many other learned persons in the court of Akbar. There were senior courtiers, each of whom was given the responsibility of one separate department. A courtier looked after the treasury, the other one was responsible for maintaining the law and order in the state, and another one was responsible for the defense and so on. But Birbal was sort of an all- rounder. Whether it was a serious matter or not so serious, Akbar would discuss many matters with Birbal. So some of the courtiers were envious of Birbal.
It came to the notice of Akbar that his courtiers had begun to grumble over the matter. It reached the Emperor's ear that some courtiers in their privacy had blamed him for becoming partial. They thought that they were no less clever and capable than Birbal. They became restless and so, one day, a group of courtiers took courage to speak their mind in the court. They said that they felt it bad that they were not given any chance to prove their worth.
When Akbar heard their grievances he said, " Very well, if that's the wish of my courtiers, I will give them a chance. They must prove that they too are very clever and wise as Birbal".
When the enthusiastic courtiers stood saluting before him to take part in a test to prove their cleverness, Akbar smiled. " I just want to know how many crows are there in this city of Agra," said the Emperor to his courtiers.
The courtiers went out and became busy counting the crows. They counted the crows on rooftops, in the trees, near the river banks, in the streets, near the dustbins and in many other places. But they were not sure of the figures they got counting up. They were afraid, that their figures were not free from flaws. The flying crows moved from one side to another, from one tree to other and from there, nobody could keep an eye on-where. The courtiers shouted and argued with each other and found it rather difficult to get the correct total.
They approached the Emperor with a plea for granting them some more time. They decided to go for a re-counting of the crows. Akbar smiled. Then Birbal entered into the court. After saluting the-Emperor he took his seat and turned his gaze over the heads of the courtiers. He was quick to understand that some interesting discussion had been going on in the court, for the court became suddenly silent on his arrival and the Emperor was smiling.
" I just want to ask you, Birbal, " said Akbar, " how many crows are living in this city of Agra?"
" Seven thousand two hundred and five, Your Majesty !" said Birbal. He answered the question of Akbar so very quickly that all the persons present there were dumbfounded* for a moment.
The courtiers looked at each other in confusion ! They scratched their heads, looked again into their totals and then one of them coughed to clear his throat and said feebly, " I don't think Birbal is correct. There is much difference between his figure and ours."
" All right, give or take some here and there," Birbal said smilingly. " If it is less than the total figure I have just told you, then I think some of the crows had gone to visit their relatives in other places Rnt if it ic mwp th^
the total figure that I have now said, then I am sure that some crows from outside must have come into this city of Agra to meet their relatives and friends!"
Akbar burst into a peal of laughter," Now look," he said to his courtiers, " how very quickly Birbal has told us about the number of crows now living in Agra. I think, it is now clear to you all that Birbal is a clever person and that is why I like him."
The courtiers then understood that the Emperor just asked for an witty answer. They failed, and again it was Birbal who succeeded in giving the Emperor a satisfying answer. It was then too late for them to understand that the Emperor was not serious about knowing the exact number of crows living in Agra.