One day Emperor Akbar said to Birbal, ‘‘Birbal, since you are so wise, your Guru must also be full of wisdom. I wish to meet him.’’
Birbal kept mum because he did not have any Guru.
He thought for a while and then said, ‘‘Maharaj, my Guru is not here; he has gone on a pilgrimage to Badrinath. I am not aware of his programme about his return.’’
‘‘I don’t want any excuses, Birbal. I want to see him and you must bring him to me within one month’s time,’’ insisted the Emperor.
Desperate Birbal began thinking of some way to solve the problem. The problem with Birbal was that he didn’t have a Guru, and at the same time it was incumbent on him to obey the royal command.
At last he thought of a plan. He called a shepherd, and giving him one hundred gold coins, he gave certain instructions.
When the shepherd agreed, Birbal fixed artificial beard and moustache on his face and dressed him in saffron clothes. Now the shepherd looked like a sage. Birbal took him to a temple and asked him to sit in a meditating posture, with a string of beads in his hand. He also instructed the shepherd not to speak to the Emperor; and if the Emperor tries to offer any gifts to him, he should humbly decline to accept it with a silent gesture. Birbal warned the shepherd saying, ‘‘If you speak even a single word, there are every chances of your getting exposed; and, once exposed, you will be hanged.’’
Then Birbal went to Emperor Akbar and informed him about his Guru’s arrival in the capital.
The Emperor became very happy and accompanied by Birbal, he visited the temple. He bowed before Birbal’s Guru with respect and said, ‘‘Please accept my salutes and also kindly allow me to speak a few words with you.’’
But Birbal’s Guru, remained silent and did not utter a single word. His silence made the emperor think that, perhaps the Guru wanted some gifts or some money. Thinking thus, he placed a big bag full of gold coins before him. But the Guru didn’t even cast an eye at it and gestured to him to take the bag away and leave the place.
The emperor came back to his palace fuming with anger. Birbal followed him. He said to Birbal, ‘‘Tell me Birbal, what should one do, when one meets a fool.’’
‘‘One should keep quiet,’’ was Birbal’s reply.
The Emperor was taken aback. He thought that Birbal’s Guru must have considered him a fool; and that’s the reason why he kept quiet. And of course, trying to flatter a Guru with gold and money was foolish on his part.