Birbal’s Journey to Paradise

The Court barber nursed his hatred for Birbal and plotted against him daily. One day he struck upon a plan and so, when Emperor Akbar next called him to trim his beard, he said: “You know, Your Majesty, last night I dreamed about your father.”

The Great Mughal at once showed interest. “Tell me what he said to you.”

“He is very happy in Paradise, but he says that all the inhabitants of I leaven are terrible bores. He would like you to send him someone who can talk to him and keep him amused.”

Of course, no one possessed wit like Birbal’s and although Akbar prized him very much, to appease his poor father in Paradise, he would consent to give him up. Naturally, the only way of reaching Heaven is through death.

When Birbal responded to the Emperor’s summons, Akbar said: “I think you love me enough, Birbal, to make any sacrifice for my sake.”

“You know I do, Your Majesty.”

“Then I would like you to go to Heaven and keep my dear father company.”

“Very well,” Birbal said, “but please give me a few days to prepare.”

“Certainly,” said the Mughal, delighted. “You are doing me a great favors. I will give you a week.”

Birbal went home and dug a deep pit, which would serve as his own grave. But he also excavated a secret tunnel that opened under the floor of his house. Then he returned to the Imperial Court.

“Your Highness,” he said, “in accordance with an old family tradition, I would like to be buried near my house – and, if you don’t mind, I would like to die by being buried alive. It is easier to get into Heaven that way, you know.”

So, to the great happiness of the Court barber, Birbal was buried alive. Of course, he made his way at once through the tunnel into his own house, where he stayed in concealment for over six months.

At the end of that time, with his hair and beard grown long and shaggy, he came out of hiding and obtained an audience with the Great Mughal.

“Birbal!” cried the Emperor “Where have you come from?”

“From Paradise, Your Majesty. I spent such a lovely time with your father that he gave me special permission to return to earth.”

“Did he give you any message for his son?”

“Just one, Your Highness. Do you see my whiskers and long hair? Well, it seems very few barbers make it to Heaven. Your father asks you to send him yours at once.”

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