Who pulled Akbar’s beard?
We find advisors everywhere. We believe that because someone is educated and important, the advice they offer will be helpful. What we don’t realise is that there has to be a certain amount of thought, logic and understanding in the advice.
Everybody knew that Akbar was very fond of his grandson. One morning, when Akbar was getting ready for the court, his grandson came running to him. “Grandfather, there is something black in your moustache. Bend down and I will take it out,” said his grandson.
As Akbar bent down, his grandson pulled out a hair from his moustache.
“Ouch!” screamed Akbar. “Why did you do such naughty thing?”
“Ha! Ha! I fooled you!” said his grandson.
“Now go and play, I have to go to court,” he said.
On his way to the court, Akbar thought about what happened, and decided to give his ministers a problem to solve. When he reached the court, he addressed his ministers saying, “Someone pulled a hair from my moustache this morning. I want him to be punished. What punishment should I give him?”
The ministers were shocked — how dare anyone pull a hair from the emperor’s moustache?
“The man should be flogged a thousand times,” said one courtier.
“Imprison him for life,” another said.
“The culprit should be kissed,” said Birbal.
They all looked at Birbal. They thought he had gone crazy.
“Birbal, can you explain why you suggested such a strange punishment?” asked Akbar.
“Your Majesty, only a child can be so mischievous, and that child could be your grandson,” said Birbal.
Like the story of Birbal’s wit, there is a lesson in the story of the proverbial educated son. Once, a man worked very hard to transform a small eatery into a restaurant. Two of his three sons helped him build the restaurant while the youngest was encouraged to study. By the time he graduated with a degree, America was in the middle of the economic depression in the 1930s.
Despite the depression, the family restaurant was doing very well. The father and his elder sons followed a simple formula: give great food in good quantities.
The educated son noticed that they were maintaining very high standards of quantity and quality. He admonished them for their ignorance and said: “During the economic depression, businesses are failing every day. You are giving too much and unless we save, we too will go out of business.”
Based on his advice, his father complied. The customers felt a drop in quality and quantity and stopped coming to the reataurant. In three months, the restaurant closed down.
The day their business closed down, the father declared, “Son you were right. America is in the midst of the great depression.”
Awareness without cleverness will only spell doom for you.