Sunday, September 30, 2012


Well, I may, most religiously, try not to put another person down… belittle him by proving him wrong. But, I can’t stop him from doing it to me.

The need to prove another person wrong can be a chronic sickness. Mostly, it stems from our own insecurity… Yes, our low self-esteem.

When the other person says something, what is my mind doing? When the other person achieves something, when he is praised or awarded for his achievements, what is my heart doing?

Do I have to disagree with each and everything the other person says? Do I need to register my point every time the other person drops his hat? What do I get by scoring a point over the other man… by proving him wrong?

Once, a scholar wanted to prove before everyone, that Birbal, who was Emperor Akbar’s favorite minister, was a hoax. So, he threw a challenge before Birbal. 

“Birbal, you claim yourself to be a wise-man,” taunted the scholar, “can you tell me how many crows live in Agra?”

A grim silence fell over the packed courtroom. Even Emperor’s face suddenly wore a worried look. “How would Birbal know the answer?” … “In fact, how would any one?”

“You will have your answer by tomorrow morning, sir,” Birbal announced, absolutely unnerved by the challenge.

The court was adjourned for the day.

After everyone had left, the worried Akbar called his darling minister aside and said, “Birbal, how will you answer him, tomorrow?”

“Don’t you worry, Badshah," Birbal calmed his Emperor down, "he will have his answer, as I promised.”

The next morning, when the court assembled, everyone seemed anxious, but not Birbal.

“So, Birbal, do have the answer?” the scholar asked with concealed arrogance. He was just waiting to ‘expose’ Birbal before the court.

“Seventy-thousand-eight-hundred-and-ninety-nine!” declared the confident Birbal without even blinking!

The courtroom was shocked! Akbar raised his eyebrows!

“How can you be so sure?” the scholar was taken aback!

“I have personally counted,” was Birbal’s blunt answer, “You can check yourself.”

“What if the actual number is more than what you have just stated?” argued the scholar.

“Oh, that would simply mean that some crows from other cities have come to Agra to visit their relatives,” Birbal put forward his brilliant logic!

“And, what if the actual count is less?” the scholar tried to hook Birbal with that.

“Very clear, sir,” concluded our Birbal, “it would mean that some crows from our city have gone out of station to visit their dear ones!”

“Only fools and fanatics are so sure of themselves!”… Yes, it is, often, said. But, Birbal was a ‘wise fool’. The arrogant scholar was a real one; a fanatic, too!

Just this morning, while I was with a group of people, a middle-aged man narrated this Akbar-Birbal story. Almost all of us knew it by-heart. Barely the man had started, “We know that story; even our little children know it!” one of the group members snapped. Others laughed. The man with the story sulked…

“What do we get by putting some one down?”

 I wondered, 

“Why are we robbing someone 

of his simple joy?”

The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes to me: We need to possess a healthy self-esteem not to do such things!


Pics.: Supriya Chavan


H.N. said...

Yes sir, sounds so familiar a story! Great write-up. H.N.


Gerry, I like the way u connect... Just amazing! Keep it up.
.. Surya

Anonymous said...

I did not know, it is a matter of our self-esteem. thanks. Udwani

Jeena Menon said...

Very, very true. I do exactly the same. Thanks for the waking call. Jeena.