Are Akbar-Birbal stories true: If we are asked to name some of the historical rulers along with their most intelligent ministers in the court, we will probably end up topping the list with the Akbar-Birbal duo. But what if I told you that Birbal’s existence is just an illusion that was created to overshadow the real Indian glory of intellectual ministers? Yes, that is indeed the reality.
The glory of Raja Krishna Deva Raya and Tenali Raman
If we look into the real history of our Indian Kings, we will find that the most famous Indian ruler with a witty minister was Raja Krishnadeva Raya. His minister, Tenali Raman, was the most influential personality in the court because of his intelligence. Krishnadeva Raya ruled the largest kingdom after the decline of the Delhi Sultanate from 1509 to 1529.
Looking back on his reign, we find that the plunder of Vijaynagar towns by Deccan sultans came to an end during his regime. In the first year of his regime, he annexed Raichur Doab by defeating Sultan Mahmud and Yusuf Adil Shah. He expanded and consolidated the Vijaynagar Kingdom throughout his life.
His competency was even acknowledged by Mughal Emperor Babur. Babur rated Krishnadeva Raya as the most powerful emperor with an extensive empire.
Besides his military capability, he was an excellent administrator and an educated ruler. He was himself fluent in Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, and Telugu. He was a poet who patronised Telugu, Kannada, and Sanskrit laureates.
Tenali Raman has always been known for his intelligence and wit. He was a friend and advisor to Raja Krishnadeva Raya. As per the historical records, Tenali Raman played a key role in protecting the empire many times. He rescued the emperor from the court conspiracies too. During Raja Krishnadeva Raya’s reign, the duo became well-known throughout most of Deccan India.
Coercive play with the history
Akbar, on the other hand, reigned from 1556 to 1605 and extended the Mughal rule in the subcontinent. He was uneducated and was dependent mainly on his ministers. Akbarnama and Ain-e-Akbari are the most authentic historical writings of Akbar’s era.
Interestingly, these official texts make no mention of Birbal at all. It is hard to believe that someone who is proclaimed to be the closest advisor to the king does not get a mention in contemporary official text unless the existence of such a “character” is a lie.
The first work of literature that talks about Birbal is Ma’athir Al-Umara, the 18th-century biographical narrative of Mughal emperors. Ma’athir al-Umara, written by Samsam ud-Daula Shah Nawaz Khan and his son, came into existence 200 years after Akbar ruled the empire.
During the 17th century, when Aurangzeb annexed some regions in the Deccan, the Mughals became more familiar with the tales of Krishnadeva Raya and Tenali Raman. In order to glorify the Mughals and present the kingdom in a glorious light and lovely intellectual moment surrounding them, the Darbari poets created the Akbar-Birbal stories along the lines of Krishnadev Raya and Tenali Raman.
Looking at the parallels, Akbar was portrayed as a great king who was open to other religions, much like Raja Krishnadeva Raya. He is also depicted as a patron of art and literature. And as a matter of fact, he also has a witty minister who is the closest advisor and is named Birbal in the same way as there was Tenali Raman. The interesting thing is that they are both Brahman.
Tenali Raman is real, and Birbal is fictional
Like Tenali Raman, Birbal is also portrayed as the well-wisher of the king, who not only helps the king in the court but also protects the king with his intelligence. There is one more similarity: like Tenali Raman, Birbal was shown as the target of all the court conspiracies. Every other minister was jealous of him because he was closest to the king.
The actual point is that the Darwari poets of the Mughal era were tasked with writing and glorifying the history of Mughal empire while keeping the atrocities hidden from the people. Since there was barely anything to hail about them and their kingdom, they just started copying and pasting the goodness and generosity of other kingdoms around the nation.
Are Akbar-Birbal stories true?
Are Akbar-Birbal stories true? Well It is said that history repeats itself, and that may be true. But one thing is clear: it does not replicate itself. No mention of Birbal in Akbar’s contemporary history and Birbal being the exact replica of Tenali Raman completely justifies the fact that Birbal is a fictional character with almost no real existence.
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