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Akbar's Four Questions

by Swami Sivananda

Akbar asked Birbal the following four questions: (1) Where does God live? (2) What is His duty? (3) What does He eat? (4) Why does He take human form although He can do everything by mere willing?

Birbal replied: (1) God is all‑pervading. He gives His Darshan to the holy devotees in their hearts. You can see Him in your heart. (2) He pulls down those who are in a high level and elevates those who are fallen. His duty is to cause constant change. (3) He eats the Ahamkar of the Jivas.

Birbal then asked Akbar to give him some time for thinking out and giving a suitable reply for his fourth question. In the meantime Birbal went to the nurse who was nursing the child of Akbar, and told her: "Look here, you will have to help me today in this matter. I will have to give a proper answer to Akbar on a certain philosophical question. When Akbar comes and sits by the side of the tank to play with the child, hide the child in a certain place and bring this toy‑child. Take the toy‑child near the tank. Pretend to tumble down and throw the child into the tank. Then you will see the fun. Do the whole thing dexterously. I know you can do it well. " He gave her ten rupees as present. She was highly delighted. She at once agreed to do so.

Akbar returned from his evening walk as usual and sat on a bench by the side of the tank. He then asked the nurse to bring the child. The nurse slowly went by the side of the tank, pretended to tumble down and threw the toy‑child into the tank. Akbar at once hastened to jump down into the tank to rescue the child. Birbal intervened and said: "Here is your child. Do not be hasty. " Akbar was very much annoyed at the impertinent behaviour of Birbal and ordered him to be punished. Birbal said: "I have now given a practical answer to your fourth question. Why are you angry towards me? Even though there are so many servants to rescue your child, out of affection for the child you yourself wanted to jump into the water. Even so, although God can accomplish everything by mere willing or Sankalpa, yet He comes out Himself out of love for His devotees to give them His Darshan. You see the point?" Akbar was very much pleased. He gave Birbal rich presents of shawl and a diamond ring.

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