Akbar-Birbal Stories: How to Find the Thief

1. Akbar was walking in the garden with Birbal. Suddenly Akbar rubbed his right wrist hard with his left palm. His right wrist was stolen, looking at which Birbal laughed. Akbar questioned, 'How could you think of laughing, when I convulse with pain.'
2. Birbal apologized and said, 'My apologies, Prabhu! Let me tell you why I laughed. Birbal plucked one fruit from the lime tree, cut it into two halves and rubbed Akbar’s swollen wrist with half a lime. It appeared to Akbar that the pain waned a little. Akbar observed, 'This is the first time I learned that lime juice when rubbed on the area of wasp sting, the pain is alleviated.
3. Birbal said, 'Today you realized that truth. To me, today, another truth came into my realization. That is why I laughed.' Akbar reacted by saying, 'What was it?''
Birbal: 'Prabhu, when we see you, we all extend to you our respect and devotion out of fear. But a trivial wasp came flying to you with courage and aplomb, stung you and flew away. Thinking of it, I laughed.'

4. Akbar agreed with Birbal and said, 'That is true. My power is applicable only to men. Wasp, ant, beetle, and such small living forms are not afraid of me. They fight only when they face immediate danger, that too for self-preservation. But man harms others, motivated by desire, jealousy, anger and such undesirable qualities. It is my duty to punish the guilty.”
5. As their conversation continued, they neared a small garden gate. A goldsmith was standing there and greeted Akbar with humility. Akbar asked him, 'Who are you?' The goldsmith narrated his story as follows, 'I am Bhajridas, the goldsmith. Akbar asked him, 'What do you want?' The goldsmith replied, 'Ayyā! I safe-keep gold in an iron locker. I keep the keys with me. When I am busy, I give the key to one of the trusted workers, ask him to open the safe lock and bring gold to me.'
6. Akber observed, 'I understand. With all your caution, I assume you lost the gold! One of your workers must have done it. Is it not true?' Bhajridas agreed. Upon enquiry from Akbar, the goldsmith said the loss amounted to more than 100,000 Rupees. Akbar reassured him saying, 'Do not worry. In three days, your gold will be back with you.' Saying thus, Akbar moved. Birbal asked Akbar, 'Prabhu! Who will you ask to oversee apprehension of the culprit?

7. Akbar said, why ask? The chief in charge of the police.' The police chief accepted the assignment from Akbar, arrested the four workers of Bhajridas and jailed them. He threatened to hang them upside down and lash them with cane until their bodies torn into strands.' The chief put pressure on them to tell the truth. They were beaten to shreds for two days, but they declared their innocence. The police chief was afraid he could not get any one of them to confess. He was sad to have to admit his failure before Akbar.

8. Suddenly he thought of Birbal. He thought, why he did not think about it before. Birbal is only one to solve the problem. Next morning dawned and the police chief went looking for Birbal. As he explained the events, Birbal admitted to the chief of police he knew about it already.

9. The police chief begged Birbal ‘You must somehow apprehend the culprit.' Birbal thought for a while and agreed to help find the thief. He told the chief, 'Make arrangement for four sticks, three feet long each, brought to the jail. I will in one hour be ready to interview the four prisoners.'

10. When Birbal arrived at the prison complex, the chief gave the four sticks to Birbal and brought the prisoners before Birbal. Birbal addressed the four prisoners, ‘’Your employer Bhajridas said that four gold bars were missing from the safe. He registered a complaint that one of you must have stollen the bars. One of them was quick to say, 'I grew up eating his salt (making livelihood) and will never think of being treacherous to him.' The second one said,’ I think of honesty as my heart beat. I do not think of a mean act of stealing from him even in my dreams.' The third one advanced his twenty years of service to the goldsmith as proof of his honesty and lack of greed. The fourth one extolled his loyalty to Bhajridas was better than that of a dog.

11. Nexst day, Birbal showed up in the jailhouse and all four prisoners came with the sticks. The first one’s stick, Birbal examined, for its length. Subsequently he examined the other three sticks. Birbal looked at the third prisoner and said, 'You are the thief of gold bars.'' He vociferously and strongly denied the accusation. On repeated questioning, he admitted to theft.

12. I discovered you stole the gold bars alone. You cut the magical stick because you believed that the magical stick would grow by three inches overnight. But the stick was neither magical nor illusory. See here, your stick is shorter than the other three. Here it is for you to see your short stick.

13. The Guards recovered the gold bars from him and gave them to Bhajridas. The thief landed back in jail. The other three (1-2-4) were released. The police chief went to Akbar’s Durbar and admitted that Birbal helped him solve the problem of identifying the true culprit. Akbar lauded Birbal, ''I did not know all these days you were an investigator in criminal matters.’’ Soon, Akbar took a bracelet from his wrist and gave it to Birbal as a prize.