Solve Your Problems - The Birbal Way

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Item Code: NAJ070
Author: Luis S.R. Vas and Anita S. R. Vas
Publisher: Pustak Mahal
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788122308006
Pages: 200
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 250 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description
About The Book

Unravelling in the court of Akbar, the well-known Birbal stories illustrate the minister’s sagacity and problem-solving acumen. It has become trendy to identify various management and leadership styles with historical and mythical personalities such as Attila the Hun, Winnie the Pooh, Mulla Nasiruddin, Confucius, Jesus Christ, and with philosophical systems and religious books like zen, Taoism, Kabballah, Bible, Bhagavad Gita and Sufism. Against this backdrop, the authors thought it would be appropriate to unveil the managerial wisdom and problem-solving principles that Birbal’ s stories embody.

They have retold some of the Birbal stories and at the end of each tale, they have pointed out the Management Moral of the narrative, whose wisdom remains eternal. They have divided each story into two parts. The first part consists of the problem and the second part provides Birbal’s solution.

Readers are encouraged to pause just before the solution is given and think of their own solutions to the problem. Only when they have thought of one or more solutions should they read Birbal’s solution. There is no other effective way of honing one’s own creativity.

At the end of the book, the authors have devised a technique that they have termed BIRBAL (an acronym), which readers can use to solve their problems.


About The Author

Luis S.R. Vas has authored about a dozen books and some 500 articles during his decade-long career in feature writing, publishing and corporate communications.

Anita S.R. Vas has co-authored The Joy of Natural Living and has done courses in personal counseling and cosmetology. She conducts Portuguese and English-speaking classes. She is a Portuguese translator as well.



Centuries ago the Great Mughal Emperor Humayun died, leaving his kingdom to a 13-year-old Prince named Akbar. Bright and bold, the boy fought fierce battles with myriad enemies to defend the vast kingdom that his father had left him. Finally, peace settled across his beautiful domain and Akbar inaugurated Golden Age in India.

The young king encouraged everyone to worship in their own ways. Subject of every description and origin stood as equals before him. Akbar loved philosophy and ll the fine arts, and sought the company of the wisest and most talented men he could find inside and outside his kingdom, bringing them to the Imperial Court. Nine of these exceptional men were such gifted and rare examples of talent that people called them Nava Ratna – ‘The Nine Jewels of the Mughal Crown’ –since their value exceeded the price of precious stones.

One of them, Tansen, wa a singer so skilled that candles were said to burst into flame at the sheer power of his song. Another, Daswant, was a painter who became First Master of the Age. Todar Mal was financial wizard. Abul Fazl was a great historian, and his brother, Faizi, a noted poet. Abud us-Samad was a brilliant calligrapher and designer of Imperial coins. Man Singh was an exceptional military strategist. Mir Fathullah Shirazi was an exceptional military strategist. Mir Fathullah Shirazi was a man of many parts: financier, philosopher, physicianand astronomer. But of all Akbar’s Nine Jewels, the people;s favrourite was his Minister – or Wazir – Birbal, who was noted for hi cleverness, generosity and sense of justice.

Birbal became one of the best-loved figures in the folklore of India. For generations, the Birbal stories have delighted children and grown-ups alike across all regions of the country.

Jalaludin Mohammed Akbar Padshan Ghazi, Emperor of India, ruled from 1560 to 1605. Akbar was great in an age of great rules: Elizabeth I of England, Henry IV of France, Philip II of Spain, Sulaiman the Magnificent of Turkey, and Shah Abbas the Great of Persia.

Akbar was generous and just to all men, but he could be violent and overpowering when called for. His Mangnetic Personality won the love and affection of his people and the respect and admiration of his enemies.

The Emperor excelled at riding, polo and swordsmanship, and he was a brilliant marksman with his musket. He was courageous, often fighting personally in the heat of battle. He was an outstanding general, a master of speed, surprise and logistics. His lightning conquests of India, from the Hindu Kush to Bengal, were feats of military genius.

Akbar worked hard at his duties as a king, sleeping only three hours a night. Although he was illiterate (it has been conjectured that he was probably dyslexic), he had legions of scholars who read to him. His son, Prince Sultan Salim, latter the Emperor Jahangir, wrote that no one could have guessed that Akbar was illiterate. He had an insatiable appetite for religion, philosophy, music, architecture, poetry, history and painting. He built an empire that enjoyed long-lasting peace, prosperity and high cultural refinement.

The empire of the Mughals was vast and fabulously rich. Akbar’s lower taxes and rising conquests created wealth for the people and mounting treasure for the Crown. European visitors noted that just one province of Akbar’s empire, Bengal, was wealthier than France and England combined. But the Emperor’s most precious asset was his quick-witted Wazir.

Birbal was born to a born to a poor Brahmin family of Tikawanpur on the banks of the River Jamuna. He rose to the exalted level of minister at Akbar’s Court by virtue of his razor- shap wit. He was an accomplished poet, writing under the pen name ‘Brahma’, and a collection of is verse is preserved to this day in the Bharatpur Museum.

Birbal’s duties at Court were administrative and military, but his close friendship with the Emperor was enhanced by Akbar’s love of wisdom and subtle homour. In Birbal – who was 14 years older than Akbar – the young king found a true sympathiser and companion. In an attempt to unify his Hindu and Muslim subjects, when Akbar founded new religion of universal tolerance, the Din-I- Ilahi, or ‘Divine Faith’, there was only one Hindu among the handful of his followers, and that was Birbal.

Akbar’s Court was mobile, a tradition inherited from his nomadic ancestors, the Mongols of Central Asia. (Mughal is Urdu for Mongol.) The Emperor ruled sometimes from the fortress of Agra and sometimes from the elegant city of Lahore. During the period of these tales, 1571 to 1585, Akbar held court in the scintillating city that he had built for himself –Fatehpur Sikri.

Many courtiers were jealous of Birbal’s meteoric rise to fortune and power and, according to popular accounts, they were endlessly plotting his downfall.

The poet, however, died with a sword in his hand. This happened in February 1586 while he was leading an expedition to subdue an Afghan trible in north - western India. Akbar,it is said, was inconsolable when he heard the news.

The character of Akbar in these stories is rather farfetched. But historically, Birbal stories can really be attributed to Birbal. Many of these tales were probably invented by village storytellers over the ages and simply attributed to Birbal and Akbar because their characters seemed appropriate. But there is no doubt that they make entertaining and instructive reading.

We would like to suggest that there is a deeper psychological and sociological reason behind the Birbal stories. They tend to show to the subject people under the Moghuls that although the Emperor is enlightened and virtually all-powerful, his Raja, Birbal, coming from the subject stock, is the cleverer, wiser man, getting the Emperor out of all kinds of difficulties and outwitting him in debate. The tales served to boost the morale of the subjects of the Moghul Empire and their descendants.

The stories also illustrate the leader’ s sagacity and problem-solving acumen of Birbal or whoever thought them up.

At a time when it is fashionable to identify various management and leadership styles with historical and mythical personalities like Attila the Hun, Winnie the Pooh, Mulla Nasiruddin, Confucius and Jesus Christ, and with philosophical systems and religious books like Zen, Taoism, the Kabballah, the Bible, the Bhagwad Gita and Sufism, we thought it would be appropriate to underscore the managerial wisdom and problem -solving principles which Birbal’s stories illustrate.

So, we have retold some of the Birbal stories that we gathered and at the end of each we have pointed out the management moral it teacher, turning Birbal into a virtual Edward de Bono of the 16th century whose wisdom and lateral thinking remain as fresh as ever. We have divided each story into two parts. The first part consists of the problem; the second part provides Birbal’s solution.

You are encouraged to pause just before the solution is given and think of your own solution to the problem. Only when you have thought of one or more solutions should you read Birbal’s solution. There is no more effective way of honing your own creativity.

You are also encouraged to sharpen your creativity by thinking up additional management ideas that these stories evoke. We shall be happy if you send us more such stories with your own interpretations of the principles they illustrate, to include them in future editions of this book.

At the end of the book we have devised a process which we have termed BIRBAL (an acronym) and which you can use to solve your own problems.

We have written this book jointly to provide you with a balanced perspective of the issue explored in it. We would appreciate your comments.




  Introduction 7
1 First Meeting 11
2 Mahesh Das Seeks His Fortune 13
3 Birbal's Journey to Paradise 18
4 All for the Best 21
5 List of Fools 23
6 Theft of Jewels 25
7 The Holy Book 27
8 Truth and Falsehood 29
9 The Camel's Crooked Neck 31
10 Lost and Found 33
11 The Washerman's Donckey 36
12 Controversial Brinjal 38
13 Akbar's Dream 40
14 Shorter Line 42
15 The Eggs-ample 43
16 Crows in the kingdom 45
17 Self-publicity 47
18 Three Questions 49
19 Birbal's khichri 51
20 Poet Raidas 54
21 The Emperor's Whiskers 58
22 Retrieving the Ring 60
23 Astrologer's Woes 62
24 The Well Water 64
25 The Pandit's pot 66
26 Akbar's Cloak 67
27 Making the Line Vanish 69
28 Greater Than God? 72
29 The Pot of Intelligence 74
30 God in a Ring 77
31 The Effect of Your Actions 82
32 Akbar Learns a Lesson 84
33 Call Him At Once 87
34 Fear is the Key 89
35 Four Fools 91
36 The Glutton 94
37 The Golden Gallows 96
38 Hussain Khan's Aspirations 98
39 The Most Precious Thing 101
40 The Mother Tongue 103
41 Most Popular Preofession 105
42 Sleepless Night 107
43 The Witness 111
44 Constipation 114
45 Birbal's Explanation 116
46 Tracking Down 118
47 Flowers for the Emperor 120
48 Never at a Loss 122
49 Becoming a Brahmin 125
50 Name Chanting 126
51 Wives' Power 128
52 Lost Respect 131
53 Conquest of the Mind 132
54 Curruption 134
55 Who Shaves the Barber? 136
56 The Source of Wisdom 141
57 Harem Scare 142
58 The Real King 143
59 The Merchant Who Wanted Too Much 144
60 Mother's Love 146
61 What Does God Do? 148
62 Creator and Critics 150
63 The Widow's Savings 152
64 The Holy Parrot 155
65 Taking 'No' for an Answer 157
66 The Hen or the Egg? 159
67 Parting of Friends 160
68 Kings and the Moon 162
69 Uses of Waste 164
70 Gold Under the Pear Tree 166
71 The Master and the Servent 168
72 The Mango Tree 169
73 The Man Who Brought Bad Luck 171
74 Unseeing Eyes 173
75 How Many Bangles 175
76 God's Names 177
77 Which Hand is Up? 179
78 An Unlucky Profession! 180
79 The Horse's Owner 182
80 The Crafty Tailor 184
81 The Masked Face 186
82 Whatever I Like 188
83 The Dog's Chapatti 190
84 Twig in the Bread 191
85 Darkness Under' a Lamp 193
86 Akbar-Bhart 194
87 Birbal's Shocking  
  Choice 196
  Choice 198

Sample Pages

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