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Gandhiji's Faith

Gandhiji's full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. As a child he was called Mohan, short for his first name Mohandas. Like all small children little Mohan was frightened of the dark. The ghosts and the monsters always seem to be hiding in the dark. In those days when Mohan was little, electricity was not available to all the small towns and villages. In the evening, everyone began lighting lamps. Imagine what we do when there is a power outage. It was that way every night in those days.

Tonight was dark like any other night and Mohan was frightened as always. He was afraid there were ghosts lurking in the corner ready to spring on him. The lamp in the hallway had died down. It was so dark that you could barely see your own hand and Mohan had go from one room to another.

As he stepped out of the room he bumped into some thing large, perhaps it was a monster. His feet turned so heavy like they were made of stone and his heart was pounding like a drum. It was Rambha the old Nanny who was standing by the door. “What's the matter son?” she asked. “I am frightened, Dai,” Mohan answered. “Frightened my boy, frightened of what?” “See how dark it is. There are many monsters and ghosts lurking in the darkness. I am frightened one of them will get me.” Mohan said in a very small terrified voice.

Rambha patted his head affectionately and said, “Well, you don't have to be afraid of anything anymore. Listen to me very carefully. Think of Rama and no ghost or monster will dare come near you. They will not even try to touch your hair. Rama will protect you always, have faith.” Those words of faith gave Mohan courage that lasted his life time. He went from one room to another chanting “Hey Rama” Throughout his life this faith remained strong and when Gandhiji died, the last words on his lips were “Hey Rama”.

Gandhiji's Faith

Shivaji - Meeting with Afzal Khan

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Shivaji and Afzal KhanShivaji was born on February 19, 1630 at Shivneri fort, Junnar, about 60 kilometers north of Pune. His mother Jijabai named him Shiva after the Goddess Shivai. At this time the major players in the Deccan were the Nizamshahs of Ahmednagar, Mughals of Delhi and the Adilshah of Bijapur. Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor attacked Nizamshah. Nizamshah was defeated and the war weakened the Ahmednagar kingdom. Shahaji tried to raise the banner of his independence but was crushed by the combined forces of Mughals and Adilshahi. After the defeat, he was inducted into the Adilshahi and was allowed to keep his old land tenures around Pune. Shivaji was born during these turbulent times. At the age of 17, Shivaji carried his first attack on Bijapur and captured the Torana fort in 1645. By 1647, he captured Rajgadh and Kondana forts and had complete control of Pune region. Of all his exploits my favorite has always been the Battle of Pratapgadh when he defeated and killed Afzal Khan.

Shivaji - Meeting with Afzal Khan

Ghee Merchants of Delhi

Read more Akbar Birbal stories here.

Akbar Birbal ChutkuleIn the city of Delhi there lived two ghee(clarified butter) merchants Dhannamal and Karodimal. Business was very good and they both had their shops close to each other. One day Dhannamal needed five hundred gold coins. He borrowed them from Karodimal promising him to repay it in a week.

A week passed, but Dhannamal did not repay the gold coins back. He was now avoiding Karodimal. Another week passed and one day Karodimal asked Dhannamal for his money back. “What money, I never borrowed any five hundred gold coins from anyone.” said Dhannamal. The two began to quarrel and finally Karodimal went to the court of Akbar for justice.

“Seth Dhannamal borrowed five hundred gold coins from me and refuses to pay me back.”said Karodimal. “This is not true, Jahanpanah (emperor). We are both ghee merchants and have shops close to each other. He is jealous of me and hence he is accusing me falsely.” Akbar was perplexed and handed the case to Birbal. Birbal asked them to come after ten days.

He took ten containers and poured ten saer (or sher – a measuring unit for weight in the olden days, 1 saer = 2 pounds) of ghee in each of them. Then he took 2 containers and removed a pound of ghee from each and put in a gold coin weighing a pound. He then gave each of the merchants five containers that included the containers with the gold coin. He asked them to test the ghee quality and decide on the price.

Both the merchants found the gold coin in one of the containers. Karodimal went to Birbal and returned the gold coin. Birbal thanked him and told him something in his ear. Dhannamal took the gold coin and gave it to his son.

On the fixed day, the two merchants brought their containers to the court. Birbal weighed each of the containers. He then asked Karodimal why one of the containers weighed less by a pound. Karodimal said exactly what Birbal had told him to say in his ear when he had returned the gold coin. “Maharaj, I used the amount to run some tests on the ghee to find its quality.” Birbal then asked Dhannamal why one of his containers weighed less by a pound. Dhannamal having heard Karodimal's explanation gave the same answer.

While this weighing was taking place, Birbal had sent one of his men to Dhannamal's house with a message for his son. The messenger went to the house and told the boy to go to the court immediately with gold coin his father had found in the ghee containers. Dhannamal's son rushed to the court. As soon as he entered the court, Birbal asked him, “Did you bring all the five gold coins that were in the tin?” “Five? There was only gold coin in the ghee containers not five. See this is the one that was in the ghee container.” said the boy showing the gold coin.

Birbal turned to Dhannamal, “You cheated me for one gold coin, how can you be honest about five hundred gold coins?” Dhannamal realized he had been caught and begged for forgiveness. He was made to pay seven hundred and fifty gold coins to Karodimal. Five hundred was the original principal and two hundred fifty for trying to cheat Karodimal.

Read more Akbar Birbal stories here.

Ghee Merchants of Delhi

Young Birbal

Read more Akbar Birbal stories here.

Akbar Birbal ChutkuleIn the olden days, artists often visited various cities and showed their skills at town squares or market places to informally gathered crowds. It was in a way similar to the concerts and the tours that most recording artists do today, except it wasn't at such scale and was not professionally managed as it done today.

This artist called 'bahuroobiya” or a mimic. He was no ordinary mimic just doing voices or different personalities but could mimic even animals. He was an expert performer and an entertainer too. Soon, a crowd began to gather at the market place. People were soon talking about his skill and he was the talk of the little town Tiwkapur.

The mookhiya - local head, heard about this artist and arranged for a performance. The whole village was invited. Men and women, old and young, everyone gathered for the performance. The show began and as the artist had mastered his craft very well, everyone watching was engrossed. The climax of the show reached when the Bahuroobiya turned himself into a bull. The imitation of the bull was so good, the crowd was spellbound. The mookhiya gave the artist a bag of gold coins.

A little boy in the crowd threw a small pebble at the bull. The bull quivered just as a bull. The boy was so pleased, he could not contain his admiration. “Wow, what great imitation!” he exclaimed. He had nothing to give other than his old battered topi (cap). He took his topi off and gave it to the artist, “ take my reward.”

The crowd began to laugh and giggle at the boy. “Who cares for the old battered cap. What use is it to the artist. It will not even fit his head.” they said. The boy came forward and said very courageously, “ The real appreciation is in testing and finding the real value, not just giving away expensive rewards. I threw a stone at the imitation bull and he shivered just like a bull. It was a true test.” The artist agreed with the boy. “He is right. He alone tested me and I treasure this dirty old cap. It will remain as one of my prized possessions.”

The little boy was Maheshdas who grew up to be Birbal.

Read more Akbar Birbal stories here.

Young Birbal

Maheshdas Becomes Birbal

Read more Akbar Birbal stories here.

Akbar Birbal StoriesOne hot summer day, Emperor Akbar and his friends had gone on an hunting expedition. They did not find any game and were very thirsty. “Let us go to the nearest village and get some water.” On their way they saw a young boy carrying twigs for firewood on his head. They approached him, “we are very thirsty and want to go to the nearest village for some water.” The boy replied, “there is a lake near my house. You can drink some water and so can your horses.”

One of the royal said, “come jump on my horse, so we can reach there faster.” They jumped on the horses and the party proceeded towards the boy's village.

“What is your name?” asked Akbar. “What is your name?” asked the boy without replying Akbar's question. Akabar was taken aback, since he was not used to getting a question for a question. “Don't you know who I am?” asked Akbar. The boy asked, “do you know the name of the most learned pundit of our village?” “No” Akbar replied. “My answer to your question is the same.” The boy replied.

Akbar was amused by the boy.

They soon reached the village. The thirsty party was offered some gud (jaggery) and water. The horses were fed with chana (chick peas) and a drink of water. When it was time to leave, Akbar asked the boy, “which road goes to Agra?” “Have you ever seen a road go anywhere? These roads always stay here, they do not go to Agra or to any other place.” The eyes sparkled with mischief and the boy gave a hearty laugh at his own joke. Then he turned to Akbar and said, “Mahashay, people travel on the roads and go places. This road will take you to Agra.” Akbar was very pleased by his wit. When they were ready to leave Akbar gave the boy his ring with the royal insignia and said, “Now you will know who I am. When you grow up come visit me” and he rode off. The boy looked at the ring and immediately recognized Akbar. By then there was just the dust cloud left behind by the riding horses. “My name is Maheshdas, my name is Maheshdas.” he said running behind the horses.

When Maheshdas grew up and was ready to go to the Delhi Durbar, he took the ring with him and went to Delhi. After a long and tiresome journey he reached the outskirts of Delhi. He rested for the night and the next day early in the morning he was at the gates of the palace. The guard at the gate would not let Maheshdas in. He showed him the royal ring and said, “I have an invitation from the Emperor. Let me in. Soon I shall make a name for myself and earn rich rewards.” “I will let you in only if you promise to give me half the reward you get today.” said the guard. Maheshdas thought for a while and agreed.

He reached the durbar. Akbar was sitting on the peacock throne and noblemen stood in front of him on both the sides. Akbar had posed a very simple question. “Which is the most beautiful flower?”

“Rose” said one.

“Lotus” said the other.

“Jasmine” said yet another

Maheshdas could not keep quiet, “the most beautiful flower is the cotton flower.”

Everyone began to laugh. Akbar asked, “ Why do you say that? It has no smell, texture or color”

“JahanPanaha! Every one knows that clothes are made from cotton flower. Very fine Muslin is made for the summer and heavier fabric is made for winters. It can be dyed with any color of the rainbow. Young or old, Prince or pauper, every one uses it. No other flower can be better than it.”

Akbar smiled at the clever answer. “What is your name? Where have you come from?”

“My name is Maheshdas and I come from a village with a lake where you and your friends once had some water.” And he showed the ring to Akbar. “I remember you. I am glad you have come. I like your clever answer. I wish to give you a hundred gold coins.”

“Your Majesty! Please forgive my impudence. I do not want the hundred gold coins. I want one hundred lashes instead.” Akbar was perplexed. Why would anyone want lashes as reward. He tried to talk him out of it, but Maheshdas would not agree. Finally Akbar said, “I give up. If that is what you want then be it. Give him a hundred lashes.”

“I cannot accept the whole reward. I promised someone to share half of my reward. Call your palace guard and give him the first 50 lashes. I will then take the remaining fifty.” Maheshdas said. He then explained how he had to bribe the guard to come inside the palace. Hearing this Akbar said, “I am trying to remove the culture of bribery. You have made a fine example. Give the guard all 100 lashes. And as for you, I appoint you as my courtier Birbal.”

Read more Akbar Birbal stories here.

Maheshdas Becomes Birbal

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