This is one of the famous tales of the great Akbar and his witty prime minister, Birbal.
It was winter and the king Akbar in his warm palce enjoyed the delicacy. A thought struck to the kings mind and he asked Birbal, “Will a man do anything for money?” To which the Birbal replied, “Yes, his magesty”. On this the king asked Birbal to prove his word and bring a live example to the royal court the next day.
Birbal came to the court along with a poor brahmin who did not even had a penny left with him. His family was starving. Birbal told the king that the brahmin was ready to do anything for the sake of money. The king ordered the brahmin to be inside the frozen pond all through the night without any attire and he would be weighed in gold. The poor brahmin had no choice. The whole night he was inside the pond, shivering. He returned to the court the next day to receive his reward.
The king asked “Tell me Oh poor brahmin! How could you withstand the extreme temperature all through the night?” The innocent brahmin replied “I could see a faintly glowing light a kilometre away and I withstood with that ray of light.” Akbar refused to pay the brahmin his reward saying that he had got warmth from the light and withstood the cold and that was cheating. The poor brahmin could not argue with him and so returned disappointed and bare-handed.
Birbal tried to explain to the king but the king was in no mood to listen to him. Thereafter, Birbal stopped coming to the durbar and sent a messenger to the king saying that he would come to the court only after cooking his khichdi.
As Birbal did not turn up even after 5 days, the king himself went to Birbal’s house to see what he was doing. Birbal had lit the fire and kept the pot of uncooked khichdi one metre away from it. Akbar questioned him “How will the khichdi get cooked with the fire one metre away? What is wrong with you Birbal?”
Birbal replied “His magesty, When it was possible for a person to receive warmth from a light that was a kilometre away, then it is possible for this khichdi, which is just a metre away from the source of heat, to get cooked.” Akbar understood his mistake. He called the poor brahmin and rewarded him 2000 gold coins.