Once Emperor Akbar declared a ransome prize money for the one who can draw him exactly and present the portrait to him. Many artists gave a try to their level best but Akbar was not satisfied with the work and denied all of them.
During this period, Emperor Akbar was on his visit to a village in his mobile court. The artists from that village were showing the portraits they have drawn and was showing it to Akbar and he as usual was not satisfied with any work.
Young Mahesh Das went to akbar with a covered portrait in his hand. He sought the permission to see the Emperor and opened the portrait. Akbar was astonished to see it. Mahesh Das has wrapped a mirror and showed it as a portrait. He asked “Jahanpanah, aren’t you looking exactly like how you are now?”. Akbar was very pleased with his wit and gave him the prize money along with his ring and told him to visit him at the palace. BIrbal ‘s original name is Mahesh Das.
After some time, Mahesh Das felt that time has come for him to meet Akbar. He started his journey towards the royal palace. He reached the majestic gate guarded by soldiers. The One at the entrance stopped him and enquired about him. When Mahesh Das showed the ring gave by Akbar, the soldier immediately allowed entry but on a condition that Mahesh Das will give half of what he receive from the Akbar to him.
Mahesh Das agreed and went inside. He reached the court, offered his salutations and showed the ring. Akbar recognized him seeing the ring gifted by him. Akbar pleased to see this wise man offered him a gift and asked him what he wanted for a gift and that will be granted to him. Mahesh Das said “Oh King of Kings, I need 100 lashes from you as gift and half of it to be given to my friend”. Emperor was surprised to hear it and thought he might have gone crazy to ask for such a reward. Asked Mahesh “Oh gentleman, why do you ask for such a reward when you have not done anything wrong? Why do you include your friend also into it?”. Mahesh Das said “Jahanpanah! I promised your gate keeper to give half of what I receive as per his demand. So give me 50 lashes and give the other 50 to your gatekeeper”. Hearing this the other guests and courtesans also confirmed to the emperor that the gate keeper is corrupt.
Emperor was pleased with the wit that Mahesh Das has very diplomatically brought the corruption to his attention . He thought Mahesh will be an asset if he is absorbed into his advisory board as a minister. He named him “Birbal” meaning brave heart and took him into his court as a minister. Soon Birbal became very close to Akbar with his wit, wisdom and humourous nature.