Birbal's Trip to Paradise
Retold and Adapted by Steve Williams
Parts(6): NARRATOR 1 NARRATOR 2 NARRATOR 3 AKBAR BARBER BIRBAL
Narrator 1: Birbal's Trip to Paradise
NARRATOR 2: Long ago, Akbar ruled India. He was the greatest of all the Moghul emperors.
AKBAR: [Proudly] Greatest of the all the Moghuls.
NARRATOR 3: Akbar had many advisors and countless servants but his favourite was Birbal. Akbar
thought Birbal was the wittiest and cleverest man in the Empire.
NARRATOR 1: But Birbal had enemies who were envious of his popularity.
NARRATOR 2: Most envious of all was the Emperor's barber. The barber knew that favour with Akbar
brought fortune. He wondered:
BARBER: Why can't a barber be the fortunate one for a change? I am clever. I am funny. I have
good ideas. I deserve better.
NARRATOR 3: The barber's envy turned to hatred and he plotted for Birbal's downfall day and night
until he had worked out
BARBER: A cunning plan.
NARRATOR 1: One day, while trimming the Emperor's beard, the barber found the courage to speak up
and put his plan into action.
BARBER: You know Majesty, last night I dreamed of your father.
NARRATOR 1: The great Emperor was gripped by the barber's words for he was a superstitious man who
loved his late father dearly.
EMPEROR: My father you say! Did he speak?
BARBER: Yes excellency. He is very happy in paradise but says that all the residents of Heaven
are terrible bores. He wants you to send someone to keep him amused with fine talk.
Someone clever and witty.
NARRATOR 3: Now although Akbar prized Birbal very much, he truly worshiped his own father. After a
little thought, he decided to send his favourite advisor to paradise to entertain the
old man. He sent for Birbal.
NARRATOR 1: Of course, the only way to reach heaven
BARBER: Is through death. What a brilliant plan!
NARRATOR 2: Birbal rode to court at once to hear the Emperor's wishes.
NARRATOR 3: Akbar said
AKBAR: Birbal, if I have not judged you wrongly, I think you love me enough to make any
sacrifice for my sake.
BIRBAL: I know I do Emperor.
BARBER: [Aside] Yes! That's right. Go on ...
AKBAR: Then I would like you to go to heaven and keep my dear father company.
BARBER: [Aside] Yes! Company! That's it.
BIRBAL: Majesty, it would be an honour. But may I take a few days to prepare?
BARBER: But your father sir, so sad, so very very bored and sad and ...
AKBAR: Silence! Birbal, you are doing me a great favour. Of course you should prepare. I will
give you a week.
BARBER: [Rolls his eyes and speaks quietly] A week!
NARRATOR 1: Birbal returned home and
BIRBAL: Dug a deep pit
NARRATOR 2: In the grounds of his house. This would be his grave. But he also dug
BIRBAL: A secret tunnel
NARRATOR 3: That opened under the floor of his private room. Then he returned to meet the Emperor.
NARRATOR 1: He said
BIRBAL: In accordance with an old family tradition, I would like to be buried alive. My family
has always believed that this is the easiest and quickest way to get to heaven.
NARRATOR 2: And so to the delight of the barber [Barber mimes happiness] Birbal was buried alive.
With six feet of earth weighing down on him, he scratched and scraped his way to into
the tunnel that took him to the safety of his own house. Birbal hid in his room for
over six months. At the end of that time, with long hair and a shaggy beard, he came
out of hiding set off for the Emperor's court.
NARRATOR 3: Akbar was having his hair cut
NARRATOR 1: When Birbal arrived at court
AKBAR: Birbal! Can it be you? How did you get here?
NARRATOR 2: Birbal took a deep breath and replied:
BIRBAL: From Paradise, Oh Great One. Your father enjoyed our talks so much that he gave me
special permission to return to earth and tell you all about them.
AKBAR: Did he give you any special message for his devoted son?
BIRBAL: Just one Majesty. Do you see my whiskers and long hair? (Akbar nods) Well, it seems
very few barbers make it to heaven. Your father asks you to send him yours at once for
he is badly in need of a haircut.