Akbar and the Half-Reward The Emperor Akbar and the Half-Reward ~ Akbar Birbal English Story for Kids

This story is part of our Folktales from India Collection: Akbar Birbal Stories. It is brought to you by Stories to Grow by. 

One day, Emperor Akbar went to the jungle to hunt.  After some time, he knew he was lost.  He called for help but it was no use.  Then the sun started to set.  The Emperor said, “Soon it will be dark. And here I am, all alone in the woods!”

A young man named Mahesh Das lived in a hut nearby.  He heard a call coming from deep in the woods, and he ran to that place. You can be sure the Emperor was glad to see him!

“I know the way back to the palace,” said Mahesh Da to the Emperor.  “Follow me.”

Safe home at last, the Emperor said, “Young man, I want to give you a gift.”  He took a ring of emerald and gold from his finger.  And he gave the ring to Mahesh Das. 


“Here I am, all alone in the woods!”


“In a few days, come back to the palace,” said he. “I want to give you something else, even more grand.”

A few days later, Mahesh Das went back to the palace. But the guard stopped him at the door.  “Halt!” he said.  “You do not look like someone who should see the Emperor!”   

“But I have come to see him,” said Mahesh Das. “And the Emperor knows me.” He showed the guard the fine ring that Emperor Akbar had given him.

“Well, now!” The guard thought to himself, “It is not every day that I see such a ring!  I think I have an idea.”  

The guard said to Mahesh Das, “Listen to me. I will let you inside. But any gift you get from the Emperor, I must get half.”  The guard crossed his arms.  “That’s the deal,” he said. 


“Halt!” he said.  “You do not look like someone who should see the Emperor.”


What could Mahesh Das do?  So he agreed.  The guard let him into the palace, and showed him to the royal room of Emperor Akbar.

“My young friend in the woods!” called Emperor Akbar when he saw Mahesh Das.  “I am very glad you came back.  Now I can give you another gift.  What would you like from the King of Hindustan?"

"Your Majesty!” said Mahesh Das with a bow.  “I would like 50 lashes."

“What?!” said the Emperor.

The royal advisors were shocked. “This young man is crazy!” they whispered.

“It makes no sense!” said Emperor Akbar. “Why would you ask for such a thing?”


“This young man is crazy!” they whispered.


“I will tell you after the lashes,” said Mahesh Das. So the king’s men started to whip him, as he had said. But after the 25th lash, Mahesh Das asked the King to call the guard who was standing outside the room. 

“Wow!” thought the guard.  “What grand thing will I get now?”

But to his surprise, Mahesh Das pointed to him.  He said, “My Emperor! This guard let me inside the palace only if I agreed to pay him half of any reward I may get from you. I always keep my promises.  So please, give him the 25 lashes that are left." 

The Emperor ordered that the guard be given 25 lashes, along with 5 years in prison. Emperor Akbar was more pleased than ever with Mahesh Das.  He invited the young man to stay at the palace and serve as his royal advisor.  And there Mahesh Das served for many long years.


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  1. I think the story is trying to tell that we should never be greedy or else we might get into trouble. It also tells us to be clever to solve a problem, and to be kind.

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Akbar-Birbal folk tales were passed on mainly by oral tradition. They focus on how Birbal manages to outsmart envious courtiers who try to trap and portray him in poor light in front of Akbar, often in a humorous manner with him shown giving sharp and intelligent responses. Others show his interactions with the Emperor which involve him trying to test Birbal's wit and Birbal making him realise his folly, which always ends with Akbar getting amused and impressed. He occasionally challenges Birbal by giving him a line of poetry which Birbal has to complete. Some of the other stories are simple humorous anecdotes. Getting an advantage in a seemingly impossible situation and making his challengers look silly are usual occurrences in these tales. From Wikipedia