Emperor Akbar had a mobile court which one day found itself in a village in what is now Madhya Pradesh, Where a young Brahmin farmer, Mahesh Das, lived. Mahesh heard a herald announce that Emperor Akbar would award a thousand gold coins to the artist who pleased him with the most realistic portrait of the Emperor.

On the event day, there was a lot of artists come to Court with a covered picture of the Emperor. Everyone in the Court was excited to find who will win the coveted prize of the thousand gold coins.

Akbar received folded portraits one by one and rejected them one by one with his funny comments.

“No. This is not exactly what I am now.”

The poor Brahmin, Mahesh Das, who later became famous as Birbal, was waiting for his chance. He was the last to show the portrait he carried with him.

When Mahesh’s turn came, Emperor Akbar was already piqued. He asked Mahesh “Are you like the rest of the participants who have unsatisfactorily produced my portraits?

Whereupon Mahesh, without fear yet in a tone of humility, said: “Look, my Emperor, into it and satisfy
yourself.”

Strangely, it was not a drawing or painting, but a mirror that emerged from the folds of Mahesh’s garments to show the Emperor exactly what he was then.

“The best replica of Emperor Akbar,” everyone chorused.

Akbar received Mahesh Das with open arms and rewarded him with a thousand gold coins and a ring with the Royal Seal in front of Court. He also invited Mahesh to meet the Emperor at Emperor’s Home located in Fatehpur Sikri.

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