One evening, Akbar and Birbal were taking a stroll in the garden. While they were talking, Akbar said, “Birbal, I am sure there are many idlers in the city. If you can find me the one who has no match, i will give you a handsome reward.”
The following morning, Birbal set up a tent on the banks of the river Yamuna. He invited all idlers in the city to a feast there.
A large crowd of idlers came for the feast. Some of them were yawning as they walked towards the tent. The others had to be pulled right up to the tent. At last all of them sat down to eat the dishes served. But who would take the trouble to eat?
Those who had taken a morsel, would hardly lift their hand for the second one. A few had put a morsel in their mouths, but they did not take the trouble to chew it. This went on for hours together. The feast of the idlers was far from over.
Soon it began to grow dark. Birbal ordered one of his men to set fire to the tent. The whole tent was ablaze. One by one, the idlers moved out of the tent. Nobody seems to be in a hurry to save his own life. Finally, only two idlers remained in the tent. One of them took the support of the other to get up. He said, “Friend, let’s go now. Everything is ablaze here.”
The other idler did not get up. He said, “Carry on, friend. I am not leaving this tent. My son carried me on his shoulders and brought me here. Why should i walk out of the tent on my own feet?”
The first idler walked out of the tent slowly. The second one seemed to be ready to burn himself to death, but was not ready to get up and walk out of the burning tent. At last, Birbal asked his servants to lift him and bring him out of the tent.
The following day, Birbal produced the matchless idler before the emperor. Narrating the previous day’s incident, Birbal said, “Your Majesty, here is the peerless idler of the city. He continued to sit and eat in the tent which was on fire. He was ready to burn himself to death, but certainly not ready to make an effort to get up and walk out of the tent.”
Akbar was pleased with Birbal’s wisdom. He praised Birbal for finding out the peerless idler of the city and gave him a handsome reward.