Birbal was in Persia at the invitation of the king of that country. Parties were given in his honour and rich presents were heaped on him.
On the eve of his departure for home, a nobleman asked him how he would compare the king of Persia to his own king.
“Your king is a full moon,” said Birbal. “Whereas mine could be likened to the quarter moon.”
The Persians were very happy. But when Birbal got home he found that Emperor Akbar was furious with him.
“How could you belittle your own king!” demanded Akbar. “You are a traitor!”
“No, Your Majesty,” said Birbal. “I did not belittle you. The full moon diminishes and disappears whereas the quarter moon grows from strength to strength. What I, in fact, proclaimed to the world is that your power is growing from day to day whereas that of the king of Persia is about to go into decline.”
Akbar grunted in satisfaction and welcomed Birbal back with a warm embrace.