It was a practice with Akbar that he used to go for morning walks along with Birbal.
Once when Akbar went to Birbal'shouse in the morning he found Birbal waking up. Birbal had folded his hands and he was uttering some words. Akbar smiled and asked, ?Birbal what is it that you are doing??
Birbal replied, ?I am praying to the mother.?
?Which mother??, asked Akbar. ?I am offering prayer to the mother earth. Earth is our holy mother. Before stepping down from the bed we have to beg her pardon. It is our Hindu tradition,? said Birbal.
Thereupon Akbar laughed and he said, ?You are calling this rubbish mud as mother. I really pity you?.
?But sir, this mother gives us fruits, food, clothing, medicine and what not. In fact, we are born from the womb of the mother earth and we will end our life-journey in her lap. We feel ashamed to trample her.?
?You are raising such a useless thing called mud to the level of a God. It is sheer nonsense. Alright finish your prayer and let us proceed for our morning walk,? concluded Akbar.
Soon both Birbal and Akbar set out for the morning walk.
They soon reached the outskirts of the city. They were engrossed in chit-chatting. Suddenly a cow happened to cross the road. Birbal immediately took out his shoes, folded his hands and offered his respects to the cow.
Akbar was surprised to see Birbal worshipping the cow. He asked Birbal, ?My dear friend, what is it that your are doing now??
Birbal replied, ?I am worshipping the cow. The cow is our mother.?
Akbar laughed loudly. He said, ?You are calling this animal with four legs and two horns as mother. It is nothing but rank nonsense?.
?Sir, it is our belief that cow is the abode of all the Gods. Not only her milk but also her urine is pious. We drink them both with full respect.?
?I quite don't understand the foolishness you people are practicing,? said Akbar.
They then proceeded further. On their way Birbal happened to notice a well-grown Tulasi plant by the roadside. Birbal stopped there for a while. He bowed down and offered his respects to the Tulasi plant with folded hands.
?Again one more mother??, asked Akbar in a scornful tone.
?Oh, Yes. Again a holy mother,? said Birbal quietly.
?You are raising such a common plant to the position of a mother? I quite don'tunderstand the logic behind your useless traditions. Strange and nasty traditions indeed,? said Akbar.
Birbal did not utter a single word. He changed the topic and both of them went ahead.
The wind was pleasant. The birds were chirping. Golden rays of the morning sun had just fallen on the peaks of the mountain.
Soon Birbal came across another plant on the roadside. Birbal not only bowed down before it but also prostrated before the plant.
Akbar was taken aback. He said, ?Dear Birbal, all this is beyond my comprehension. This is just a plain forest plant. You are worshipping it with greatest honour. Is this one more mother of yours??
?Sir, this plant is not my mother. It is my father. I must respect him with dandapranam. It is our custom. I can'tviolate it,? explained Birbal.
Akbar almost lost his patience. He hurried to the plant. He pulled the plant out with his hands and said, ?Such a useless thing and you call it your father. It does not have any strength. Now it will die down soon.?
While uttering these words, Akbar had a sudden strange feeling. He had a scratching sensation over his hands. Soon that sensation rose to his arms, to armpit then to stomach. Akbar started scratching and scratching. Now the sensation spread to the neck, down to the thighs and it covered almost his whole body. As a result of continuous scratching with nails the entire body had a burning sensation. Akbar could not control himself. He took out his royal robe. He threw away diamond-embedded cap. He started crying in pain and beseeched Birbal for relieving him from the pangs.
Birbal said, ?Sir, you should not have insulted my father.?
?But what is the remedy now??, asked Akbar in a pathetic tone.
?Sir, now you have to surrender yourself to the mother cow. You have to obtain her urine and her dung, mix them, from a paste and anoint your whole body with the paste. As the layer of paste dries up, all your pains, your burning sensation will vanish, said Birbal.
At long last Akbar had to surrender before the mother-cow.
The forest plant that tortured Akbar was khajkuyali, which creates scratching and burning sensation no sooner it is touched.