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Why Bhagavan Vishnu Should Himself Come To Rescue Elephant Gajendra?

The folk tales of Akbar, the great Mughal emperor, and his courtier Birbal are legendary and much quoted in India for their humour, wit and sharp intelligence, often at the expense of the envious fellow courtiers of Birbal. There is a story about how Akbar questioned Birbal why Bhagavan Vishnu should himself come to rescue elephant Gajendra? – the famous Gajendra moksha incident in the Srimad Bhagavad Purana.

He could easily have sent someone else to rescue the pitiable elephant. As emperor, Akbar had very many courtiers to do his bidding so as not to waste his time with trivial matters. If Vishnu was a god why could he not do the same? Birbal replied that he would answer the question but it would take time to explain, and left it at that.

Birbal was responsible for taking care of a beloved child who was the son of Akbar. Birbal watched over the child with loving attention. One day Birbal arranged for a beautiful stone image of the boy to be carved and placed the statue at the edge of a well knowing that the emperor had the greatest confidence in Birbal’s ability to protect his son from harm.

In the evening, when shapes were hazy at a distance, Birbal guided Akbar on a walk to the vicinity of the well. Akbar thought he saw his son by the well and called out to him to be careful. Birbal reassured the emperor that there was nothing to fear.

Prior to the evening walk Birbal had organised that someone would be nearby when Akbar arrived, and unobserved, would push the statue into the well when the emperor was watching. This happened and Birbal exclaimed in fake terror that the child had fallen into the depths.

Akbar ran immediately to the side of the well. But Birbal took hold of him and said, “Wait here. There are so many servants who can bring the boy out of the well. Send them.”

Akbar was beside himself with anxiety and told Birbal to shut up. Did he not see that his beloved child was in danger and had to be quickly rescued?

Birbal coolly replied that Akbar need not fear, for his child was safe. What had fallen into the well was but a statue. Then Birbal asked Akbar whether he remember the conversation the other day about Gajendra and Bhagwan Vishnu’s immediate and personal response to save the elephant.