The Value of Waste

- May 4, 2020


 

One day, in the royal court of Akbar, there came a merchant who proffered a beautiful vase to the emperor. “This beautiful vase has come straight from the Orient, your highness. It will be a wonderful addition to your palace.” Emperor Akbar was not impressed. “I can see it’s a little chipped. Let this be a warning. Never show me anything that is broken.”

His wise minister, Birbal, who was watching the proceedings, was amused by the emperor’s order and questioned him. “But why, Jahanpanah?” Akbar replied, “Surely, Birbal, you will agree that anything that is broken, crushed or rotten, is of no use to anyone.”

Birbal did not agree. “Sometimes, maybe, but that is not always true!” The emperor challenged him to prove it. Birbal explained his stand.

“The juice we get from sugarcane by breaking and crushing, gives us sugar, jaggery, and delicious sweets. These make for diving offerings!”

“The cotton pod bursts forth to yield the cotton string. Clothes made from its spinning and weaving are fit, even for a king! The rotten decaying rags, old jute and other such waste yields paper, paper on which the sacred Quran and purananas are all written on.”

Akbar conceded defeat. “Indeed! I take back what I said, Birbal. Everything has its use, even the broken, crushed and rotten stuff.”

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