When Akbar refuses to give reward to a poor man for standing in the cold lake, Birbal came into his rescue.
On a cold winter day, Akbar and Birbal took a walk along the lake. Akbar asked Birbal, "Tell me Birbal! Will a man do anything for money?" Birbal replied, 'Yes'.
Akbar put his finger into the lake and immediately removed it because the lake is very cold. Akbar said, “I don’t think a man would spend an entire night in the cold water of this lake for money.” Birbal replied, “I am sure I can find such a person.”
Akbar then challenged Birbal into finding such a person and said that he would reward the person with a thousand gold coins.
The next day Birbal came to the court along with a poor man who merely had a penny left with him. His family was starving. The king ordered the man to be inside the frozen pond all through the night. He told guards to be posted near the lake to keep watch on the man.
The man accepted Akbar’s order and stood inside the lake, shivering. He returned to the court the next day to receive his reward.
The king asked "Tell me Oh poor man! How could you withstand the extreme temperature all through the night?"
The innocent man replied "I could see a street lamp glowing a kilometer away. I kept my attention affixed on the lamp and away from the cold."
Akbar refused to pay the man his reward saying that he had got warmth from the light and withstood the cold and that was cheating. The poor man could not argue with him and so returned disappointed and bare-handed to Birbal for his help.
The next day, Birbal did not go to court. The king wondering where he was, sent a messenger to his home. The messenger came back saying that Birbal would come once his Khichdi was cooked. The king waited hours but Birbal did not come. Finally, the king decided to go to Birbal’s house and see what he was up to.
He found Birbal sitting on the floor near some burning twigs and a bowl filled with Khichdi hanging five feet above the fire. The king and his attendants couldn’t help but laugh.
Akbar then said to Birbal “How can the khichdi be cooked if it so far away from the fire?”
Birbal, cooking the khichdi, replied "Oh my great King of Hindustan! When it was possible for a person to receive warmth from a light that was a kilometer away, then it is possible for this khichdi, which is just a meter away from the source of heat, to get cooked."
Akbar understood his mistake. He called the poor man and rewarded him 1000 gold coins.