Birbal, or Raja Birbal, was a Hindu advisor and main commander of army in the court of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. He is mostly known in the Indian subcontinent for the folk tales which focus on his wit. Birbal was appointed by Akbar as a Minister and used to be a Poet and Singer in around 1556–1562. He had a close association with Emperor Akbar and was one of his most important courtiers, part of a group called the navaratnas. In February 1586, Birbal led an army to crush an unrest in the north-west Indian subcontinent where he was killed along with many troops in an ambush by the rebel tribe. He was the only Hindu to adopt Din-i Ilahi, the religion founded by Akbar. Birbal was one of the first officers to join Akbar's court, possibly as early as 1556, when he was twenty-eight years old. He also had a naturally generous nature and all these traits combined—elegant repartee, largesse, and poetical talent—made Birbal the ideal Mughal courtier.
Local folk tales emerged primarily in 19th century involving his interactions with Akbar, portraying him as being extremely clever and witty.