The stories of Gopal Bhand are not ascribed to any one person. Many are of the opinion that his stories symbolize the "jester period" in history.
Gopal was said to be born in north Ghurni, a village near Krishnanagar in West Bengal. He lost his father at the age of nine. Not being particularly well off he was unable to continue with his education. But the basic education he had managed to pick up while his father was alive blossomed into sharp intelligence and presence of mind.
Gopal was a barber by caste. There is a saying in Bhojpuri, "A barber is the shrewdest among men and a crow the shrewdest amongst birds". The saying proved to be quite apt in Gopal's case. Gopal, even in his childhood, was sharp, shrewd and intelligent. These were the very qualities that eventually made him a famous jester. He is remembered, even today, as Gopal, the jester or 'Bhand'.
No matter how much one tries to suppress talent it is bound to make its presence felt some time. Gopal's sense of humour and quickness of mind earned him the title The jester'. Maharaja Krishna Chandra of Krishnanagar heard about him. Much intrigued, he sent for Gopal one day and subjected him to various tests to gauge his mettle. Gopal came through the tests with flying colours. The Maharaja found him a place in the royal court and Gopal excelled himself as the court jester.
Gopal lived nearly 300 years ago. But even now the stories of his exploits continue to delight people. Birbal was one of the Navratnas (the Nine Jewels) in Akbar's court because of his ready wit, presence of mind and sense of humour. Gopal enjoys the same popularity in Eastern India as Birbal does in the North. That is why people often refer to Gopal as the "Birbal of Bengal".
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