Bird-sound and the fluttering of wings is definitely a sign of Spring at my house. And, with the arrival of my first hummingbird this morning, it feels like a perfect time to share with you one of my favorite Yogic stories – the beautiful story of a small bird who was willing to fight for what was important, and then simply trust the outcome.
There are many and varied versions of the Hindu sacred myths, probably because they originated as spoken stories. My favorite version of this story is by Kamla K. Kapur, in her book “Ganesha goes to lunch“, which in my words goes something like this.
The great war between good and evil – the Mahabharata – was about to start. Krishna, sitting with Arjuna in his chariot, prepared himself to shoot the arrow that was to signal the beginning of the war. As he selected the arrow from his quiver, a tiny bird landed on the front of the chariot. The tiny bird puffed herself up as big as she could and declared “I cannot let this war happen!”.
Arjuna and Krishna smiled at her brashness. Arjuna told her that he understood that she might be scared of war, but that he had learnt from Krishna that this fight against the forces of evil was necessary, and had to happen. When the bird realized that she was in the presence of Krishna she became even more adamant, and demanded to know how Krishna, the Lord of the Universe, could possibly allow this war to happen. She told them that she had just given birth to five fledglings and that her nest was beneath a tree, right in the middle of what would become the battlefield. Arjuna, feeling compassion for the little bird, continued to try and make her understand that this was not a war that could be stopped, and that she and her family were all part of a bigger picture. The tiny bird tried to understand what Arjuna had to say, but the safety of her family was the only thing she could think of, and so she continued to plead her case. All the while Krishna remained silent and thoughtful. Finally, she resigned herself to the fact that she had done all that she could and flew back to her nest beneath the tree.
With no other reason to delay, Krishna took up his arrow and let it fly toward the enemy army, signalling the beginning of the war. His arrow did not hit the enemy general, or even the elephant that he sat on, but hit the leather clasp which held a heavy brass bell around the elephant’s neck. The bell fell to the ground with a loud noise. Everyone was surprised that the Divine Krishna had missed what they assumed was his target, but the war had begun and there were bigger things to worry about.
The terrible battle raged for eighteen days, and there were many deaths and much bloodshed. At the end of the eighteen days, Arjuna and Krishna walked around the battlefield, surveying the devastation. As they approached a tree in the middle of what had been the battlefield, Krishna bent down toward a large, brass bell that was nestling in the grass. As Krishna lifted the bell, Arjuna was astonished to see movement. His heart sang as he saw two little birds and five fledglings take flight and disappear into the morning sky.
Sending much love to the birds of Spring for reminding me of this story! 🙂