The Crane Story

Having chosen the Mahabharatha as the theme for this year’s A to Z challenge, I was constrained to find something suitable to write about starting with the letter ‘C’. I was toying with the story of Chitrangada, King Shantanu’s son but was not very satisfied.

Due to the belief that keeping a copy of Mahabharatha at home could lead to family feud, most homes including mine does not have its own copy of the epic. So, I was in a bit of a fix  and went looking for the book in the library. The Chief Librarian at the college graciously offered to fetch a copy of the book for the library. Thus I was fortunate to lay my hands on a new copy of C. Rajagopalachari’s Mahabharatha brought out by the famous Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

I read Chitra Devakarani’s The Palace of Illusions which looks at the epic through the eyes of Panchali or Draupadi with great interest recently. Some time ago I had read  ‘The Difficulty of Being Good’ by Guru Charan Das and had resolved to read the Mahabharatha with more attention. Long time back, there was a serialized version of Mithilapuri, a bengali novel which used to appear in the Mathrubhoomi weekly which I used to read with enthusiasm.

The story of Mahabharatha is so closely interwoven into the every day living of men and women in our country that we hear of some one who is as courageous as Karna, as focused as Arjuna, as righteous as Yudhistira or as proud as Duryodhana or as clever and playful as Krishna. Of women, we talk of the imprudence of Kunti, the supreme sacrifice of Gandhari, the devotion of Draupadi, the understanding of Hidimbi, the loneliness of Uttara and so on even to this day. And like the story of the crane that I am going to share with you, the fundamental principles of life seem simple enough, then as it is now, if you do what you do with sincerity and devotion, the results are bound to follow. Whether you are a student, a teacher, a giver, a care taker or a businessman, or whether you are donning the role of dutiful wife or a husband or a brother or a good friend, just do what you are doing with understanding and compassion and you are rewarded now or later. Teaching as a profession has taught me the same lesson, of being truthful to the craft and of being rewarded beyond measure for that simple act of being dutiful. Life looks simple enough and beautiful too!

So then about the crane. Here it goes!

Once a learned brahmana was resting under a tree when a crane seated on a branch of the tree dirtied his dress. Angry, he looked up with eyes burning in fury such that the poor crane was reduced to ashes. After this though the brahmana immediately remorseful of his thoughts which had led to the unnecessary killing of the crane.With the thoughts of regret in his mind, he set out to a nearby village seeking alms when a lady welcomed him and got him seated. In the meanwhile though, the woman’s husband returned home and she in her eagerness to serve her husband, almost forgot the brahmana whom she had kept waiting. Rushing now to him,she apologized for her folly. The alms seeker refused to accept her apology and told her that it was wrong on her part to have kept him waiting for so long to which the lady replied “I am not like that crane which you can burn to ashes with a mere look”.Astonished and much subdued, the brahmana thanked the lady for this lesson in humility. She further directed him to meet Dharmavyadha in the city called Mithila to learn more about real ‘dharma’. Eager for learning  Kausika, the brahmana set out in search of Dharmavyadha. After much search, he did find the man in question but was shocked to know that Dharmavyadha was a butcher by profession. Unsure and hesitant,Kausika stood watching him in action.

Dharmavyadha called out to him and said, “Hasn’t that lady sent you to me? Come with me” . Dharmavyadha took Kausika to his home where Kausika noted the extreme devotion and care with which his new found friend cared for his parents. Dharmavyadha’s attention to his duty and compassion to his parents made him a better teacher of ‘Dharma’ than the brahmana who was a mere student of scriptures. Here ends the crane story. Hope you liked it!

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