Once a saranga bird called Jaritha lived in the forest of Khandavaprastha with her new born babies, who had yet to learn to fly. Her husband, Mandapala was busy courting another lady bird named Lapita faraway from them. Jaritha was left alone to take care of her children. She did her best.
One such day, a ferocious fire broke out in the forest.
Jaritha was in a fix as her children were too young to fly. What should she do? Should she fly to safety and hope for the best for her children, should she leave them to perish or should she stay back and be killed along with them?
Jaritha’s children were far too wise for their age and urged their mother to flee to safety. They pleaded, ‘mother, you can start another family with a new partner if you are safe, go away please and save yourself’.
On the other side of the forest, Mandapala grew anxious for his children and wanted to check whether they were good. His lady love, Lapita chided him saying he hasn’t gotten over Jaritha and that the desire to see his kids was just an excuse to meet her again. Mandapala told Lapita that he had taken birth as a bird for the sake of children and that he was justly worried for their safety. He, then set out to meet his children.
Meanwhile despite their repeated pleadings Jaritha found it difficult to leave her kids and go to a safer place. She tried to convince her kids to take refuge in a rat hole which she said she would seal with mud, but they did not agree. They said that they would rather die by fire than be food to an ordinary rat!
Luckily though, the fire subsided in some time and Jaritha was happy to see her kids safe and sound.
When Mandapala came, he too was relieved to see his children safe and asked Jaritha casually, ‘ Which of these is the eldest?’.
Jaritha sneered at him, ‘What do you care, go back to your lover!’
In his retelling of the Mahabharatha, C. Rajagopalachari or Rajaji says that in the puranas there are many animals and birds which talk like human beings and that the justification given to this is that in their previous birth they were humans and had to take rebirth due to a curse or an unfinished task.Stories in which animals talk and express their thoughts are charming in their own way,aren’t they?