The Wise Sparrow

Balance is the secret of success. Mahabharata deals with this golden precept very well. We discussed earlier how even an enemy could be relied on when we need a bail out. No one is an eternal enemy or an eternal friend. In this week’s edition, we discuss the other side with another gem from Mahabharata. Read on..

Once there lived a king by name Pramadatta. In a corner of one of the rooms of his palace, a wise house-sparrow found its abode and built its nest. On the very same day the prince was born to the royal couple, the sparrow also gave birth to its young one. The little sparrow and the prince grew up together.

The mother sparrow would fly out to the sea shore and when it returned, it would bring rare varieties of fruits. Whenever it brought, it brought it in pairs – one for its little one, and another for the prince. Such was the maturity of the sparrow that it never felt a reason to differentiate the prince and its own little one.

One day, when the sparrow returned to its shelter with two fruits on its beak as usual, it found its beloved one dead on the floor. Its anger shot up when it found that the young prince had indeed wrung its neck to death. Rage started to build up in the sparrow’s heart.

It thought, ‘One cannot expect lasting friendship from a ruler. The prince, who has committed this vile act without an iota of gratitude needs to be taught a good lesson! My little one was born the day the prince was born; they had food together; my chick completely trusted the prince. In spite of this three-fold relationship, this prince has ruthlessly killed the chick. Let him face the punishment for this cruel act!’

Thinking so, the sparrow suddenly plunged its beak into the eyes of the prince, blinding him instantly.

Just then, the king came in and witnessed this gruesome sight.

Addressing the king, the sparrow said, ‘a person undergoes punishment for any willful vile act. If not his, descendents may have to reap the fruit of this sin.’

The king quickly understood what had happened. He thought for a while and said, ‘My son had hurt your chick and you have replied in the same token. Let us consider this as over and get on with our lives. You may continue to stay where you are staying and let us get back to our normal lives.’

The sparrow rejected the counsel of the king.

‘ Eventhough I had just replied your drastic act with a matching act, it still is a grievous act as far as you are concerned. After all this, expecting trust in the place a hurtful act was committed is total tomfoolery! In a place where an act of enmity was committed, even if kind words are exchanged, one should not repose trust there. If such blind faith is reposed, it would lead to destruction soon. ‘

‘Amongst relatives, parents can always be trusted. A sibling out of greed may become an enemy. As long as there is money, friends stick around. So joy and sorrow are not totally dependent on others, but rather on the vicissitudes of time. If one is insulted or insults others in a place, he should not continue to stay there. Your son committed an act of grief to me. I replied to that in the same token. Neither of us can forget this. Whatever you talk, there would still be a lingering doubt in my mind. Howsoever I conduct myself, you cannot dismiss this act of enemity from your mind. So continuing in this place is not good for me.’

Hearing this, the King said, ‘I do not see this as a personal act of crime amongst us. Everything happens to due to the all powerful ‘Kaala’ – Time. A person is born due to ‘kaala’ (Time) and he dies due to the same reason. We are not the cause for this event. It is the powerful passage of time which caused this too. Let us understand this and tolerate each other from now on.’

The Sparrow replied, ‘I do not agree that it is Time which is the sole cause of events. If the Time is the sole cause of death, why does the death of a relative bring in sorrow to others? If Time is sole cause of all ailments, why does a doctor give treatment to a patient? If time is the sole reason, how does it matter if we do an act of vice or virtue? When you mull over these, it is evident that Time is not the sole reason of all that happens. Whether god or bad, Time assists or resists Human effort. Thats all.’
‘The greatest grief to a person is the loss of his son. It is not a temporal grief. Every now and then, seeing your disabled son, you will certainly get bouts of rage against me. The great sage Shukracharya said that one should not repose trust on the person who has been hurt by us. We should be wise every moment. One should leave even his own nation, if he is no longer respected there. Whoever shows love is the spouse; whoever is beneficial to us is our offspring. Whosoever is trustworthy is our friend, where we find safe livelihood is our nation. Now this is not the right place for me. If someone has faith on the wrong person during the wrong time, he gets completely destroyed. I am not going to make this gross mistake!’

Saying thus, the sparrow flew off!

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