Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The stories they never told us about parrots

Now that I have this beautiful character in my house -- Pepper -- an African Grey -- who is  followed by my saint-like cat Sattva who has curbed his natural instinct to hunt birds, I am digging up parrot lore.

I found this out, and sad that our books which have so many European stories -- ya, I know more about Homer and the Sir Arthur's sword than my Indian stories. Given the intolerance nowadays I can understand the minute a story is included in text books there will be some hue and cry from some quarters. But in time, when I was a kid, that was not so. Yet, we were blocked by our imperial hangover and a syllabus that felt its shadow and that has today made us quite blind to the rest of our country. And we are the losers, for not knowing our stories. And now, the way we have become, it maybe it will be too late:(

Anyway, trawling the net, I dug these up:)

Any case, the first part of a parrot is you want to know whose vahana/vehicle it is?

Kama, who rides it.

And in whose hands is it more often found?
In the sweeter version of Shakti, where in southern temples she is worshipped as Meenakshi and Kamakshi. Here she is the devoted wife of the householder form of Lord Shiva.

Where are parrots famously found?

Arunaleshwar temple, where there is a statue on the temple facade.

Which saint is associated with the parrot?
Arunagirinathar, a Murugan devotee.
He lost his body through a trick by his rival: he had transmigrated into the body of a parrot to get a sight-saving flower for his king but when he returns find the rival has made the king burn the body. But the saint is happy to live on as the parrot and haunt the temple of his favorite deity. The story is depicted by what is called the killi gopuram (parrot gateway).

Which temples are they said to congregate in great numbers?

The Arunaleswara temple (part of the complex where Ramana Maharishi used to meditate) and which is situated to celebrate the lingam form of Lord Shiva is said  have hundreds of parrot visitors:)

Who is the Shukadev / Shukhamuni ..(The parrot sage) and the association of the parrot with a sage?

Son of Vyasa, so pure that when some nymphs see him they do not feel the need to cover themselves:)
He is said to have written the Bhagavad puranam.
There are several stories behind his name which means the parrot sage. One has that when Shiva was narrating the Bhavagatapuranam, it was overheard by a parrot nestling in the womb of a sage, and this parrot was born in human form as Sukhadev, son of Vyasa, who did penance of 100 years for such an offspring.

The other story has sage Vyasa, excited by an apsara who took the form of a parrot, discharged on a wood that was being offered at a homa pyre. The discharge creates this radiant son which a beaked nose, after his mother. He is such a pure soul that the when his name is called out, all nature would vibrate, because they saw themselves in him, as he did, in them.

Another story that made me tearful, for some reason, is where when Yudhistra is offering food to people on charity, he wants to keep tabs on how many he is feeding. Vyasa says after every 1000 people his bell would ring. But suddenly the bell starts ringing maddeningly, and that is so because the unkempt, naked Sukhdev is eating one grain. Since his soul is so pure and so cosmic, he is at once so many people, so every grain he eats rings for 1000 souls. How beautiful and what stories they told, those days, of what charismatic people--

So, one parrot has started me, on such a journey and I am planning to find out more about Sukhdev.. .

A similar sense u get when you read about Dattatreya too:)

1 comment:

valerie berger said...

nice to stop by