Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Freedom for the Pigeons

One more old story comes to mind. Another story that has been talked about by many and probably heard by millions but in the din of daily life it hides in a corner of the mind! When time for action comes, it is not a bad idea to remember these stories...

So here goes....

Away in a forest lived a large group of pigeons. As pigeons might very well have, they had a king. The king was just, wise and helped the pigeons live a peaceful life. It was a routine for the pigeons to forage the forest floor for food and on occasion fly over a village to a near by woods in search of food. Especially on days when their home location did not yield much food.

On one such occasion the flock set out in search of food. As they were flapping away over the village they noticed sparks of rice glittering on the floor of a field. Lots of it too! Instintively and due to a drive by hunger they started swooping down to catch a few mouthfuls.

"Wait!", said the King. "It looks like a setup! Let's not go there!".

"But we are hungry! Besides we need fly several miles before we go the woods and we are not assured of a meal there either!", groaned a few hungry pigeons.

"Sometimes when it looks like an easy meal is waiting for us, someone else might be waiting to make an easy meal of us... listen to me. I am your king, I care about you. Do not fall for this!".

Hunger and the apparent easy meal right before them and the familiarity with the king perhaps made the pigeons lose their mind. Unmindful of the good advice and not watchful of perhaps a small voice inside - they slowly and then in an accelerated fashion, swooped down and started pecking fast at the glistening beads of rice! They had their fill with the king hovering above helplessly watching his friends satisfy their hunger!

As the pigeons moved about near their landing areas they started feeling a tug, a gentle pull at first that soon tangled their tiny legs in a vice like grip... too late! Heavy with food in their bellies, the rush of earlier excitement now became screeches and screams of dispair!

"Oh my!", they cried. "We are stuck in a net! We are done for! We should have listened to the wise king!"

The king said, "Friends! Even after my repeated warnings you did not listen to me! I had only your good in mind! Now you are close to being captured by the hunters who probably laid this net knowing we will pass through some day!"

"Do not dispair, I have an idea.", so saying the king jumped into the field and got himself entangled too! "I am your king, and I have entered the net so I can help you get away! I did not notice any hunters when I circled up in the sky earlier - they are probably sleeping off the hot sun!"

"Do as I say and please listen to me! I still think we can get free from this menace on our feet!"

"I want each of you to point to the north" - they did as told, now realizing that questioning such an order at this point was futile. What did they have to lose, did the king not enter the net and entangle himself. They were elated to have a chief who would risk his life to protect them... mechanically and almost as if on a machine they all turned facing north.

"Good! now flap your wings hard... and raise together. We need to all fly together in the same direction - first up and then north. If we do this, we can lift this net up... let's do it.", said the king.

Once more the hitherto scared pigions woke up, their impending freedom motivating them. Together they flapped their now energized wings, together they rose and lo and behold! The net rose too... just as the sleeping hunters roused looking at an apparent flying net with a flock of birds.

Dreamily they eyed the spectacle and having realized it was a real escape they jumped up picking up their sticks and made a dash towards the now steadily rising birds. Thanks to their leader's guidance and their following in unison the pigeons were now well above the ground and they started flying away towards north... knowing their king will take them to a safe place, perhaps a place where their fetters would be cut but for now full of energy and faith - they flew towards north!
Note: In the original Pancha Tantra tales (Origin - India), the pigeon king proceeds to the hole of his friend who happended to be a rat. The rat and his cohorts cut the net loose.

Perhaps the spirit behind this metaphorical story can be applied to any situation, when leaders raise to the occasion to help their fellow beings!

Alternately, there are many thoughts pulling us in many directions, sometimes these lead us astray. But we have the intellect to free ourselves and apply our selves in any situation to take the "right" decision and go in the "right" direction. Thus one can raise one-self!