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Monday, September 8th, 2003

Govardhan, Uttar Pradesh, India


A lesson from a lowly bird

There are no crows in South Africa; the first time I heard a crow call, I was almost forty years old. I was walking along the road, minding my own business, when suddenly, from the branch of a tree above me, a large black bird gave a loud: "Caw!"

I looked up, startled. I knew instinctively that this huge, ungainly bird with the dull black feathers was the fabled crow. Since one of my favorite childhood books was Aesop's Fables, I had long since surmised that the crow did not have the most euphonious of voices, but I was still quite unprepared for such a rough, raw, raucous vindication: "Caw!"

Now the wisdom of Aesop's choice of the fox's antagonist became apparent, and the full import of the fable could be appreciated. With a voice like that, what was the crow thinking? That she really has such a sweet voice? "Queen of Birds," indeed. How easily we are flattered! I have always loved this tale; now, with this practical experience, I could appreciate it so much more.

So many instructions are given in the scriptures like the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Chaitanya Charitamrita. Although we enjoy the "stories," and can appreciate them on a superficial, intellectual level, in time we come to realize, through practical experience and through the mercy of Srila Gurudeva, just how appropriate those instructions are.

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