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Once upon a time there was a large gathering of birds. There were swans, parrots, ducks, cuckoos, chatakas, owls, peacocks, pigeons, doves, cocks and many others and they had assembled to discuss a a matter of great concern to them. The discussion ran on the following lines :
At present we have Garuda for our king. But he is a devotee of Vasudeva
and so lost is he in the service of that great God that he has no time
to serve us and solve our problems. What is the use of a king who provides
us no protection, when every day, we are being trapped and killed
by hunters. For it is said ---
He who does not protect creatures who are terror-stricken and harassed by others always , is himself the god of destruction in the form of king. There is no doubt about this. If there is no king to safely guide his subjects then they would suffer destruction.
Just as we would abandon a leaking ship at sea, we would be wise to avoid the following six :
a teacher who does not explain things satisfactorily;
a priest who has not studied his subject;
a king who does not protect his kingdom;
a wife who is not sweet of speech;
a cowherd who whiles away his time in the village rather tend the
cattle in the fields; and
a barber who resorts to the forest. instead of being available for
work in the village.
After a great deal of deliberation, the birds decided to elect another king for themselves. Just then, they noted a handsome owl in their midst and decided that he appeared to be a good choice to become their next king. Having so decided, they started assembling all the things needed for the coronation rituals, like water of various sacred rivers, the collection of 108 herbs etc. A throne was set up, and a picture of the earth with mountains, seas and the seven continents was drawn, as if to symbolise the extent of their kingdom. A tiger skin was spread out, and golden jars and lamps were filled respectively with water and oil. The place was decorated with mirrors and other auspicious things and trumpets were blown. Brahmanas were then engaged in repeating the Vedas in one voice, and maidens sang songs. The chief queen was brought and the owl was seated on the throne for the coronation.
It was at
this point that a crow materialised as if from nowhere. Why, he wondered,
have all these birds assembled here and why all this the celeberation
? Noticing the crow in their presence, the birds said among themselves
: It is said that among the birds the crow is a very clever one. Indeed
on the subject of cleverness, the saying ran :
the barber among men and the crow among the birds,
the fox among the animals and so forth .................
So, thought the birds, we must
have the crow's opinion too. For it was also said :
Plans thought out by experts and discussed with many and from various
points of view and well considered, do not fail under any circumstances.
The crow now approached the birds and asked them : why this gathering and what is the big celebration all about ? The birds replied : you know, for all practical purposes, we have no king; so this owl has been chosen to be our new king and his coronation is about to begin. But now that you have arrived just in time for it's commencement, we would like to have your views. On this, the crow laughed aloud and said : you are all making a big mistake ! When you have eminent birds like the peacock, swan, cuckoo, partridge, parrot, duck, parrot, crane and others, why do you want to anoint this ugly bird that cannot even see in broad daylight ? No, he will certainly not be my choice. For he has a crooked nose and is squint eyed, and has a cruel and unpleasant look, even when he is not angry. What will he be like when he is angry ? What shall we gain by choosing this owl as our king, who is frightful, fierce and cruel by nature and repulsive to look at . Besides, when you already have a king in Garuda, why should you be making this day-blind bird as your king ? Even if he is highly qualified, it is still not proper to have another king when you have already one. One mighty king can be a blessing to the world. But multiple kings like multiple suns at the end of a Yuga, will bring destruction to the world. Further the mere mention of the great Garuda's name will put you beyond the reach of your enemies. For it is said that good results even at the mere mention of the name of the great, even in an assembly of wicked men.
So runs the story of how the Owl and the Crow became mortal enemies ....................................