THERE once lived a bird and her two new-born babies in a
forest. They had a nest in a tall, shady tree and there the
mother bird took care of her little ones day and night.
One day, there was a big storm. There was thunder,
lightning and rain and the wind blew down many trees. The
tall tree in which the birds lived also came down. A big, heavy
branch hit the nest and killed the bird. Fortunately for the
baby birds, the strong wind blew them away to the other side
of the forest. One of them came down near a cave where a
gang of robbers lived. The other landed outside a rishi’s
ashram a little distance away.
Days passed and the baby birds became big birds. One
day, the king of the country came to the forest to hunt. He
saw a deer and rode after it. It ran deep into the forest
followed by the king. Soon the king lost his way and didn’t
know where he was.
He rode on for a long time till he came to the other side of
the forest. Very tired by now, he got off his horse and sat
down under a tree that stood near a cave. Suddenly he heard
a voice cry out, “Quick! Hurry up! There’s someone under the
tree. Come and take his jewels and his horse. Hurry or else
he’ll slip away." The king was amazed. He looked up and saw
a big, brown bird on the tree under which he was sitting. He
also heard faint noises issuing from the cave. He quickly got
on to his horse and rode away as fast as he could.
Soon, he came to a clearing which looked like an ashram.
It was the rishi’s ashram. The king tied his horse to a tree
and sat down in its shade. Suddenly he heard a gentle voice
announce, “Welcome to the ashram, Sir. Please go inside and
rest. The rishi will be back soon. There’s some cold water in
the pot. Please make yourself comfortable." The king looked
up and saw a big, brown bird in the tree. He was amazed.
‘This one looks like the other bird outside the cave,’ he said
to himself aloud.
“You are right, Sir," answered the bird. “He is my brother
but he has made friends with robbers. He now talks as they
do. He doesn’t talk to me any more." Just then the rishi entered
“Welcome, Sir," he said
to the king. “Please come
inside and make yourself
at home. You look tired.
Rest for a while. Then you
can share my food."
The king told the rishi
the story of the two birds
and how each had behaved
so differently though they
looked so alike. “The forest
is full of surprises," he said.
The holy man smiled
and said, “After all, one is known by the company one keeps.
That bird has always heard the talk of robbers. He imitates
them and talks about robbing people. This one has repeated
what he has always heard. He welcomes people to the ashram.
Now, come inside and rest. I’ll tell you more about this place
and these birds."