Many years ago, in the heart of the forest lived a family of happy little songbirds. These songbirds were undeniably beautiful. Each bird of the family was a different vibrant color. Some members of the family were green, some yellow, some red; some were even a mixture of the colors. Other creatures of the forest argued that they were the most magnificent birds on earth.
These birds were known throughout the forest not only for their beautiful feathers but also their song. They sang each day filling the forest with their warm, joyful songs. These creatures were exalted by everyone near and far. These birds were a blessing to the forest.
Time went by and the songbird family continued to be loved by every creature in the forest, and beyond. One day, something strange happened. A mother was ready to have children. She laid her eggs, incubating them diligently and carefully, but one of the eggs was simply unlike the others. Unlike the usual bright, blue color of the eggs, this egg was a dark blue-purple. Some even thought it was black.
This made no difference to the mother. She loved her children equally and incubated them all the same, until the day they hatched! The mother was so proud of her children as they each one by one began to break through their shells. Every single egg was beginning to hatch but the dark little egg. The mother, worried that she might lose a child, began to examine the egg. She gently rocked it in hopes to encourage this little baby songbird to hatch. A few days went by, and the mother mourned, assuming her child was dead.
The mother few off to get food for her other children only to be shocked upon her return; the dark little egg was no longer, but instead replaced by a beautiful, multicolored little songbird. The mother rejoiced as she saw that her child was alive. This little bird was the most wonderfully beautiful bird anyone had ever seen. He lived its entire life being praised and loved, and all this praise began to get to his head.
“I am the best bird in the entire forest!” sang the little bird, “There will never be anyone as beautiful and sing as perfectly as I do.”
The gods heard this little bird, hoping he would someday realize how arrogantly he lived his life, but the bird did not change. He continued to live his life entitled and mean. He took things from others saying, “I am the most beautiful. I should have what I want.”
The corruption of his ways never once crossed his mind despite the warnings from his family. The gods could take it no longer. They took the bird's beauty away. He was cursed to die in a terrible, sudden way if he did not change his ways and humble his heart.
The bird, while distraught by his new feathers, was not fazed. He continued to be a mean, terrible bird tormenting members of his family. His fate was coming for him, but he did not heed the warnings, even teaching his children to be as arrogant and selfish as he was.
One day, as the bird was singing loudly and arrogantly to his family, he was shot. The hunter tip-toed upon him with no sound, no warning. His life ended suddenly, and tragically, just as his curse predicted.
As the poor little bird took his last few breaths, he sang to his family above, “Let me be an example to you. No longer should you live as I did or you will see the same fate.”
Image of a Mountain Bluebird provided by Wikipedia
Author’s Note: This story was taken from the introduction of Buck’s Ramayana. In this story, a songbird was going about its day, only to be maliciously killed by a hunter. It was a seemingly insignificant story as a rushed explanation as to how Valmiki became the poet. In the story, Valmiki saw the songbird's death and cursed the hunter. The words he used to curse the hunter came out in the form of a poem, and hence the beginning of his career as the poet of Ramayana. While it seemed that the bird was killed for no apparent reason by the hunter, I took a different approach to the story. I took the story to display a story of birth, death and also the circle of Karma. The bird was born different. He was given a gift of undeniable and incomparable beauty and song. He was exulted far and wide, and he let this interfere with his character. Valmiki only saw half of the story. The bird received warning after warning, but still did not listen. He lived a terrible life, and in turn received a terrible death. Karma and character are two very important aspects of Indian culture, and this story simplified that to the small, seemingly insignificant life of the songbird. I chose this image because it is such a beautiful picture of a wonderful native bird. This image captured the stark beauty of the songbird I was trying to convey through my description. In my story, the songbird's blue feathers were bright and extravagant much like that of the Mountain Bluebird.
Bibliography: Buck, William (1976). Ramayana: King Rama's Way.