The following poem was inspired by the story of Garuda and Kak Bhushundi, as it appears in the Uttara Kanda of Tulasi Das’ Ramcharitmanas.
The Eagle and the Crow
The crow said to the eagle...
You have come!
So long you have flown!
Take rest here, on this mountain,
Beside this lake, above the snow,
Above all clouds...
At dawn, you will see
Rubies scattered in the east
Flung before the Sun and crushed into dust
Of crimson and gold, beneath the wheels
Of His blazing chariot.
The day comes
And at this high place the stars still shine,
Like a million sparkling facets
On a sapphire sky.
At evening, looking down,
Shimmering veils of auroras
Dance like waves on an emerald ocean,
Breaking below us along the cold slopes
Of a vast snow shore.
In time, dark night comes
Draped in all Her diamonds,
And She smiles to see Her face
Looking back in the mirror
Of this high mountain lake.
...But what talk of time?
At these heights time will not touch;
Moments and ages
Melt together like summer's snow,
And stream down to become
The ever-flowing waters of the world.
The very waters crossed by you:
Rivers wending became vast seas;
And on, through cloud-lit, turbulent
Storms of passion, rain's domain.
An honest doubt forced you to fly,
But a subtler faith directed your course
Beyond those earthbound waters.
So far you have flown!
Ignorance and delusion
Chased after you, I know,
But their wings failed long ago,
And they remain perched
On barren branches,
Gazing at a flat world.
Up here they will not reach;
Nor will shame, nor hatred, nor fear.
These four peaks of gold that rise
Along the lake’s jeweled banks
Simply declare each their own joy,
And do not stand guard,
For here are no threats.
And, see, upon each peak
A crown: a solitary tree,
Whose roots delve deep and seek
And drink the rarest nectar
From this gold-rimmed lake.
So meet me, dear one,
Under the great banyan,
And hear this song of my Beloved,
Who swallows all worlds with His laughter,
And Whose heart melts with one devotee’s cries.
In every age through all time
He walks the earth,
And with the godly aim of His bow
And the mortal sweat of His brow
He breathes life into Truth, and
Confounds for all time
His enemies, all minds, and Death.
With His words and deeds
This lake is ever renewed,
And see, on its surface:
Lotuses of blue and red and pink;
While swans of purest white,
They drink, and bathe, and listen...
Ah, see! Your eyes, they now offer
Pearls of highest joy!
So now you have known.
Through the clearness of those tears,
You have caught sight
Of the secret of this song...
This lake, this mountain,
This world, and your heart—
All belong to Rām.
...And the eagle bowed low before the crow.
Ambikananda, Ekadasi, 15 September, 2013