Krishna Jayanti, 2007, 2006 and Cuckoo birds

September 4, 2007 Kamala Amma's Grace

Dearest Friends and Family,
Today is Krishna Jayanti, the celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna here in India, and perhaps most joyously so, here in Amritapuri. Amma used to adapt the bhav or attitudinal vibration of Krishna when she first began public darshans. Seeing her in that mood, people felt she was genuinely entranced by Krishna, and used to tell her all their problems, which she would then offer succor for….consequently, in Amritapuri, there is the feeling among some that Krishna really is here, in Amma. I am certain that the consciousness of all Masters, being at One-ment, is in Amma, I mean, one is one is one. For us three though, we have never observed any significant difference in Amma when she does Devi Bhava (with the attitudinal vibration of the Goddess aspect or universal feminine principle), or when people dress her up as per their conceptions of Krishna. We see the same Amma, no outer or inner change. But others persist in seeing a different person during those times. We never have though.
Amma used to do Devi Bhava once a week, whatever country she was in. Now she does it at almost every stop on the foreign tours. At the time we came to the ashram, it was once a week here as well. At the end of Devi Bhava, Amma would stand on the stage, and throw flowers at the crowds, then stand still looking at everyone. Our cleaning efforts soon made us realize that the ramp she would be walking down was literally slick with the oils and sand dusts from thousands of feet that had gone for darshan. The handrails were sticky from thousands of hands… The only solution we found to make a non-slippery surface was soap, water and elbow grease. When Amma would be doing the flowers and all, the three of us would use that window of time – from when she got up from her darshan chair, till she walked off the stage – to sweep, scrub and dry the ramp. It also meant cleaning the area that she would descending down the ramp into, as well as creating ‘friendly’ barriers of table rows, so that her sore and aching body
would not have to be additionally pummeled by devotees and ashramites seeking yet another ‘blessing’ for themselves. With tables, people could still see her. We never minded not seeing her eyes in the front of the stage where the crowds were. We saw her eyes, and felt their smile in our hearts.
For Link and I, we have made it a quiet day. I made a “Krishna Jayanti” salad – came out quite good. The recipe is: 1 cup fresh grated carrot, 1 cup fresh grated coconut, ¾-1 cup boiled raisins (so they are juicy and plump), curd or yogurt, 1 tblsp. Honey, 1 tblsp jaggery….add the curd until all ingredients have incorporated it well…for some reason, .I felt I should do this little thing, which we shared with our neighbor…Where we are going, where our Anni is, there is no Krishna Jayanti. That reality, we want and need to know.
We arranged living garlands of growing plants around some of the large pictures of Amma in the halls of the flats, and then when the crowds were at their zenith during the Uriyadi festivities, we retired in, and watched an informative movie about Nelson Mandela of South Africa. Uriyadi is a game played in rememberance of Lord Krishna’s playful pranks as a child. He used to climb up to the hanging pots of curd and butter, and break them open and steal the contents. Now, it is played with a swinging pot, filled with watery-milky looking mixture and a few coins, strung up on a high rope, which can be lowered and raised at will by a person who controls the pot. Children dress up like little Krishnas, get sticks, and charge the tantalizingly dangling pot, which is often whisked up at the last split second. Their leaps often crack it. 2 years ago, Anni was able to rush, leap and break the pot….she was glad of it. She wanted to at least once have cracked the pot, and mentally told Amma that…she was getting
older, and there are NO older girls who play the game. Because of the way many men’s minds are, it is considered unseemly for young ladies to be running, jumping and getting their clothes wet in front of those minds. The smaller girls get chances in different groups from the boys, without as much representation, either…but, ashram kids are keen to play. To make it a little more challenging, while the players run and leap and swing at the pot, there are people dashing tumeric colored water into their faces and eyes as they near the pot. It stings. This and the yelling of the crowd serves to distract and break concentration… The ground is then slippery and muddy…it’s a real challenge to be able to break the pot…it’s a wonderful game, which usually ends with the ‘big boys’ making a pyramid to reach the pot, then group dancing with loud chants….Amma usually watches from a short distance, with an inwardness that is palpable amidst the running, yelling, swirling crowd of revellers.
Last Krishna Jayanti was a wild escapade. About 3 weeks before the day, a little female cuckoo, the shape of an egg, had come to us, having fallen from a nest after a heavy rain storm that year. The female cuckoo has white spots on black feathers. The males are jet black. She had fallen out of a tree near Amma’s father’s house. Anni has a deep love for cuckoo birds, and prior to this, for over a year, we had raised one, named Mookhi. Mookhi means ‘face’ in Malayalam, or ‘mouth’ in Hindi. She was an only child with us and had also come as a little wee-egg-shape. Anni adored her. We never caged her, as it has always seemed morally wrong to us to cage animals (except in times of need of course). By and large, Mookhi lived in the kitchenette area, but as her wings and flying skills increased, so did her territory…we (the children) used to take her around the ashram, perched on our fingers, when Anni worked on the mosaics she would sit near her, when she stitched, she would be on the machine, when we
had music practice, she would perch on some of the kid’s instruments…she would fly a bit, and come back…Anni was always very worried about her, particularly as she began to fly further and further away. The crows, as stated, are merciless. They gang up on, and deliberately torture weaker persons.
Cuckoo birds are unique. When young their eyes are grey-blue, as they mature, they turn red. The red of the male eye is particularly brilliant. The female’s is more brick red. The way that they carry their heads, seems pre-historic. They have a flat topped head, with a distinct cleft between the left and right hemispheres (we assume) of the brain cavity. They tend make downward and side to side movements with head and neck. Cuckoos have a very distinctive whooping call, which they often do around 1 and 2 AM at night.
Cuckoos have been in existence in India for perhaps 100’s of thousands of years. They are mentioned in the Ramayana (one of the four great epics in Hindu literature). The Ramayana also has reference to the construction of a bridge stretching from Rameshwaram, at the tip of India, to Sri Lanka. This bridge has now been seen by NASA satellite photographs (and erroneously named ‘Adam’s’ bridge). The NASA photos date the bridge as being at least 175,000 years old. For a good book on this, see Cremo, M. (2003?) Forbidden Archeology. If this conclusion is true, cuckoos have been around for a very, very long time.
The cuckoo, is perhaps that bird that plays the character of “Maysie” in Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Suess. The mothers are not a nesting bird, and lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, around here, most often that of crows. While doing so, they often roll the original eggs out of the nests. The crow mother then raises her baby cuckoo with love and solicitous concern. Cuckoos have huge appetites, and tend to be frugivores. The crow parents are kept busy and harried looking, meeting the demands of feeding their voracious little one, while other babies that manage to hatch begin to have serious accidents, falling out of the nests, etc, often pushed or bullied over the edge by the cuckoo while the crow parents are off getting more food. In a normal family, the siblings don’t behave like that, and the parents are unsuspecting.
All babies have a way of making the prospect of putting something into their mouths a pleasant one for the parent. Human babies make the most adorable faces when they want to nurse. Cuckoo babies open their mouths like a wild red flower, shaking their heads, so that the brilliant red flower (of their throat tissue) is visually attracting. Given even a crumb, they make the most throaty sounds around it, which make one feel gratified, for having helped to satisfy a seriously starving being. I suspect that for crow parents, feeding genuine crow babies is quite a flat experience compared to their cuckoo sibling.
Mookhi did not tolerate other birds coming into the flat for any length of time. Even Smritti, our darling pigeion, who taught us how to raise baby pigeons nearly seven years ago, was barely tolerated on his perch outside the door. One day, Anni saw Mookhi actually do a little jig, hopping on one foot for a while then the other in an attempt to intimidate Smritti away from the front of our door. I remember her laughter then…we thought we had all the time in the world, to capture another Mookhi jig on film,…for so many things…The adventures of Anni and Mookhi are innumerable. Even after Mookhi had grown up and flown away, Anni continued to call her whenever she heard a distressed cuckoo sound…and one day, we saw Mookhi in a garden at the south end of the ashram. Another day, a female cuckoo feather appeared in the bird bath near our room.
After Anni passed, when I opened her archana book, I found a little Mookhi feather. I still do not know where is my darling who so loved her Mookhi, I still do not know how she is. We want to be with her. It is inconceivable that the life drags on and on without her.
So, a few weeks before KJ 2006, another little female cuckoo had come.. We named her Kala Bala. Anni took Kala Bala to Amma, who scolded her for raising it alone. I prayed company would come for Kala Bala, as both Link and Anni were in college for often 12 and more hours each day. Within 2 days, another little cuckoo, a baby male was given to us. So, we called the female Kala, the male, Bala. Both lived on a series of sticks which we constructed to give the semblance of a natural environment – of differing height ratios, as well as hopping and short flight opportunities. Cuckoo’s however, are really better raised alone if they have to be kept with people. They do not like any siblings. Kala, being bigger, was dominating and aggressive to Bala. Driven by powerful instinct, she sought continually to drive him out of the ‘nest’ in front of the kitchenette window. He was smaller, and suffered the abuse.
With copious amounts of newspaper, we were able to keep up with the liquidy output fairly well. That KJ, the water supply had suddenly run out while I was doing the dishes. I had opened the spigot fully in an effort to keep getting water. I forgot to close the spigot knob. The sink was still full of dishes at odd angles. The water continued to stay off the entire afternoon and into the night. We did not go down for Uriyadi, but watched the proceedings in their newer location near the cow shed, from the temple roof. That night, we went out for the late night KJ festivities – in which Amma sings bhajans, beginning around 11PM, gives a small satsang, then dances, and distributes payasam, usually ending around 1 or 2AM. Anni and I were near the back of the hall. Anni was already not feeling so well, and was absorbed with trying to master the engineering courses. She had brought her mathematics notebook to review. I wanted to go back to the flat and get a small gift for a friend. Anni wanted me to
stay with her. So, I stayed another ½ hour, then, another hour, and then felt again I must go back to the flat. She came with me. As we approached the flat, we heard the sound of running water. By then, we had been gone for at least 2 hours. Our threshold has the blessing of being two inches high, as when we initially did construction for the flat, I was concerned about leaving any gap under the door for snakes,(occasional, not common) rats, mice or cockroaches, (very common) as well as water from the hallway during heavy monsoon storms…
We opened the door, and immediately noticed that water was gushing out. To our dismay, the entire flat was submerged in over 3 inches of water. The newspaper, etc., was floating around the room. Dusty, output residues lapped in waves against the walls as we waded in. Our bedding was soaked. Thankfully, the laptops and phone were not on the floor. Kala and Bala were panicked, and had somehow gotten to the highest perch in the kitchenette area – some clothes lines we have high up… and the water was gushing from the kitchette sink, in a fountain, from the back of an up-angled plate. Anni and I were already, both exhausted. We knocked on the doors of the hostel students, and soon had a crew of 5 helping us to bail out the room. It took till nearly 4AM. 18 big buckets, plus. Additionally, I sat near the bathroom, bailing with a one litre scoop for an hour. The entire flat was covered with a mixture of water, dirt, liquidy output….wet papers, bedding, etc. Amazingly, Link was gone during this time,
having fallen asleep in the hall….
That was KJ 2006…it was an amazing year in terms of bird output – there are other stories, but not for now. Kala and Bala eventually went to the home of the director for People for Animals in Kollam, our dear friend, Professor Thangachi. As they became more and more mobile, the liquidy output, the small size of our flat, all became somewhat intolerable to me…One day, I’d had it, and insisted that the universe help solve our living problem. I felt it was a grace that they left. Their lives were not so smooth, however. Kala beat up Bala terribly one day and he succumbed to his wounds. She later grew up enough to fly away, and did so.
We will try to find photos of Anni’s beloved Mookhi and put them up. I may be able to get one of her first Krishna Jayanti when she was 10.
So, that’s Krishna Jayanti, 2006 and 2007. Our lives are very different now.

Loving you,
Kamala Aunty

One Response to “Krishna Jayanti, 2007, 2006 and Cuckoo birds”

  • mare says:

    I loved these stories of Anni and her birds. I too was always rescuing little creatures, and still do. Thank you for sharing these sweet stories…Your Sister in Amma, mare

Add Comment Register

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress and HQ Premium Themes.