The picture above is from Sringeri Mutt. Kalidasa sang about a snake which protected a frog using its hood as umbrella. Adi Shankara also saw such an amazing thing at Sringeri in Karnataka, and then he established the first Shankara Mutt there (Please read my article Mysterious messengers who showed Ajanta, Angkorwat, Sringeri------- for more details).
Animals are very intelligent. They have feelings like us. They help each other. They are happier than human beings. They don’t worry about tomorrow. Rain or shine, snow or storm they survive. Some do amazing feats like flying for thousands of miles without a compass or a map or a GPS system. They even worship gods!! Animals do dream like us. Animals communicate among themselves and warn of impending dangers to its colleagues. They show mercy. They don’t kill a pregnant animal. They feed any little ones even if it does not belong to its own kind. We have stories of wolf fed babies. Animals do use tools. The wonder of wonders is all these are in ancient Sanskrit and Tamil literature. Only now the western biologists are publishing all these facts in article after article in New Scientist, Nature, National Geographic and Scientific American magazines.
(Please read my articles on “Bird migration in Kalidasa and Tamil literature” and “When Animals worship God why not men”?)
Can parrots recite Vedas?
“Yes”, say Sangam Tamil poets and Adi Shankara.
There is a very interesting story in the life of Adi Shankara. He won every argument with famous scholars, but one great scholar was left out. He was Mandana mihra living at Mahismathi on the banks of river Narmadha. When he went to the village where he lived, he saw some village women filling the water pots in the river. He asked them the way to Mandana’s house. They surprised him by two things. One they replied in Sanskrit verses. Two, they told Shankara the house where the parrots were reciting Vedas and discussing related subjects was Mandana’s. When he went in to the village, he easily identified the house because of the parrots.
Sangam Tamil poet Uruththirankannan also says that the parrots in Brahmins houses recite Vedas. They repeat it because the Brahmins do the recitation every day-Perumpanaatruppadai: lines 300/301.
When the three great Tamil kings laid a siege around King Pari’s 300 towns, Kapilar trained the parrots to bring the grains into Pari’s territory. Poets Avvaiyar and Nakkirar were all praise for Kapilar for this help (Akam303 and Akam 78).
Tamil Verse 143 of Kannakaran Korranar of Narrinai gives the information about parrots calling a girl in affectionate terms even after she left home.
New Scientist magazine has published an article about intelligent animals. Under the title of “Animal Einsteins” it has published a s news story about parrots. Alex the parrot owned by psychologist Irene Pepperberg until his death in 2007, was a prodigy. The parrot had a vocabulary of about 150 words. He could also count to 6. But Indian parrots mentioned in the above two references did more than this!!
Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus who were raised by wolves. It happened 2750 years ago. But even before this, Shakuntala, the heroine of the most famous drama of India -Shakuntalam was fed by birds. She was the mother of the great king Bharata whose name is given to India that is Bharat. She was abandoned at birth. Birds looked after her. They encircled her protectively so that she remained unharmed until the sage Kanva finds her and names her Shakunta(bird)la.
Kalidasa sang that when queen Indumathi died the birds mourned her death (Ragu. 8-39). When Rama was looking for his wife Sita who was abducted by Ravana , the deers showed him the way (Ragu.13-25) .Valmiki who lived before Kalidasa also said the same in his Ramayana.
In his Kumarasambhavam, Kalidasa adds:
The male bee, attentive to his dear mate, drank honey from the same bowl; and the black antelope scratched with his horn his mate who had closed her eyes through the pleasant sensation. The female elephant, through great love, gave to the male the water in her mouth (III-36/37)
In Raguvamasam 16-16 ,Kalidasa describes about the paintings in the palace. One of the paintings portrays a female elephant giving lotus stalks to male elephants. This is echoed in Tamil literature as well.
Frog under Snake’s Hood
Kalidasa’s description of nature is at peak in his work Rtusamharam. It is full of verbal pictures. He describes how animals forget their natural enmity when there is a forest fire or scorching sun:
“Burning under the sun’s fiery wreath of rays
A frog leaps up from the muddy pond
To sit under the parasol hood”. (1-18)
(All the six seasons are portrayed in beautiful verses. For want of space I gave only one example).
In Tamil Puram .247 verse : Monkeys help the temple (priests) by cleaning the land. They first wake up the deers that are sleeping in the temple complex.
Apes and elephants mourn when they lose their near dear ones. The zoo keepers have observed this and the news papers have published pictures of the mourning animals (See mourning ape in Metro London 5[SUP]th[/SUP] April 2012). Famous Tamil Novel Thekkadi Raja gives the elephant mourning in great details.
A female monkey who lost its mate jumped from the mountain and commits suicide. But before sacrificing its life it entrusted its babies to other monkeys. The reason given for the suicide, it doesn’t want to live without her husband. This moving picture was given by Katunthot Karaveeranar in Kuruntokai verse 69.
Narrinai 151 sung by Ilanakanar depicts a picture of a shy monkey correcting her dishevelled hair to hide her sex act. Monkeys feel very shy after sex and look at themselves in the water / mirror, adds the poet.
Puram 323-anonymous- a deer was caught by a tiger. Its calf was orphaned. A wild cow in the forest fed it with her milk.
If the kings rule the country according to the rules, a tiger won’t attack a deer. Both will drink water from the same lake, say Kalidasa (Ragu. 6-46) and Tamil poets Ilango (Silappadikaram-Purancheri Irutha Kathai), Kamban and Manikkavasagan.
Narrinai verse 143 and Akam 318 tell us that the shepherd assembles all the sheep in one place just by a whistle. They are intelligent enough to follow the instructions. In western countries the dogs do the job.
Ainkuru nuru 391,Kuruntokai 210 by Kakaipatiniyar: Crows are attributed with the power of predicting arrival of guests. If the crows caw, it is certain guests will come to the house. (I attribute it to their strong sense of smell. When women make special dishes for the guests, the good smell spreads and attracts the crows. Even then they are intelligent enough to call their friends to share the food. Crows are used as symbols for sharing (Kural 527) in Indian literature.
Tamil poets have urged people to follow crows when it comes to sex. Crows never indulge in sexual acts in public say Tamil poets. We have read hundreds of dog stories where they saved human beings from extreme dangers.
(In part 2, I will deal with animals using tools, animals’ dreams and human kindness towards animals. Once again the similarities in Tamil and Sanskrit strengthens my point that Kalidasa lived before Sangam age, either in the first or second century BC)