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Animal Einsteins - Part 2

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(This is Part-2. Please read the first part of the article under the title “Animal Einsteins in Sanskrit and Tamil Literature)

Animals are intelligent and they do think and act. They even learn new techniques according to the scientific advancements. Crows and other birds previously dropped nuts and other food items on rock from heights to break them. Now they use cars and trucks!! They simply drop the hard food items on roads and wait for the vehicles to pass. When they are broken by the vehicles, they come and eat them. How intelligent they are!!

Tool using animals

Animals using tools is a new subject for biologists (who study Evolutionary Anthropology) in western countries. But there are innumerable references in Tamil and Sanskrit literature to show we knew about it two thousand years ago. Following are among the many references in Tamil:
Narrinai 57: Pothumbil kizar presents an interesting scene where a female monkey gestures to its colleagues to keep quiet and milks a wild cow. It distributes the milk in the hands of its little ones. Though it is day light robbery, we can’t stop appreciating the robber monkey.

Animals know astrology!! Pandyan king Ukkira Peruvazuthu says that a porcupine on its new venture, after listening to the sound of a lizard, went back to its home because it was a bad omen to hear that sound from a lizard (Narrinai verse 98, also Akam 88). Tamils believed in omens based on lizards and birds.

Monkeys are playing with sticks: Ainkuru. 275-277 by Kapilar. Monkeys are breaking the water bubbles by beating with the sticks. We know children enjoy breaking air bubbles or water bubbles.
Narrinai 95: Kottampalavanar sings about an acrobat’s feats and monkeys playing on the sticks.
Monkeys are playing on the drums: Puram. 128 Mutamosiyar.

Sirupa.60-62: The salt vendors’ children play with the monkeys accompanying them. They go from town to town selling salt. The monkeys play with rattle.

Akam.8 by Perum kundrur kizar: A female elephant is helping her spouse to get out of the mud where it was trapped. The elephants use the broken tree branches to build some steps. This shows that they sympathize with the affected ones and help them as well. The Gajendra Moksha story in Hindu mythology is a typical example for animal love.

Animal love

Shakuntala, the heroine of Kalidasa’s Shakuntalam, was very fond of plants and animals. She gave them special names. So when she departed from Kanva’s house (asram), they all were very sad and blocked her way. Kaliadasa says this through sage Kanva’s mouth:

“It is the little fawn,your adopted sun
Whom you fondly reared with handful of millet,
It is he who will not move out of your path (Shak. IV -14/16

Akam .59, 85; (also Thirukkovaiyar by Manikkavasagar): Maruthan Ilanagan (5) sings about the love between the male and female elephants. The heroine was convinced by her friend that her husband will abandon his business trip half way through as soon as he sees the male elephant caring for his spouse. Kuruntokai verse 37 also depicts the same scene. Kattur Kizar Kannan sings (85) about love and affection found in the elephant family (Also Kalidasa’s Ragu.16-16). We read about such things in Gath Sapta Sati and Pratima drama (I-5-25)

Puram. 320-Veerai veliyanar- says deers were mating when the husband who was a hunter was sleeping. His wife was so careful not to wake her husband or disturb the mating deers. So she stayed put. We can compare it to Kalidasa’s Shaknuthala . Shakunthala was very careful not to disturb the bird drinking water in the garden. She would always watch them from a distance.
Dasaratha did not kill deer because both male and female deer were together. (Ragu.9-56/57)

Kalitokai 11: Perunkatunko depicts a male dove relieving the sufferings of its mate in the scorching heat by gently fanning its soft wings over it.

Narrinai verses 383, 384: Just to satisfy the hunger of a female tiger, its mate attacks an elephant says Seziyanar. A pigeon brings food to its mate from a long distance.

Animals dream like human beings

Pathirru. 11: Kumattur Kannanar sings about the beautiful dream of deer. The deer dreamt of the grass it ate in the day time and the beautiful waterfalls where it was growing. So it must be a colourful dream.

Akam.170: Madurai Vennakanar describes a dream of a sea gull. It dreamt of eating tasty prawns.
Kurinji kali 13 describes a dream of an elephant. A tiger that stood against the attack of a tiger went to sleep. It dreamt of an attacking tiger and started attacking a Vengai tree. Vengai means both tiger and a kind of tree in Tamil. When the Vengai tree is in bloom it looks like a tiger.

Nar 87. sung by Nakkannaiyar describes a bats’ dream: The sharp teethed bat is imagined to dream in its sleep. The bat dreams of the sour taste of the gooseberry fruits (Nelli in Tamil).This theme of bat’s dream is repeated by other poets as well.

A beetle’s dream is portrayed in Akam. 132. It dreamt of elephants rut while sleeping in a bunch of Kantal flowers.

Pet Birds

We already saw the parrots kept as pet birds in Mandanamishra’s house and Tamil Perumpanatruppatai. Kalidasa speaks of pet birds, mostly parrots, in Megadutam.90, Vikrama Urvasiyam II-22, IV-17,Shakuntalam I-13,14,III-14. Peacocks were also raised V-13. People erected poles just for the peacocks to rest.

Akam.34,Maruthan Ilanakan sings about the stags and swans raised in the house and their love and affection. Nar. 376,Kapilar speaks of flocks of parrots coming to cultivated lands and the girl talking to them (so that her lover would hear it).

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