Strange Bird Stories in Mahabharata!



Written by London swaminathan

Research Article no. 1711; dated 12 March 2015

Up loaded at 16-30 London time

Strange Animal Stories in Mahabharata! – Part 3

Part 1 and part 2 were posted yesterday and day before yesterday.

We have seen snakes, snake bites, crocodiles, and strange frog, fish and tortoise stories so far. Now let us look at some strange bird stories in the Mahabharata.



(1).Water birds appear in the Yaksha Prasna (Questions of a Ghost) story. The pond was located only when Bhima saw the water birds at a distance. Our forefathers observed nature very closely and found out lot of things through animal behaviour.

(2).Bird migration is also mentioned in the epic. When Bhisma was lying down on the Bed of Arrows, they noticed a kind of birds and commented Uttarayana is round the corner. Our forefathers found out the change of seasons by the appearance of different kinds of birds. Even today the monsoon birds appear every year in Kerala just before the beginning of monsoon on 1st or 3rd of June.

(3).Atreya, a great seer, assumed the form of a swan. Sadhya Gods approached them and asked the difference between righteous and unrighteous men. 5-36


(4).Shibi story  (3-197 M.Bh.) is known throughout India. Purananuru, part of Sangam Tamil literature and Tamil epic Silappadikaram mentioned the story in several places and claimed that Shibi, King of North West India, was their forefather ((Read my earlier article Were Chozas Tamils?). In the story of Shibi we knew that Indra took the form of a hawk and Agni took the form of a dove. Buddhists pirated all the Hindu stories and included them in the Jataka Tales. Sibhi story is one of them.

Shibi’s son was called Kapotaroma (Dove feather) because he was made up of various fleshy parts of King Shibi (sounds like cloning or tissue culture!). King Shibi cut his body parts to save the dove from the hawk

(5).Shakuntala, who was protected by the birds, is found in Mahabharata (1-71) and Kalidasa’s most famous Shakuntalam drama.


Dove and Hawk

(6).Hindus believe that humans may be reborn as animals and birds depending upon their Karma in the previous birth. We have the story of Jarita in the Mahabharata (1-230).

Jarita (bird) was the wife of a male bird who was seer Mandapala in previous birth. She gave birth to four baby birds. Later Mandapala abandoned her and lived with another female bird known as Lapita. When Krishna and Arjuna burnt down the Khandava Vana (Gond+Vana= Gondwana ) forest Jarita escaped from the fire by flying out at the insistence of the baby birds. Baby birds also escaped miraculously from the fire. When Mandapala (in bird form) came to inquire about their welfare, Jarita ignored him and asked him to go back to his lady love Lapita. Mandapala explained that it was he who saved the baby birds from the fire and Lapita also worried about them. Then Jarita accepted Mandapala and they lived happily in another forest.

It may be just a story rather than a real life incident. But it has got many messages such as accepting a repentant and reformed husband, birds’ love and kindness, fire hazards etc. Husbands returning to their wives after spending time with another woman is a common theme in Sangam Tamil Literature. 279 verses out of 966 Tamil verses (in the love poems) are about visiting prostitutes. We should not take it literally, but the message must be understood!

(7).Asvattama set fire to Pandava’s camp at the dead of night after the war. He did this after watching owls attacking the crows in the night (10-1). The fight between the Owls and the Crows form the entire fifth book of Panchatantra fables.

crow and owl

Owl and Crow fight

(8).Uluka (owl) was the name of emissary sent by Duryodhana to tell the Pandavas that their peace proposal is rejected. Seer Kausika (Visvamitra) also means owl. In Tamil also we have many poets with owl name (Pisir Anthai, Othal Anthai). People thought that they are the names of their towns. My view is that they actually mean the bird of wisdom owl, which is the vehicle of Lakshmi and Greek Goddess Athena. In western countries it is a very common logo in the educational institutions.

This confirms my view that most of the tribal names are totem symbols I have already given the names of Tamil poets with frog names like their counterparts in Sanskrit. Tortoise is also the name of several rishis/seers.



(9)In the article on mysterious Sanskrit names in Sumerian books, I mentioned about Sumukha. Though Manu Smrti also mentioned the name of this king, nothing is found about King Sumukha in any Indian literature. But a Naga by name Sumukha appeared in Mahabharata (5-103). In fact it was not a snake (Naga), it was a human being with Naga symbol or tattoo.

Chikura was the father of Sumukha. He was killed by an eagle (man) before Matali chose Chikura’s son Sumukha to be the husband of his daughter Gunakeshi. The clash between the Naga tribes and the Eagle tribes is known throughout the world. We see it in the flags of Mexico, Emblem of USA and the Mayan stories.

When Sumukha got worried about an imminent attack from eagle (tribes), Indra came and protected Sumukha (Snake people). We see this clash of Nagas and Eagles in all the epic and Hindu Puranic stories.

(10).Eagle appeared in another story in Mahabharata (5-113). Shandili was a pious woman who lived on Mount of Rishaba. Once Galava and his friend, an eagle, came that way in search of good horses. When the eagle (in fact a man of eagle tribe) saw Shandili , he thought this virtuous woman should live in the heaven. The mere thought of carrying her away to heaven made the eagle’s wings to drop off. When he explained that the thought was not impure, Shandili forgave him and gave the eagle (man) more powerful wings.


Eagle- Snake clash

We have more such stories in the epic. Since thousands of years lapsed between the actual incidence and the writing, the original meaning was lost. Everything made to look like miracle stories.

I will conclude this series “Strange animal stories in Mahabharata” tomorrow.

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1 Comment

  1. Nice article, It is quite amazing to know that there are so many facts and stories in Mahabharatha that many are not aware of. This story is a perfect example. Adding one more story, Many are aware that Krishna did not participate in the Mahabharatha war but there are 4 tales when Krishna saved the Pandava brothers from defeat.

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