"Waking life is confusing. What appears to be an enemy can turn out to be an ally. By articulating and clarifying our values, by digging deep and thoughtfully questioning our core beliefs, a perceived enemy can turn out to be a well wisher and a friend."
The Story of the Crane, as recounted in the Mahabharata and paraphrased by yours truly our
532Yoga Instructor, Ginny Loving!
In an effort to avoid a long and bloody civil war, the Pandava brothers and their wife Draupadi attempted to placate their warring cousins the Kauravas by going into exile in the wilderness for thirteen years. Towards the end of their thirteen years of exile circumstances brought the group to a point where they found themselves tired, frustrated, hungry, parched and in great need of water for their wandering troupe. Nakula, one of the brothers shimmied up the highest tree he could find, and reported that from up there he could hear the calls of water cranes, so there must be water nearby! The leader of the Pandavas, Yudhisthira the eldest brother decided to send out Nakula to find water and relief for the group. Nakula did not return. One-by-one Yudhisthira sent out the rest of his brothers, and just like in a scary movie. . . not one brother returned!
Finally, with no brothers left Yudhishtira set off himself to see what was going on. He searched until he came to the shores of a beautiful, crystalline lake, surrounded by trees, flowers, wildlife, and general loveliness. Being so thirsty, he rushed to the beautiful bank and to his horror, the found all of his brothers lying there, all dead. At the dreadful sight before him, he lamented, he grieved, and as he sat beside his brothers to mourn. . .he heard a voice.
" I am the cause of your brothers demise. . .I warned them, but they in their arrogance would not listen. So, now they are dead. This pool belongs to me, and unless you are given my permission, the same fate awaits you."
The voice belonged to a crane. The brothers had been too preoccupied with their own situations to listen to the bird's warning. Yudhisthira quelled his anger and grief, wiped his eyes and asked what it was that he must do to gain the permission necessary to make the water safe to drink. Not only was he the oldest brother, but the coolest, calmest, and most dharma driven of them all. The crane replied that his questions must be answered! The number of questions varies in most accounts of this story with 108 being the number in some traditions, but all accounts agree that the questions were deep, with subtle layers and insightful significance. The questions covered all sorts of topics. Some were philosophical, some were riddles (think Odepius Rex and the Sphynx) and some were teaching points. The questions and their answers are thought to lay the basis for the Srimabhagavadgita and have helped guide the lives of Hindus for thousands of years. Examples include explorations of the topics of judgement, mercy, and simplicity.
After a very long discourse, some say hours, some say days...the Crane announced he was so happy with their discussions, so satisfied with Yudisthira's answers that not only would he give the permission needed to make the water safe, but additionally he would bring one brother back to life. Which brother would be up to Yudisthira! Yudisthira thought long and hard. Finally, he announced that Nakula his 1/2 brother was his choice to be returned. " A half brother rather than a full brother?" queried the crane "Why?" He was puzzled...
"So that neither one of my mothers is left with out a child" was Yudisthira's response. The Crane was so pleased with this response that he brought all the brothers back to life! And with his blessings and aid, the brothers and their company replenished themselves, and continued on with their many adventures. . .but that's another blog!
So, that's the story and now for the pose! BAKASANA