Compassion…A Divine Gift

Bhagawan Who ‘lives’ His illustrious life exemplifying IT as His Message stands tall as the most inspiring figure in the history of mankind, planet Earth has ever seen. If alone one boasts to be  a real devotee, – ‘Sathya Sai Student’ -,  first and foremost he or she should possess a heart full of love and compassion for all of His creation…How many of us do follow Bhagawan’s words meticulously, with a heart full of love and compassion, sans any reservations? Sri Biraj Lama, an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute Of Higher Learning, belonging to 2012 batch of MBA, exemplified what compassion means to him when he ventured to help a suffering crow to fly into its world of feedom…a real ‘July’ story from Prasanthi Nilayam. Biraj is currently serving the Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trurst, Bhakta Sahayak Sangh Division…

It was a Friday evening, 5th July 2013. Rain showers had enveloped Prasanthi Nilayam, the weather was pleasant…with a tinge of frosty spell and it was still drizzling. I had just finished my work at the SSS Bhakta Sahayak Sangh Division early that day and had gone to the Sri Sathya Sai Book Trust – administrative block, at around 6:50 pm.

After sometime, even as I was coming out of the SSSBPT office block, I observed from a distance that a few staff members along with some sevadals had gathered at the Trust entrance road and were looking at something lying on the floor – a small dark object.

Out of curiosity I too went up to have a closer look and with what I came across, I was overcome with a sense of pain, anger and sadness. I saw around 5 to 6 people standing around watching a crow lying upon the cold floor…incapacitated…unable to move; it was wet and was prone on the damp ground appearing lifeless; it was blinking like a small helpless child waiting for its mother to come to its rescue…thus so was it gazing at the people staring at it.

Some in the gathering were amused, while others appeared sad that the crow was hurt – wondering if it was paralyzed; but none came forth to have a closer look or even attempt to help.

After sometime almost everyone walked away…barring myself and two persons from the sevadal. A thought flashed in my mind – that the crow was already suffering, it seemed paralyzed…lying vulnerable on the cold floor…if I left it as it was, it could quite easily be preyed upon.

It is necessary here to give a brief sketch about my background.
My family comprises of my mother and my brother. From childhood itself I experienced a sense of bonding with animals, birds, reptiles and insects. I could with gentle ease understand their silence, feel their pain and very naturally count them to be an extension of my own family.

I can never differentiate between human beings and animals. I tender the same amount of care to an ailing animal that I would give to my kith and kin…and I extend the same regard to all these beings…for I consider them too, to be a valued part of my circle of family, friends and relatives.

You don’t need a reason to save a dying or a suffering being…if you truly believe that God is your father and He alone has created this Universe. With this knowledge you will love all of His creation.

At times, I feel that perhaps my friends think that I am somewhat daft…as quite often, I maneuver scorpions crawling on the road into gardens or bushes, fearing that if they were spotted…they might be killed. I buy grains for birds and…sugar for ants to provide a meal for them… I buy foodstuff for monkeys too…and sometimes I even feed them the things that my friends bring for me or for themselves…because in doing so I get a kind of satisfaction and happiness that cannot be expressed in words.

However, people who do not understand what I am doing or why I am doing so, may find my ways weird. Nevertheless, they should be aware of one thing – that the origin of all life forms is not diverse but identical…whether it is a human life or the life of an animal or an insect…all of creation shares the similar spark that is within human beings…and they too feel the same pain that humans feel.

Manana (deep contemplation) will confirm the fact of God being in every living being, bird, beast and tree and when this awareness is established, you will not be tempted to hate or ridicule or envy any other living being in creation. For you are He and He is you, fundamentally. Until you come to this stage, you are only a partial devotee, still a long way to go.
- Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 10, Chapter 2

Humans in general have become numb to the suffering of other creatures. They seem to have a sense of superiority over other beings and most often look down upon the rest of the creation with contempt, but they should never forget that the source from where all beings originated is one and the same.

When Swami says - Love All, Serve All…most people misunderstand this profound dictum to be limited only to human beings (i.e. Love all humans and serve all humans). Then, about the animals… are they to be considered as children of lesser gods? Has someone else created them? Have they originated from a source different from our source?

When we love and look after an animal…we help to lift the whole of creation. I can never perceive animals as lesser than us…just because they cannot do what we can or we cannot understand what they are trying to tell us…they are in no way to be thought of as inferior beings. In fact in this Kaliyuga…some species of the animal kingdom have become the most satvic of creatures…when compared to many insensitive human beings.

Beloved Swami’s words ring out loud and clear – Treat all as your own self. Do not have double standards.

In keeping with Swami’s teachings…simple words that touch the very core – Hands that serve are holier than lips that serve… it is my personal belief that the greatest sadhana does not lie only in chanting mantras or making offerings to the deity…but in trying to expand the compassion within you by – Loving All and Serving All.

Coming back to the story of our suffering ‘black-beauty’…I bent down for a close inspection of the crow…trying to grasp the actual problem. When I attempted to pick it up, it tried to defend itself, pecking my hand with its sharp beak, while simultaneously trying to grab my hand with its sharp claw. I then slowly raised my hand and placing it on this helpless bird’s wet head, gently patted it. Subsequently, I held the crow in my hand and examined its wings for any injuries.  I could not trace any wound but noticed that the crow was unable to move and one of its legs seemed paralysed.

Even as I was wondering as to the course of action, I saw one of the brothers from the Book Trust, coming out of the office building. Though he looked somewhat puzzled, as the sight of me holding a crow was most unusual, yet, he was most eager to assist in bringing some relief to this creature in distress.

When I told him that I wanted to take this defenseless bird to my room, in order to tend to it with proper care rather than leaving it out in the open unattended, he was quite appreciative of my motive and helped me get a cardboard carton to safely cart the crow to my room.

I took it to my room and placed it in a corner….having not much expertise in handling such cases, I was wondering where to begin and how to continue with the rescue mission.

First, I made paste of turmeric powder in luke warm water and applied it on its leg. Since it had no external wounds…I sensed it could perhaps have some internal injury. During my childhood I had seen my parents use turmeric, neem and tulsi for various medicinal needs. Taking a cue from this childhood learning, I took some tepid water, mixed a small measure of tulsi (basil), neem (margosa) and turmeric, making a paste to feed the crow as medicine. It was a difficult task as I had no help… this ‘crow rescue’ was a solo venture. I could not find anyone who was willing to hold the bird while I attended to it.  Placing full trust in Beloved Swami, I held the crow myself…force opened its beak and put the medicine inside. The next 45 minutes was ‘observation time’…and soon…it started showing some signs of improvement…moving its wings…whilst struggling to adjust itself inside the carton.

That was the first ray of hope for its survival. Gripped with enthusiasm, I bought some warm rice from the North Indian Canteen and emptied it inside the box.
The crow started eating. I was vastly encouraged.
As a preparation for ‘sleep time’, I place some papers in the box so as to provide some comfort and warmth…to my winged friend.

Next morning, I woke up to sounds from the ‘crow area’. The crow was trying to come out of the box…its home for the night. Anticipating just such an event, I had secured the top of the box earlier.

To my pleasant surprise, as soon as I opened the box, I saw the crow up and about on its two legs…staring at me. It looked right into my eyes for around 7-8 seconds and then…flew away from the open door…soaring to its world of freedom.

I felt an inexplicable joy that the crow had survived…and humble gratitude too – to Beloved Swami…for bestowing this wonderful opportunity…for allowing me a tiny role in His Divine Plan…even as He granted this winged creature…a restoration of flight.

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II