Four Levels of The Brave Little Parrot (Martin):
1. Literal Comprehension
The story ‘The Brave Little Parrot’ begins with the Buddha being born as a little parrot. One day his home; the forest, catches fire due to the lightning and thunder. Like all the other inhabitants of the forest, the little parrot flees towards the safety of the river but on his way there he sees many animals trapped in the fire with no way out.
Even though being a small bird, the idea of stopping the fire comes to his mind. He desperately dips himself in the river, flies towards the burning fire, then shakes his wings making few drops of water in the fire; resulting in the hissing sound, nothing more. Though his effort doesn’t seem to make any visible difference he continues to carry water and drops on the fire. His wings feel tired, muscle cramped, eyes stung but he doesn’t stop.
By seeing this absurd act, the Gods living above in their golden palaces with all the privileges start to laugh at his foolishness. But one of the Gods suddenly changes himself into a golden eagle, goes towards the little parrot and asks him to stop and save himself. The parrot doesn’t listen to the eagle; continues to do what he was doing, when stopped again he says that he doesn’t need anyone to advise him but rather help him.
The God turned eagle get inspired by the acts of little parrot and agrees to help him. As soon as he says that, he starts to weep, which then turns into wave upon wave and cools down the burning fire giving life to the plant that burned down. The tears give life to the weakened parrot’s body. When all the animals see that no one and nothing has been hurt, they cheer for the little parrot saying he saved them all with the miraculous rain.
This legendary story ‘The Brave Little Parrot’ might be telling us about the importance of humanity and courage. The need and want to help others and the determination & hard work of the little parrot is what led to the cease of the burning fire.
Similarly, even the things which seemed small and insignificant did matter. Even though the few drops of water seemed incomparable to the huge fire but in the end, it was those drops that turned into the streams of water and saved everyone.
On the other hand, it might also be telling us not to put ourselves on the pedestal due to the privileges we have and put others below us considering their work insignificant by laughing at them as the other Gods do but help those in need, selflessly as per your capacities like the golden eagle and little parrot.
3. Critical Thinking
This story is an amazing Buddhist legend with a humanitarian message. It is really enjoyable but some parts of the story don’t really seem to fit in.
- Is reincarnation really possible? Was Buddha himself born as the little parrot?
- Do Gods really exist?
- Even if they do, aren’t they supposed to help beings on earth in need rather than laughing at them?
- And what kind of magical science is this, a God turning into a giant eagle, having an actual conversation with another bird and crying streams that could cease a burning fire and even give life to the dead?
This beautiful and courageous story of a brave little parrot reminds me of my dad during the time of great earthquake that occurred a few years back in Nepal. At that time, he was stuck in ‘Ashan’; the busiest, crowdest and narrowest economic hub of Kathmandu. While the earthquake was going on he was trying to keep himself steady by clutching at the handle of some shop. In front of his eyes, a man got buried in the piles of the bricks of the wall that fell on him. He exclaimed for help, giving the evidence of him being alive. No one dared to help him because of the 5 storeyed building that stood right next. But my dad went there to help and miraculously the earthquake stopped at the same time and he was able to save that man. It’s the small steps that count and as the saying goes, if you really want to do something the whole world will help you to achieve it.
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