The Crow’s Significance in Indian Mythology

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(This story was recounted by Vedamurti Shri Vivek Shastri Godbole, who is the Acharya (the head Brahmin) of the Shri Krishna Yajurveda Pathshala in Satara, Maharsahstra,  India.  He comes from a lineage of 15 generations of learned practitioners of the Krishna Yajur Veda.)  In every ceremony related to our ancestors, the crow carries a lot of importance. Why is this so? There is a story behind the crow’s significance in Indian mythology and in Vedic rituals.

Long, long ago, Lord Rama, his wife Sita Devi, and his brother Laxman had a 14 year period of sanyas in which they were isolated from society. During this time, they were wandering among various forests, jungles, and mountains. While doing so, their lives were in peril. Wild animals, demons, and ghosts used to bother human beings.

One afternoon, Lord Rama was taking a nap, with his head resting on Sita’s lap.  All of a sudden, a large crow came to Sita and he tried to distract her with his beak.  Naturally, Sita got startled.  Immediately, Shri Rama woke up. He picked up his bow and arrow. Rama asked Sita what had happened. She replied, “This crow just flew up to me and I got scared.”

2167517-bigthumbnailRama saw the crow and he recognized that wasn’t just any ordinary  crow, but that was Lord Indra’s son, Jayant, who was disguised in the form of a crow.  Jayant was trying to flirt with Sita.  When Lord Rama found out, he become outraged and he said to Jayant, “Now i will kill you!” But Jayant apologized and begged for Rama’s forgiveness. “Please have mercy on me!”

Rama obliged him and said,  “I will not kill you, but i will punish you for your offense. I will also give you a boon. Now, I will aim my arrow at your eye.  From now on, you will have only one eye. You will only be able to use one eyeball at a time, not both. The boon is that whatever is invisible for two-eyed creature will be visible for you. My arrow will perform magic with your eye.  You will be able to see ancestors and unsatisfied souls.  Jayant, you will have a long life. Whoever feeds you during the time of honoring our ancestors (Pitru Paksha), their ancestors will be satisfied.”  From that day forward, the crow has one active eyeball, a long life, and a strong connection with ancestors. This is story behind the crow’s significance in Indian mythology.

This tale comes from Valmiki’s Ramayana.  It happened approximately 85,00 years ago.  There are also other Indian folk tales regarding crows.

If you would like to participate in Pitru Paksha pujas sponsored by Shri Krishna Yajurveda Pathashala where they worship crows and cows, please send an email to Shri Vivek Godbole at sohamvg@gmail.com.

 

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Also published on Medium.