37.I AM NO CRANE
ONCE the sage Markandeya came to see the Pandavas. Yudhishthira happened to talk of the virtues of the fair sex and said: "What greater wonder is there in this world than the patience and the chastity of woman? She gives birth to a child after cherishing it in her womb as dearer than life itself. She brings it into the world inpain and anxiety and thence forward her one thought is for its health and happiness. Large hearted and forgiving, a woman forgives and continues to love even a wicked husband who neglects and hates and subjects her to all sorts of miseries. How strange!" Hearing this Markandeya told him a sacred story. There was once a brahmana, named Kausika who observed his vow of brahmacharya. with great steadfastness and devotion. One day, he sat under a tree reciting the Vedas. A crane, perched on the top of the tree, defiled his head with its droppings. He looked up at it, and his angry look killed the bird and it fell down dead. The brahmana was pained when he saw the dead bird lying on the ground. How frightful it would be if wishes fulfilled themselves, if each hasty or angry wish took effect at once! How much there would be to regret or repent afterwards! It is lucky for us that wishes depend onoutward circumstances for accomplishment, since that saves us from much sin and sorrow. Kausika sorrowed that the evil thought that passed in his mind in a moment of anger had killed an innocent bird. Some time later, he went as usual to beg alms. He stood before the door of a house to receive his dole. The housewife was cleansing utensils at that time. Kausika waited in the hope that she would attend to him after her work was over. In the meantime the master of the house returned, tired and hungry, and the wife had to attend to his wants, wash and dry his feet and serve him with food.