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The Bird Pair and the Sea

(Story found in:  Franklin Edgerton's reconstruction Durgasimha's Kannada translation Purnabhadra's recension Hitopadesha by Narayana )

A pair of Tittibha birds, husband and wife lived on seashore. The female Tittibha bird was expecting to lay eggs and raise a family.
 
When the time to lay eggs came, she asked her husband to look for a safe place to lay her eggs, "My dear, please look for some good and safe place for me to lay eggs as it is almost time for me to lay the them."
 
But the male Tittibha bird said, "Dearest, where in the world could be a better place than this seashore? Please lay your eggs here."
 
She disagreed, "The waves of sea on full moon nights are so high that they can drag even an elephant into it. No, please find a place away from here."
 
The male Tittibha bird laughed and insisted, "The Sea would not even dare to do any harm to my children! Do not fear unnecessarily and lay eggs here without any worries."
 
All the time, the Sea had been hearing this, and thought, "From a small bird as he, such impudence is not expected. I'll certainly take away his eggs to see what he does after that and teach him a lesson."
 
Within a few days, the female Tittibha bird laid her eggs in the seashore. Shortly afterward, when the birds went away in search of food, the Sea started making waves. The waves became higher and higher, till it swallowed the eggs into it.
 
The birds returned later to find the nest empty. The female Tittibha bird started weeping bitterly, "See for yourself that the waves of the sea has swallowed our eggs. You are a fool not to listen to me when I asked you to find a safe place to lay eggs."
 
The male Tittibha bird continued its stupidity, "Dear, don't you worry. I will prove to you how brilliant I am. I will dry the sea, and force it to return our eggs."
 
The female Tittibha bird wondered, "How can you dry this enormous sea?"
 
The male Tittibha bird explained, "Even small beings can overcome the strongest opponents if they are zealous. And so, I plan to dry up the whole sea by sucking its water with my beak."
 
The wife argued, "How can you suck the sea dry, when rivers like the Ganges and Indus, and hundreds of other rivers flow into it. There is no good in this babbling". While the husband argued, "I'll work day and night to suck all the water from the sea with my beak, which is as solid as iron. Man can succeed only after putting efforts".
 
The female Tittibha bird understood that she will not be able to convince him, "Dear, there is no point in arguing. If you want to conquer the sea, please call for your friends to help you". The husband agreed, "All right, I will do this with the help of my friends".
 
Now, all the friends of the male Tittibha bird were called and when they all gathered together, the male Tittibha bird explained his problem with the sea, and how it had insulted him, and how he plans to dry the sea to seek revenge.
 
All the birds, the swan, crane, peacock and other unanimously agreed that the task was impossible, "There is no good in this babbling. It is impossible for us to suck the sea to dry it up completely. Instead, let us visit our king, Garuda (Lord Vishnu's vehicle, and the king of birds according to Hindu mythology). When he comes to know that we have been harassed by the sea, he will get angry and seek revenge. Even if we merely pay him a visit to seek his advice, we shall feel relieved."
 
As decided, they all went to their king, Garuda, and explained the reason of them being so sad, "O King, the sea has robbed the eggs of the good Tittibha birds even after the fact that you are our protector. If this is allowed to continue, our entire race shall perish."
 
Garuda realized that the birds were in grave circumstances, and agreed to go and dry the entire sea. Just as he was leaving, a messenger arrived from Lord Vishnu who needed his assistance at once, for some divine task.
 
Garuda explained to the messenger that he was unable to serve his master at this time, "I am such a common servant to the Lord for him to need me. The sea, which is the resting place of the Lord, has swallowed the eggs of the Tittibha birds. I refuse to serve him if he will not force the sea to return the eggs at once. This is my firm resolution. Please let him know of it."
 
When Lord Vishnu came to know of Garuda's resolution from his messenger, he thought, "I can understand his behaviour and need to pacify him. He is the king and protector of all the birds. I must meet Garuda at once."
 
As Lord Vishnu visited Garuda, he bowed in respect and explained, "O Master, the sea, which is your resting place has insulted me by swallowing the eggs of my humble servant, the good Tittibha birds. It is out of the respect that I have for you that I have not taken any step for revenge."
 
Lord Vishnu considered his plea, "Come with me Garuda. You are right. The sea should not have done such a thing on purpose. Let us go and return the eggs to the Tittibha birds. After that we will leave, as I need your assistance."
 
They all went to the seashore where Lord Vishnu reprimanded the sea. Taking a thunderbolt in his hand, he warned, "O Sea, you have been wicked. Return the eggs of the Tittibha birds at once or dare to face my anger."
 
When the sea heard the warning from the Lord Vishnu himself, it was terrified. It apologised at once, and returned the eggs to the Tittibha birds.
 
The wise indeed say:
Do not underestimate the power of the timid.
 
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