Once there was a bird. It was an utterly foolish
bird. It sang songs, but did not read the scriptures. It flew, it
jumped, but did not have the faintest sense of etiquette.
The King said, ``Such birds! They are of no use at all. They only
eat the fruits in the orchards and the royal fruit-market runs a
He called the minister, and commanded, ``Educate it.''
--- 2 ---
The King's nephew was given the responsibility of educating
The scholars held long discussions, the subject being --
``What is the reason behind the foolishness of this creature?''
The conclusion was: much learning could not be stored in the tiny nest
that the bird could make with just chips and twigs. So, first of all,
it was necessary to build a good cage for it.
The scholars got amply rewarded and went home merrily.
--- 3 ---
The goldsmith started building the cage. The cage turned out to be so
exquisite that everyone under the sun rushed to see it. Some said,
``Education indeed!'' Others said, ``Education or no education, at
least the bird has got the cage! What a lucky bird!''
The goldsmith got a bagful of rewards. He set out for home
The pundit came to teach the bird. He took a pinch of snuff and
said, ``A few books won't do.''
The nephew summoned the scribes. They copied from the books and copied
from those copies and made an enormous mound of such things. Whoever
saw it, said, ``Bravo! Learning is going to overflow!''
The scribes got cartfuls of rewards. At once they rushed
home. None of their descendants faced any poverty ever since.
The nephew was always busy, doing endless number of things regarding
the surveillance of the precious cage. Repairs were quite frequent.
Apart from that, there was the washing and the cleaning and the
polishing of the cage. Everyone admitted, ``Sure signs of
Many people were employed and to supervise them, many more
people were employed. Each of them got a handful of coins every
month and filled their chests with them.
They, their brothers, sisters and cousins began to live in
great luxury and happiness.
--- 4 ---
The world lacks many things; only fault-finders are there in
plenty. They said, ``There are improvements of the cage all right, but
nobody cares for the bird.''
The words reached the King's ears. He called the nephew and
said, ``What's this I hear, dear nephew?''
The nephew said, ``Your Majesty! If you want to know the truth
then call the goldsmith, send for the pundits and the scribes,
summon the repairmen and their supervisors. The fault-finders
cannot make both ends meet and talk nonsense.''
The situation became crystal-clear to the King, and a gold
necklace adorned the nephew's neck.
--- 5 ---
The King wished to see for himself the lightening speed at
which education was proceeding. So one day he came to the
education center with his entire entourage of friends, companions
As soon as he reached the entrance, there arose a chorus of bells and
drums and harps and flutes and lyres and lutes and cellos and violins
and cymbals and mandolins and trombones and bassoons and harpsichords
and clavichords. The pundits swung their pig-tails and started
chanting hymns at the top of their voices. The repairmen and the
laborers and the goldsmith and the scribes and the supervisors and the
cousins greeted the King with a huge uproar.
The Nephew said, ``Your Majesty! What do you think?''
The King said, ``Amazing! This is a non-trivial amount of sound!''
The Nephew said, ``It's not just the sound Your Majesty, there
is also a non-trivial amount of money behind it.''
The King was extremely pleased. He started back. He came out of the
front door and was about to ride his elephant, when a fault-finder,
who had been hiding in a bush, yelled, ``Your Majesty! Have you looked
at the bird?''
The King was startled. He said, ``Oh! I forgot. I didn't see the bird
He went in once again and told the pundit, ``I want to see your method
of educating the bird.''
And he saw it. Very pleasing indeed. The method was so overwhelming
compared to the bird that one could hardly notice the bird. It seemed
it was rather irrelevant to look at the bird. The King understood
that the arrangements were faultless. There was no corn in the cage,
no water either. Only heaps of pages had been torn out from heaps of
books; and with the tip of a pen, those pages were being stuffed into
the bird's mouth. There was no room in the mouth for the bird to
squeeze out a cry, let alone a tune. It was really a terribly
This time, before mounting the elephant, the King ordered the
ear-pulling expert to pull the fault-finder's ears severely.
--- 6 ---
In a rather respectable and predictable way, the bird became half-dead
as the days passed. The guardians understood that the situation was
hopeful. But still -- as its bad habits were -- the bird looked at the
morning sun and flapped its wings in a very objectionable manner.
Some days it was even found to make an attempt to break the rods of
the cage with its sickly beak.
The administrator said, ``What audacity!''
Immediately, the blacksmith came to the education department with
bellows and fire and hammer and chisels. His hits were absolutely
spectacular! An iron chain was manufactured and the wings of the bird
were cut off.
The King's relatives shook their heads gravely and said, ``In
this land, you see, the birds are not only stupid, but ungrateful
Then the pundits came with a pen in one hand and a spear in
another and did something which one could really call education.
The blacksmith became very well-to-do. His wife got gold
ornaments. The administrator gained a title from the King for his
--- 7 ---
The bird died --- no one knew when. The infamous fault-finder spread
the news, ``The bird has died.''
The King called the nephew and asked, ``Dear nephew, what is
this that I hear?''
The nephew said, ``Your Majesty, the bird's education is
The King asked, ``Does it still jump?''
The nephew said, ``God forbid.''
``Does it still fly?''
``Does it sing any more?''
``Does it scream if it doesn't get food?''
The King said, ``Bring the bird in. I would like to see it.''
The bird was brought in. With it came the administrator, the guards,
the horsemen. The King felt the bird. It didn't open its mouth and
didn't utter a word. Only the pages of books, stuffed inside its
stomach, raised a ruffling sound.
Outside, where the gentle south wind and the blossoming woods were
heralding spring, the young green leaves filled the sky
with a deep and heavy sigh.