A Crow & Many Questions


A crow – black, long and sleek as crows are – visits me every day. I wonder if it’s the same or one of its kin. But what puzzles me more is the question – why crow – why not sparrow or pigeon – birds which are found in equal measure out here?

Why does a crow come here every day and perch on my window? Why does it look into my room with such apparent curiosity? Am I attracting crows? Something in me or is it something to do with the vibrations of this room? The vibrations of the chants I sing floating like colourful confetti in the air.

There is no one to explain to me any of this. I Google it – ‘crow symbolism’ and find scattered bits of information, and something about  our ancestors spirits taking on the form of crows so they may partake of the ceremonial Shradh food. Hmm. I can only wonder. My questions fall, finding nothing concrete to hold onto. There is only this space of silence – enigmatic and expanding.

What is the point of questioning what cannot be known? Of what is not real? Gurudev’s definitions of vidya and avidya flash in my mind. Avidya is the knowledge of material science – all that we understand about the world around us. Vidya is Spiritual science – the knowledge of ‘Who am I?’ considered superior of the two. The words themselves connote their value: vidya means ‘knowledge’, avidya – ‘that which is not knowledge’. Vidya pursues the Real, avidya the Unreal. It is said that when you become enlightened knowledge simply flows to you, redolent in the imagery of Dattatreya in which the 4 Vedas take the form of 4 dogs that follow him.

And yet – questioning is my inheritance, as involuntary as my breath. Where do questions rise from…they seem to appear of their own accord. I’ve heard Gurudev say time and again, “Don’t think that thoughts are your own. Don’t put the label, ‘this is my thought’”!

I’ve made friends with the bird. Feeding one crow I have fed all crows. I cannot determine whether it’s the same or some other that finds me so companionable. I offer it vegetarian fare – bits of chappati and cooked vegetable, fat grains of boiled rice – and am surprised at the readiness with which it gobbles it up.

I remember my life in Mumbai – where I’d only seen crows tearing at fish or picking at the innards of rats. So I’m relieved by this discovery. Thank God crows can be vegetarian! It has won me over instantly. I now feel it’s my duty to present it with a meal whenever it appears.


“From the eye of Quantum Mechanics, a table, a chair, and a door are all  the same. So this understanding is called Avidya. Avidya encompasses all the sciences that we have. Everything we know about the body, about Nature, and everything else about Creation. All the intricacies here in this dimension of life: such as food, nutrition etc. All the Vedas come under Avidya. Here especially, the Vedas which deal with the material science. These are all Avidya.

 And there is Vidya, which is knowledge of the Self. It is the more subtle, causal and ethereal knowledge. It is the knowledge about the energy, about the life force. This is what is meant by Vidya. So, Avidhya is knowledge about the matter. Vidya is the knowledge about the Self. Both have to be taken together. You should go with both.” – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


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