Heli, Kin Sang Karan Sneh, is a folk song Shabnam Virmani learnt from Mahesha Ram of the Meghval community of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan in Western India. It tells the story of the brave parrot… The song is attributed to Dharamdas, a poet of the Kabir tradition. Listen to Shabnam's rendition of this moving parable here:
The Flight of the Hummingbird is a wonderful animated version of the little bird story, presented by artist Michael Yahgulanaas in the Haida Manga style of illustration -- the native Canadian (Haida) version of Japanese Manga illustration style. He has used this story in his work as an environmental activist. Watch it here:
The Hummingbird Story and the Green Belt Movement: Environmentalist Wangari Mathai has also used this powerful story to illustrate the importance of doing one;s utmost in a noble cause. Listen to her narration here:
The Brave Little Parrot is the title of Rafe Martin's illustrated book, available here: http://www.amazon.com/Brave-Little-Parrot-Rafe-Martin/dp/039922825X
The Kabir Project would like to thank Ali Kazimi, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Film and Theatre at York University, Canada, who helped locate many of these resources.
This is Bangalore-based artist Jyoti Sahi's response to the parrot story.
An artist's response to the Parrot Story: Jyoti Sahi
In one of the songs ascribed to Kabir, we hear of a story that is found in the Jatakas, or former lives of the Buddha. There was a parrot who lived in the branches of a sandal wood tree in the forest. One day a fire spread from a clump of bamboos in the forest, and engulfed the whole forest. All the animals and birds fled. But the parrot refused to leave the tree which had been its home. The tree spoke to the bird, saying: "You have wings, so fly away. I am a tree rooted in the ground, so I have to perish." But the bird refused to leave the tree that had been its dear friend and companion. However, seeing that soon both tree and bird may be destroyed, the parrot decided to fly to a nearby pool, where it flapped its wings in the water, and carried some drops that it sprinkled on the sandal wood tree. Back and forth the bird went carrying a few drops of water from the pool in the hope of quenching the forest fire. The gods were watching this brave effort of the parrot, and Garuda, came down to earth to see what this little bird was doing in the burning forest. Garuda was so moved by the love of the bird for the tree, that tears began to fall from his eyes. When Garuda weeps, the clouds begin to rain, and so finally the forest was saved from the fire, and the sandal wood tree was not consumed.http://jyotiartashram.blogspot.com/2010/12/brave-parrot.html