28. Eagle Owl Demon

From the Danube delta Karimuka walked along the sea shore towards north. River Dneiper came from north and joined the Black Sea. They took rest under the shade of a tree near the river. On that tree a beautiful kingfisher was sitting motionless and looking down at the water with concentration. It looked like a painting in deep green, sea blue and copper brown. With its short neck it projected its orange beak and waited for the appropriate moment. Suddently it dived into the water. Catching a fish it returned to the tree. It has a habit of pecking the head first. Holding the fish with its claws the bird tried to peck and kill. The fish wriggled out and slipped from its claws and fell down on Krishna’s lap who was sitting under the tree. Taking pity, Krishna took the fish and threw it in the water. The fish miraculously escaped and vanished in the river.

The deceived kingfisher came to argue with Krishna:

“O Lord! I know that you are a divine person conscious of what is right and what is wrong. Fish is our natural food ordained by God. With repeated efforts I caught that fish. Instead of staying neutral, you have helped the fish escape, hence doing me an injustice. Is it right on your part?”

“To catch and eat fish is your Dharma (natural right). That is nature’s law for your existence, I agree. Likewise to escape for its existence is the dharma of the fish!”, exclaimed Krishna with a smile.

“Your contention is clever. Even then how can you justify your interference? If you had not thrown it in the water, I would have got it again.” argued the bird.

“The fish surrendered to me for protection. To save that life is my human dharma”, countered Krishna.

The bird appreciated Krishna’s logic and started doing penance on the tree branch for getting another fish.

Krishna and Balarama started their journey again on the back of Karimukha. On their way another river called DON from the north joined the black sea.

Journey along the Black Sea continued to the Caucasus mountains. Afterwards, they came to another sea called the Caspian Sea. As they proceeded they came to the Volga river delta. It is one of the long rivers in Europe flowing north to south. It emanated from the northern lakes, collected the water drained by Ural mountains of the east. This mountain chain divides Europe and Asia.

On the river banks of the Volga, cows and goats were grazing. The scene was familiar to Krishna and Balarama, bringing back memories of Gokula.

Suddenly an eagle owl of enormous size swooped and attacked the cattle. People who were tending the cattle shouted. Krishna directed the Garuda towards the giant owl. Garuda caught him and brought before Krishna.

“What wrong have I done? Cattle is my food. I hunted. Is that not the rule of nature?” he asked Krishna.

“Your search for food is not wrong. If you kill so many cattles everyday, the cows and sheep will perish. Then you will also die. To preserve the balance I will reduce your size and turn you into an ordinary eagle owl”, said Krishna.

“In that case give me a boon my Lord. I shall be more powerful than eagles and owls” requested the demon.

Krishna granted the boon. The demon transformed into an eagle owl with a height of two and half feet and with a wing span of five feet.

“How many varieties of birds!” wondered Balarama.

“Apart from so many varieties, there is a wide range also!” interjected Krishna and continued. “There is a tiny humming bird that weighs very much less. We saw the large Ostrich in Africa, which is double the weight of humans! Our Garuda cannot be classified with these bird varieties. That is a bird which can take a form of any dimension and is divine. So also this demon eagle owl”, explained Krishna.

The Eagle Owl of reduced size flew towards the Ural mountains. People heaved a sigh of relief. In their joy the pastoral people sang and danced around. Sage Naradha also participated.

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