I FEEL TRAPPED: The story of the 2 birds
“I feel trapped” – In this superficial and fast paced life, people place their happiness in material objects, especially during their early phase of life and career. They keep themselves busy in various professional and social distractions; the result of this ‘busyness’ is that they become numb to finding a purpose or meaning in their lives.
It is only when people are middle aged and the passions have ebbed a little, that they feel trapped in a bad job, a tiring relationship or feel intimidated by the monotony of life. It is then that people feel suffocated and remark I feel trapped.
Hamsa Gita (also referred to Uddhava Gita) is Lord Krishna’s final discourse to Uddhava before his departure from earth. The entire Hamsa Gita contains delighful statements from Lord Krishna and the full text can be found in the Bhagavata Purana.
In one of the statements in the Hamsa Gita, Lord Krishna mentions the two birds that reside in all of us. These 2 birds reflect the states of freedom and bondage that we get to choose in life.
Lord Krishna tells Uddhava, “O Uddhava, two birds live on a peepul tree. They have built their nests on the tree. One of them has its nest on the topmost branch of the tree and he is happily viewing the sky around him. This bird enjoys the freedom around it, basking in the cool air that blows around and is always joyful.
“The other bird has built its nest much lower down in the tree. This bird hunts for his food all day long and after working all day long, comes back and sits on a branch that is always dark due to the shadow cast by the tree.
“O Uddhava, The two birds have been greatly attached to each other. They have been like twins, each being the alter ego of each other. But the difference between the two has now sprung up because of the involvement of one with its surroundings. The bird at the topmost branch will not come down because it has experienced the free state. The bird at the bottom branch does not want to leave its branch but feels trapped by its circumstances.
The Vedantins compare the free bird to the emancipated soul and the other bird, to the man caught in the web of Maya. The bird on the topmost branch does not find any difference between himself and other birds but the other bird considers himself to be unhappy: that he is suffering and that he is different from his one-time friend.