The Mother Divine
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Some water from the river?

No, Sir!

Some water from the lake?

No, Sir!

Some water from the well or spring?

No, Sir!

Chataka will not have anything.

Only rain water!

But it’s not just rainwater.

There are conditions.

Rain water yes, but only raindrops still falling, caught mid-air.

Unsullied! No drop to be picked from the pools of the earth.

The story doesn’t end here.

It’s only the first drops of Swati nakshatra that will do for the meal.

Nothing else will do!

And what if after a year-long wait, there is no rain?

Well, then I die!

It’s a do or die bird.

There is water aplenty on the earth in lakes, ponds and rivers, but the Chataka bird simply doesn’t care for these polluted waters. Undaunted by thunder and lightning, it espies the dark Krishna-cloud.

That’s chataka! And this is ananya bhakti! One-pointedness in devotion.

It’s raining in most parts of the country. Time to think of this great seeker bird Chataka!
Chataka, harbinger of monsoon! With a prominent crest and an elongated tail.

This bird migrates to places where monsoon sets in. We could call it the Parjanya-sniffer! Some believe that the bird uses monsoon winds to assist its flight during this migration.

Kartika is its meal time. Incidentally, this is the time in the Hindu calendar full of spiritual fest.
Every year the Pied Cuckoos make sudden migratory appearance in many areas of central and northern India. But there are resident numbers in the South too. Sometimes the sighting is done at Siddhavatam range in Lankamalla forest in Kadapa. Sometimes, at other places.

A black and white bird.

This bird is an inspiration. Black & white. Signifying black and white attitude. No grey.
Slender, long-tailed, cuckoo, its call is a ranging series of whistling notes.

Poet Kalidasa referred to it in his work “Meghadutam” as a metaphor for deep yearning.
But more importantly, Chataka’s is a one-pointed yearning.

Concentration is surely about focussing on one thing. But it’s also about blanking out the other things.

Arjuna succeeded by “not seeing” anything other than the eye of the bird on the tree.

If he did not see other things, his seeing the eye of the bird was obvious.

Chataka practices this blanking, this negation. Like a seeker after God who ignores everything else, the worldly dross.

Ananya! Rain-drop and nothing else.

Just like Meera for who it was Giridhar Gopal and none other. Dusaraa na koyi!

Chataka feeds from the stuff above the earth. A seeker depends only on God who is above.

Kalidasa, Adi Shankaracharya and Tulasidas speak of Chataka.

Swami Vivekananda argued with Sri Ramakrishna about this bird.

In Kalidasa's Meghadutam (The cloud messenger), Chataka is represented as a bird with a beak on its head that is waiting for rains to quench its thirst. A long crest on its head shaped like a bow with an arrow stretched tight on it that actually prevents it from drinking from the earth as this crest comes in the way.

For a love-lorn everything in the world other than the beloved is fabulous nothing.

For Chataka it’s swati boond, or nothing.

A seeker in the early stages has God and has other things too. His heart is sectarian.

As he advances, there is spontaneous, unbroken flow of pure love towards God.

Unconditional. Unmeditated. Unexpecting.

The ananyata expressed in 'api chet su duracharo bhajate mam ananya bhaak. 

What God favours is our all. Not fractions of us!

Once, Uddhava advised the Gopis thus, “Ignorant as you are of the Sastras, the Puranas and the Vedas, you should follow the path of the adepts in yoga to attain communion with God.”

Niraja, one of the Gopikas, answered, “We have only one mind, not many; that mind has gone away to Mathura along with Krishna. Devoid of a mind, we are unable to understand you!”

May the pure love of the Chataka bird, its one-pointedness and its determination serve as an example for all of us!

Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)