January 13, 2021
Ask Deepak

Two Birds in a Tree.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.


Deepak, I read this online, could you please comment briefly? “ The Story of Vedanta: There is a story in Mundaka Upanishad that runs like this: Once in a tree there were two birds, one at the upper branch, serene, majestic and divine, and the other at a lower branch, restlessly pecking fruits, sometimes sweet sometimes bitter. Every time, when the restless bird ate a bitter fruit, it looked at the upper bird and climbed a branch up. This occurred a number of times and eventually the bird reached the topmost branch. There it was not able to differentiate itself from the divine bird, and then it learned that there was only one bird in the tree, the upper bird, which is described as divine, the real form of the other restless bird. This is the thought of Vedanta. The fruits in the story are Karma, the restless bird denotes a human soul, and the majestic bird denotes the Absolute.”


You have the gist of the passage. The bird that is the silent witness is our Atman or true self. The bird that tastes the fruit of the tree is our individualized and conditioned self. The passage in the Mundaka Upanishad is quite short and does not contain the embellishments of the jumping to different branches. Here it is in its entirety:

“Two birds that are always together, cling to the same tree. Of these, one eats fruit of various tastes, and the other looks on without eating.”

Shankara’s commentary on this states that the two birds, the Jiva and Atman, both have a common origin and both are associated with the temporal world and body which the tree symbolizes. The individual soul or jiva clings to the world through its lack of discernment or self-awareness. The divine self is able to experience and master the world through the organizing power of self-awareness, as a king is said to energize his subjects through his mere presence and observation.



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