The Swan and the Crow

Based on a Story from the Mahabharata

About Jaiya Seibert

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Jaiya was introduced to the Siddha Yoga path by his parents. He began practicing the Siddha Yoga teachings in 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He currently serves as a staff member in the SYDA Foundation as an SYDA Foundation Management Assistant and as one of the Managers for Shree Muktananda Ashram. Previously, he served in the SYDA Foundation Content Department and before that in the Teaching and Learning Events Area at the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland. For three years, Jaiya facilitated satsangs for the Siddha Yoga Prison Project in Utah and California. His favorite Siddha Yoga practice is meditation.

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For me, the swan and the crow are both aspects of my being. The swan, hamsa, is the steady awareness, “I am That.” The crow is my mind, especially when ahamkara, the ego, is in charge, darting everywhere, showing off, forgetting the goal. Over and again, the mantra rescues my excitable mind.
 

Corsham, United Kingdom

I learn so much from this story.
 
From the swan I learn that strength lies in constancy, regularity, confidence, and simplicity. I also learn from the swan that it is possible to stay focused on my tasks, and at the same time remain sensitive to my surroundings.
 
The story also teaches me that whatever I receive is meant for sharing. It reminds me to stay in the flow of giving as well as receiving, to have the humility to ask for help when needed, and to remember that I have the chance to change for the better.
 

Ramonville-Saint-Agne, France

After reading this story two times and contemplating it, I understood that my mind is like the crow and the great swan is like Shri Guru and her teachings. The teachings of Shri Guru compassionately refine my intellect and bring my mind back to its true nature, which is the Self.
 
With this understanding, when I meditated, I experienced a profound peace and tranquility.
 
Thank you, Shri Gurumayi, for providing us with such seemingly simple but profound means to study and implement your Message for 2019.
 

Udaipur, India

This story arrived at just the right moment for me. I had an encounter with someone whom I find difficult to get along with, and I am often reactive. As I was contemplating this recent interaction, I heard an inner voice say, "She is a good teacher."
 
If I can see the lesson here as that of the swan soaring above the crow, while also having compassion for and ultimately rescuing the crow, I can read the events of my own life utterly differently. I can, as Baba often advised, change the prescription of my glasses.
 
Thank you, Gurumayi, for these stories that go straight to the heart.
 

Virginia, United States

After reading this inspiring story, this image came to my mind: while surfing with my breath on the waves of the graceful Paramahamsa in the sky of infinite Consciousness, I infuse joy and happiness into my life within the limits of space and time of my earthly sphere.
 

Rodez, France

The first thing in the morning, I sit in a comfy chair, sipping my coffee. Then I open the Siddha Yoga path website and look at the day’s postings. This morning I read the story “The Swan and the Crow.” When I finished, this question dawned on me for the first time: “How many others get to open their computer and read such a delicious story from the Mahabharata?”
 
I felt immensely grateful for the Siddha Yoga path website and the good fortune to have such wisdom come right into my living room.
 

California, United States

I have loved returning to this story again and again, finding new teachings in it each time. Initially, I noticed a tendency to identify with either the swan or the crow. Then, I chose to hold both of them in my awareness, realizing that, indeed, I manifest aspects of each. I began to practice compassion for my inner crow, for things that sometimes arise, like pettiness. And to experience gratitude for aspects of my inner swan, for my own strengths that help me when I need them.

As I’ve contemplated the Guru as the great swan of my existence—the power, both within me and before me that rises up when I falter, carries me forward, and shows me a better way when I get lost in things like useless ideas and judgements, I’ve come to a place of almost unspeakable gratitude. In this way, I’ve experienced the Guru’s great love and patience. I know that my life has been utterly made over by the Guru’s presence in it, by the Guru’s teachings on how to best to utilize this gift of a lifetime.

I offer my thanks, my blessings, and my renewed commitment to honoring these gifts—learning from these teachings and working to put them into practice. What a wonderful way to live!
 

Washington, United States

“He started to be friendlier toward others, and began to recognize the good qualities in each bird and creature.” This is exactly the piece of advice I needed to receive today! Thank you.
 

Madrid, Spain

For me, this story has a very practical application—it is a lesson on how I should live my life. Like the swan, I can follow one path, have devotion to a steady practice, be consistent in my efforts, and have unshakeable faith that these will take me across the ocean of this world. At the same time, I can hold and nurture unconditional love, respect, and humility towards all of God's creations. 

The story of the crow also gives me hope. Despite living in ignorance for most of his years, he changed at the touch of unconditional love.
 

New Delhi, India

During the race, the crow continuously taunted the swan, but the swan was not a bit affected. This gave me the message that we should not focus on the bad qualities of anyone, and we should move on our own path.
 

Mumbai, India

What I really like about this story is the crow's change of attitude at the end. It tells me that when I recognize a shortcoming, I can choose to change it. I also see that acknowledging someone else's greatness makes me even greater.

What immense courage and strength there is in humility.
 

Naples, Italy

I find many wonderful lessons in this beautiful story. One that stands out for me is the reminder of how important it is to stay the course. If I allow myself to become distracted by anything—ego, one-upmanship, self-doubt, the need to prove myself—this would take my attention and focus from the only goal that really matters to me: the attainment of my beloved Guru’s state. For this, I keep my eyes, ears, mind, and heart focused on Gurumayi and the Siddha Yoga teachings and on how I can imbibe the teachings more and more deeply.
 

West Vancouver, Canada

I was interested in the swan, too. He could have just continued his travel when he heard the crow making disparaging remarks. Nothing would have changed. However, like a good leader, he took the time to stop what he was doing, and in the most compassionate way, he helped the crow learn a valuable lesson. I was inspired to see that he moved on without fanfare and rejoined the other swans in order to continue his journey. No judgments. Such wisdom.

May I also take the time, when necessary, to voice the values I have learned on this path, in a kind, gentle, and wise way, without judging, so I too can make this world a better place for everyone. 
 

Melbourne, Australia

One point that struck me about this story is when the swan told the crow that he learned one pattern of flight that had served his kind for generations and expressed his confidence that he would defeat the crow proceeding in this way.
 
To me, this exemplifies achieving mastery in our lives, according to our natural predispositions and ways of being. I understand that we don't need to be like the crow and try and become great in "one hundred and one different ways.” Rather, we just need to be great, simply as ourselves, and live humbly in this way. Then, we can live with great confidence in ourselves and be masters of our own lives.
 

New York, United States

As I read the story, I asked myself, "Why did the swan challenge the crow?" It did not seem to be from an ego perspective to show he was better. Rather it seemed to be to help the crow with his understanding of himself and the world around him. Both birds had different motivations. I felt the swan was acting from a pure motivation. The story challenges me to consider my own motives, and to strive to act from a place of purity and not from ego.
 

North Carolina, United States

The character of the swan especially interested me. I found that the swan, grounded in his own years of experience and drawing on generations of his ancestors’ experience, exuded deep confidence in his flying abilities. He seemed to own his strengths and speak about them in a way that was straightforward rather than boastful.

After reading this story, I faced a challenging situation at work. Inspired by my sense of the swan’s ability to articulate his truth unabashedly, I was able to respond to the situation with clarity and strength.
 

Minnesota, United States

I enjoyed this story. It seemed to be full of power. When I read about how the swan saved the crow’s life, something shifted for me. I can’t exactly explain it, but I just felt different.

I thought about the story, and I learned that from bragging you can have consequences. Usually when you do something unkind to someone else, there is a consequence for you.
 

California, United States