the stories narrated in the Puranas, birds and beasts speak like men, and sometimes they
give sound advice and even teach spiritual wisdom.But the natural qualities of those
creatures are adroitly made to peep through this human veil.
One of the characteristic beauties of the
Puranic literature is this happy fusion of nature and imagination. In a delightful passage
in the Ramayana, Hanuman, who is described as very wise and learned, is made to frolic
with apish joy, when he imagined that the beautiful damsel he saw at Ravana's inner
courtyard was Sita.
It is usual to entertain children with stories
in which birds and beasts are made to speak. But the stories of the Puranas tire meant for
elderly people, and in them usually some back ground is given in explanation of animals
having the gift of human speech.
The usual expedient employed is a previous
birth when those creatures were human beings. For instance, a deer was a rishi in a
previous birth, or a fox a king-the subsequent degradation being due to a curse.
In such cases the deer will act as a deer and
yetspeak as a rishi, and in the fox the vulpine nature is shot through with the
characteristics of a wise and experienced king. The stories are thereby made in teresting
vehicles of the great truths they sometimes convey.