It was the early hours of the morning in the Hall of Sri Bhagavan. He had had His bath, and now went to the farther end of the Hall to take His towel that hung from a horizontally suspended bamboo, at one end of which a sparrow had built her nest and laid therein three or four eggs.
In the process of taking His towel Sri Bhagavan’s hand came against the nest, which shook violently, so that one of the eggs dropped down. In this way the egg was cracked; Sri Bhagavan was taken aback, aghast. He cried out to Madhavan, the personal attendant. “Look, look what I have done today!” So saying, He took the cracked egg in His hand looked at it with His tender eyes, and exclaimed: “Oh, the poor mother will be so sorrow-stricken, perhaps angry with me also, at my causing the destruction of her expected little one! Can the cracked eggshell be pieced together again? Let us try!”
So saying, He took a piece of cloth, wetted it, wrapped it around the broken egg, and put it back in the mother’s nest. Every three hours He would take out the cracked egg, remove the cloth, place the egg on His roseate palm, and gaze at it with His tender eyes for minutes together.
What was He really doing at this time? How can we say? Was He sending with those wonderful looks of gentle Grace life-giving beams into the cracked egg, putting ever newer warmth and life into it? That is a mystery none can solve. Yet He kept on saying: “Let the crack be healed! Cannot this be hatched even now? Let the little one come from this broken egg!”
This anxious concern and tenderness of Sri Maharshi continued from day to day for about a week. So the fortunate egg lay in the nest with its wet bandage cloth, only to be fondled by Sri Maharshi with divine touch and benign look. On the seventh day, He takes out the egg, and with the astonishment of a schoolboy announces: “Look what a wonder! The crack has closed, and so the mother will be happy and will hatch her egg after all! My God has freed me from the sin of causing the loss of a life. Let us wait patiently for the blessed young one to come out!”
A few more days pass, and at length one fine morning Bhagavan finds the egg has been hatched1 and the little bird has come out. With gleeful smiling face radiant with the usual light, He takes the child in His hand, caresses it with lips, stroking it with His soft hand, and passes it on for all the bystanders to admire. He receives it back at last into His own hands, and is so happy that one little germ of life has been able to evolve in spite of the unhappy accident to it in the embryo.
The wonder here is that the bird understood enough to sit on the egg, even after it had been handled by man. Who really knows how far the understanding of a ‘beast’ can carry her towards the truth?
Ah, what concern for the meanest of creation! Is it not the heart of the real Buddha which shed first tears of anxiety at the crack in the eggshell and then tears of joy at the birth of the new-born babe? Could the milk of kindness ever be seen or conceived of sweeter than this?