Kak Busundi (aka Kaka Bhusundi) is considered to be a great devotee of Rama and, in Uttara Kand of the epic Ramayana, he is found narrating the story of Rama to Garuda, the vahana of Vishnu. After listening to the story, Garuda was intrigued about the devotion and knowledge residing in the body of a crow and wanted to know more. It was then that Kak Bhusundi revealed his story and told him how he became a crow.
Bhusundi was born a human being in the Kingdom of Ayodhya. He was a great devotee of Shiva and at the same time he was arrogant. He refused to worship any other god or deity, rather looked down on people who did so. Once he met a saint who was charmed by the intelligence of Bhusundi and accepted him as his disciple. While the saint too was a devotee of Shiva, he had immense respect for Rama too. Over time as Bhusundi’s hatred towards the devotees of Rama grew, the saint grew visibly worried. He even noticed that Bhusundi had begun to insult the people who worshipped Rama. The saint tried to reason with him. He explained to Bhusundi that the benefits of worshipping Shiva would only lead to the feet of Rama, but this would anger Bhusundi who, at times, would end up shouting at his guru too. The saint never took offence as he felt that Bhusundi was otherwise a good disciple.
One day, Bhusundi was worshipping at the temple of Shiva. The belief that Rama was an inferior god had firmly entrenched itself in his mind by now. Bhusundi was doing his japa when his guru entered the temple. But Bhusundi decided to ignore the guru and went on doing his japa. Seeing this insult to the guru, Shiva was angered. His voice could be heard in the temple when he cursed Bhusundi that he would change into a snake and live in the hollows of a tree for showing disrespect to his guru.
When the guru heard Shiva’s curse, he was worried and immediately sang a hymn in praise of the lord (Namami shamishana nirvanaroopam….. Uttara Kanda 107) which seemed to placate Shiva. Shiva offered him a boon and the guru asked that may he always be devoted to Shiva and would he please offer him another boon? When Shiva agreed, he pleaded on behalf of his disciple requesting that he be pardoned. Shiva said that since he had uttered the words, he could not take them back; however, he could ensure that the curse in a way became a blessing for him. He would have to take one thousand such births till he assumed the form of a human; however, each birth would be like changing clothes for him. He would not have to undergo the agony of birth and death and would seamlessly assume forms and while at it, he would even retain the knowledge of his previous births. Also, since he was born in Ayodhya, he would end up being a great devotee of Lord Rama!
Soon, he changed about one thousand forms and at the end of it, he was born in the house of a Brahmin family. He became a great devotee of Rama and while he was growing up, he would not want to listen to any other gods or deities. His father would try his best to inculcate in him the devotion of other gods, but Bhusundi would not even want to listen to anything. Soon he grew up and went for his learning from hermitage to hermitage and from one teacher to another. Bhusundi ended up at the ashram of Sage Lomasa, who was renowned for his knowledge of religion and philosophy. Once, after telling some stories of Rama, the sage explained the concept of the formless Supreme Being and the concept of Brahman, as he felt that Bhusundi was ready for it. But Bhusundi was not interested in anything else and requested the sage that he wanted to know only about Rama and none else. The sage tried to explain the need for acknowledging the concept of a formless and an attribute less Supreme Being, but Bhusundi was not willing to listen. This led to an argument and the sage cursed him that he would turn into a crow for being stubborn and not willing to listen to anything and repeating only his point of view as this was how crows behaved.
When Rama came to know that his devotee had been cursed, he approached the sage and urged him to take it back. Sage Lomasa called Bhusundi back and blessed him for being the chosen one and recited the entire Ramacharitamanas and was finally blessed as one of the most ardent devotees of Lord Rama. Bhusundi was overjoyed and continued to sing the praise of Lord Rama and thus ended the story of the devoted crow.
Story Collected by: Utkarsh Patel
Textual Source – Uttarakand or the Ramacharitamanas, by Tulasidas
Location: Pan India