The Brave Little Parrot
Literal Comprehension: Taken from Buddhist legend, the story “The Brave Little Parrot,” carries a moral lesson at its heart. Once upon a time, Buddha was born as a little parrot. One day, there was lightning, and the thunder struck the jungle, and the fire took the jungle in its grip. The little parrot, at first, tried to save its life flying towards the river but he came to observe that his jungle-friends were captivated inside the flames of the fire. Not being able to tolerate the sufferings of animals, the little parrot made a plan to save their lives. Then the parrot went to the river, dived into it and flew back to the jungle. When it arrived at the point where the fire was the most wild, it sprinkled the few drops of water remaining in its body. Though it was too tired, the little parrot repeatedly went to the river & came back with drops of water with the hope of extinguishing fire. The Gods were passing just above the jungle at that time; they began to laugh seeing the fruitless effort of the little parrot. But the heart of one of the Gods was kindled. He took the form of golden eagle & flew towards the parrot. The eagle advised the parrot to save its life by flying away. But the little parrot replied that he needed help than any advice. The answer of the parrot melted the heart of the golden eagle, & began to weep. The tears of the eagle came down on the earth as a cool rain. The fire was extinguished. New life sprung where the tears fell on. All the dead animals & the plants got their life back as if nothing had happened in the jungle.
Interpretation: This beautiful story is probably trying to give the message that we can get success at the end if we continue our efforts without any hesitation. Because of its strong determination, the little parrot got victory over the deadly fire. The story is also trying to tell that selfless services are always rewarded by the God. Similarly, it also tells us that even the God has to bend its head in front of little creature like parrot if it takes the path of selfless welfare.
Critical Thinking: The story is successful in spreading the Buddhist philosophy of social welfare. But a lot of questions emerge in the mind of a critical reader. Do the Gods really exist in this world? Can the birds talk like human beings? Is it possible that the tears of a bird take the form of stream? Is it possible to restore the life of dead creatures? These are some of the situations in the story that are not agreeable.
Assimilation: The story is based on a myth. The story beautifully draws the Buddhist philosophy of ‘live and let live.’ After reading the story, I truly understood the value of living in a society. We are growing selfish these days. The story teaches us the principle of community service. The story motivates its readers to be laborious, and help the others in need. Value of brotherhood is glorified in the story.
Ahab and Naboth
Literal comprehension: This story is taken from the holy Bible, the religious book of Christians. The Christians believe that there is only one God and Bible is the collection of the words spoken by the God himself.
Naboth the Jez’reelite, a citizen of Jez’reel, had a very beautiful vineyard. The vineyard was located by side of the palace of King Ahab, the king of Samaria. The eyes of King Ahab fell on the vineyard, temptation took his heart in control. So, he went to Naboth and asked him to sell the vineyard. But Naboth denied giving it to the king because it was his ancestral property. The king became serious and stopped eating. Then, Jez’ebel- the queen- calmed him by promising to take the vineyard in possession. Then the queen wrote a letter in the name of Ahab and sent it to the nobles of Jez’reel. In the letter, it was claimed that Naboth had blasphemed God and the king, so he must be stoned to death. All the people of Jezreel gathered in a place, and put Naboth in a high place and stoned him to death.
The death of Naboth was reported to the queen. When Ahab, the king heard the news, he went to take the possession of vineyard. But, the god sent Eli’jah the Tishbite to deliver the message to the king that he has committed the crime and must face the same fate as Naboth.
Interpretation: Religious stories always try to show its followers the right path to truth and morality. This story also teaches its readers a moral lesson that one’s sin is never hidden from the eyes of the god. A powerful person may misuse his authority to conceal his crime. But the truth is never hidden in the eyes of the god.
Critical Thinking: Is the story suitable for modern reader? Are the evil deeds watched by the God? There would be no crime in the world it the God treated the criminals accordingly. Can anyone witness someone stoned to death?
Assimilation: After reading the story, I realized that the truth can’t be blurred by any power. The power may misuse its authority, but one day, it is destined to its fate. I also believe now that “god sees the truth but waits.”
If Not Higher
The story “If Not Higher” is written by I. L. Peretz. The story gives the message that selfless service is the path that leads someone to heavenly glory. The person who is dedicated to social service achieves heavenly glory on the earth.
The Rabbi of Nemirov would vanish in the previous night of Penitential prayers, people had the strong belief that he ascends to heaven for welfare of the people. But once, a Litvak came there and laughed at them. Pointing out the story from Gemraha, he mocks at them and said that Moses was suspended two and half feet below the heaven.
Then, the Livtak decided to test the rabbi, and secretly entered into the room of rabbi. Hiding under the bed, he remained awake throughout the whole night. At dawn, next morning, the rabbi woke up realizing the sorrow of people in Israel. Then, the rabbi disguised himself as a simple peasant. Entering into the room, the rabbi took the axe and a bundle of rope. When the rabbi got out of the house, the Litvak followed him. The rabbi, passed by the village checked every house and headed towards the jungle, cut the firewood, and returned back to the village. He stopped in front of an old hut where a lonely old woman was living. The rabbi sold the firewood for six cents. But the woman was so weak that she wasn’t able to put the fire on. So, the rabbi helped her to burn the fire. When he put the firewood in the oven, he recited the first portion of the penitential prayer. When the fire was in flame, he recited the second portion of the penitential prayers, and recited the third portion of the penitential prayer when he set the fire.
After observing all the events, the Litvak become the disciple of the rabbi.
The text depicts the last moments of great philosopher, Socrates. Socrates was blamed for misleading the youths. So, he was executed. Socrates always followed the path of truth. Plato, one of the most famous disciples of Socrates records the philosophical discussion that his leader held with his other disciples before he accepted his death by drinking hemlock.
Phaedo, the disciple of Socrates, describes his last discussion to Echerates. Socrates lived his life bravely and accepted the death bravely. All of his family members and the disciple couldn’t tolerate his death but he consoled them with his soothing words. He believed in his life after death. According to him death is inevitable. We have to meet the ultimate truth of death, so we shouldn’t worry and get afraid of death. We should live meaningful life by following the path of truth and the god.
Socrates believed in the concept of ‘hereafter.’ He believed that when someone is dead, only his body is dead. The soul is eternal. After death, the soul is separated from the body and ascends to heaven. He doesn’t give any importance to dead body since it is nothing after the soul is released from the body. That’s why he asked his disciples to bury his dead body as they wish to bury. The god is powerful. The god only welcomes pure soul in the heaven. If we commit sinful act, the gate to heaven is closed for us. So, we should win the heavenly glory by following truth and reality in life.
As Socrates lived bravely, he accepted the death bravely. He drank the cup of hemlock happily in front of his disciples. He could save his life by begging excuses to the authority, but the truth was dearer to him than his life. Before dying, Socrates asked Crito to offer cock to Asclepius. It was the Greek custom to make an offering to the divine healer, Asclepius after recovery from illness. According to Socrates, he was recovering, not dying. He was just entering into next heavenly life. Thus, Socrates was the bravest, the wisest and the most upright man of all the time.
- Pu Sung-Ling
‘The cricket’ is a Chinese story; it presents a detail picture of an authoritarian government. In china, during Mings reign, cricket fighting was very popular among the high officials. The magistrate wanted to win the favor of his seniors by collecting fighting specimen, and he was successful to find the one. So, floral shade was appointed as a royal supplier of the cricket to the court.
As a nature of shifting down the responsibility to the juniors, the magistrate shifted the responsibility to the neighborhood head named Make- good who was an honest man. If he became unable to collect sufficient tax, he would supply from his own pocket. So he was bankrupt within a year.
The same happened in the matter of collecting cricket. When Make-good failed to feel quota set by his higher officers, he wished to die. But his wife encouraged him finding cricket himself. The man could not find anything for the whole ten days. So, he was beaten to death. Then, a fortune teller came to the village, so the wife went to visit the fortune teller. The teller issued a sheet of paper out of the curtained room. But instead of written words, the wife got picture only. As guided by the picture Make-good was able to find a very attractive cricket. He kept it properly, and went to work. At the same time, his nine years old son happened to release the cricket. In an attempt of recapturing the cricket, the cricket was injured and it died later. The boy was so terrified that he attempted suicide by jumping into a well. When they were going to bury the boy, there was a faint breathing. So, he was brought home. But the boy was lifeless.
Worried, Make-good went to find cricket. He found one ordinary specimen and brought home. He wanted to test the ability of the cricket, so he set a fight with local warrior cricket named Crabshell Green. To his surprise, his cricket won the fight. So, the cricket was presented to the magistrate. The magistrate again presented it to the governor, and the governor to the king. The cricket won all the fights. So Make-good received a lot of prizes from the governor. He became the rich person.
After a year, Make-good’s son regained consciousness. While he received his spirit, he said that he become a cricket while he was sleeping. He become an expert warrior and learned fighting during the period.
The Library Card
In this essay entitled “The Library Card,” Richard Wright has presented a vivid picture of his desire for reading and value of education. Wright was a Negro boy. The black people weren’t allowed to borrow books from the library. One day, he read a article on H. L. Mencken. Mencken was severely criticized in the article, so Wright wanted to know why he was criticized. He decided to read the books by Mencken. So he asked an Irish catholic named Mr. Falk to provide him the library card. Richard Wright forged the signature of Mr. Falk and was able to bring two books by H. L. Mencken. He knew more about Mencken. The reading broadened his mind. The more knowledge he gained, he was able to understand the world around him. The hunger of knowledge increased, and he read a lot of books. It made him different than the other blacks. He understood why the blacks were discriminated. And similarly, he understood why Mencken was criticized.
Because of reading, Richard’s attitude towards the world and his society changed. He was better able to understand the injustice and prejudices deep rooted in the society. Thus, Richard Wright sings the importance of education in this essay. Education enhances our knowledge about ourselves and the world.
Why Go to University?
In this essay, Moti Nissani describes the advantages of university education. Education is extremely valuable in our life though going to university adds more problems in our life. We have to spend much time, have to spend much money for higher education. On the other hand, knowledge doesn’t always bring great happiness. In some situation, ignorance is indeed bliss because knowledge increases our concerns on our surroundings, and increases our anxiety. However, education gives much in our life. It broadens our understanding, and our perspective to the life and the world is changed.
The most important advantage of education is that it creates better opportunities in our life and helps in increasing our income. The better educated we are, the higher our income tends to be. Similarly education enhances opportunities for career advancement. Without higher educational degree, the door to certain jobs promotion is simply closed. We can enjoy better life and gain social prestige because of education. More than that, the development of a country depends on its educated and skilled citizens.
Similarly higher education helps us in finding the solution to the difficulties in our life. The practical applications of education are that we can solve our daily life problems. If we have knowledge in mending motorcycle, we can save great amount of money.
Education to a great extent helps in the keep-fit process of health. We know about our body and the harmful activities that may increases chances of diseases. So, we get more cautious and try to maintain our good health. Education helps us for quality life, greater social mobility and freedom. It is said, “A sound mind in a sound body.” As we exercise and keep our body fit, education sharpens our mind. It helps us for rational thoughts and increases our decisive power. Most of the cultures value educated person. He earns social prestige. An educated person can enjoy better life than an uneducated person. Similarly, education increases confidence and checks superstition. We simply can’t believe on religious theories. Education makes us less dogmatic about our own belief, and increases our personal freedom. Education increases inquisitiveness in us, and broadens our knowledge on our universe. We become aware of the biosphere and eco-system.
Education is directly linked with democracy. To flourish democracy, a nation needs educated citizenry. The more rational politician we have, the more chance to peace and prosperity. The educated people can’t simply fall into propaganda of politicians. They are aware of the system of the government and can check the wrong deeds if the government.
The Good Example
- Vicente Riva Palacio
The story “The Good Example” is written by Vicente Riva Palacio, a Mexican freedom fighter. In this story, he presents a charming story describing the value of education, and throws satires on traditional teaching methods.
The story is set in a Mexico village and a school in the village. The school was run by Don Lucas Forcida. He was a very dedicated teacher. The learning method was teacher-centered. The student would repeat alphabet, syllabus, or the poems after the teacher. The students learned by memorizing it by heart. When the school hour was finished, Don Lucas used to share his feelings with his friend – a parrot. The parrot learned each and every thing that Don Lucas taught him. They could understand each other perfectly. The parrot also learned the children songs as well. But one day, about 10’o clock in the morning, one of the students noticed that the parrot got out of the cage and flew in the sky. The parrot vanished in the nearby jungle. Many months passed, everyone seemed to have forgotten the parrot.
Once, Don Lucas had to go to a neighboring village, nearly twenty to thirty miles away from the village. He was riding on his horse and heading towards his destination. The sun was very hot; the birds were hiding themselves inside the leaves. At the same time, Don Lucas heard the sound – children singing syllables, words and songs. At first, Don Lucas was confused, but later, he discovered that there was school inside the jungle. He stopped for a moment, and saw that there was a flock of parrots singing in a rhythmic voice. At end of the flock, there was Perico– the parrot. The parrot happily informed his master that he also had a school.
The story can be studied as a satire on education system of that time. The writer is probably trying to say if there is memory based education, even a parrot can open a school. The teacher centered education force students to learn without grasping the basic concept. They only learn by memorizing, not by understanding it.
A Sound of Thunder
- Ray Bradbury
Literal comprehension: The story “The Sound of Thunder” is written by Ray Bradbury. In this story, he presents a picture of our environment, and asks his reader to think about our future world. The story has emphasized on eco –balance, and evokes the reader to think about the future.
Mr. Eckels was tempted by a sign put on the wall of a safari company which claimed to take the hunter back to any time in the past and hunt any animal they wished. After paying the charge, he got into the Time Machine which would take him in the past. There were four other men with him .The machine took them sixty million two thousand and fifty five years back in the past. Eckles was surprised to see the beauty of the jungle and was eager to shoot a dinosaur. But he was warned by the safari leader not to shoot any animal without his permission. More that that, there was a path set in the jungle which was floating six inches high above the ground level ,and the path was made of anti-gravity metal . Eckles was reported that he had to be careful not to fall from the path, so that he wouldn’t touch anything in the past .Because killing one ordinary animal in the future .The life of thousands of animals would be threatened if accidently killed an animal .Then Eckles was given the information that dinosaurs he was going to shoot has been marked earlier .The safari leader had marked the dinosaur which would die naturally shortly after. This means that they were shooting the animal with no future. But when the dinosaur came close to him, Eckles couldn’t face it and went to hide himself in the Time Machine .The hunters faught with their life and killed the dinosaur. It was shoot on the spot where it would die naturally few seconds later .Then Eckles was asked to take out the bullet from the dead animal so that no unnatural object left in the jungle in the past era .The dead body was left on the jungle to be disposed of naturally because the life of hundreds of insects depended on the dead body of that dead dinosaur.
Interpretation: The story may be trying to tell us something about the eco-system, eco-balance and trying to criticize the modern world .The modern people have grown selfish, they don’t think about the future. The earth has been polluted because of human activities, and global warming is increasing .By talking the readers millions years back in the past , the writer is probably trying to give the message that killing even a simple animal at the present may have devastating effect in the future.
Critical thinking: The story is beautiful but there are a lot of situation which are not agreeable .It is possible that we go back in the past era with Time Machine? Can anyone face the deadly animal like dinosaur? Does anyone get crazy about killing such animals like dinosaur?
A Cabuliwallah named Rahaman reached near the house of the writer. He was a peddler and sold seasonal goods. Mini, the five years old daughter of the writer, saw him. The writer was busy on writing his story. When Mini called him, he came towards her. When Cabuliwallah came towards her house, Mini got afraid and went to her mother. But, the writer called her and introduced with Rahaman to remove her fear from her mind. The Cabuliwallah gave nuts and raisins to her. Then Cabuliwallah became a regular visitor to Mini’s home. They became good friends.
Rahaman sold seasonal goods. Once he had sold a Rampuri sawl to a costumer on credit. But when he went to collect his money, the costumer didn’t give the money. It made Rahaman so angry that he stabbed the costumer with knife. Rahaman was charged for attempting murder and was sent to jail for long time. When he was released from the jail, he directly went to the writer’s house. There was a ceremony in the writer house. Mini was going to get married. At first, the writer didn’t allow him to see her. But Rahaman gave nuts and raisins for her and gave it to the writer. He then took out the hand print of his daughter from his pocket, and declared that he also had a daughter like Mini in his house. Seeing the condition of the Cabuliwallah, the eyes of the writer filled with tears. He called Mini who was in wedding dress, and introduced with Rahaman. Rahaman was surprised to see mini grown up. He remembered his own daughter and expressed the concerns about her. The writer got sentiment, and so, he offered hundred rupees to Rahaman by reducing some of the festivities like bands and electric lights. But the writer got happy to realize, that he was helping father who is going to meet his daughter.
Arranging Marriage in India
- Serena Nanda
This essay is written by Serena Nanda. She is a professor of Anthropology in a college in New York. In this essay, Nanda describes how marriages are arranged in India.
Arranged marriage is very much popular in India. Even educated and prestigious families choose the process to marry their children. The writer found it very surprising that the bride and the groom hardly get any chance to have a conversation before they get married. Because she thinks that romantic love experience is important before getting married. In India, the parents seek the suitable candidate for their son or daughter. A lot of things are put into consideration such as the person’s appearance, level of education, personality, family background, cultural background, caste, position in the social class, etc. The candidates may get chance to meet each other only if the parents find it suitable. There is no objection from the parents if any candidate finds it objectionable. The process may take a long time.
Serena asked an Indian girl Sita, who was a college girl graduate and whose parents were trying to find suitable boy for her, how she can silently accept the boy who is completely unknown to her. Sita replied that her parents would never ask her to marry a boy with whom she wouldn’t be happy. They can take many things into consideration and would find a right match.
Serena returned to India again six years later. She found many positive aspects of arranged marriages. In America, marriages are soon broken in divorce but the marriages lasted lifetime in India. It was surprising to her. She had arranged many marriages in America, so she thought she would try one in India. One of her friends in India had a son. Though the family had a prestigious background, her son was in a military force. Many families in India would not risk their daughter’s life by giving her hand to a person who is in such a risky job. But then, the boy had left his job and had joined his father’s business.
Serena tried to find a reasonable candidate for him. She learned many things during the process. The mother of the boy asked Serena to consider the height and the color of her son. Serena proposed a girl who had four sisters. But the boy’s family refused it saying that they couldn’t have grand marriage. Serena proposed another girl but again the family found her too educated and so not suitable for their son. Another girl was rejected because of her weight and that she wore glasses. At last, Serena was successful to find a match. It took more than two years for her to find the right match. Then Serena realized why arranged marriages lasted so long in India.
Life Without Chiefs
- Marvin Harris
The essay is written by Marvin Harris who is a professor of anthropology at the University of Florida, USA. In this essay, he describes the evolution of human society. He says that there was no social hierarchy of ruling and ruled class longtime in history. In the beginning of human society, people had nomadic life. But they were very much generous at that time. People used to share all foods whatever available. The present-giver was never thanked for he gifts. If the receiver thanked him it was thought he calculated the contribution and thought being ungenerous. They did this because the giver may become proud and may become cruel. There was equalitarian society. If anyone wanted to be the head and tried to rule the people, the group would leave him alone and would migrate to another place.
But later, someone became the head of the society. But the head didn’t use to command the members of the community. He would work harder than the others and would be more generous than the others. He would be able to give the impression to the others for being generous. He would take the bones and would give fresh and good meat to the others. So he was respected highly. The available sources of the food were divided equally to everyone in the society. Everyone had the equal reach to available natural resources, so there was a perfect communism.
Gradually, a competition started to be the headman. The person who wanted to be the headman started to work harder and collected more food. He would give feast to the people and get more supporters. At last, he would challenge the head by arranging better a feast than the head. Thus the new head was followed by the community members. The head had more collection of the food than the others, and still he was generous. But later, the division between the head and the others was created. Since the head would marry many women, he would have bigger collection of food than the others. He slowly became cruel and started to dominate the people. The chief started to build big houses for him because he had the collection of food to give to his workers. He would give food to the workers and the workers had to work for him. So, the distinction between the ruled and the ruling class was created. Humanity was lost and the ruling class became crueler and enjoyed the power. The rulers became dictators. But biologically, humans are not war-like. The division is the creation of the cultural evolution.
Adaptive Failure: Easter’s End
- Jared Diamond
This essay is written by Jared Diamond. He is a professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, USA. In this essay, the writer explores the reasons for the destruction of civilization in Easter Island. The end of Easter Island is an example of how we can destroy a prosperous civilization if we can’t adopt the natural resources properly.
Easter Island lies in the Pacific Ocean 2000 miles west of the nearest continent, South America. It covers 64 square miles of land. The name of the island comes after its discovery by Dutch explorer Jacob Rogeveen on Easter in April 5, 1722. When Rogeveen saw the land, he only noticed grassland, ferns and shrubs. There were no trees higher than 10 feet. The larger animal found was only the insects; and the chickens were the only domestic animals the islanders had. The mysteries of the Easter Island were the heavy statues stood lining the coast. The island was prosperous and the civilization was in full bloom many years back. But, the destruction of the civilization has raised a lot of unsolved mystery.
Diamond describes the theories which explore the reasons for the destruction of the civilization in the island. The analysis of the sediments taken from depths in swamp proved that there were diverse plants and animals in the past. Pollen and DNA analysis of the animals gave the ideas about how many species of animals existed in the animals. But the islanders were unaware of the damages they were creating till they destroyed the last tree and the last edible creature remaining in the whole island. The islanders cut down the trees to make canoes for hunting porpoise in the ocean, to build houses and to bring the giant stones statues on the shore. Trees were cut down for firewood, and the fibers were used to make ropes for lifting up the heavy statues. The islanders also finished the available animals in the island. The process was so slow that they didn’t notice till they were cutting down the last Palm tree available in the land. They had over-exploited the natural resources in such a way that they could no longer get any food to survive. Then their eyes turned to the largest remaining sources of food- humans. Thus, the civilization of a fertile and prosperous island came to an end.
Interpretation: - misuse of the natural resources
- Showiness of human nature