Crow Language (and magic)
The autumn also brought back the army of crows. Kala kaka everywhere always. They were attracted to Hari Puri Baba and perched close to him, behaving themselves. He fed them prasad, offerings, which they also stole, as is their nature. He used to make these funny little noises to them, and to my surprise they seemed to respond. I realized that Hari Puri Baba, sounding like an old 33 rpm phonograph record played at 78 rpm, was actually speaking to them and the crows were talking back. “Their world moves much faster than ours,” he told me, “So does their language.” Many babas used to know the language of birds but now there are not so many. Why crows? I wondered. “I, like Shiva, attract marginal beings, outsiders,” said Hari Puri Baba. “Crows can be great allies. And, but don’t tell anyone, their language, Crow Language, Ka Bhasha, among bird languages, is the easiest to learn.”
I was having enough problems with Hindi that even the idea of learning of non-human languages was daunting. Perhaps Hari Puri Baba made a point of speaking with birds just to push me along in my basic language skills. He also spoke less English, trying to wean me onto Hindi. “Every time I speak English to you, I make your path that much more difficult. The language of the tradition is Hindi.”
Except for the few English-speaking non-sadhus who showed up at the ashram, my only English conversations were with Hari Puri Baba. He told me that he wouldn’t be around forever, that his time in this body was limited. He warned me that after he was free of his mortal body, “English finished! Ding dong, Queen Victoria is dead! Learn Hindi and Sanskrit, baccha! Without those allies, you might as well go back home, and if you are lucky, daddy has a business you can join! Do you think you will be able to meet all the challenges of the Kumbh Mela and the akhara speaking English?”
“What challenges?” I asked, concerned.
“Too many to be named but you will be tested,” he said.
“Kedar Puri Baba told me I’ll never get my initiation,” I blurted out.
“Kedar Puri Baba is a fool who shoots his mouth off too much. I told you I will make you a baba, and that I’ll do. The akhara cannot defeat me. If you are a hero, then nothing can stop you. Remember that gold is purified by means of Fire.”