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The Crow and its Connection with Eastern Religious Philosophy

Updated on December 25, 2017
Goddess Dumavati riding a crow
Goddess Dumavati riding a crow

The begining

There is not a place on earth (except the polar caps) that does not have crows as its inhabitants. Crows are part and parcel of our lives. In fact, many crows also fly around in the backyard of my house. Crows are highly intelligent animals, yet they are regarded in both western and eastern cultures as harbingers of doom.

One really does not know how this belief has been ingrained in the mind of man, yet it is very much there. One of the reasons for the crow to be regarded as connected with doom is the fact that crows have a dark plumage and make unnerving calls that can spread fear in the mind on a dark night. In addition, they are known to loiter around battlefields, feed on dead corpses and destroy crops as well.

Scientifically a crow comes as a part of the Corvus family of birds. There are almost 40 or so members of this genus.Recent research has found that Crows are among the world's most intelligent animals. whose EQ is rated pretty high.

In ancient times a crow was supposed to be blessed with a long life and now we know that they are a long living species. They were thought to be omens of the future and sometimes the harbinger of bad luck.

Connection of Crow with Hinduism

Hinduism has a special place for animals and birds.. They are frequently mentioned in Hindu myths and legends and enjoy a place of their own in Hindu pantheon as vehicles of many gods and goddesses, as divinities and also as incarnations or aspects of Vishnu or Siva

Hinduism recognizes a crow as a harbinger of some bad news. Ancient Hindu texts and tomes on Hindu philosophy bring forth the belief that their is a linkage between the dead and living crows. It has a special significance for people who have died. One of the connections with the dead is the day of ‘Bal Kaka’. This day is observed as the day when the dead will partake of food that is distributed to crows. In addition during the ‘Shraddha’ ceremony, which is the day when ritual feeding of the dead ancestors of a family is done, crows as well as cows are also fed.Believe it or not, Crows have been observed to come and eat food during “Shraddha”. There are many examples that testify to this unique ability of a crow to sense when a feast for a departed soul is undertaken..

The crow has a special significance in Hinduism, and the Mahabharata war was preceded by a bloody battle between crows and owls. This signaled the start of the epic battle.

Hindu Legends

There are many legends associated with crows in Hinduism. It is stated In the Yoga Visistha, the sage Bhasundha took the form of a crow and was witness to a number of great events in the history of the earth. He survived living on a special tree on Mount Mer

In the month of January the festival for crows is celebrated . In Tamil Nadu during Kanum Pongal festival a lavish feast is spread. Coloured rice, cooked vegetables, banana and sweet pongal are spread on a plantain leaf. Generally hordes of crows will descend and partake of this feast. Prayers are offered in the hope that brother-sister ties may remain strong like the bondage among the crows..

The God Shani, who is the most difficult god to please uses a crow as his Vahana( vehicle of Travel), The crow is thus part and parcel of Hindu mythology.

The crow is also an important part of tantric ritual. This ritual which is outside mainstream Hinduism is unique as the lower senses are gratified as per tantric ritual. it could involve the ritual of intercourse with the crow and Lord Kaal Bhairov as the deity.

Shani Dev and Crow
Shani Dev and Crow

The Crow and Buddhism

The crow is also part of Buddhist thought. The crows have a special significance for the Dalai Lama. Legend states that, when the first Dalai lama was born his home was attacked by robbers. The parents fled and in the process left the Dalai Lama behind. However, when they returned they found the Dalai Lama hale and hearty in the company of crows, which had cared for him. The crow has a special significance for Tibet Buddhism as the 1st, 7th, 8th, 12th and 14th Dalai Lama have been associated with the crow, which heralded their birth. The present Dalai Lama is in this category.

Generally in Buddhism a crow is thought of as incarnation of Mahakala, whose name literally means the 'Great Black One. The crow represents the inevitability of events taking place. Mahakala is thought of as a protector of Buddhism. Thus the connotation of the crow in Buddhism is more with the good and inevitable than something bad or evil.

Buddhism reached China from India. As per Chinese philosophy the world at the beginning had 10 suns which were represented by 10 crows. These crows rose into the sky at the same time and a great catastrophe was expected. The gods sent their greatest archer Houyi, who shot down nine crows and spared the last..

Last word on Crow and Eastern Religions

The crow is a highly misunderstood bird. It is one bird that is hardy and resilient, and adjusts easily to its surroundings. Many black magicians in the East use the crow for black art rituals. The crow is part of rituals to help a man seduce his love. How far these are successful has not been verified. All said and done the eastern religions give great importance to the crow and it is linked by both legend and practice with Eastern philosophy.

Do you feel the crow has a bad effect in Hinduism and Buddhism?

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    • emge profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Lawrence for a simple insight

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Interesting hub. The Crow's 'cousin' the Raven appears quite a few times in the Old Testament (Jewish scriptures)

      The first bird Noah sent out of the Ark to look for land was a Raven.

      Elijah when he was running from King Ahab was fed by Ravens.

      So the Crow and Raven are special birds.


    • esja profile image


      3 years ago from South Africa

      I like learning about other cultures, thanks.

    • florypaula profile image


      3 years ago

      I had no idea crows have so many "faces" depending on the religion we are talking about. I knew them as bad omen because this is what my parents and grandparents taught me about these birds. I've always found them to be a bit creepy due to how big they are and the size of their beak.

      Have a nice day.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Oztinato. great of you to have comented

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      3 years ago from Brisbane

      Very interesting topic which has some powerful synchronicity in my life as I only just found out about the crow in Hindu myth re Shani. This was only a few days ago and now suddenly I saw your article. Yes this god symbol can be tricky but like the god of death can be viewed benignly by respecting it.


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