Giant Thunderbirds and Bhaktivedanta Swami, Prabhupad
By Dean Dominic De Lucia
In a recorded lecture on verse 34, Chapter Eight, first canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, on October 14, 1974, in Bombay, India, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Prabhupad, brought up the following issue:
”There are very, very, big, big birds. They are floating in the air. Very, very big eagles. They fly from one planet to the other. Their resting place is ... they start from one planet, and they go and rest on another planet. And, they lay their eggs while flying. The eggs simply become birds by air friction, that’s all. Friction, yes. So there are so, so big arrangements in the kingdom of God, so it is not very difficult for Him to give birth to Brahma or to float the whole universe and all the planets in the air.”
What’s amazing is the way in which Shrila Prabhupad Bhaktivedanta’s statement is suggestive of the descriptions of what are loosely known as thunderbirds. There have been descriptions of thunderbirds dating back a few hundred years, in both the Americas and Europe. A representative example of these descriptions are found in Jerome Clark’s book Unexplained!, in the very chapter entitled Thunderbirds (P-188); just a smidgen of comments is selectively quoted below:
“A belief once widespread amongst North American Indian tribes held that giant, supernatural flying creatures, known as thunderbirds, cause thunder and lightning….They are frequently depicted on totem poles.”
“If it means nothing else for anomalists, the tradition has provided a name for what people have long claimed to see in the heavily forested plateau of north-central Pennsylvania.”
“In 1969, the wife of Clinton County sheriff John Boyle, while sitting in front of the couple’s cabin in remote Little Pine Creek, saw an enormous gray-colored bird set down in the middle of the creek. A few moments later, it rose to fly away, and ‘its wingspread,’ she said, ‘appeared to be as wide as the streambed, which I would say was about 75 feet’ - making the creature truly otherworldly.”
“Over on the Jersey Shore-Pennsylvania area, just east of Clinton County, numerous reports of thunderbirds have been logged over the years. On October 28, 1970, several people driving west of town sighted what one of them, Judith Dingler, described as a ‘gigantic winged creature soaring towards the Jersey Shore. It was dark colored, and its wingspread was almost like that of an airplane.’”
“In the summer of 1992, Allison Stearn, who was hiking near Shingletown, spotted a huge, eagle-like bird, ‘dark brown or black, the size of an airplane.’”
There are too many testimonies to cite in our limited space, but certainly the reader has caught on to the general idea. The fact that this forested area of Pennsylvania is the focus of so many sightings suggests that the bird has one of its habitats there. In addition, we can speculate that the bird might live within caves and caverns, hidden from view. We can speculate along these lines because, even though the bird might be the interplanetary traveler mentioned by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, it does seem to spend some time on our planet, but has never been observed and documented in its habitat. (Unfortunately, according to other testimonies in the book, it specifically spends its dinnertime on our planet.)
The giant birds were named thunderbirds by the American indians because they observed that the birds could create thunder and lightning, the former by flapping their wings and the latter by closing their eyes. This suggests that they are able to generate and manipulate energies and, in turn, the birds would be able to pass through matter without interference by thus nullifying the inertial, magnetic and electrostatic effects of the particles comprising their bodies. This would justify teleportation through the astral realms across space, across the orbital plane, to other planetary destinations. The travel through space described by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami could be achieved in this way.
The birds certainly don’t fly across outer space by flapping the wings of their physical bodies. A statement like this one by Bhaktivedanta Swami must be explained, otherwise, his words will be rejected at some point as the words of a kook and cause those who don’t understand to lose faith in him.
In order to be complete about things, the Jerome Clark book also recounts several sightings of pterosaurs, pteranodons and pterodactyls, which are flying reptiles, but not feathery birds (P-156). The following is an account of one of those sightings: “At 3:55 A.M. on September 14, 1982, James Thompson, an ambulance technician, was driving along Highway 100 four miles east of Los Fresnos, Texas, on his way back from an inspection on South Padre Island. He suddenly spotted a ‘large, birdlike object’ pass low over the highway 150 feet in front of him. Its strange-looking tail almost literally stopped him in his tracks. He hit the brakes, pulled the vehicle to the side of the road, and stared intently at the peculiar object … ‘it flapped his wings enough to get above the grass … it had a black or grayish rough texture. It wasn’t feathers. I’m quite sure it had a hyde-type covering.’ Its thin body, which ended in a ‘fin’, stretched more than eight feet; its wingspan was five to six feet. The wings had ‘indentations’ on their tops and possibly their bottoms as well. At the back of its head it had a hump like a Brahma bull’s. There was almost ‘no neck at all.’”
All things said and done, it is very intriguing that A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami made his comments before such testimonies became commonly known, even though none of this information is to be found in Hindu scripture.
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