IT is a practice with Lord Vishnu to feed a drop of amrit (nectar) to every devotee who has attained salvation and has reached Vaikuntha?the abode of Lord Vishnu. Such drop gives the devotee an immortal bliss.
Once, the stock of amrit in the possession of He was exhausted. So He ordered Garuda to fetch a pitcherful of amrit from Amarapuri, the capital of Indra.
Garuda being the most obedient servant, started for Amarapuri in right earnest. He got the golden pitcher filled with amrit with due permission from Lord Indra. Garuda then started his journey back to Vaikuntha through the sky.
In the court of Lord Indra there was a gandharvakanya by name Garbhaketaki. Ketaki was extremely beautiful. She was so beautiful that anybody who happened to see her for the first time would faint with irrepressible surge of joy. Besides, the entire art of music was dwelling in her throat and her normal gait was full of the most rhythmic dance sequence.
Ketaki was craving for a drop of amrit. So she chased Garuda who was carrying a glittering golden pitcher full of amrit through the sky. She pleaded and pleaded for a drop of amrit but Garuda did not oblige her. In fact, Garuda had a hard time in evading Ketaki who obstructed Garuda'ssmooth journey. At last Garuda used his skill and flew away with terrific speed leaving Ketaki far behind.
As a result of this haste the pitcher waived a little and one small drop of amrit fell on the earth. Soon the drop sprouted and a beautiful plant peeped out of the mud. This plant was rightly called Amrita Taru, resulting as it was from amrit drop. The plant developed into a tree. The tree blossomed during the spring season renting the surrounding with inviting fragrance. Soon the tree was laden with fruits exactly like pitcher and bore the shining yellow colour. The juice thereof had a sweet taste just like that of an amrit.
In the heaven, Indra came to know that the most beautiful gandharvakanya Garbhaketaki had acted in an indecent manner with Garuda and as a result thereof a drop of amrit had fallen on earth. Indra flew into rage. He cursed Ketaki saying, ?You mischievous beauty, you will fall down on the earth and become black like a coal. Everything will be changed. You will become a mole bird. You will forget music. You will try to hide yourself from the world.?
Garbhaketaki was shocked. She started weeping. She fell on the feet of Indra. She repeatedly beseeched some relief from the king of the Gods (Indra).
Finally the king of the Gods bestowed upon her certain relief. The God said, ?Because of your mischief the Amrita Taru has grown on the earth, which is characterised rightly as a marityuloka. During the spring you will hide your-self in the foliage of Amrita Taru. You will sing sweet song during those two months. The sweet song will contain a deep sad strain. People will exclaim ?Oh a cuckoo is singing a sweet song. These are the tunes emanating right from the heaven.? Their ears will be satisfied. They will be eager to see you. But you will remain invisible.?
Little friends, this is the birth story of the cuckoo and its sweet song.