Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The Story of Garuda - Part 1 - Garuda got his name

Once upon a time there was a sage called Kashyapa. He had 2 wives who were sisters. Kadru and Vinita. They did not have any children for a long time and begged Kashyapa to grant them a boon. Sage Kashyapa was moved by their pleadings granted them their wish. He gave them one fruit each and asked them to bury it in a pot and pary. Kadru prayed for 1000 powerful sons and Vinita prayed for 2. In the morning when they opened the pot, Kadru's pot contained 1000 eggs and Vinita's had 2. Within a week the 1000 eggs hatched and out came 1000 snakes. Vinita's eggs did not hatch for a long time. Vinita could not wait and poked one egg open, out came a half grown child, It cursed Vinita that she would spend part of her life servivng someone else. The child flew to Sun and became he charrioter.

One day when the sisters were walking in the garden they saw the beautiful celestial horse Ucchaishrava flying in the sky. Vinata becomes mesmerised by the beauty of the horse and starts praising it to her sister. Kadru tells her that the horse is not beautiful as its tail is black. Vinita does not agree and the sisters get into a wager on whether the tail is black. The bet being if the tail is black then Vinita would become the slave of Kadru and serve her.

That night Kadru calls her children the snakes and tell them to attach themselves to the horse's tail so that it becomes black. The Snakes go and attach themselves to the horses tail. In the morning when the sister's look at the tail, they see a beautiful horse with black tail. Vinita accepts defeat and starts working as a slave to Kadru.

After a few days the other egg hatched and out came a child. The child had face, beak, wings and talons of an eagle, and the body of a human. As he was born when his mother was a servant, he too was treated as a servant to the Snakes and Kadru. When the boy saw his mother being treated as a servant he felt very unhappy.

One night, he asked his mother why his brothers treated them as slaves. Vinita told the story and sobbed crying because of her son is being treated as a servant. When the boy realised his brothers had tricked his mother into slavery he became very angry, and decided to wait for a perfect moment for revenge.

One day, his eldest brother called him and said "O son of our slave, me, my brothers and our mother want to go on a picnic, your mother can carry our mother but she cannot carry us, so carry us on your back and take us to the island". The boy felt this was the right opportunity, he took all the snakes on his back and flew up and up closer to the sun, the snakes could not stand the heat and started to burn, they cried "Mother Mother, help us". KAdru immediately prayed to Indra to save her sons. Indra heard the prayer and sent cooling showers from the sky and saved the snakes.

Kadru then punished Vinita for the act of her son. The boy wanted to save his mother from slavery so he asked the snakes what do they want in tot release his mother and him from slavery. The snakes agreed to free his mother, provided he fetched them a pot of divine nectar (Amrita) in return. The pot of nectar was currently with God Indra and the Gods had denied Amrita to Asuras and Snakes as the person drinking Amrita would become immortal and powerful.

The boy bowed to his mother and flies off. He goes to his father and tells him the job he is about tot undertake to release his mother and seeks his blessings. Sage Kashyapa tells him, 'Son, it is a long journey to devaloka,  you are going to need a lot of food to keep you strong. Go to the Himalayas. There you will find an elephant and a tortoise fighting each other for many years. You can eat them to satisfy your hunger.'

The boy goes to himalayas and sees the two animals fighting, he swoops in and takes each animal in each hand and sits on a tree to eat them. The branch could not bear his weight and starts breaking, the boy suddenly sees that there are Valakhila sages meditating hanging up side down from the branches of the tree. AS his hands were filled with the animals, he catches the branch in his mouth and flies on. The sages open their eyes and see that a big strong bird with a tortoise in one hand and an elephant in the other is carrying them. They tell him to put them down on one of the peaks. When Garuda does this, they bless him by saying "o Strong one, from now on you will be called GARUDA, the one who can lift immense weight"

What happens next is for tomorrow :)

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