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Saving the pot of nectar

Story so far: In his quest to free his mother, Garuda agrees to bring the nectar of immortality to the snakes. He defeats the devas and snatches away the pot of amrit.

Once he left Lord Vishnu, Garuda flew on, eager to give the snakes the pot and take his mother away. Indra, who had been watching him, was both impressed and anxious. As a last-ditch effort, Indra threw his Vajrayudh, the thunderbolt, at Garuda. But it had no impact. Overawed, Indra approached Garuda and said, “Oh king of birds, I have never known anyone as strong as you. I would like to stop fighting with you. Please let us be friends.”

Seeing that Indra was in earnest, Garuda agreed. As they both chatted, Indra asked, “Even my powerful Vajrayudh didn’t harm you. Can you tell me how strong you are?” Garuda laughed, “Thanks to the powers bestowed upon me, I can support the entire world on a single feather.”

Hatching a plan

An amazed Indra realised that no army could ever defeat this mighty being. He decided to throw himself at Garuda’s mercy. “Since you are now my friend, I will be frank with you. I do not want the snakes to drink the nectar and become immortal. If that happens, they might begin to harass people.” Garuda agreed. “But to free my mother and myself, I have to give them the amrit. What shall we do?” The two came up with a plan.

Garuda flew off with the nectar. When he reached their dwelling, he showed the snakes the pot. Overjoyed, they immediately freed Vinata and Garuda. Now it was time to put the plan into action. Garuda placed the pot on a bed of kusha grass and suggested cunningly, “Shouldn’t you all bathe and purify yourselves before you drink the nectar?”

The snakes accepted the suggestion and went off to bathe in the river. Once they had all left, Indra who had been an invisible spectator quickly picked up the pot of nectar. Holding it safe, he said, “Thank you for your help. Ask me anything and I’ll grant your wish.”

A boon granted

Garuda thought over what he wanted. All this occurred only because his mother had been ill-treated by Kadru and her sons. They had to be taught a lesson. “Let snakes be my natural food, henceforth,” he said. Indra granted the wish and left, happy to have saved the nectar from the snakes. Garuda too lifted his mother on to his back and flew away.

When the snakes came back, they found the nectar missing. Hoping that some drops may have fallen down, they licked the kusha grass but its sharp blades cut their tongues. And so, legend has it, that snakes have had forked tongues since then.

(The End)

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 9:30:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/how-garuda-and-indra-ensure-that-the-snakes-dont-get-any-nectar/article33209756.ece

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