Prey to a curse

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi  

This is a story about Garuda and how he came to be.

Garuda is the son of Vinata, a wife of Sage Kashyapa. Here is the story of his birth.

Sage Kashyapa once granted two of his wives: Kadru and Vinata, a boon each. Kadru asked for 1,000 sons while Vinata wanted two who would be more powerful than all of Kadru’s put together.

So, the sage held a yagna and invited the Valakhila rishis to conduct it. He asked another of his sons, Indra, king of the devas, to get him wood of a special tree for the ceremony. Now, Valakhila rishis were short and Indra watched them tottering with a small log, stumble and fall. Indra laughed and flew on with the wood for the yagna. The rishis were angry and decided to create a new king of gods at the yagna. A chastened Indra ran to his father and confessed. Though angry, Kashyapa pleaded with the rishis not to change the order established by Lord Brahma. Finally, the rishis agreed and said they would instead create a king of birds.

The yagna produced 1000 eggs for Kadru and two for Vinata. These eggs were kept in warm jars. Kadru’s eggs hatched first. Her offspring were snakes. Vinata became impatient.


One day, unable to wait any longer, she broke open one of her eggs. To her horror out came a half-formed child with a perfect upper torso and nothing below. “Your impatience and jealousy has caused this,” it accused her. “For this, you will be another’s slave. If you are patient, my brother will release you.” And the child flew away to become Aruna, the charioteer of Surya, the sun god.

One day, Vinata and Kadru were walking in the garden when they saw a white horse fly across the sky. “Look,” said Kadru, “it is Uchchaishravas, the flying horse.” As they spoke, a quarrel broke out among them. Kadru said the horse’s tail was black while Vinata said it was white. They decided to swim across the ocean to take a look and whoever was wrong, would be the other person’s slave. After making the bet, Kadru began to have doubts. So, she ordered her sons to cover the horse’s tail and make it black. After threats and some persuasion the snakes agreed and Kadru won her bet. Aruna’s curse came true and Vinata became a slave.

Next time, we will see how she is rescued.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 5:37:29 AM |

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