Faith

Garuda’s qualities

Garuda carried Lord Mahavishnu at a terrific speed when the Lord wanted to hurry to save the elephant Gajendra, caught in the jaws of a crocodile. Vedanta Desika paints a pen picture of the scene, said V.S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse. Lord Siva, Indra and Brahma wanted to witness the grand spectacle of the Lord rushing to the rescue of the elephant. Garuda had to reduce his speed to enable their mounts to keep pace with him.

In Garuda Panchasat, Desika celebrates the glory of Garuda, by resorting to clever word play. He enumerates the qualities of Garuda, and keeps scaling them up from one, until he gets to infinity. Garuda is unique; in other words he is one with none like him. He is the second manifestation of the Lord’s vyuha form. Only three or four people know the five letter mantra that captures his qualities. He possesses all the six qualities which the Lord has, like gnana, sakti and so on.

One of the qualities is veeryam, which means remaining untired. When the ocean had to be churned for nectar, the Mandara mountain had to be brought to be used as the churning rod. A multitude of demons and celestials could not move the mountain. But Garuda, even while carrying Lord Vishnu on his back, lifted the mountain with ease, and tossed it into the ocean. And yet he was not tired. So he has the quality of veeryam. He is the embodiment of the Sama Veda, and therefore is the source of all music, because the seven swaras of music are said to have come from Sama Veda. He has eight kinds of yogic powers. And so the verse goes on about his qualities and it finally says Garuda’s qualities are infinite.


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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 3:09:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/religious-discourse-garudas-qualities/article6552910.ece

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