The mighty bird

In his Garuda Panchasath, Vedanta Desika recalls the story of Vibhaavasu and Suprateeka, said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse. Garuda’s father, sage Kashyapa, tells the hungry Garuda to eat a tortoise and elephant that are fighting. The two were brothers in a previous birth, and had the names Vibhaavasu and Suprateeka. When the family property had to be divided between them, a quarrel arose as to who should have the lion’s share. They cursed each other, and as a result they were born as an elephant and a tortoise. But the fight, which began in the previous janma, continues! The two brothers, now reborn as animals, fight fiercely, but inconclusively. Their noisy fight disturbs the sages doing penance. So, sage Kashyapa decides to achieve two things in one shot — providing food to Garuda and ridding the sages of the trouble caused by the fighting brothers.

Garuda comes upon the two animals, and he picks them up. But they continue to fight in his beak; they fight even when they are held in his claws; they fight when he places them on a rock. Garuda eats them, and even as they pass through his throat, they continue to fight. And even when they reach his stomach, they do not stop fighting.

Desika prays that Garuda who ate these two creatures should protect us from harm. Desika refers to Garuda as pakshimalla — the powerful bird. When Garuda goes to get nectar, the snake sons of Kadru mock him. They wonder if he will get it from the crescent moon on Siva’s head. If he does, it would be insufficient for all the snakes. Or will he try to get it from the ocean? That will yield nothing, because the nectar had been churned out of the ocean long ago. But Garuda laughs at their ignorance of his strength, and finally does get the nectar.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 9:21:08 AM |

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