Episode # 60 – Garuda’s pursuit towards the divine “Amrita” – A treacherous journey!!!

In the previous episode we had witnessed an important phase in the fight between Kadru and Vinata, wherein Vinata is completely enslaved by Kadru as she has lost the contest. Upon seeing Vinata suffer in the hands of Kadru every day, Vinata’s son, Garuda is not happy at all. He feels humiliated and insulted because his mom had to go through enormous ordeals. As Garuda thinks of a plan, he first approaches Kadru’s sons for a solution. Initially, Garuda did not know that Kadru’s sons had a curse from Kadru herself because they hadn’t obeyed her words. As Garuda meets them, he comes to know of the entire story, which makes him think a bit smarter now – Garuda saw an opportunity here – A win-win situation. He promises the snakes that he would get the divine “Amrita” for them to consume, so that they would become immortal. With this, the snakes would get rid of their mother’s curse that they would fall dead into the “Sarpa-Yaaga”. In return, Garuda wanted the snakes to do something and relieve Vinata from their mothers’ slavery. 

As the deal was sealed between the two “parties”, Garuda decided that it was time for him to swing into action. Before getting into the execution, Garuda decided to meet his mother once and convey the information. He quickly meets Vinata and she is in turn happy with the plan. With Vinata’s blessings, Garuda proceeds in pursuit of the “Amrita”. 

“Yen mangalam suparnasya vinata kalpayatpuraa!

Amritam praarthayaanasya hatee bhavatu mangalam!!”

With this sloka, Vinata blesses the best for her son to obtain the “Amrita”. There is an interesting fact about this particular sloka. This sloka actually appears in the Valmiki Ramayana! We would wonder where did a Ramayana sloka come amidst this Mahabharata text! The Ramayana was a “Tretha Yuga” event, and now we’re in a “Dvaapara Yuga” story. Before going into the context, I shall narrate where does this sloka come in the Ramayana text. Bhagawan Rama is leaving for the forest for fourteen years, thanks to Kaikeyi’s boon that she had asked to King Dasharata. As Bhagawan Rama was leaving the Ayodhya palace, He wanted to bid a “Good bye” to all the important people there. He first came to Mother Kaushalya. Initially, Mother Kaushalya was shell-shocked that her son is going to the forest, instead of ascending to the Ayodhya throne. However, Bhagawan Rama convinced her and assured her that He would be back after the fourteen-year period to become Ayodhya’s king. Convinced thus, Mother Kaushalya blessed Bhagawan Rama for His treacherous pursuit. How did Mother Kaushalya bless Him? She said thus, “Just like how Mother Vinata blessed Garuda to obtain the divine “Amrita”, I too hereby bless my son to have a safe pursuit in the forest for the next fourteen years!” 

This is where the context comes in. Thus, there is a connection between the Ramayana and the Mahabharata stories in this way! Isn’t this interesting? 🙂 Now moving on further, Garuda flies out of Vinata’s place in pursuit of the “Amrita”. As the way was long and treacherous, he started feeling hungry mid-way. As per the advice of his mother,  Garuda caught hold of the “Nishaadas”, kills them and eats them! Even with this, his hunger wasn’t satisfied. It was a tiring journey for Garuda and he is so exhausted that he requires more and more food to sustain the journey. Garuda now turned to his father, Sage Kashyapa to get a solution for his hunger. Immediately Sage Kashyapa thought of a plan. He shows Garuda two things – One is a huge banyan tree and the other is a pair of an elephant and a tortoise beneath that banyan tree. Sage Kashyapa instructs Garuda to eat the entire setup, so that his hunger would be satisfied once and forever. 

Taking Sage Kashyapa’s words thus, Garuda immediately flew to the place where the tree is. With all his speed and intensity, Garuda sits on one of the branches of that banyan tree. Unable to bare the weight of Garuda and the speed at which he sat there, the branch gives up! It breaks down into several pieces. There were a group of Rishis by name “Vaala-Killiyas” who were hanging upside down from those tree branches and performing their penance. This is one of the most intense forms of penance, wherein one stands / hangs upside down with full concentration and focus. These “Vaala-Killiyas” are extremely into their spiritual pursuit in such a way that they’re undertaking this extreme level of penance. As Garuda sees them hanging upside down and clinging on to the branches that were about to fall on the ground, he becomes scared! What if these Rishis are disturbed from their penance and what if they curse him? 

Fearing thus, Garuda thought of a plan quickly! He had to act fast here! On one hand his hunger was eating him up! On the other hand, he sees food in front of him, but these Rishis might create an issue if disturbed. Garuda smartly does something here – He takes both the elephant and the tortoise in between his two legs, claws the entire tree along with its branches, wherein the Rishis are performing their penance, and starts flying! Thus, the entire setup is flying now along with Garuda! So for today, let us understand till this point, and in the next episode, we shall witnessed what happened to Garuda next! Was he able to obtain the “Amrita”? Was he able to do it without disturbing these Rishis? Was he able to satisfy his hunger? Stay tuned! 🙂 

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at International School of Business & Media, Pune, India. A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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