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Garuda (Samskrit : गरुडः) is the son of Rshi Kashyapa and his wife Vinata. Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun, is said to be his elder brother. Considered sovereign among the feathered race and an implacable enemy of the serpents, Garuda is the vahana (mount) of Mahavishnu and is represented as having a white face, curved nose, red wings and a golden body. Apte Sanskrit Dictionary
परिचयः ॥ Introduction
Garuda is mainly known as Pakshi Raja: king of birds Sarpa Vairi: enemy of the serpents Vishnu Vahana: mount of Mahavishnu
Describing Garuda, the Vachaspatyam says, कश्यपात्मजे विनतागर्भजाते | १ पक्षिराजे अमरः। विनतापिसुसिद्धार्था बभूव मुदिता तदा। जनयामास पुत्रौ अरुणं गरुडं तथा। विकलाङ्गोऽरुणस्तत्र भास्करस्यपुरःसरः। पतत्त्रिणान्तु गरुड इन्द्रत्वेनाभ्यषिच्यत । Vachaspatyam
kaśyapātmaje vinatāgarbhajāte | 1 pakṣirāje amaraḥ। vinatāpisusiddhārthā babhūva muditā tadā। janayāmāsa putrau aruṇaṁ garuḍaṁ tathā। vikalāṅgo'ruṇastatra bhāskarasyapuraḥsaraḥ। patattriṇāntu garuḍa indratvenābhyaṣicyata । Meaning: The son of Kashyapa and Vinata, Garuda, is referred to as king of birds (Pakshi Raja) by Amara (in the Amarakosha). It further says that Vinata gave birth to two sons viz. Aruna and Garuda. Aruna, who was not physically developed became the charioteer of Sun (one who moves before the Sun) and Garuda was coronated with the prestige of lordship (indratva of the birds).
Garuda is also known for his enemity with serpents. It is said that, in a dispute between his mother Vinata and Kadru (her sister and Kashyapa’s other wife), about the colour of उचैःश्रवस् horse, Kadru defeated Vinata, and according to the conditions, made Vinata her slave. It was Garuda who, after a hard struggle with Indra, brought down Amrta inorder to free his mother. Though Vinata was then released, the Amrta was taken away by Indra from the serpents. This is seen as a cause of enemity between Garuda and the serpants. Apte Sanskrit Dictionary
Garuda is mentioned in texts like the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Garuda Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Matsya Purana, Skanda Purana (Revakhanda), Agni Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Varaha Purana etc.
Garuḍa, the son of Kaśyapa and Vinatā, the vehicle of Vishnu (Kṛshṇa), or the emblem of his flagstaff. In the meantime G. came out bursting the egg and ascended the skies. The gods thought that it was Agni, but were undeceived. Then the gods and the ṛshis praised G. and prevailed upon him to diminish his own energy and splendour: Bearing his brother Aruṇa on his back G. went from his father's home and arrived at his mother's side on the other shore of the ocean and placed Aruṇa in the east: G. carried the snakes on his back, but ascended too near to the Sun so that the snakes became scorched by the rays of the Sun: The serpents promised that if G. brought them the amṛta he and his mother should be freed from bondage (I, 27). Having been directed by Vinatā to live upon the Nishādas (b) but not to injure the brahmans, and being taught by her how to know who is a brahman, he set out, and, having come to the Nishādas, he raised a great quantity of dust, and opened his mouth; there the Nishādas entered by thousands, being blinded by the dust, and were devoured (I, 28). A brahman who, with his wife of the Nishāda caste, entered the throat of G., and began to burn him, was recognized and relieved with his wife by G. As G.'s hunger was not appeased Kaśyapa told him of the elephant Supratīka (b) and the tortoise Vibhāvasu: Then Kaśyapa blessed G. G. then seized the elephant and the tortoise and came to the tīrtha Alamba. A banyan-tree invited him to sit on one of its huge branches, but the branch broke (I, 29). G. caught the branch with his beak, and perceiving Vālakhilyas suspended therefrom with their head downwards he continued to fly with the branch, the elephant, and the tortoise, fearing to kill the Vālakhilyas if he should throw away the branch. The Vālakhilyas therefore gave him the name Garuḍa (etymology: guruṃ bhāraṃ samāsādyoḍḍīnaḥ, v. 1390). On Gandhamādana he saw Kaśyapa engaged in ascetic devotions. Kaśyapa propitiated the Vālakhilyas (c) for him, then they abandoned the bough and went to Himavat to practise ascetic penances. According to the advice of Kaśyapa G. flew away for a hundred thousand of yojanas to a mountain without human beings, there he threw down the bough and ate the tortoise and the elephant. Then he again rose on his wings: Omens foreboding fear began to appear among the gods. Bṛhaspati declared that it was owing to the fault of Indra and the ascetic penances of the Vālakhilyas (cf. § 45) that G. now approached to take away the soma. Indra then caused the gods to surround and watch the amṛta (by the penances of the Vālakhilyas G. had been born as the lord of winged creatures (patatrīṇām indraḥ, v. 1455)).--§ 46 (Āstīkap.): G. attacked the gods, whom he blinded with dust, and Bhaumana lay as dead on the field. Indra caused Vāyu to dispel the dust. The Sādhyas and the Gandharvas fled eastwards, the Vasus and the Rudras towards the south, the Ādityas towards the west, and the Aśvins towards the north. G. then slew nine Yakshas, Aśvakranda, etc. (), who guarded the amṛta. The amṛta on all sides was surrounded with fire. G. then divided his mouth into 8100 mouths, and taking water from many rivers he extinguished the fire. Then he assumed a diminutive body (I, 32), and passed through the spokes of the revolving keen-edged wheel of steel placed before the soma. Then there were two great snakes, who would reduce to ashes everyone who might be seen by them. G. covered their eyes with dust, and unseen by them mangled them to pieces. He then flew away with the amṛta, not drinking it himself. He met with Vishṇu on his way and they agreed that G. should stay above Vishṇu, sitting on the flagstaff of his chariot and be his vehicle, and be immortal and free from disease without drinking amṛta. While G. was flying Indra hurled his thunderbolt at him. G. did not feel the slightest pain, but in honour of Dadhīca and Indra and the thunderbolt G. dropped a feather, and from its beauty he gained the name Suparṇa (I, 33). Indra and G. made friendship with each other, and agreed that G. should not give the soma to anyone for drink. Indra should bring it away after it had been put down by G., and G. should feed on the snakes. The snakes declared Vinatā to be free; G. placed down the soma on some kuśa grass, and while the snakes were performing their ablutions, their daily devotions, and other religious rites, Indra took up the amṛta and reṭurned to heaven. When the snakes licked the kuśa grass their tongues were divided in twain, and the kuśa grass, from the contact with the amṛta, became sacred from this time (Index Names Mahabharata)
Also refer Mahabharata Cultural Index. Points:
- Bringer of Amrta
- Galava Episode
- Sumukha Episode
- Association with Vishnu
- Association with Sesha
- Association with Skanda
- Other feats:
गरुत्मान्गरुडस्तार्क्ष्यो वैनतेयः खगेश्वरः। नागान्तको विष्णुरथः सुपर्णः पन्नगाशनः॥ 1।1।29।1।2
स्वामी : विष्णुः
सम्बन्धि1 : विष्णुः
पदार्थ-विभागः : , द्रव्यम्, पृथ्वी, चलसजीवः, मनुष्येतरः, अलौकिकप्राणी Amarkosha
गरुडः, गरुत्मान् m. (-त्मत्), तार्क्ष्यः, खगेश्वरः, सुपर्णः, विष्णुरथः, वैनतेयः, विनतासूनुः m., नागान्तकः, पन्नगाशनः, भुजगदारणः, सिताननः, दक्षाय्यः. The son of Garuda is called सम्पातिः -तिकः. (MW)
Descended from viṣṇu thus:--brahmā -marīci--kaśyapa--garuḍa.
Lineage of Garuda
जन्म ॥ Birth
The story of Garuda's birth occurs in Adhyaya 16 in the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata.
It is said that, in the Satya Yuga, Daksha Prajapati had two beautiful daughters viz. Kadru and Vinata. They were married to Rshi Kashyapa. One day, Kashyapa who was as powerful as Prajapati Brahma, being much pleased granted both his wives a boon of their choice. Kadru chose to have a thousand nagas as her children while Vinata chose to have two sons more powerful and heroic than the thousand sons of Kadru. Both being thus satisfied with the boon, Kashyapa retreated into the forest.
After a long time, Kadru laid thousand eggs and Vinata laid two eggs. The maids were elated and preserved the eggs in hot pots. In the 500th year, the eggs of Kadru hatched and thousand serpents of various kinds emerged out of them. But Vinata's eggs did not seem to hatch. This offended her and therefore, she broke open one of the eggs with her own hands. However, she noticed that only the upper body of her son had developed. It is said that, this son cursed his mother in anger saying,
स पुत्रः क्रोधसंरब्धः शशापैनामिति श्रुतिः। योऽहमेवं कृतो मातस्त्वया लोभपरीतया ॥१८॥
शरीरेणासमग्रेण तस्माद्दासी भविष्यसि। पञ्च वर्षशतान्यस्या यया विस्पर्धसे सह ॥१९॥
sa putraḥ krodhasaṁrabdhaḥ śaśāpaināmiti śrutiḥ। yo'hamevaṁ kr̥to mātastvayā lobhaparītayā ॥18॥
śarīreṇāsamagreṇa tasmāddāsī bhaviṣyasi। pañca varṣaśatānyasyā yayā vispardhase saha ॥19॥
Meaning: Oh mother ! You have left me half grown by falling prey to your greed and did not let me develop completely. Therefore, you will become the maid of that very person (co-wife) whom you envy. However, he also uttered the means of redemption from the curse. He said,
एष च त्वां सुतो मातर्दासीत्वान्मोचयिष्यति । यद्येनमपि मातस्त्वं मामिवाण्डविभेदनात् ॥२०॥
eṣa ca tvāṁ suto mātardāsītvānmocayiṣyati । yadyenamapi mātastvaṁ māmivāṇḍavibhedanāt ॥20॥
Meaning: And O Mother ! Your second son in this other egg will relieve you from this slavery, provided you let him develop completely and not break the egg as you did in my case.
Having thus asked Vinata to wait for 500 years more for the birth of her second son, Aruna rose to the sky where he became the charioteer of the Sun. And later, at the stipulated time, Garuda, the destroyer of the serpents was born.
500 years the egg broke itself open and out came garuḍa with blazing effulgence, and he rose up in the sky. His body glowed like the sun. The devas who got themselves dimmed by his effulgence asked Agnideva the reason therefor. Agnideva told them about the birth of garuḍa and also that he was equally effulgent as himself (Agnideva). Then all of them went to garuḍa and lavished on his head all possible blessings, and garuḍa, as requested by them, controlled his effulgence and returned to his mother. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 23).
shortly after his birth he frightened the deities by his brilliant lustre; they supposed him to be अग्नि, and requested his protection; when they discovered that he was गरुड, they praised him as the highest being, and called him fire and sun MBh. i, 1239 ff.; (MW)
Once Prajapati Kashyapa was doing a yajna with the desire of obtaining a son. He was being helped by rshis, deities and gandharvas. Accordingly, the task of collecting samidha was entrusted to Indra, the Valakhilya rshis and other deities. The powerful Indra chose to bring wood befitting his strength. As he was carrying mountain like log of wood, he came across the Valakhilyas who were the size of half a thumb and were struggling to carry one twig of Palasha tree amongst them. Seeing this, Indra, overcome with pride, slighted and stepped across them. This enraged the Valakhilyas who took the sankalpa (vow) of obtaining a second Indra for the deities who would be a hundred times more valourous than the current Indra. This was a cause of great concern for the current Indra who then went to the resort of sage Kashyapa. Sage Kashyapa then explained to the Valakhilyas that it is due to Lord Brahma’s order that Indra rules over the three worlds. And their wish for a second Indra will defy the words of Lord Brahma. Therefore, he requested the Valakhilyas not to falsify the verdict of Lord Brahma. And in order that the wish of the Valakhilyas is also fulfilled, he suggested that may the child whose birth they seek become the Indra of birds. He requested them to bless Lord Indra who had come to them as recipient. Convinced by the speech of Rshi Kashyapa, the Valakhilyas said, “Oh Prajapati, our vow was to obtain an Indra while yours was to obtain a son. Therefore, may you accept the fruit of our vow.” Thus, Rshi Kashyapa’s wife Vinata, who at that time was following the vow of Brahmacharya to obtain a progeny was blessed to bear that great son whose birth was the result of the vows of Rshi Kashyapa and the Valakhilyas. This son, who came to be known as the Indra of birds, is none other than Garuda. Reference : Mahabharata (Adi Parva Adhyaya 31)
Garuda in Mahabharata
Adhyaya 16 (Complete), 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34.
कद्रूर् नाग सहस्रम् तु विजज्ञे धरणीधरन् | द्वौ पुत्रौ विनतायाः तु गरुडो अरुण एव च || ३-१४-३२
Kadru gave birth to a thousand-headed serpent who is the bearer of this earth, and Vinata gave birth to two sons namely Garuda and Aruna. [3-14-32]
aruṇa and garuḍa were the two sons born to Vinata. (vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, Araṇyakāṇḍa, Canto 15).
Vinata, a wife of Kasyapa gave birth to Garuda and Kadru and her sister gave birth to the Nagas.
The churning of the Milk-ocean was done before garuḍa was born. indra got a horse named Uccaiḥśravas from the Ocean of Milk. Between Kadru and Vinata a dispute arose as regards the colour of the horse's tail, Kadru saying that it was black while Vinata asserted that it was white. They further agreed to test the colour the next day, betting that she who was proved to be wrong would become the slave of the victor. As the nāga sons of Kadru hung on to the tail of the horse the tail appeared to be black and Vinata lost the bet and became Kadru's slave.
It was at this juncture that garuḍa was born, and he felt highly mortified to find his mother working as a slave of Kadru.
garuḍa, extremely pained at the pitiable plight of his mother, one day asked Kadru what price she and her children demanded for freeing Vinata from slavery, and Kadru demanded Amṛta from Devaloka as the price. garuḍa decided to get it and informed his mother about his decision to fly to Devaloka.
Vinata blessed her son that his wings would be protected by vāyu, the lower half of his body by sun and moon, the rest of the body by the Vasus and the head by agni. She also promised to wait there till her son returned.
kaśyapa, grandson of Brahmā and son of marīci married the eight daughters of dakṣa called aditi, diti, danu, kālikā, tāmrā, krodhavaśā, manu and analā. And to tāmrā five daughters were born, viz. krauñcī, bhāsī, śyenī, dhṛtarāṣṭrī and śukī. Out of the five women krauñcī became mother of the owls, bhāsī delivered the bhāsas (types of birds) and from śyenī were born vultures and kites. haṁsa, Kalahaṁsa, koka etc. are children of dhṛtarāṣṭrī. From śukī was born Nalā and from Nalā, vinatā; aruṇa and garuḍa were the two sons born to Vinatā. (vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, Araṇyakāṇḍa, Canto 15).
There is a story in the Mahābhārata about the birth of Aruṇa and Garuḍa. Kaśyapa who was much pleased with the seva (सेवा | selfless service) of Vinatā and Kadrū asked them to select any boon they desired. Kadrū chose to have a thousand nāgas as her children while vinatā chose to have two sons more powerful and heroic than the thousand sons of Kadrū. After granting them the boon kaśyapa retreated into the forest.
After some time Kadrū laid thousand eggs and Vinatā two eggs. Both of them kept their eggs in hot pots. In the 500th year the eggs of Kadrū hatched and thousand serpents of various kinds emerged out of them. But Vinatā's eggs did not hatch yet, and the sight of kadrū playing with her children pained Vinatā much. She, therefore, broke open one of her eggs in secret, and a half-grown child stepped out of it. That child was Aruṇa. Aruṇa got angry that Vinatā forced open the egg prematurely. He told her that as punishment thereof she would become a slave of Kadrū. But, Aruṇa granted her redemption from the curse thus: After another 500 years the remaining egg of yours will hatch and a son endowed with exceptional power and prowess will be born to you. He will liberate you from slavery.” After telling his mother so much Aruṇa rose to the sky where he became the charioteer of the Sun. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 16. See also para 6 infra).
After 500 years the egg broke itself open and out came Garuḍa with blazing effulgence, and he rose up in the sky. His body glowed like the sun. The devas who got themselves dimmed by his effulgence asked Agnideva the reason therefor. Agnideva told them about the birth of Garuḍa and also that he was equally effulgent as himself (Agnideva). Then all of them went to Garuḍa and lavished on his head all possible blessings, and Garuḍa, as requested by them, controlled his effulgence and returned to his mother. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 23).
The churning of the Milk-ocean was done before garuḍa was born. indra got a horse named Uccaiḥśravas from the Ocean of Milk. Between kadrū and vinatā a dispute arose as regards the colour of the horse's tail, kadrū saying that it was black while vinatā asserted that it was white. They further agreed to test the colour the next day, betting that she who was proved to be wrong would become the slave of the victor. As the nāga sons of kadrū hung on to the tail of the horse the tail appeared to be black and vinatā lost the bet and became Kadrū's slave.
It was at this juncture that garuḍa was born, and he felt highly mortified to find his mother working as a slave of kadrū.
kadrū and her nāga sons once ordered vinatā to carry them to the nāga residence in the middle of the ocean, called rāmaṇīyaka (Ramaṇam). Accordingly vinatā carrying kadrū on her shoulders and garuḍa carrying Kadrū's sons on his shoulders rose up in the sky. But, garuḍa did not relish the slavish work, and he, carrying with him the nāgas, flew up to the sun's orbit. The nāga children fainted due to the excessive heat. But, on the request of kadrū indra sent heavy rain and the nāgas regained consciousness. By then they had reached rāmaṇīyaka island.
Freedom of Vinata (PE)
garuḍa, extremely pained at the pitiable plight of his mother, one day asked kadrū what price she and her children demanded for freeing vinatā from slavery, and kadrū demanded Amṛta from Devaloka as the price. garuḍa decided to get it and informed his mother about his decision to fly to Devaloka. But, what about food till he reached Devaloka? vinatā solved the problem by advising garuḍa to eat the niṣādas he will meet on his way to Devaloka at the island called Niṣādālaya, at the same time specially forbidding him from eating on any account, brahmins who might be there, at Niṣādālaya. How to distinguish brahmins from others, queried garuḍa, and his mother replied by pointing out that the brahmin will burn the throat of him who tries to eat him, like fire. Then vinatā blessed her son that his wings would be protected by vāyu, the lower half of his body by sun and moon, the rest of the body by the Vasus and the head by agni. She also promised to wait there till her son returned.
In Devaloka (PE)
After saluting his mother garuḍa set out on his quest for Amṛta. All the fourteen worlds shook at the lashing of his wings. He reached Niṣādālaya, where while consuming whole lots of Niṣādas a brahmin and his wife also happened to get into his throat. garuḍa felt their presence immediately in his throat and requested them to get out of his mouth. Accordingly they got out and also blessed garuḍa, who continued on his journey.
Next garuḍa reached the forest where his father kaśyapa was engaged in tapas. He told him about his mission and requested him for something to eat. kaśyapa replied thus:--“You see a pool wherein an elephant and a tortoise are living for long as enemies. Long ago two brothers vibhāvasu and supratīka quarrelled over their paternal wealth and at the height of it vibhāvasu cursed supratīka to become an elephant when supratīka pronounced the counter curse that vibhāvasu should turn out to be a tortoise. You, my son garuḍa may eat that elephant and tortoise. May your journey for Amṛta be crowned with success.
Now, garuḍa after saluting his father, flew up in the sky carrying in his beak the elephant and the tortoise from the pool. As trees were falling uprooted due to the terrific vibrations caused by the lashing of his wings garuḍa did not find a convenient place to sit down to eat his food. While continuing the journey garuḍa saw a big tree, its branches spread out in a circumference of a hundred yojanas. But, as soon as garuḍa set foot on a branch of the tree it (branch) crumbled down. On that broken branch were the sages called bālakhilyas doing tapas hanging their heads down. Fearing that the sages might fall down garuḍa continued his flight holding in his beak the torn branch of the tree. But he could not find a safe place to deposit the branch with the sages. So he came again to Mount gandhamādana and saw kaśyapa, who apologised to the bālakhilyas on behalf of his son and also explained to them about his mission. The bālakhilyas were pleased and they left the place for the Himālayas. As advised by kaśyapa garuḍa deposited the branch of the tree on an uninhabited mountain peak. garuḍa ate the elephant and the tortoise there, and therefrom flew to Devaloka (Ādi Parva, Chapter 29, 30).
Curse of Valakhilyas (PE)
Even before the arrival of garuḍa ill omens began appearing in Devaloka. indra asked bṛhaspati for explanation about the ill omens. bṛhaspati with his divine eyes saw garuḍa approaching Devaloka for Amṛta, and he told indra about garuḍa born out of the powers of the tapas of kaśyapa and the bālakhilyas. He also told that such a fate as the present one befell indra due to a curse of the bālakhilyas. indra and the other devas stood guard over the pot of Amṛta ready to repel all possible attacks.
There was a reason for Garuḍa's birth from the powers of the tapas of the bālakhilyas, and also for indra to be put into the present predicament due to the curse of the bālakhilyas. Kaśyapaprajāpati, a long time ago, began a terrific yajña for a son, and indra and the bālakhilyas who numbered more than 60,000 were deputed by kaśyapa to collect firewood for the yajña. The bālakhilyas were only of the size of a thumb, and indra who very easily collected all the firewood needed for the yajña laughed at the tiny bālakhilyas who were carrying small twigs etc. for firewood. Angered at the insult the bālakhilyas removed themselves to another place nearby and began a yajña directed against indra who alarmed at it sought the help of kaśyapa who then held peace talks with the bālakhilyas. They transferred their yāgaśakti (yājñic powers) also to kaśyapa and agreed to be satisfied with the condition that as the result of Kaśyapa's yajña a son should be born to him, who (the son) would defeat indra. Thus, for the time being indra escaped from the wrath of the bālakhilyas. After the yajña was over vinatā came to kaśyapa and he blessed her with a son wishing that he should become exceptionally strong and powerful, and that was garuḍa. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 30).
garuḍa approached the pot of nectar, and viśvakarmā who attacked him first was felled to the ground. The dust storm raised by the waving of Garuḍa's wings blinded everybody. The devas and indra, nay, even the sun and the Moon lined up against garuḍa, but he defeated them all, and entered the particular place where the pot of nectar was kept. Two terrific wheels were rotating round the pot and they would cut into mince-meat anybody who tried to lay hands on the pot and a machine circled the wheels. Below the wheels were two monstrous serpents with glowing eyes and protruding tongues like flashes of fire, and the serpents never closed their eyes. The very look with those eyes was enough to poison anyone to death. garuḍa blinded those eyes by raising a torrent of dust, pierced them in the middle with his beak and and through the hole, his body reduced to such a tiny shape, went nearer to the pot. He destroyed the wheels and the machine, and carrying the pot of nectar in his beaks rose to the sky shielding the light of the sun by his outspread wings. Mahāviṣṇu, who became so much pleased with the tremendous achievements of garuḍa asked him to choose any boon. garuḍa requested viṣṇu that he should be made his (Viṣṇu's) vehicle and rendered immortal without his tasting amṛta. Both the boons were granted.
indra hit with the vajra (his special weapon) the wings of garuḍa who was returning from viṣṇu. It did not wound his body, but a feather of his fell in the atmosphere. Everybody who saw the feather acclaimed garuḍa as suparṇa (he with the good wings). indra was wonder-struck, and he approached garuḍa and requested that they should be friends in future and the pot of nectar be returned. garuḍa replied that the nectar would be returned if he was granted the power to make nāgas his food, and indra blessed him that he would live by consuming nāgas. And then garuḍa told indra thus: “I took this pot of amṛta not for my own use. The nāgas cheated my mother and made her a slave, and she will be freed if only this pot of nectar is given to them (nāgas). You may snatch off the pot from the nāgas; I shall not object to it.”
indra and garuḍa thus became friends and the former followed garuḍa on his way back home.
9) garuḍa handed over the pot of amṛta to the nāgas and indra cheated them of it. garuḍa handed over the pot of nectar to the nāgas, who on the suggestion of the former placed the pot on darbha grass spread on the ground. Also, in accordance with Garuḍa's advice that they should take a purificatory bath before tasting the amṛta the nāgas went out to have the bath, and in their absence indra carried off the pot of nectar back to Devaloka. Failing to find the pot of nectar on their return from bath the aggrieved nāgas licked the darbha on which the pot was placed with the result that their tongues were cloven into two. It was from that day onwards that the nāgas became double-tongued (dvijihvas). And, thus garuḍa redeemed his mother from slavery. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 34)
10) The fig tree which garuḍa broke with his beaks and laṅkā. It has been noted above that garuḍa on his way to Devaloka rested on a fig tree. That fig is called subhadra in vālmīki rāmāyaṇa.
rāvaṇa saw the fig tree around which sages were sitting and which bore marks made by garuḍa sitting thereon. (vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, Araṇyakāṇḍa, Canto 35, Verse 26).
There is some connection between this tree and laṅkā. garuḍa had, as directed by kaśyapa, deposited in the sea the branch of the tree on which the bālakhilyas hung in tapas and with which garuḍa flew hither and thither fearing about the safety of the bālakhilyas. At the spot in the sea where the branch was deposited sprang up an island like the peak of a mountain. It was this island which in after years became reputed as laṅkā. (kathāsaritsāgara, Kathāmukhalaṁbaka, Taraṅga 4).
11) garuḍa, saubhari and kāliya. garuḍa had always entertained great hatred against the nāgas, and now Indra's permission having been obtained by him to eat the nāgas for food, garuḍa decided to launch a regular nāga-hunting expedition. He began eating the nāgas one by one. Alarmed at this the nāgas planned for their security in a conclave, and approached garuḍa with the proposal that one nāga would go to him daily to serve as his food instead of his indiscriminate killing of them. garuḍa accepted their proposal. After some time the nāgas proposed to garuḍa that they would conduct a sarpa-bali (sacrifice of serpents) and submit the food got out of the bali to him so that his nāgahunting might be stopped for ever. garuḍa agreed to this also. According to the new agreement daily one nāga began going to garuḍa with the food got out of the bali.
But kāliya alone did not agree to the programme as he did not recognise garuḍa to be superior to him in power. And, garuḍa, who wanted to teach the haughty kāliya a lesson challenged him to fight, and the fight took place in river kālindī, Kāliya's abode. During the fight the lashing of Garuḍa's wings raised the water in kālindī up in the sky and it drenched the sage saubhari all over, who was performing tapas on the banks of kālindī. saubhari cursed that the body of garuḍa be shattered into a thousand pieces if ever he entered that area in future, and thenceforth the place became a prohibited area for garuḍa. During after years kāliya was put up at this place.
A kadamba tree alone outlived the eflect of the poison of kāliya. The tree could outlive the deadly poison because garuḍa had rested on it on his way back from Devaloka with amṛta. (bhāgavata daśama Śkandha).
12) Relationship of garuḍa with the kings of the solar dynasty. King sagara of the solar dynasty was married to sumati, the elder sister of garuḍa, and there is a story behind the marriage.
There was once a king called subāhu in the solar dynasty. He married one yādavī, but for many years they had no issues. yādavī had become old by the time she conceived a child as the result of many yajñas etc. But, Subāhu's other wives, viz. co-wives of yādavī, did not like the prospects of yādavī becoming a mother. They administered poison to her with the result that yādavī did not deliver in time, but continued as a pregnant woman for seven years. The sad couple, for their mental relief went into the forest and lived as disciples of a sage called aurva. But subāhu died rather soon and yādavī prepared herself to follow him in the funeral pyre. But, the sage aurva prevented her from self immolation speaking to her thus: “You shall not act rashly. The child in your womb will become a famous emperor and rule over the whole world.”
yādavī yielded to the sage's advice and did not court death, and soon afterwards she delivered a son, and he was named sagara, which meant “he who was affected by poison even while he was in the mother's womb. It was this child who, in later years, became reputed as emperor sagara.
sagara married the elder sister of garuḍa when he was living as a boy in Aurva's āśrama, and there is a story behind the marriage, a story which related to the time when garuḍa was not born.
vinatā, mother of garuḍa, while she was working as the slave of kadrū, one day went into the woods to collect firewood for her mistress. In the terrible rain and storm that ensued, vinatā lost her track and wandered in the forest for many days before she could take shelter in the āśrama of a Sannyāsin. The pious man felt sorry for poor vinatā and blessed her that a son, who would be able to win freedom for her would be born to her. garuḍa was the son thus born to her.
Before the birth of garuḍa when kaśyapa and vinatā were living together with their daughter sumati the boy sage upamanyu, son of sutapas, went to them and told kaśyapa thus: “While touring round the earth I worshipped the pitṛs at gayā and I have been told that they (pitṛs) would get redemption only in case I married and became a father. I, therefore, request you to please give your daughter sumati to me as wife. vinatā did not relish this proposal. upamanyu got angry at the rejection of his offer and cursed vinatā saying that if sumati was given in marriage to any other brahmin boy she (vinatā) would die with her head broken into pieces.
It was during this period when vinatā was in a fix about the marriage of sumati that garuḍa was born to her. He also thought over the problem and argued like this: the curse is only against a brahmin boy marrying my sister sumati; why not sumati be given in marriage to a kṣatriya; but where to find an eligible kṣatriya boy? At this stage vinatā asked him to go and meet the Sannyāsin, who had promised her an illustrious son, in the forest and this Sannyāsin directed garuḍa to aurva, for advice and guidance. When garuḍa met aurva and sought his advice about the marriage of his sister, the sage thought that the context offered a very good bride to sagara. And, according to Aurva's advice sumati was married to sagara, and thus garuḍa became related to the Kings of the Solar dynasty. (brahmāṇḍa purāṇa, Chapters 16, 17 and 18). The Sixty thousand sons born to sagara by sumati were reduced to ashes in the fire which emanated from the eyes of kapila. (See kapila). When aṁśumān, the grandson of sagara was going around the world to find out these 60,000 sons he met garuḍa on the way, and it was he who advised that the waters of gaṅgā should be brought down on earth so that the dead sons of sagara might get adhyatmik redemption. (vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, Bālakāṇḍa, Chapter 41).
13) Garuḍa's conceit laid low. A very beautiful daughter, guṇakeśī, was born to mātali, the charioteer of indra. In the course of his search for a suitable husband for guṇakeśī he came to Pātālaloka in the company of nārada, and there mātali selected a noble nāga called sumukha as his prospective son-in-law. But a month before garuḍa had eaten Sumukha's father Cikara, and he had also given notice to sumukha that within a month's time he too would be eaten.
nārada and mātali met sumukha at the abode of his grandfather āryaka, who was very glad to marry his grandson to Mātali's daughter. But, the threat of garuḍa that he would eat sumukha before the month was over stared them all cruelly in their face. So, they appealed to indra for a solution to the problem, in the presence of Mahāviṣṇu. indra gave an extension of life to sumukha and he wedded guṇakeśī. The marriage enraged garuḍa so much that he went to Indra's assembly and insulted both indra and viṣṇu at which viṣṇu extended his right hand to garuḍa asking him whether he could hold the hand. And, when garuḍa placed Viṣṇu's hand on his head he felt as if the whole weight of the three worlds was put on the head. garuḍa admitted his defeat. Mahāviṣṇu thus laid low the conceit of garuḍa. (Udyoga Parva, Chapter 105).
14) garuḍa helped gālava. gālava was a disciple of viśvāmitra. Once Dharmadeva, to test viśvāmitra, went to his āśrama disguised as vasiṣṭha and asked for food. As there was no ready-made food at the āśrama just then, viśvāmitra naturally took some time to cook new food, and he went with it, steaming hot, in a plate to the guest. Saying that he would return within minutes and receive the food, the guest (Dharmadeva) left the place, and viśvāmitra stood there with the plate in hand awaiting the return of the guest. He had to remain standing thus for one hundred years, and during this whole period it was gālava who stood there looking after his guru. When hundred years were completed Dharmadeva returned to viśvāmitra and accepted his hospitality, and then only could the latter take some rest.
viśvāmitra blessed gālava, and now it was time for him to leave the āśrama. Though viśvāmitra told that no gurudakṣiṇā (tuition fee) was required gālava persisted in asking him what fee or present he wanted. viśvāmitra lost his temper and told gālava that if he was so very particular about gurudakṣiṇā, eight hundred horses all having the colour of moon, and one ear black in colour might be given as dakṣiṇā. gālava stood there aghast at the above pronouncement of his preceptor, when garuḍa happened to go over there and hear from gālava about his sad plight. Money was required to purchase horses, but gālava was penniless. At any rate garuḍa with gālava on his back flew eastwards and reached ṛṣabhaparvata and they rested on a peak of it. There the brahmā woman, śāṇḍilī was engaged in tapas and she served them with food. After food garuḍa spoke disparagingly about śāṇḍilī. garuḍa and gālava slept that night on the floor, but when they woke up in the morning lo! garuḍa was completely shed of his feathers. garuḍa stood before śāṇḍilī, his head bent in anguish. śāṇḍilī blessed garuḍa, who then got back his old feathers.
Continuing their journey garuḍa and gālava reached the palace of the very rich King, yayāti. garuḍa introduced gālava to yayāti, who found it difficult to get 800 horses for gālava. But, yayāti gave his daughter mādhavī to gālava saying that he might give her to any King and get money enough to purchase 800 horses. After thus showing the means to get money to gālava, garuḍa returned home.
gālava gave mādhavī first to King haryaśva of ayodhyā, then to King divodāsa of kāśī and next to King uśīnara of bhoja and got from them two hundred horses each, and he submitted the horses and also mādhavī in lieu of the balance of two hundred horses to viśvāmitra as dakṣiṇā. A son called aṣṭaka was born to viśvāmitra by mādhavī, who had been granted a boon that she would not lose her youth and beauty even though she lived with any number of people. (udyogaparva Chapter 108).
15) Fight between garuḍa and airāvata. śrī kṛṣṇa once went to Devaloka and plucked the pārijāta flower from the garden nandana, and this led to a fight between indra and kṛṣṇa in which garuḍa also joined. garuḍa directed his main attention on airāvata which, at his blows, fainted and fell down. (harivaṁśa, Chapter 73).
16) Defeated by vāsuki. To churn the Milk-Ocean the devas and Asuras decided to use Mount mandara as the shaft and vāsuki as the rope to rotate the shaft. The attempts of the devas, the Asuras and the Bhūtagaṇas of śiva failed to uproot and bring with them the mountain, when garuḍa, at the instance of viṣṇu brought the mountain as easily as a kite carries a frog. Again, when others failed to bring vāsuki from nāgaloka garuḍa went and asked the nāga chief to follow him to the ocean of Milk. vāsuki replied that if his presence was so indispensable he must be carried over there. Then garuḍa caught the middle part of vāsuki in his beak and rose in the air. But, even though garuḍa rose beyond the horizon, when he looked down half of vāsuki still remained on the ground. garuḍa then tried to fold vāsuki into two and carry it, but, again to no purpose. Disappointed and humiliated garuḍa returned without vāsuki. Afterwards vāsuki was brought to the ocean of Milk by Śiva's hand stretched down into pātāla. (Kamba rāmāyaṇa, yuddha Kāṇḍa).
17) bhīma went in search of the saugandhika flower on account of garuḍa. While, in the course of their exile in the forest, the pāṇḍavas were put up at the āśrama of maharṣi ārṣṭiṣeṇa, garuḍa picked up from the depths of the sea one day a nāga called ṛddhimān, and due to the vibration caused by the lashing of Garuḍa's wings Kalhāra flowers from the garden of kubera were flown to the feet of pāñcālī. She wore the fragrant flowers in her hair saying that if she were to have good flowers, wind had to bring them. Since there was a mild and veiled insinuation in that statement that bhīma was inferior to the wind the former did not appreciate that comment by pāñcālī. And so he rushed to Mount gandhamādana to collect Kalhāra flowers. (Vana Parva, Chapter 106).
18) garuḍa saved uparicaravasu. Once a controversy started between the devas and the brahmins, the former advocating the use of goat's flesh in performing yajñas while the brahmins contended that grains were sufficient for the purpose. uparicaravasu, who arbitrated in the debate spoke in favour of the devas, which the brahmins did not like, and they cursed vasu to fall from the sky into the pits of the earth. This curse was countered by the devas blessing him that as long as uparicaravasu remained on earth he would not feel hungry and that he would regain his old form due to the blessings of Mahāviṣṇu. vasu prayed to viṣṇu, who sent garuḍa to the former, and garuḍa carried vasu to the sky on his wings. Thus vasu became again uparicaravasu. (śānti Parva, Chapter 338).
19) Other information about garuḍa. (1) A dānava once stole away the crown of Śṛī kṛṣṇa who was on a visit to Mount gomanta. garuḍa retrieved it from the dānava and returned it to kṛṣṇa. (bhāgavata, Daśama skandha).
(2) The monkeys who searched for sītā visited the house of garuḍa also. (vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, kiṣkindhā Kāṇḍa, Canto 40, Verse 39).
(3) garuḍa had married the four daughters of Dakṣaprajāpati. (bhāgavata, 6th skandha).
(4) He had a son named kapota. (Udyoga Parva, Chapter 101),
(5) During the rāma-rāvaṇa war lakṣmaṇa, sugrīva and all the monkeys swooned hit by the nāgāstra of indrajit. śrī rāma then thought of garuḍa, who at once came down on earth and bit away the nāgapāśa. (Kamba rāmāyaṇa Yuddhakāṇḍa).
(6) garuḍa was present at the birth-day celebrations of arjuna. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 122, Verse 50).
(7) At the birth of subrahmaṇya garuḍa submitted his own son, mayūra, as a present. (anuśāsana parva, Chapter 86, Verse 21).
20) Synonyms for garuḍa.
Garutmān Garuḍas Tārkṣyo Vainateyaḥ Khageśvaraḥ Nāgāntako Viṣṇurathaḥ Suparṇaḥ Pannagāśanaḥ. (Garutmān, garuḍa, tārkṣya, vainateya, Khageśvara, Nāgāntaka, Viṣṇuratha, suparṇa, Pannagāśana. (Amarakośa).
21) Names used in the mahābhārata to represent garuḍa. Aruṇānuja, Bhujagāri, Garutmān, Kāśyapeya, Khagarāṭ, Pakṣirāja, Patagapati, Patageśvara, suparṇa, tārkṣya, vainateya, Vinatānandavardhana, Vinatāsūnu, Vinatāsuta, Vinatātmaja. (For story regarding how garuḍa stopped eating nāgas see under jīmūtavāhana).
Amrtam which has been thus recovered after many such adventures, is still preserved carefully in devaloka. [ (1) M.B., Adi Parva, Chapter 17. (2) M.B., Adi Parva, Chapter 27, verse 16. (3) M.B. Adi Parva, Chapter 30, Verse 2. (4) Valmlki Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, 35th Sarga. (5) Visnu Purana, Section 1, Chapter 9. (6) Agni Purana, Chapter 152. (7) Bhagavata, 8th Skandha. (8) Uttara Ramayana.]
After saluting his mother garuḍa set out on his quest for Amṛta. All the fourteen worlds shook at the lashing of his wings. garuḍa reached the forest where his father kaśyapa was engaged in tapas. He told him about his mission
once went to devaloka and brought Amrtam from there to be given to the Nagas, but Devendra came down and took it back. This story is given in Mahabharata from Chapter 27 onwards. Agni Purana, Chapter 19 refers to Garuda and Aruna as the sons of Vinata.
Garuda and Valakhilyas
Garuda (Eagle) who went to the realm of devas (gods) for Amrta (ambrosia) took rest on the branch of a banyan tree, and that branch was broken from the tree. Sixty thousand Valakhilyas were doing penance hanging head downwards on that branch. Garuda knew this only after the branch was broken. Fearing the curse form them he took the branch in his beak and flew about here and there. At last, according to the advice of Kasyapa, he took the branch to the mount Gandhamadana and without causing any harm to the small hermits placed it there (M.B., Adi Parva, Chapter 30).
garuḍa after saluting his father, flew up in the sky carrying in his beak the elephant and the tortoise from the pool. As trees were falling uprooted due to the terrific vibrations caused by the lashing of his wings garuḍa did not find a convenient place to sit down to eat his food. While continuing the journey garuḍa saw a big tree, its branches spread out in a circumference of a hundred yojanas. But, as soon as garuḍa set foot on a branch of the tree it (branch) crumbled down. On that broken branch were the sages called bālakhilyas doing tapas hanging their heads down. Fearing that the sages might fall down garuḍa continued his flight holding in his beak the torn branch of the tree. But he could not find a safe place to deposit the branch with the sages. So he came again to Mount gandhamādana and saw kaśyapa, who apologised to the bālakhilyas on behalf of his son and also explained to them about his mission. The bālakhilyas were pleased and they left the place for the Himālayas. As advised by kaśyapa garuḍa deposited the branch of the tree on an uninhabited mountain peak. and therefrom flew to Devaloka (Ādi Parva, Chapter 29, 30).
Birth and Family
Vinata, a wife of Kasyapa gave birth to Garuda and Kadru and her sister gave birth to the Nagas. Once there was a dispute between Vinata and Kadru. Vinata said that the hairs on the tail of Uchaishravas, Devendra's horse, were white but Kadru asserted that they were black. To settle the dispute they made a bet. The condition was that the loser must become the servant maid of the winner. As instructed by Kadru, some of the Nagas went in advance and hung down from the tail of Uccaissravas, thus giving the false appearance of a tail with black hairs. By this trick Vinata lost the bet and had to become Kadru's servant maid. As a result of it, the task of looking after Kadru's children became Garuda's duty. Kadru told him that if he fetched Amrtam from devaloka and gave it to the Nagas, she was prepared to release him from the bondage. So Garuda flew up to devaloka, fought with the gods and defeated them. He returned with the pot of Amrtam and gave it to the Nagas. The Nagas went to take their bath after placing the pot on darbha grass spread on the floor. Just then Devendra swooped down and carried away the pot of Amrtam to devaloka. When the Nagas returned after their purifying bath, the pot was not to be seen. In their greed they began to lick the darbha grass on which the pot was placed. The sharp edge of the grass cut their tongues into two. This is why the Nagas (snakes) came to have forked tongues.
गरुडः, पुं, (गरुद्भ्यां पक्षाभ्यां डयते उड्डयते । इति गरुत् + डी + डः । पृषोदरात् तलोपे साधुः । यद्वा, “गिर उडच् ।” उणां ४ । १५५ । इति उडच् ।) स्वनामख्यातपक्षी । तत्- पर्य्यायः । गरुत्मान् २ तार्क्ष्यः ३ वैनतेयः ४ खगेश्वरः ५ नागान्तकः ६ विष्णु रथः ७ सुपर्णः ८ पन्नगाशनः ९ । इत्यमरः । २ । २ । ३२ ॥ महा- वीरः १० पक्षिसिंहः ११ उरगाशनः १२ । इति जटाधरः ॥ शाल्मली १३ हरिवाहनः १४ अमृताहरणः १५ नागाशनः १६ । इति हारा- वली ॥ शाल्मलिस्थः १७ खगेन्द्रः १८ भुजगा- न्तकः १९ तरस्वी २० तार्क्ष्यनायकः २१ । इति राजनिर्घण्टः ॥ * ॥ तस्योत्पत्तिकारणं यथा, -- “यजतः पुत्त्रकामस्य कश्यपस्य प्रजापतेः । साहाय्यमृषयो देवा गन्धर्व्वाश्च ददुः किल ॥ तत्रेध्मानयने शक्रो नियुक्तः कश्यपेन ह । मुनयो वालिखिल्याश्च ये चान्ये देवतागणाः ॥ शक्रस्तु वीर्य्यसदृशमिष्मभारं गिरिप्रभम् । समुत्क्षिप्यानयामास नातिकृच्छ्रादिव प्रभुः ॥ अथापश्यदृषीन् ह्रस्वानङ्गुष्ठोदरवर्ष्मणः । पलाशवृन्तिकामेकां सहितान् वहतः पथि ॥ तान् सर्व्वान् विस्मयाविष्टो वीर्य्योन्मत्तः पुरन्दरः । अवहस्याभ्ययाच्छीघ्रं लङ्घयित्वावमन्य च ॥ तेऽथ रोषसमाविष्टाः सुभृशं जातमन्यवः । आरेभिरे महत् कर्म्म तदा शत्रुभयङ्करम् ॥ कामवीर्य्यः कामगमो देवराजभयप्रदः । इन्द्रोऽन्यो सर्व्वदेवानां भवेदिति यतव्रताः ॥ (व्यूहविशेषः । यथा, मनुः । ७ । १८७ । “वराहमकराभ्यां वा सूच्या वा गरुडेन वा ॥” “सूक्ष्ममुखपश्चाद्भागः पृथुमध्यो वराहव्यूहः । एष एवपृथुतरमध्यो गरुडव्यूहः ।” इति कुल्लूकभट्टः ॥) Shabda Kalpadruma.
After saluting his mother Garuda set out on his quest for Amrta. All the fourteen worlds shook at the lashing of his wings. He reached Nisadalaya, where while consuming whole lots of Nisadas a brahmin and his wife also happened to get into his throat. Garuda felt their presence immediately in his throat and requested them to get out of his mouth. Accordingly they got out and also blessed Garuda, who continued on his journey. Next Garuda reached the forest where his father Kasyapa was engaged in tapas. He told him about his mission and requested him for something to eat. Kasyapa then tells him the Gajakacchapa Akhyana (गजकच्छप-आख्यानम्) about the origin of the elephant (gaja) and kacchapa (tortoise). (Mahabharata Adiparva Adhyaya 29)
- Kulapati Jibananda Vidyasagara (1900), Shabda Sagara, First Edition, Entry: Garuda
- Mani, Vettam. (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : A comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Delhi:Motilal Banasidass. (Page 613 and 614)
- Ramanarayanadatta Shastri Pandeya, Mahabharata (Vol.1), Gorakhpur: Gita Press, Adi Parva, Adhyaya 16.
- Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Adhyaya 16.