Sunday, January 5, 2014

19. The Genesis of Garuda's Birth

Once upon a time, Prajapati* Kasyapa, (the Lord of Creation) was performing a sacrificial rite with the objective of begetting a child. The Rishis (sages), the Devas, and the Gandharvas (celestial beings) extended their help in his performing the sacrifice. Kasyaa assigned the task of bringing the sacrificial fuel to Indra. Various ascetics like the Valakhilyas, also engaged themselves in this task.

Indra carried a mountain-like  object without any fatigue. On the way he saw some Rishis, of bodies of the size of a thumb together carrying one single stalk of a  Palasa (Jackfruit) leaf. Those Rishis , due to their abstemious way of life were very lean. They were so weak that they had great difficulty in walking through the water collected in a tiny pit on the road produced by the hoof of a cow.


Indra, proud of his strength, mocked at them and walked over their heads. 


Those Rishis were aggrieved and outraged by this insult.  Soon afterwards they performed a sacrifice wishing that there be anther Indra that would become the nightmare of the present Indra.


Learning of this, Indra sought the protection of Kasyapa. Kasyapa asked the Valakhilyas who had performed the sacrifice whether their sacrifice was successful. They said, “Let it be as you say!”


Kasyapa, the Prajaati, who had the responsibility of protecting all creatures, said, “Indra has been made the Lord of the three worlds by the word of Brahma, the Creator.  Your seeking to create another Indra will amount to falsifying the word of Brahma. However, you can have your wish fulfilled by having another Indra – the Lord of Winged Creatures.”


The Valakhilyas accepted the Prajapati’s word and left the matter to him.

In the meanwhile, Vinata approached her husband Kasyapa seeking to be blessed with children. Kasyapa told her that she would beget two heroic children. As a result of the penance of the Valakhilyas, these two sons would be of exceedingly good fortune and worshipped in the three worlds, he added. He also said that the two would be capable of assuming any form at will and be respected in all the three worlds.

Kasyapa then told Indra that he would have two brothers of great energy and prowess, who would be his helpmates and cause him no harm.



 Indra then went to heaven, his fears dispelled. Subsequently, Vinata gave birth to Aruna and Garuda. And Aruna, of undeveloped body, became the fore-runner of the Sun. And Garuda was vested with the lordship over the birds. 

*Prajapati meaning ('leader of all creatures') is a post held by different people at different times. Kasyapa was holding this post at this particular time.



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