When Garuda granted a Boon to Vishnu………

The other day, I heard an interesting story on a Tamil TV channel. It was on the Hindu mythological bird GARUDA, probably taken from Garuda Purana or Mahabharata. Very briefly, it is about the two wives of the sage Kashyap(Kadru & Vinata). Kadru had 100 chidren born in the form of snakes, while Vinata gave birth to GARUDA, the most powerful mythical bird. One day Kadru played a trick on Vinata as they both placed a bet on the colour of the tail of a celestial White horse which was flying past in the sky(The horse was one of the products of churning of ‘Kshirsagar’ by ASURAS & SURAS). While Kadru said it was black in colour Vinata claimed it was white. The bet was that whoever lost would be a slave to the other along with all their siblings. As it turned out, Vinata lost due to the trick played by Kadru. The latter ordered her ‘snake-children’ to cover the tail of the horse instantly and ensured her victory. Thus GARUDA also became a slave even though he had nothing whatsoever to do with the bet. When GARUDA came to know of this, he wanted to know the way out. Kadru said that this could be undone if Gruda could steal AMRITA from Indra, the God of angels. Stealing Amrita from Indra was no easy task though. It was well protected by a series of dangerous mechanical devices, which could cause instant death, if not negotiated properly. Speed was the name of the game and only those who can travel with speed of light would be in a position to achieve this. Garuda was well known for his unmatched speed and prowess and therefore managed to accomplish the impossible. Vishnu was a mere spellbound spectator to the great show of strength and speed of Garuda.
Vishnu got mightily impressed by Garuda on two counts – one at his speed, Power & accuracy and secondly his unselfish behaviour in not consuming AMRITA in spite of being in possession of the same. As a reward for this admirable show of strength and exemplary conduct, Vishnu granted him two boons.

At this point, the narrator of the story in the TV channel sprang a surprise saying that Garuda, instead of asking for a boon, had the audacity to retort to Vishnu: ‘I don’t need any of your boons – tell me if you need any’. Unfortunately, the TV narration stopped at this critical juncture and the viewers were asked to tune in the following day for the rest of the story. I was naturally very curious to know what happened next, but alas, my Channel service provider had other ideas. The channel was not an air on the following day due to some technical snag and I was left with an incomplete story. While admiring Garuda’s audacity, I was curious to know what was the response of Vishnu. Therefore I googled and got the rest of the story, which follows.

While the Lord granted two boons to Garuda, Garuda also offered a boon to Vishnu. Vishnu offered him a place on his celestial flag (or Banner / DWAJA) and also ensured an eternal life to the bird even without the need to consume AMRITA. In return Garuda agreed to be Vishnu’s Mount(Vaahana)as per the Lord’s desire.

Isn’t it a refreshing contrast to all our mythological stories which talk about people sitting in penance for hungreds of years, get the vision of the Lord and then seek several boons.There are very few exceptions to the rule like Prahlada. However, there is no precedence to someone asking the Lord himself what he wanted.

In fact there is a school of thought among Hindus which says that devotees should not seek any personal favours during prayers as the Lord knows best what he should bless us with.
Seeking boons is a sign of a feeling of inadequacy, incompleteness and lack of faith in His grace or compassion. Absolute peace and Freedom from misery can be achieved only if one surrenders completely to the Lord reposing full faith in Him.

Thyagaraja provides useful insights in this regard. In one kirtana, he tells the Lord- “Don’t deceive me or side-track my mind by offering some boons- I am interested in only true devotion and Your Grace.”( VARAALANDU KOMMANI NAAYANDU VANCHANA SEYA NYAAYAMA?..).

In anoher kriti, Thyagaraja says – ‘Why don’t you bless me with sublime thoughts like those of the Great souls’.(ENDUKU PEDDALA VALE BUDHI EEYAVU…). The saint is seeking only wisdom – no other material gains from the Lord.

There is another perspective to the story of Garuda. If a person is of high calibre and shows his class, God himself is sure to be impressed and offer boons spontaneously.
Lord Vishnu, in the story, was spellbound as He watched Garuda’s lightening speed and accuracy. So He spontaneously granted a boon without the latter even asking for the same. So the message for us is – “Completely focus on showing your class and calibre consistently and your efforts will get rewarded richly sooner or later. It is hard to overlook a consistent and great performer”.

Published in: on September 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. On the whole, it is interesting. The best part is the concluding message that one gets out of this.

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