After Aruna, the elder brother of Garuda, was posted as the charioteer of the sun, Sauti the story-teller narrated how Garuda who had the ability to fly as he pleased went over to the shores of the great ocean to meet his mother Vinata. Vinata was in a very pitiable situation having lost her bet to Kadru, her husband Kashyapa’s other wife. She was Kadru’s slave.
One day Kadru called Vinata. Vinata prostrated before her in front of her own son Garuda. Kadru ordered her to take her to the world of nagas in the depths of the ocean. Vinata took Kadru on her shoulders. She told her son Garuda to carry all the snake sons of Kadru on his back. Smart as Garuda was, he carried all the snakes on his back and flew close to the sun. The snakes began to die owing to the heat of the sun.
Kadru saw this and prayed to Indra, the lord of thunder. He was pleased with her prayer and the clouds began to gather and the sky turned dark and rain began to pour. The sky was so thick with clouds that it seemed as though there was an ocean up there with dancing waves for clouds. The fierce rays of the sun were no more and the snakes were happy. Cool waters flooded the earth down to the nether regions of the Rasa Tala.
The party reached a beautiful land called Ramaniyaka. The snakes were constantly bossing over and commanding the big and powerful Garuda. He asked his mother, “Mother, tell me why these snakes are ordering me about?” Vinata told Garuda the whole story about how the snakes deceived her and as a result she had lost the bet with Kadru.
Garuda was very upset on hearing this. He asked the snakes, “By bringing what will you be happy and free my mother from this bondage that she has been trapped in?” The Sauti narrated here that the snakes unanimously told Garuda, “Get us the divine nectar by force. Then we will free your mother from slavery!” Garuda told his mother, “I will get the nectar for you. Don’t worry. But mother, I am very hungry. Where can I get food to eat?”
Mother as she was, she suggested the place where Garuda could have enough food. “Deep in the ocean live the beings called Nishadas, by the thousands. You can eat them up and bring the nectar,” she said. However she cautioned that among the Nishadas, there are people who are calm, composed and divine by nature. “Do not eat them as they will scorch your throat.”
“How do I identify them, so that I may not eat them?” Garuda asked. “If you happen to swallow them by chance, your throat will start burning. It will seem as though you have swallowed the sun, or poison or some sharp weapons,” she said. Garuda saluted her and flew in the direction of the ocean.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.chinmayamission.com