When Garuda’s flight created mayhem, the Devas were fighting a losing battle and were almost killed, but not really. Garuda flew in the direction of the nectar. It was surrounded by a wheel of fire—a richly blazing fire that rose high up into the sky, almost covering the sun. The intelligent bird drank all the waters of the earth assuming 8,100 mouths, spat it out and put out the fire.
Such descriptions in our Puranas and Itihasas contain many yogic secrets that point out the obstacles on the path to self-realisation and the means to remove them through practices of Hatha Yoga, Pranayama, meditation and devotion. Garuda entered the spot where the nectar was. His body was glowing like the sun. The powerful bird entered the sea.
There he saw a big wheel with blades sharp as a razor revolving around the pot of nectar. This big machine was created by the Devas to prevent people from easily stealing away the nectar. In life too the more subtle joys are inaccessible to those whose minds are crude and full of desire, anger, hatred and jealousy. The sharp razorblade wheel is symbolic of our slicing intellect. It cuts all objects, people, emotions into bits and keeps the mind hankering for joys outside and prevents its turn within to find the pot of nectar of our true self.
Well, Garuda is the divine mind. He cannot be fooled by this machine-like deathly wheel. He patiently studied the mechanism and saw a way through it to the nectar. In life too, whenever we encounter a problem, we have to become quiet, observe like Garuda did and a solution will spring up. In the face of a mighty contraption, Garuda reduced his size and passed through the spokes.
Here is another life lesson. When the problem is mighty, let the individual become so tiny, so humble, so much without an assertive ego that no knife can shred. Hanuman was like that. In the Hanuman Chalisa of Sant Tulsidas, it is said ‘Sukshma Rupa Dhari Siyahi Dikhava Bikata Rupa Dhari Lanka Jarava’—when Hanuman was before mother Sita, he assumed a subtle and tiny form. When he had to destroy the arrogance of people in Lanka, he assumed a huge and fearsome form.
Garuda saw two snakes near the nectar, vomiting fire. These snakes are the yogic symbols for the solar and lunar channels of energy—the ida and pingala nadis. The life of dynamism, energy, softness and coolness flows through these channels. Like the two snakes, the channels of energy never show a respite of awareness to matters of the outer world.
The snakes never blinked and they always looked ferocious. They were so powerful that their very sight could turn people to ashes. But, Suparna, the divine bird, was much more powerful than them all. He raised dust that covered their eyes, attacked them from all sides, tore them apart, lifted the pot and broke the deadly wheel into pieces.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.chinmayamission.com