Garuda’s father Kashyapa rishi directs him to eat up the fighting elephant and tortoise, brothers in their past lives, to satiate his hunger. Garuda was quick to seize the 48-mile-tall elephant and the tortoise with a circumference of 80-miles in one claw each. He reached a holy place called Alamba. There were many divine trees in that place. Garuda’s power is shown here in the Mahabharata. When he flapped his wings, the trees shivered and a big storm was kicked up as a result.
Garuda was concernedabout this and moved higher and deeper into the forest where the trees were more mighty and sturdy so that they would not be disturbed by his movement.The forest had trees that bore fruits of gold and silver. A huge ocean was washing the trunks beneath. A banyan tree, 800 miles in circumference, invited Garuda to sit down on its branches and take time to eat his meal of the elephant and tortoise. When Garuda sat on it, some of its branches with hundreds of birds on it broke. Garuda caught the branches. On it were many tiny rishis called valakhilyas who were hanging head down.
These rishis were divine beings. They were always engaged in austerities. Garuda did not want them to be destroyed. So he held the big branch in his beak and flew high. The rishis who observed this blessed him with the name Garuda. He flew across many countries and perched at the Gandhamadhana mountain. There he again saw his father practising severe austerities. His father too caught sight of him and advised him not to be rash. He warned that the valakhilyas were very powerful and could curse hm if they were angry. Kashyapa himself approached the rishis and sought pardon on behalf of Garuda.
When he spoke to them, the rishis left the bough slowly and went to the Himalayas to continue with their meditations.The bough which Garuda was carrying in his beak was so huge that a rope made of 100 animal hides was needed to measure it. Carrying such a weight, he flew 800 miles in a very short while. There Garuda dropped the bough on a mountain which shook and shuddered with such a heavy weight falling on it. Again, the whole atmosphere was disturbed as Garuda flapped his wings. He sat on the mountain peak to merrily eat the elephant and tortoise who were in their previous birth brothers fighting over property.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; email@example.com; www.chinmayamission.com