Garuda Challenges Indra

The gods were terrified as they saw many evil omens such as smoking and flaming meteors and shooting stars falling from the sky.

Published: 03rd March 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd March 2019 01:16 PM   |  A+A-

After eating up the giant tortoise and elephant—the two fighting brothers—Garuda flew from the summit. The gods were terrified as they saw many evil omens such as smoking and flaming meteors and shooting stars falling from the sky. The weapons of the gods began fighting with each other on their own. Even when the devas and asuras went to war, such things had never happened. Meteors fell by the thousands. Thunder, bellowing winds and loud roars were heard in daylight. There was a rain of blood and the garlands that were worn by the devas faded. Dust clouds covered the crowns that the gods wore.​

Indra had a meeting with Brihaspati, the guru of all the gods. He asked him, “Though I do not see any enemy, why are there so many evil omens all around?” Brihaspati said, “These are signs of your carelessness and the tapasya of the Valakhilya Rishis. The son of Kashyapa and Vinata, the strong bird that roams the skies, is coming to snatch away the ‘Soma’ nectar. Garuda is very capable and can achieve what he sets his mind to, even if it is an impossible task.”

The narrator, Sauti, said that hearing this, Indra told the guardians of the Soma to be more cautious so that Garuda did not take it away. The devas who were wearing special chest plates of gold and gems and Indra with his thunderbolt guarded the nectar with great vigil. The devas geared up for war. 

The Rishi Shaunaka, who was listening to this story from Sauti, asked what wrong Indra did to get himself into such a predicament. How did Kashyapa have Garuda, the king of birds, as his son? How did Garuda become so invincible and get the power to move as he pleased and as much strength as he wished? 

Sauti narrated from the Puranas. Prajapati Kashyapa was engaged in penance with the desire of getting a son. The devas and gandharvas, including Indra and the Valakhilya Rishis, helped him by giving him wood for fuel. Indra was carrying a weight that was equal to a mountain and the Valakhilyas were the size of a thumb and were carrying a single palasa leaf with great difficulty. They tripped and fell on the road because of a ditch created by the hoof of a cow. 

Indra, consumed with pride about his own power, laughed at them and overtook them derisively. The Rishis were angry. They terrified Indra by pouring ghee into a sacrificial fire and chanted that there would be another Indra who could harness as much power as he wanted and go anywhere he pleased and would terrorise this Indra. Indra was afraid when he came to know of this and sought refuge at the feet of Kashyapa.The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; brni.sharanyachaitanya@gmail.com; www.chinmayamission.com 



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