Though Garuda snatched the pot of divine nectar that can bestow immortality, he did not drink it. On the way, he saw Lord Narayana. He said he was very happy to see Garuda’s daring but magnanimous feat. He asked Garuda to ask him for a boon. The divine bird prayed that he may always be above the Lord. Even today in Vishnu temples, it is not uncommon to see Garuda circling high above the temple tower. Garuda also prayed that he must be immortal and free of disease, even without drinking the nectar.
Sriman Narayana granted the boon and gave an additional blessing on his own that Garuda would be his vehicle. He also placed Garuda on his chariot’s flag staff and said, “This way you will always fly over my head!”
Garuda after receiving so many blessings from Narayana, flew away with the pot of nectar. The enraged Indra, the king of gods, saw this and struck him with the Vajrayudha. Garuda merely smiled and said, “I respect the great Rishi Dadhichi, out of whose very bones this mace is made. I respect you too, Indra. I will let out a feather of mind. Try as you might, you will not be able to find its other end. The Vajrayudha too has not caused me any pain.” The Devas and others were amazed and called the bird Suparna, or one with beautiful feathers.
Indra told Garuda that he wished to know his strength. “I also wish to have everlasting friendship with you, O Garuda!” he said.Garuda said, “My friendship, of course, you may have, but about my powers, I cannot say. Great people don’t speak about their own powers. It is wrong to indulge in self-praise without proper reason. On just a single feather, I can bear the earth and her mountains and forests and all the worlds put together with all its moving and stationary objects.”
Indra pleaded with Garuda to return the Soma as he had no need for it. Anybody who drinks this will fight with the gods, he reasoned. Garuda told him his secret plan. He was not taking it for anyone to drink it. “As soon as I place it on the ground, Indra, be ready and snatch it away.” Indra was pleased and asked Garuda to ask for a boon. Garuda said, “I am the master of all beings, yet I ask this that the snakes must become my food.” “Tathastu (so be it),” said Indra and went to Mahavishnu to report the details of the conversation with Garuda.
Garuda flew fast to his mother and announced that he had brought the nectar. He placed it on the Kusha grass. And when the snakes came eagerly to drink it, he said they may do so after having their bath and saying their daily prayers. “Set my mother free,” he demanded of them and they too released her and went for their bath. Were they able to get their pot of nectar?The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; email@example.com; www.chinmayamission.com