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Garuda - The legendary bird

Garuda the mighty bird plays a very significant role in Hindu scriptures. His immense strength and valor were enough to tremble the three worlds together. Garuda in ancient Hindu scriptures is an eagle-like bird. He is the mount of Lord Vishnu and is mostly seen carrying Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. Garuda symbolizes strength and bravery.

Garuda was the son of sage Kashyapa and Vinta. Kashyapa had married Kadru and Vinta. After marriage, he asked his wives to seek a boon from him. Kadru asked for 1000 naga or serpent sons whereas Vinta asked for 2 sons but of equal strength to the 1000 snake sons. Kashyapa granted their wish. Kadru laid 1000 eggs and Vinta laid 2. After 500 years Kardru's eggs hatched and there came out her serpent sons. Meanwhile, Vinta's eggs had still not hatched. She got impatient and broke one of the eggs. Out came a partially developed bird called Aruna. His complexion resembled the dawn. Aruna was furious at his mother for her impatience. He cursed her that she shall serve as a slave to Kadru for 500 years. He also told her that only her second son if developed fully will be able to release her from the curse. Aruna then left and became the charioteer to Surya the Sun God.

As destined Vinta was tricked by Kadru to become her slave. She patiently served her waiting for her 2nd son to develop completely. Soon the 2nd egg hatched and out came Garuda the mightiest bird. He saw her mother Vinta and was sad to see her as a slave. He asked the serpent sons that what shall free his mother from their slavery. The snakes demanded the Amrita from heaven. Amrita was the nectar of immortality which was churned out during the famous Samudra Manthan. Consumption of Amrita could make one immortal. Amrita was placed in Heaven under the supervision of Indra.

Garuda agreed to fetch it from Heaven. He struck a war with the Gods and was able to defeat them singlehandedly. Garuda won and flew away with Amrita. On his way back he met Lord Vishnu. Garuda wanted to serve Vishnu and hence decided to be his mount. Indra the king of heaven also met Garuda on his way back. Indra knew that Garuda was too strong to be defeated by power. Indra pleaded to him that he should not give Amrita to the snakes as they shall create havoc later on. Garuda told Indra that he had to do this to free his mother from their slavery. Garuda agreed to cheat on the snakes. He asked Indra to make snakes his staple food. Indra agreed and together they plot a plan to deceit the snakes.

Garuda reached the snake land and placed the Amrita on Kasha grass. The elated serpents immediately freed Vinta from their service. Soon after Vinta is freed Garuda told the serpents to have a bath in the nearby river to clean themselves before they consume the elixir. The snakes agreed. As soon as the snakes leave Jayanta the son of Indra takes the Amrita and goes away. When the snakes come back they are devoured by Garuda.

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