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Friday, March 02, 2012

Even the strongest beings will have testing times..

Even the strongest beings will have testing times..

Once Kashyapa Prajapati the scion of all the gods and demons decided to conduct a yajna and directed all his sons and disciples to collect the holy materials for such oblation to fire. The gods and demons with their huge powers could bring in many ingredients in huge bulk. Indra the leader of gods was carrying a huge bundle of palasa

( the dried branches of this plant are offered to fire as oblation in yagas and yajnas) equaling the size of a mountain and was was walking towards the yajnasaala( the place where the yajna is to take place) in great arrogance and show of of achievement. Just then there were a set of sages called Valakhilyas , in a large group carrying a single twig of palasa and they were also heading towards the place of yajna. These Valakhilyas were tiny people and perhaps because they, absorbed in penance, neglected to eat or drink anything and could survive to keep and body together just by absorbing energy from the sunlight, they were as tiny as human thumbs. But they were very potent in penance. In their tiny size, they thought they could do their mite by carrying a a palasa twig for the yagna. Indra's arrogant gait unsettled these tiny sages and they were just thrown into a muddy puddle formed of little rain water, which submerged them and ruined the twig also. With great difficulty they swam out and Indra was making fun of them all the while. They cursed him that he will have to pay heavily for it and he will be defeated by a person of greater strength that himself, born as a bird.

These Valakhilyas were in the habit of doing penance dangling upside down from the branch of some tree in the northern mountains.These Valakhilyas in hundreds were in fact dangling from the branch of banyan tree in the forest.

Garuda was carrying the huge elephant and the tortoise holding them fast with his nails and while soaring up he requested his father Kashyapa to indicate to him some strong tree where he could place these two beasts and break them with his sharp beak and make a supper of them. The father advised him to fly north and perch on the branch of a huge banyan tree. Garuda in fact asked the tree whether it could bear his weight along with the huge elephant and tortoise and the tree in its arrogance answered in the affirmative. Believing the assurance of the tree he put his legs on a branch, but unable to bear the weight the branch started giving in. At that time the Valakhilyas were doing penance dangling upside down from the same branch. So if the branch fell down, the Valakhilyas would be maimed and crushed. To avoid this catastrophe Garuda carried the branch on his beak and soared up. Seeing the son's predicament, Kashyapa prayed to Valakdhilyas not to curse the young bird and requested them to indicate some place where the branch could be unloaded without causing any discomfiture to the sages. The sages were mollified and they indicated that the branch should be slowly downloaded on a snowy flank of a mountain where there was heavy growth of grass also. Accordingly Garuda placed the branch of the tree together with the dangling sages, in a comfortable place Seeing the strength of the bird the sages were pleased and honouring his capacity to carry so huge a weight, they christened him Garuda or Garutman, a person who can carry huge loads.

After making the Valakhilyas comfortable, and after getting boons from them that he will be stronger than Indra, Garuda placed the elephant and the tortoise on the rough surface of a mountains and finished them off and had his tummy full.

We see Indra's slighting of the Valakhilyas earned himself a very potent set of enemies. It is not the size but the internal power of the sages that mattered. They could burn to ashes anything they did not like because they were drawing energy right from the son. It was only fortunate that they left Indra with a minor curse.

Even the greatest hero could find himself at his wits end often. With a 

big banyan branch with dangerous sages dangling from it kept tight on his beak and an and elephant and a tortoise of mammoth size held in his two legs and not knowing where to land upon the earth was an impossible challenge to Garuda. Only his father Kashyapa's timely intervention and entreaties on his behalf to the Valakhilyas saved the day for even the invincible Garuda,,

The adventurous foray a Garuda will be discussed further later…