Lord Garuda, the Embodiment of Strength and Service
As described on sanatansociety.org– “Garuda is the king of the birds and often acts as a messenger between the gods and men and women. Garuda has the head, wings, talons and beak of an eagle and the body and limbs of a man.” He is said to have a white face, red wings and a golden body.
Garuda was the son of a great sage, Kashyapa. Since he was the son of the great sage, his wings had a peculiar quality in that every time they moved, verses from the Holy Vedas would be heard. The very presence of Garuda was thus a blessing and benediction. His immense powers were also a gift conferred upon his father the Valkhilya rishis, supernatural beings of miniscule size and immense spiritual accomplishments.
Garuda is said to have been born hungry, and while he was permitted to feast upon the natives, he accidentally swallowed and spit out a Brahmin, a member of the higher class that he was forbidden to touch. Still hungry, Garuda went on many escapades and every time he sat on a branch, it broke. (Photo is of Garuda carrying Lord Vishnu and Laksmi.)
One time as Garuda caught a branch from falling, in fear that it might kill a Brahmin, Lord Vishnu spied him and asked what he was doing. (Lord Vishnu is one of the Hindu Trinity Godhead: Brahma-the Creator, Vishnu-the Sustainer, and Siva-the Transformer.) Garuda told Vishnu that no tree or mountain seemed able to hold his weight, whereupon Vishnu offered him his arm to sit on and did not waiver at the weight.
When Garuda was still hungry after eating, Vishnu offered him the flesh of his arm. After Garuda ate from Vishnu’s arm, there was no wound at all. Garuda bowed his head to Vishnu, realizing his divine nature and became Vishnu’s heroic friend for all time. In many Indian epics. Garuda carries Vishnu, serves him and others.
Garuda was able to snatch the cup of Amrita, the nectar of immortality that was zealously guarded, save his mother from her captives and prevent them from drinking the nectar. Garuda is known for his service, his concern for others and his impressive speed and strength. Among his many names, he is called “Chirad, the long eater” and “Garuda, the carrier of immense weight.”
According to www. indiayogi.com– “Garuda is popularly known as the vahana or vehicle of Vishnu. In this form he can be found in every South Indian temple dedicated to Vishnu and even in the temples of South-East Asia. However, his stature is far greater than this apparent submissiveness. Garuda and Hanuman are the strongest of the strong powers in the universe. Even Shiva and Vishnu would find it hard to match strength and abilities with them. Both these great beings, Garuda and Hanuman, have dedicated their lives to service instead of using their powers to rule over the cosmos. Hanuman’s reward is that he will preside over the next cycle of creation as its Manu, Adam Kadamon, the First Man. Garuda’s reward is immortality and a stature that is, literally, always above Vishnu….” We will devote out next issue to Lord Hanuman.
May Lord Garuda’s blessings shine upon each and all of us. Think of him the next time you do Garudasana, Eagle Pose. Namaste, Maheshvari