Garuda Breaks Past Obstacles to Seize the Amrit

Garuda returning with the vase of amrit — from a series of 100 drawings of Hindu deities created in South India. (Image by Unknown (production), Public Domain)

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Garuda’s Fierce Battle With the Devas

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Garuda battled with the devas and vanquished them. After winning the battle, Garuda proceeded to the place where the amrit was kept. There, he noticed that the amrit was surrounded by massive flames and was also protected by other layers of security.

In this post, we will read about how Garuda went past the various obstacles, devised by the devas, and took possession of the pot of amrit.

Garuda saw that the amrit was surrounded by massive flames of fire that covered the entire sky. Violent winds blew on these flames causing them to leap and sway from one side to the next. It seemed as if the flames were determined to burn the Sun itself. Garuda’s sharp mind immediately thought of a way to conquer the challenge. He changed his form to add more mouths to his body. He assumed 99 times 99 mouths, and with these 9801 mouths, Garuda drank water from several rivers on earth and released that water with great speed on the fire from all directions. It was like aiming 9801 powerful water hoses on a fire. And the fire that blocked access to the amrit was indeed extinguished. 

With the fire put down, Garuda once again changed his form. This time, he reduced the size of his body and assumed a small, bright, golden body and crossed the ashes and water with great speed like a torrent entering the ocean. There he encountered the next obstacle.

The amrit was surrounded by a treacherous machine designed by the devas. The machine consisted of a rapidly rotating wheel that had sharp, razor-like blades which could slash to pieces anyone who tried to take the amrit. However, Garuda’s keen eyes spotted a passage through the spokes of the machine. He immediately made his body very small, and, with great speed, flew through that passage that opened for a brief moment.

Having gone past the rotating wheel, Garuda came face to face with the third and most dangerous obstacle. The amrit was protected by two great snakes. These snakes blazed with fire. They had sharp and bright eyes filled with anger. And these angry glowing eyes, ever watchful for an intruder, never blinked. Their tongues were like lightning and their mouth constantly emitted fire. These venomous snakes, filled with anger, were capable of burning any transgressor to ashes.

Garuda, the bird of fair feathers, acted quickly to raise an immense amount of dust with his wings. The dust covered the snakes’ eyes, and unseen by the snakes, he attacked them from all sides and tore their body into pieces.

Having vanquished the snakes, he seized the amrit, and without wasting any time, the mighty son of Vinata, who was currently within the machine made of a rotating wheel and sharp blades, spread his wings and expanded his body. As he rapidly grew in size, he shattered the apparatus into pieces.

Finally, having overcome all the obstacles, he did not stop to drink the amrit. Instead, he held the pot with his claws and ascended the skies. Garuda headed back to the island where Kadru and her snake sons had enslaved his mother, Vinata.

Note: In the next post, Garuda will meet Vishnu. We will read about the interaction they had that led Garuda to become Vishnu’s vehicle.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: How Garuda Became Vishnu’s Vehicle