How the Snakes Became Garuda’s Natural Food

13th-century Cham sculpture depicting Garuda devouring a Naga serpent (Image by DoktorMax – Own work. Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Vinhtantran using CommonsHelper)

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Indra and Garuda Become Eternal Friends

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Indra and Garuda became eternal friends.

In this post, we will find out how the snakes became Garuda’s natural food.

After the friendship between Indra and Garuda was sealed, Indra said, “If you don’t need the amrit, return it to me because the beings to whom you plan to give the amrit have always been opposed to us.”

Garuda replied, “I have taken the amrit for a specific reason. However, I won’t allow anyone to drink it. O Indra, when I place the amrit on the ground, you can take it immediately and bring it back to heaven.”

Indra was very pleased with Garuda’s reply and offered the king of birds a boon.

Having been offered a boon, Garuda recollected how the serpent sons of Kadru had deceived his mother into slavery. But Garuda also knew that his mother’s misfortune was due to his brother, Aruna’s curse. That’s the reason he did not fight the snakes even though he could have easily overpowered them. Remembering all this, Garuda asked Indra for the following boon. He said, “O Sakra, let the mighty snakes become my food.”

“So be it,” Indra replied. However, Indra also considered it necessary to seek Vishnu’s permission before Garuda could make snakes his natural food. Therefore, Garuda and Indra approached the great Shri Hari Narayan, who immediately consented to the boon.

Note: Once again, we are given a window into Indra’s wisdom, discernment, and nobility. In the previous post, we got a glimpse into Indra’s nobility when defeated by Garuda, he reached out to the great bird for eternal friendship instead of harboring ill-will against him.

In this post, we get a glimpse of Indra’s wisdom and understanding of his limits. He knew that the natural order of the food chain would be affected when the snakes became Garuda’s food. So, even though he had himself given the boon to Garuda, Indra did not allow his ego to bypass Narayana and enforce the boon simply because he was the king of the devas. Here we see Indra as someone who knew his limits, and therefore, consulted Shri Hari Narayan, to validate the boon he had granted to Garuda.

After meeting Vishnu, Indra turned to Garuda and informed him that he would take possession of the pot of amrit as soon as Garuda had placed it on the ground.

Having reached an understanding about how the amrit was to be safeguarded, Garuda sped to the island where the snakes had held his mother in slavery.

Note: In the next post, we will read about how Garuda deceived the snakes and freed his mother from slavery.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Garuda Frees His Mother From Slavery