Image of Naga couple at the Hoysala temple

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Elapatra’s Suggestion to His Snake Brothers

Note: In the previous post, we read about Elapatra’s advice to his snake brothers. Elapatra had heard the conversation between Brahma Deva and other devas about how only the sinful snakes would perish in Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice and how the virtuous snakes would be saved.

Even though these words gave some relief to Vasuki, they did not remove his anxiety completely because the future still felt uncertain. 

In this post, we will find out how the devas sought help from Brahma Deva for Vasuki.

A very important cosmic event took place soon after Elapatra’s advice to his snake brothers. It was the Samudra Manthan where the devas and asuras got together to churn the ocean.

Vasuki, the chief of serpents who was gifted with great strength, offered to become the churning cord. After the Churning was over, Vasuki presented himself to Brahma Deva. The devas also went with Vasuki and told Brahma Deva that Vasuki was constantly concerned about the fate of  the serpent race. He suffered from great anxiety because of his mother’s curse. The devas represented Vasuki as their friend and someone who had helped them. They requested Brahma Deva to be gracious to Vasuki and remove the root cause of his sorrow.

Note: I like this story because it shows the devas asking for help from one of the Tri-Devas for a friend. The devas tend to be grateful for the kindness and friendship they receive and repay it accordingly.

Brahma Deva replied to the devas, “O immortals, I have thought about the solution. Let the chief of snakes do what his brother Elapatra suggested. Rishi Jaratkaru has been born and is engaging in hard penances. Let Vasuki bestow his sister to the sage at the right time. What Elapatra said about the son born of the union of Vasuki’s sister and the sage is true. He will be a wise Brahmin full of energy and will stop the snake sacrifice as soon as the sinful serpents have perished. No virtuous serpent will be harmed in the sacrifice.”

Hearing Brahma Deva’s words, Vasuki immediately commanded all the serpents to watch rishi Jaratkaru and notify him as soon as he came looking for a wife.

Note: In the next post, we will find out how rishi Jaratkaru got his name.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: The Meaning of the Name Jaratkaru

A sandstone statue of Garuda made in the 1st half of the 10th century, during the Angkor period, on display at the National Museum of Cambodia (image credit: User aks.9955 own work distributed on a Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, license).

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Sage Kasyapa’s Decision Regarding a Second Indra

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Sage Kasyapa arbitrated on the matter of the second Indra. It balanced Brahma Deva’s appointment of the current Indra as well as the sacrifice of the Valakhilya Sages. In this post, we will return to the battle between Garuda and the Devas for amrit. 

If you remember from earlier posts, disturbing omens started appearing in heaven when Garuda flew towards the abode of the devas to seize the amrit and free his mother from slavery. When Indra and the other devas realized what was happening when they went to their teacher, Brihaspati, to inquire about the omens. The devas prepared for battle in response to the threat.

In this post, we will read about the fierce encounter between Garuda and the devas.

Even though the devas were prepared for battle, they shook with fear when they saw the mighty Garuda approaching them. In that fear and the confusion that followed, some devas even struck one another with their weapons.

The first deva to fight Garuda was a deva called Brahmana. He was a celestial architect and was of immeasurable strength and bright like an electric fire. However, his encounter with Garuda did not last long. The great bird struck the deva called Brahmana with his beaks, talons, and wings, and within a moment, Brahmana lay dead on the battlefield.

Having vanquished Brahmana, Garuda flapped his wings with great force and raised a dust storm in heaven. Everything became dark and the devas, blinded by the dust, could no longer see their foe, Garuda. The mighty bird then struck the confused devas with his wings and beak and mangled them with wounds.

Seeing the devas confused and wounded, Indra (the deva of a thousand eyes) commanded Vayu to dispel the dust storm, and, following Indra’s command, the mighty Vayu drove away the dust giving respite to the devas. As soon as Garuda was visible, the devas attacked him in unison.

Garuda roared at the devas. His roar was like the sound that is heard in the universe at the end of the yugas. Garuda then ascended the skies with his mighty wings and swooped down attaching the devas who were with various weapons like double-edged swords, lances, arrows, simple maces, spiked maces, and discusses as bright as the sun. A fierce encounter took place between the devas and Garuda where the devas hurled their weapons with all their might at Garuda and, in response, Garuda moved swiftly and attacked them from all sides with his beak, talons, and wings.

The devas were no match for the mighty Garuda. Their bodies became mangled with the wounds inflicted by the great bird and they lay bleeding on the battlefield. The remaining devas fled to save their lives. The Sadhyas and the Gandharvas ran towards the east, the Vasus and the Rudras escaped from the south, the Adityas escaped from the west, and the Aswin twins fled in the northern direction. The devas, who were endued with great energy, retreated from the battle, making a few glances at their enemy while fleeing.

The valiant Yakshas, however, remained on the battlefield and continued to fight with Garuda. There was Aswakranda of great courage, Rainuka, the brave Krathanaka, Tapana, Uluka, Swasanaka, Nimesha, Praruja, and Pulina. They attacked Garuda with all their might, but the king of birds vanquished them with the power of his beak and talons and he wreaked havoc like the enraged Siva (the holder of the Pinaka) does at the end of a yuga. Those mighty and brave Yakshas, who fought without fleeing, lay dead, and the battlefield was filled with blood all around. After having vanquished the Yakshas, Garuda went to the place where the amrit was kept. He saw that the amrit was surrounded by a huge fire on all sides.

Note: In the next post, we will find out how Garuda seized the amrit that was protected by multiple layers of security.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Garuda Breaks Past Obstacles to Seize the Amrit

Garuda is known as Karura in Japan. This is a statue of the wingless Karura in the Kofukuji Temple in Nara, Japan.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Garuda’s Mission Causes Disturbing Omens in Heaven

Note: In the previous post, we read about the disturbing omens that appeared in heaven when Garuda flew toward heaven to seize the amrit. 

In this post, we will find out how Indra responded when Brihaspati, the teacher of the devas, told him that Garuda was on his way to heaven to take the amrit.

Upon hearing Brihaspati’s words, Indra addressed the devas who guarded the amrit. He said, “A bird possessing great strength and energy is determined to take away the amrit from us. Brihaspati told me that his strength is immeasurable and that nothing is impossible for him. Therefore, O devas, be very careful. Protect the amrit and do not allow him to take it.”

The gods who guarded the amrit were surprised to learn that a bird might have the power to take it from them, but they took note of Indra’s words and surrounded the amrit determined to protect it. Indra himself also stood guard with them.

The other devas started preparing for the battle by putting on their armor and getting their weapons. They wore expensive golden breastplates set with gems, over which they put on a tough bright leather armor. Having protected themselves with the breastplate and armor, they took sharp weapons in their hands. Some took maces with spikes, some took double-edged swords, some took tridents, while others took a discuss. Some devas even took various types of missiles. Each warrior equipped himself with a weapon that suited his body type. These weapons emitted smoke and sparks as the devas raised them.

Decked with celestial ornaments and equipped with bright and terrible weapons, the devas of incomparable strength, capable of splitting towns of asuras, stood there to protect the amrit

Note: In the next post, we will find out what Indra had done in the past to create a karmic situation that threatened heaven, and in the post after that, we will return to the battle between Garuda and the devas.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Indra’s Past Mistake That Created Karmic Disturbances in Heaven

The egg of creation (Image source:

Note: Here, Sauti describes the creation story of the universe (as described in the Adi Parva of The Mahabharata) to the ascetics in Naimisha Forest. I have presented this description using bullet points for ease of comprehension. 

In the beginning, this world was in total darkness. The primal cause of creation came into being, out of this darkness, at the beginning of the yuga. This primal cause is called Mahadivya – a mighty egg and the one inexhaustible seed of all created beings. This mighty egg contained the true light Brahma: the eternal and omnipresent being, the invisible and subtle cause of all creation, and whose nature included entity and non-entity.

Note: In the paragraph above, the phrase ‘mighty egg’ may be a metaphor for a metaphysical concept.

The first beings to emerge from this egg were Pitamaha Brahma (the true Prajapati) along with Suraguru and Sthanu. After them, all of creation emerged in the following order:

  1. Then appeared the twenty-one Prajapatis: Manu, Vasishtha, Parameshthi, etc.
  2. After that came ten Prachetas, Daksha, and the seven sons of Daksha. 
  3. Then appeared the man of inconceivable nature whom all the Rishis know and so the Viswe-devas, the Adityas, the Vasus, and the twin Aswins.
  4. The Yakshas, the Sadhyas, the Pisachas, the Guhyakas, and the Pitris came next.
  5. After these were produced the wise and most holy Brahmarshis, and the numerous Rajarshis, distinguished by every noble quality.
  6. The water, the heavens, the earth, the air, the sky, the points of the heavens, the years, the seasons, the months, and the fortnights (called Pakshas, with day and night in due succession). And thus were produced all things which are known to mankind.

However, all these (apparent) beings and things, whether animate or inanimate, will be destroyed at the end of the yuga, and their essence will return to the source to be renewed into existence when the next yuga begins. Thus, this cycle continues without a beginning or end.

Note: After describing the creation of the universe and various beings, Sauti went on to describe the creation of devas in detail.

33,333 devas were created.

Div had 10 sons: 

  1. Brihadbhanu
  2. Chakshus
  3. Atma 
  4. Vibhavasu
  5. Savita
  6. Richika
  7. Arka
  8. Bhanu
  9. Asavaha
  10. Ravi. 

Mahya was the youngest son among these Vivaswans (might mean Suns or great souls)

Mahya had a son called Deva-vrata. Dev-vrata had a son called Su-vrata, and Su-vrata had three sons: 

  1. Dasa-jyoti (who eventually had 10,000 offspring)
  2. Sata-jyoti (who eventually had 100,000 offspring)
  3. Sahasra-jyoti (who eventually had 1,000,000 offspring)

The offsprings of Dasa-jyoti, Sata-jyoti, and Sahasra-jyoti gave rise to the various illustrious families of the Kurus, Yadus, and Bharata. The families of Yayati and Ikshwaku were also descendants of these offspring and so were all the Rajarshis. 

Numerous generations were produced from these illustrious families. These beings and their homes were full of abundance.

Note: Sauti goes on to describe Ved Vyasa’s breadth of knowledge and how he incorporated it into the Mahabharata.

Ved Vyasa has seen various books written on the subjects of the threefold mysteries of the Vedas, Yoga, and Vijnana Dharma, Artha, and Kama. He has seen books on Dharma, Artha, and Kama. He has also seen books about the rules of the conduct of mankind as well as histories and discourses with various srutis.

All these books are represented in his composition: (Maha)Bharata.

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