Indra is usually the guardian deity of the eastern direction in a Hindu temple (This image was contributed by Nomu420 on a Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, license)

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

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

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Indra’s rude words infuriated the Valakhilya Rishis and they performed a sacrifice where they wished for a second Indra who would be more powerful than the current Indra and would strike fear in his heart. When Indra heard about Valakhilya Rishi’s prayer, he was scared of losing his position of power and went to Sage Kasyapa for help.

In this post, we will read about what Sage Kasyapa does regarding the matter of a second Indra.

After hearing Indra’s concerns, Sage Kasyapa (who was also one of the Prajapatis) went to the Valakhilya Rishis and asked them if their sacrifice was successful. The truth-speaking Valakhilya Rishis said, “O Kasyapa, may its success depend on your wish.”

Sage Kasyapa then pacified the Valakhilya Rishis and explained that the current Indra had been appointed by Brahma Deva and that creating another Indra would nullify Brahma Deva’s word. However, Sage Kasyapa did not want the Valakhilya Rishi’s sacrifice to go in vain. He found a way out by requesting the Valakhilya Rishis in the following words:

“O excellent ones, be gracious to Indra who is now bowing before you for forgiveness, and let the being who is born as a result of your sacrifice be the king of birds. This second Indra, who will be the king of winged creatures, will be born with all the qualities you have asked for.”

The Valakhilya’s replied, “O Prajapati Kasyapa, we performed this sacrifice for two reasons: a second Indra and also for a son who will be born to you. We now leave the final decision to you. Do what is proper in this situation.”

Note: You might remember from a few posts back that Sage Kasyapa had offered a boon to both his wives: Kadru and Vinata. Kadru had asked for a thousand splendid serpent sons and Vinata had asked for two sons who would surpass Kadru’s thousand. However, only one part of the details was revealed to us at that time. We learned that, very soon, Kadru received a thousand eggs and Vinata received two. Back then, we did not know about Sage Kasyapa’s sacrifice for begetting children and about the conflict between Indra and the Valakhilya Rishis. The story narrated in this post is the piece of the jigsaw puzzle that would fit between the time Vinata asked for two sons from Sage Kasyapa and the time she conceived.

At the time when this conversation was going on between Sage Kasyapa and the Valakhilya Sages, Vinata completed her ascetic penances and purified herself by having a bath. Her body was in the fertile period when a sexual relationship would be fruitful to have children. She approached Sage Kasyapa. 

The Sage said to Vinata, “O respected one, the sacrifice I did for children has been successful. You will be the mother of two heroic sons. By the penances of the Valakhilya Rishis and by the desire with which I began the sacrifice, these sons will be very fortunate and will rule over the three worlds. Bear the auspicious seed with care for your sons will be the chiefs of all birds and will be respected by everyone. They will also have the power to assume any form at will.”

Sage Kasyapa, happy with the result of all the events that took place, addressed Indra saying, “O Indra, you will soon have two brothers of great strength and power. They will help you and not injure you in any way. Do not be sad, you will continue to be the king of the devas. But, be careful to never mock those who are engaged in ascetic practices and whose very words are like the thunderbolt.”

Sage Kasyapa’s words gave relief to Indra who subsequently returned to heaven.

Vinata was also very happy to have her wishes granted. Eventually, she gave birth to two sons: Aruna and Garuda. Aruna, whose body was underdeveloped, became the forerunner of the Sun and Garuda became the king of the birds.

Note: In the next post, we will read about how Garuda vanquished the devas in the battle for the amrit.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Garuda’s Fierce Battle With the Devas

Indra with Indrani — 12th-century image at Hoysaleshwara Temple, Karnataka. Image by Ms. Sarah Welch, contributed on a Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: The Devas Get Ready For a Battle With Garuda

Note: If you recollect, the Mahabharata that you’re reading was narrated by Ugrasrava Sauti to Saunaka Kulapati and the ascetics who had attended his 12-year sacrifice.

After listening to how the devas got themselves ready for the battle with Garuda, Saunaka Kulapati interrupted Sauti and asked him about Indra’s mistake that caused Garuda to attack heaven.

In this post, we will find out what mistake Indra committed in the past that caused Garuda to attack heaven for the amrit.

Saunaka Kulapati asked Sauti, “O son of Suta, what was Indra’s fault? What careless action did he do? Why was Garuda born as a result of the penance of the Valakhilyas? Why did Sage Kasyapa have a bird as a son? Why was this bird invincible? How did he have the power to travel to any place by will? How did he get the ability to muster any amount of energy from the universe at will? If the reasons have been described in the Puranas, I would like to hear them.”

Sauti said, “These points have indeed been described in the Puranas. I will answer your questions in detail.”

Note: The following words were spoken by Sauti to the ascetics in Naimisha Forest.

A long time back, Sage Kasyapa had decided to conduct a sacrifice for begetting children. Everyone, including the rishis, devas, and gandharvas helped him. Indra, a few other deities, and the Valakhilya Rishis had been given the task of getting materials to burn the sacrificial fire.

Indra, the king of the devas, took on his strong shoulders a mountain-like weight that he carried effortlessly. On his way to the site of the sacrifice, he saw a group of tiny thumb-sized Valakhilya rishis struggling with a single stalk of Palasa leaf. Those rishis had become physically weak because of severe penances, and, as they struggled to walk with a load of that single leaf, they stumbled into a small puddle of water created by the weight of a cow’s hoof. When Indra saw the rishis in that state, he became proud because of his strength. He laughed at them and spoke rude words before speeding past them toward his destination.

Indra’s insulting words filled the rishis with anger and sadness. As a result, these excellent, vow-observing rishis conducted a great sacrifice in which they wished for another Indra. Uttering mantras and offering libations into the sacrificial fire, they wished for another Indra who would have the power of travelling anywhere at will and mustering any amount of energy from the universe. And they also wished that this second Indra would strike fear in the heart of the current king of devas who had laughed at their plight.

Indra was terrified when he heard of the sacrifice of the Valakhilya rishis. He immediately went to Sage Kasyapa for protection.

Note: In the next post, we will find out what happened when Indra went to Sage Kasyapa for protection.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

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

Today being Vasant Panchami, the post’s featured image is a statue of Goddess Saraswathi (from the Fine Arts College, Davanagere)

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Garuda Takes a Detour to Protect the Valakhilya Rishis

Note: In the previous post, we read how Garuda went in search of a place where he could put the massive elephant and tortoise to eat them. Invited by a huge banian tree, he tried sitting on its branch, but the branch broke with his weight. Garuda immediately caught the branch with its beak because it was home to tiny Valakhilya Rishis who were hanging upside down performing ascetic penances. In his attempt to understand how to ensure the rishis’ safety, Garuda reached Mount Gandhamadana, where his father, Sage Kasyapa, was engaged in ascetic practices.
In this post, we will read about how Sage Kasyapa guided Garuda and the Valakhilya Rishis.

As Garuda approached Mount Gandhamadana, he looked like a huge mountain filled with divine splendor. This noble bird, who could fly with the speed of the wind or even the mind, possessed immense strength. He was invincible. No human, deva, or danava could defeat him in battle. Even the invincible rakshasas were incapable of defeating him. He looked frightful like Agni himself, and indeed, he was capable of splitting mountain peaks, sucking up all the water from the great oceans, and even destroying the three worlds. 

Sage Kasyapa, who was performing ascetic devotions on the mountain, also saw his son. The great sage immediately noticed the Valakhilya Rishis hanging on the branch that Garuda held in his beak.

“Be careful, my child,” the sage cautioned his son. “These Valakhilya Rishis, who sustain themselves with the rays of the sun, have acquired great powers through their ascetic penances. When angered, they are capable of blasting anything, including you.”

Kasyapa turned to the Valakhilya Rishis, whose sins had been burnt away through ascetic penances, and propitiated them to help Garuda. He said, “O great ones whose wealth is asceticism, the work Garuda is doing right now is for the good of all creatures. This task is immensely difficult, therefore, it is fitting that you give him your permission.”

When the Valakhilya Rishis heard Sage Kasyapa’s words, they immediately left the branch and went to the sacred Himavat mountains to continue their penances. 

After the rishis had left, Garuda spoke to his father, with the huge branch still in his beak. “O illustrious one, where shall I throw this branch? Please recommend a place that doesn’t have any human beings.”

Kasyapa directed Garuda to a snow-clad mountain, that was incapable of being approached by ordinary creatures and asked him to throw the branch there. 

The mountain indicated by Sage Kasyapa was hundreds of thousands of yojanas away, yet, Garuda, still holding the huge branch, elephant, and tortoise, reached it within a few moments. As Garuda flew over the mountain, the flapping of his wings created such a storm that the entire mountain shook. All the trees swayed violently dropping their flowers to the ground. The peak of the mountain was filled with gold and jewels. When the mountain shook, the gold and precious stones started tumbling down the slopes.

Finally, Garuda released the branch, whose circumference was so huge that even a thousand cow hides were less to tie it. When that branch fell on the mountain it took down several trees that bore golden flowers and had trunks covered with bright mountain metal.

After dropping the branch, Garuda sat on the mountain peak to eat the elephant and the tortoise. Once his meal was over and hunger satisfied, he flapped his wings once again and flew with great speed towards the abode of the gods to take the amrit.

Note: In the next post, we will read about the strange omens that appeared in Indra’s abode when Garuda flew to accomplish his mission.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

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

A view of the western part of Pamban island from the summit of Mt. Gandhamadana which is the tallest peak on Pamban Island, which lies in the Palk Strait between mainland India and Sri Lanka. It is believed by many people that Hanuman Ji resides on this mountain. (The image is available on a Creative Commons — CC BY 2.5 IN — license and has been contributed by Ravichander84).

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Vibhavasu the Tortoise and Supritika the Elephant

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Vibhavasu became a tortoise and Supritika became an elephant.

In this post, we will read about how Garuda seized the fierce and violent animals and what happened when he went in search of a place where he could eat them.

After telling the story of the hostile brothers who were reborn as an elephant and a tortoise, Sage Kasyapa blessed his son, Garuda, with the following words. 

“O son may you be blessed when you have to fight the gods. May water pitchers filled to the brim, brahmanas, cows, and other auspicious objects bless you. O Garuda of great strength, when you are in combat with the gods, may the Riks, the Yajus, the Samas, the sacred sacrificial butter, and all the mysteries explained in the Upanishads contribute to your strength.”

Blessed by his father, Garuda went to the sacred lake of clear water with birds all around. The noble bird, who could move very quickly seized the elephant with one flaw and the tortoise with another.

With the violent animals in his claws, the noble bird soared high into the sky to search for a proper location where he could place the animals to eat them. In his search, he first reached a sacred place called Alamva which had many divine trees that were capable of granting any wish. When Garuda flew close to the trees the tremendous wind created by his flapping wings caused those holy trees, which had golden branches, to tremble with fear. Garuda saw the trees filled with fear and decided to go somewhere else.

As he flew ahead, he soon reached another sacred place that had huge trees adorned with fruits of gold and silver. The branches of these trees were covered with precious gems. Being close to the sea, these trees were washed by sea-water. Among these trees was an unusually large banian tree which had a branch that was a hundred yojanas long. The tree called out to Garuda and said, “Sit on this branch that is a hundred yojanas long and eat the elephant and tortoise.

However, when the massive bird, Garuda, who resembled a mountain, sat on the branch, it shook and snapped. The branch which was a hundred yojanas long and filled with leaves and birds, detached from the tree and fell due to Garuda’s impact. When Garuda looked around, he saw Valakhilya rishis, who were engaged in severe penances, hanging upside down from the branch. The noble bird was afraid that the rishis might die because of his fault and he also desired to save them. Therefore, without wasting any time, he caught the massive branch firmly in his beak while still clutching the elephant and the tortoise with his claws

The Valakhilya rishis were filled with wonder when they saw Garuda hold such a massive branch with his beak – a feat that would have been difficult even for the devas. The great rishis said, “May this foremost of birds be called Garuda.”

Note: The name, Garuda, means — one who can bear heavy weights.

Desirous to save the rishis, Garuda flew over many places searching for a location where he could gently place the huge branch and allow the rishis to escape unhurt. However, unable to find any suitable place, he flew towards Mount Gandhamadana, where he once again saw his father, Sage Kasyapa, performing ascetic devotions.

Note: In the next post, we will read about how Sage Kasyapa guides Garuda to avoid sin, and also guides the Valakhilya Rishis to safety.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Sage Kasyapa guides Garuda and the Valakhilya Rishis