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

Image of Kaurava warrior Bhagadatta seated on another elephant also called Supratika during the Kurukshetra war (Chennakesava Temple, Belur)

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Garuda Meets His Father

Note: In the previous post, we read about the interaction between Sage Kasyapa and Garuda. When Garuda expressed that he needed to eat more food before he could fight the gods for the amrit, Kasyapa suggested that he eat a violent elephant and tortoise who lived in a sacred lake.

In this post, we will find out the identity of that elephant and tortoise and why they constantly fought with each other.

Sage Kasyapa said to Garuda, “O son, now I will tell you who this violent elephant and tortoise were in their past lives.”

There was once a great but wrathful rishi called Vibhavasu. He had a younger brother called Supritika.

These brothers had inherited wealth which they managed jointly. However, Supritika did not like keeping his share of the wealth jointly with Vibhavasu. Therefore, at every opportunity, he would insist upon partitioning the wealth so he could get full ownership of his share.

Annoyed by his continuous insistence, Vibhavasu told Supritika, “It is due to foolishness that people who are blinded by wealth wish to partition their inheritance. Such deluded people continue to fight with each other even after they have taken their share. Moreover, there are people in society who are enemies in the guise of friends. Such people will create further quarrels between siblings after they’ve separated. Such siblings, once separated, stop following the shastras and live in constant fear of each other. Eventually, the separated family faces absolute ruin. That is the reason wise people do not approve of partitioning ancestral wealth.”

As Vibhavasu spoke, he became angrier and cursed Supritika saying, “O Supritika, but you always insist on partitioning your share of the wealth. Therefore, you shall become an elephant.”

Hearing his brother’s words, Supritika also cursed Vibhavasu. He said, “Then you shall become a tortoise who lives in water.”

Sage Kasyapa explained to Garuda how, because of their anger, Supritika and Vibhavasu became inferior animals and, proud of their strength, still continue to fight with each other.

“Look there!” Kasyapa once again pointed to the lake. 

Garuda saw a huge elephant roaring with anger. Hearing the loud voice of the elephant, the tortoise, who lived deep within the lake, came to the surface and moved his feet wildly to create turbulence in the water. Following the tortoise, the elephant also curled his trunk and began to agitate the water with his curled trunk and feet.

These two animals were huge. The elephant’s height was six yojanas and his overall circumference was twelve yojanas. The tortoise was three yojanas in height and ten yojanas in circumference. Both animals rushed toward the other, with their heads raised, for an encounter, bent upon killing each other.

Sage Kasyapa said, “O Garuda, eat these fierce animals, and then, accomplish your task of bringing the amrit.”

Note: In the next post, we will read about how Garuda seized the violent brothers (who had become animals) and went in search of a place where he could eat them. However, due to a certain incident, Garuda had to take a detour to protect a group of tiny, thumb-sized rishis, called Valakhilya rishis.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

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

Statue of Sage Kasyapa in Andhra Pradesh, India

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Garuda Wants to Eat Before Battling for the Amrit

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Garuda ate the Nishadas to satisfy his hunger, and, as advised by Vinata, he did not hurt any brahmanas. 

In this post, we will read about Garuda’s interaction with his father.

After eating the Nishadas, Garuda once again ascended the skies. This time, he saw his father, Sage Kasyapa, meditating on Gandhamadana mountain. Garuda flew towards his father.

The noble sage greeted his son and asked him some questions. Garuda’s answers pleased the sage and then he inquired about his son’s welfare. 

“O child, is everything well with you? Do you get enough food everyday in the world of humans?”

Garuda replied, “My mother is well. My brother and I are also fine, but father, I don’t always obtain sufficient food. I am going to heaven to fetch the excellent amrit for the snakes to free my mother from bondage.”

Garuda continued, “I wanted to eat before seeking the amrit. Mother commanded me to eat the Nishadas. I ate thousands of them but my hunger is not yet satisfied. Therefore, O father, direct me to some other food so I may gain the strength to take the amrit by force from the beings of heaven.”

Kasyapa pointed to a lake and said, “This lake is sacred. It is well-known even in the heavens, but an elephant and a tortoise who are hostile toward each other have made this lake their home. Their constant hostility is disturbing the peace of the creatures that live in these sacred waters. Eat that elephant and tortoise to satisfy your hunger and proceed to get the amrit.”

“But before you go,” Sage Kasyapa added, “let me tell you the story of the elephant and, his older brother, the tortoise.”

Note: In the next post, we will find out the identity of the elephant and the tortoise and why they were constantly fighting with each other.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Vibhavasu the Tortoise and Supritika the Elephant