Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 23 - Pride of Garuda

Matali was Indra’s charioteer. He had a pretty and accomplished daughter Gunakeci, for whom he was keen to find a good husband.

He roamed the three worlds, the sky, the earth and the nether. He finally located a suitable groom when he saw a Naga (snake) prince, Sumukha, in the deep ocean.

When Matali made his proposal to the prince, the latter said, “I am willing to marry your daughter. But how could I come out of the netherworld without being attacked and killed by the kite Garuda who is the sworn enemy of snakes?”

Not prepared to give up Sumukha, Matali took him to Indra and appealed for his help. Indra found that protection to Sumukha was beyond his competence, because Garadu was very powerful and was also Mahavishnu’s vehicle.

To their luck, Mahavishnu just then came to Indra on a visit. This gave Matali an opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Lord for the protection of Sumukha from Garuda. Mahavishnu granted Sumukha the boon that Garuda would not attack him.

Gunakeci and Sumukha were happily married. When Garuda came to know about the boon, he became furious. He rushed to his master, Mahavishnu, and accosted him. “Knowing fully well my relationship with the dwellers of the netherworld, how could you grant such a boon to Sumukha? What sin have I committed to deserve this?”

Mahavishnu smiled and said, “My faithful bird. I have perhaps erred in offering protection to Sumukha. Let me go to the netherworld, meet Sumukha and withdraw the boon. Please therefore arrange for my chariot to get ready.” Garuda said, “My master, why do you want your chariot? Can I not carry you on my back?”

The Lord replied, “Of course you can. Lower your wings so that I can mount.” Garuda did accordingly and Mahavishnu sat on his back. The bird then tried to flap his wings and take off. Suddenly the weight seemed so immense for him that he could not lift himself even by an inch.

It dawned on Garuda that in his pride he had dared to question the act of the Lord himself. He sought forgiveness from Mahavishnu.

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