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Archive for April, 2009

It is a known fact that Lord Vishnu traveled on the back of his favorite vehicle Garuda, the eagle. Garuda always carries a snake in his talons. This story is about how and why Garuda began carrying this snake wherever he went.
Once upon a time there was a man by name Madali who was the charioteer for Indra. He had a daughter by name Gunakesi who was of marriageable age. He wished to get his daughter married to Sumukha, a prince from the netherworld. He went and met Sumukha’s parents and asked for their consent. But Sumukha’s parents said that they weren’t lucky to take her as their daughter-in-law, as Garuda had pledged to kill Sumukha and his father.
Hearing this Madali told them not to worry and that Indra would help them in this regard. Madali took them to Indra and told them what happened. Indra assured them that he would talk to Garuda. Indra also conducted the wedding of Sumukha and Gunakesi.
Meanwhile, Garuda heard about the wedding and was angered. He immediately went to kill Sumukha. Sumukha scared beyond his wits sought refuge with Adhisesha . Garuda arrived there and told Adhisesha not to give refuge to Sumukha. Adhisesha told Garuda not to harm Sumukha as it didn’t befit his status to do such a heinous crime.
Livid with rage Garuda said that he was vehicle of Vishnu and that he was greater of the two. Adhisesha told him that they should go to Vishnu and ask him to decide who was greater.
Both of them took Sumukha to Vishnu and related what happened. Vishnu said that he would test the valor of both Adhisesha and Garuda and then decide. Garuda was the first to take the test. Vishnu said “If you are able to carry my right arm effortlessly you would be considered greater of the two.”
Garuda thought “If I am able to carry Vishnu’s weight on my back all the time, why not just an arm.” So thinking he got ready.
Vishnu placed his right arm on Garuda’s shoulder. Unable to bear the weight of the Lord’s arm, Garuda fainted.
Soon he awakened to the Lord’s touch and fell at his feet begging for forgiveness. Vishnu told Garuda to make friends with the Nagas in the Netherworld. He also told him to carry sumukha in his talons at all times to prove that he is friends with the snakes of the netherworld.
Thus Sumukha’s life was saved.

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