The Mahabharata Home
"Kanwa said, 'Meanwhile, O Bharata, the mighty Garuda heard what had happened, viz., the bestowal by Sakra of length of days on the Naga Sumukha. And inflamed with great anger, that ranger of the firmament, Suparna, smiting the three worlds by the hurricane caused by the flappings of his wings, quickly came to Vasava. And Garuda said, 'O illustrious one, disregarding me why hast thou interfered with my sustenance. Having granted me a boon of thy own will, why dost thou now withdraw it? The Supreme Lord of all creatures hath, from the beginning, ordained what my food is to be. Why dost thou then stand in the way of that divine decree? I had selected this great Naga and had fixed time, for O god, I had intended to offer the meat of his body, as sustenance to my numerous progeny. When he, therefore, hath obtained a boon from thee and hath become indestructible by me, how can I henceforth dare kill another of his species? Dost thou sport thus, O Vasava, as thou listest? I, however, shall have to die, as also the members of my family' and the servants whom I have engaged in my house. That will, I think, gratify thee, O Vasava! Indeed, O slayer of Vala and Vritra, I deserve all this, nay more, since being the lord of the three worlds in might. I yet consented to become the servant of another. O monarch of the three worlds, Vishnu, however, is not the only cause of my inferiority, for though, O Vasava, I am quite thy equal, yet the sovereignty of the three worlds resteth on thee, O chief of the celestials. Like thee, I also have a daughter of Daksha for my mother and Kasyapa for my father. Like thee, I also can, without any fatigue, bear the weight of the three worlds. I have strength that is immeasurable and incapable of being resisted by any creature. In the war with the Daityas I also achieved grand feats. Srutasri and Srutasena and Vivaswat, and Rochanamukha, and Prasrura, and Kalakaksha amongst the sons of Diti were slain by me. Perching yet on the flag-staff of thy younger brother's car I carefully protect it in battle, and sometimes also I bear that brother of thine on my back. It is, perhaps, for this that thou disregardest me. Who else in the universe is there that is capable of bearing such heavy burthens? Who is there that
is stronger than myself? Superior though I am, I yet bear on my back this younger brother of thine with all his friends. When, however, disregarding me thou hast interfered with my foods, thou hast, O Vasava, inflicted disgrace on me, like this younger brother of thine that had hitherto been disgracing me by making me bear him on my back. As regards thyself, O Vishnu, amongst all those endued with prowess and strength that have been born of Aditi's womb, thou art superior in strength. Yet thee I bear without any fatigue, with only one of my feathers. Think coolly then, O brother, who amongst us is stronger?'
"Kanwa continued, 'Hearing the proud words of that bird foreshadowing danger the bearer of the discus, provoking Tarkshya still more, said unto him, 'Though so very weak, why dost thou, O Garuda, yet regard thyself strong, O oviparous creature, it ill behoveth thee to vaunt thus in our presence. The three worlds united together cannot bear the weight of my body. I myself bear my own weight and thine also. Come now, bear thou the weight of this one right arm of mine. If thou canst bear even this, thy boast would be regarded as reasonable. Saying this, the holy one placed his arms on Garuda's shoulders. Thereupon the latter fell down, afflicted with its weight, confounded, and deprived of his senses. And Garuda, felt that the weight of that one arm of Vishnu was as great as that of the entire Earth with her mountains. Endued with might infinitely greater, Vishnu, however, did not afflict him much. Indeed, Achyuta did not take his life. That ranger of the sky, afflicted then by that immense weight, gasped for breath, and began to cast off his feathers. With every limb weakened, and utterly confounded, Garuda was almost deprived of his senses. The winged offspring of Vinata then, thus confounded and almost deprived of his senses, and rendered utterly helpless, bowing unto Vishnu with bent bead, feebly addressed him, saying, 'O illustrious Lord, the essence of that strength which sustains the universe dwelleth in this body of thine. What wonder, therefore, that I should be crushed down to the earth by a single arm of thine, stretched out at thy pleasure. It behoveth thee, O divine Lord, to forgive this winged creature that perches on thy flag-staff--this fool intoxicated with pride of strength, but now rendered utterly helpless. Thy great strength, O divine Lord, was never known to me before. It was for this that I regarded my own might to be unequalled.' Thus addressed, the illustrious Vishnu became gratified, and addressing Garuda with affection, said, 'Let not thy behaviour be such again.' And saying this, Upendra threw Sumukha with the toe of his foot upon Garuda's breast. And from that time, O king, Garuda hath ever lived in friendship with that snake. It was thus, O king, that mighty and illustrious Garuda, the son of Vinata, afflicted by the might of Vishnu, was cured of his pride.'
"Kanwa continued, 'In the same way, O son of Gandhari, thou livest, O son, as long as thou approachest not the heroic sons of Pandu in battle. Who is there whom Bhima, that foremost of smiters, that mighty son of Vayu and Dhananjaya, the son of Indra, cannot slay in battle?
[paragraph continues] Vishnu himself, and Vayu and Dharma, and the Aswins,--these gods are thy enemies. Let alone an encounter with them, thou art not competent even to look at them on the field. Therefore, O prince, do not set thy heart upon war; let peace be made through the agency of Vasudeva. It behoveth thee to save thy race thus. This great ascetic Narada witnessed with his own eyes the incident (I have related to thee) which shows the greatness of Vishnu, and know that this Krishna is that bearer of the discus and the mace!'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of the Rishi, Duryodhana contracted his eye-brows and began to breathe heavily. And casting his eyes then on Radha's son, he burst out into a loud laughter. And setting at naught those words of the Rishi, that wicked wretch began to slap his thigh that resembled the trunk of an elephant. And addressing the Rishi, he said, 'I am, O great Rishi, precisely what the Creator hath made me. What is to be, must be. What also hath been ordained in my case must happen, I cannot act otherwise. What can these senseless declamations, therefore, avail?'"
Next: Section CVI