Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Astika Parva 21

"Santi said, 'And that bird, assuming a golden body bright as the rays of
the Sun, entered with great force (the region where the Soma was), like a
torrent entering the ocean. And he saw, placed near the Soma, a wheel of
steel keen-edged, and sharp as the razor, revolving incessantly. And that
fierce instrument, of the splendour of the blazing sun and of terrible
form, had been devised by the gods for cutting in pieces all robbers of
the Soma. Garuda, seeing a passage through it, stopped there for a
moment. Diminishing his body, in an instant he passed through the spokes
of that wheel. Within the line of the wheel, he beheld, stationed there
for guarding the Soma two great snakes of the effulgence of blazing fire,
with tongues bright as the lightning-flash, of great energy, with mouth
emitting fire, with blazing eyes, containing poison, very terrible,
always in anger, and of great activity. Their eyes were ceaselessly
inflamed with rage and were also winkless. He who may be seen by even one
of the two would instantly be reduced to ashes. The bird of fair feathers
suddenly covered their eyes with dust. And unseen by them he attacked
them from all sides. And the son of Vinata, that ranger of the skies,
attacking their bodies, mangled them into pieces. He then approached the
Soma without loss of time. Then the mighty son of Vinata, taking up the
Amrita from the place where it was kept, rose on his wings with great
speed, breaking into pieces the machine that had surrounded it. And the
bird soon came out, taking the Amrita but without drinking it himself.
And he then wended on his way without the least fatigue, darkening the
splendour of the Sun.

"And the son of Vinata then met Vishnu on his way along the sky. And
Narayana was gratified at that act of self-denial on the part of Garuda.
And that deity, knowing no deterioration, said unto the ranger of the
skies, 'O, I am inclined to grant thee a boon.' The ranger of the skies
thereupon said, 'I shall stay above thee.' And he again spake unto
Narayana these words, 'I shall be immortal and free from disease without
(drinking) Amrita.' Vishnu said unto the son of Vinata, 'Be it so.'
Garuda, receiving those two boons, told Vishnu, 'I also shall grant thee
a boon; therefore, let the possessor of the six attributes ask of me.'
Vishnu then asked the mighty Garuda to become his carrier. And he made
the bird sit on the flagstaff of his car, saying, 'Even thus thou shalt
stay above me.' And the ranger of the skies, of great speed, saying unto
Narayana, 'Be it so,' swiftly wended on his way, mocking the wind with
his fleetness.

"And while that foremost of all rangers of the skies, that first of
winged creatures, Garuda, was coursing through the air after wresting the
Amrita, Indra hurled at him his thunderbolt. Then Garuda, the lord of
birds, struck with thunderbolt, spake laughingly unto Indra engaged in
the encounter, in sweet words, saying, 'I shall respect the Rishi
(Dadhichi) of whose bone the Vajra hath been made. I shall also respect
the Vajra, and thee also of a thousand sacrifices. I cast this feather of
mine whose end thou shalt not attain. Struck with thy thunder I have not
felt the slightest pain.' And having said this, the king of birds cast a
feather of his. And all creatures became exceedingly glad, beholding that
excellent feather of Garuda so cast off. And seeing that the feather was
very beautiful, they said, 'Let this bird be called Suparna (having fair
feathers). And Purandara of a thousand eyes, witnessing this wonderful
incident, thought that bird to be some great being and addressed him

"And Indra said, 'O best of birds, I desire to know the limit of thy
great strength. I also desire eternal friendship with thee.'"

So ends the thirty-third section in the Astika Parva of the Adi Parva.

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