GARUDA PANCHAMI AND NAAGA PANCHAMI
(I-DISCOURSE BY N. R. SRINIVASAN, JULY 2012)
Animal as a part of the evolutionary process is well known to modern scientists. Hindus hold Animal altogether in a different perspective. To a Hindu animal world is as important as mankind. Vedic wisdom says that the spirit in animals is the same as that in mankind. It is the will of the Supreme Spirit that decides whether one would be born a man or animal depending upon one’s Karma (deed). Animals are therefore revered by Hindus. The gods use them as vehicle as mentioned in the Puraanas. If animals are so dear to gods, it is but natural they not only attract but also held in reverence by mankind.
It appears rather intriguing that Lord Vishnu has a serpent (Aadisesha) as his couch and an eagle (Garuda) its arch enemy as his vehicle. This just shows that Vishnu is the Lord of Balance and Harmony which is an essential quality for one responsible for sustaining the multifarious universe.
Eagle is admired in many cultures as the king of birds known for its strength and dashing nature. Eagle, the dominating bird flying in the sky known for its strength is the national symbol of USA. It appears as national emblem of USA since 1782. It was the spiritual symbol of Native Americans long before its adoption as national symbol appearing on its seal. USA adopted Bald Eagle as the national symbol inspired by the Roman Republic where eagle imagery was prominent. The basic Vedic fire altar described in Rigveda is composed of seven Purushas, viz the body is four, the wings and tail are three. This is the eagle glorified in Vedas in Garuda Gayatri—“Tatpurushaaya vidmahe suvrnapakshaaya dheemahi tannoe garudah prachoedayaat”—We meditate upon that Purusha (Supreme Principle). For that purpose we meditate upon the one who has golden wings. May that Garuda Invigorate us! (Garuda Gaayatree mantra from Mahaa Naaraayana Upanishad) Garuda is identified as golden eagle.
Snakes are venerated and admired in many cultures. In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek God Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol continues to be used in modern times, associated with medicine and healthcare. From ages immemorial serpent has been worshipped to ward off evil effects and prevent diseases by Hindus. Probably Greeks could have been influenced by Hindus in this regard. Old Testament describes how God of Israelites commanded Moses to hold a snake he saw in wilderness which turned into a magic wand. With the help of this rod he led the Israelites to safety crossing then sea.
Bhagavadgeetaa teaches that whatever is celebrated and great in the Universe, is a part-manifestation of the Supreme Spirit. Geeta says: “Vainateyascha paksheenaam”—I am Garuda amongst birds; “Sarpaanaam asmi Vaasukih”—among serpents I am Vaasuki; “Anantah asmi Naagaanaam”—among snakes I am Sheshanaaga. Vaasuki, Sheshanaaga and Garuda are invariably found in separate enclosures or as Vishnuparivaara (Vishnu’s family) in all Hindu temple complexes, venerated and worshiped daily. On Sraavana Sukla Panchami special Poojas are conducted and celebrated as Garuda Panchami and Naaga Panchami. In some traditions Naaga Chaturthi is observed instead of Naaga Panchami during Sraavana Sukla Paksha. Hindu women pray for warding off evils, curing of diseases, welfare and prosperity of the family, for begetting healthy children of strength and fame and for the welfare of brothers.
Garuda means “wings of speed” and actually personifies Vedic knowledge. Vedic knowledge has come down to us from the worlds of gods on his wings. You have all heard about the famous shrine of Tirupati which is called Bhoo-vaikuntha. The story goes that Lord Vishnu as Varaaha decided to continue to stay on this earth. Garuda brought down the hill of Vaikuntha to earth for the Lord’s residence. The word Vengada of Tamil origin signifies hill. So Venkatesa is The Lord of the Hill.
Garuda is the golden eagle celebrated in Vedas. He is described as Vishnuratha (Vehicle of Vishnu); Amritaharana( carrier of nectar); Suvarna-kaaya (Golden bodied); Gaganeswara (The Lord of Skies); Rasaayana (Man of Quick Movements); Pakshiraaja (King of Birds): Uragaasana (devourer of serpents); and Saalmalistha (dweller on the Saalmali tree) etc. In Rigveda Garuda is known as Tarkshya.
In Vishnu temples in South India Garuda is installed in a separate enclosure, in front of the sanctum as Garudaazhwar( Saint Garuda), facing the presiding deity of Vishnu. He is seen in the standing position, usually two armed, the hands being folded in the attitude of supplication and wearing on his head Karanda type of crown. He is also sometimes shown like Hanuman kneeling but on the left knee only while the other leg being drawn back as if ready to fly.
The legends in Puraanas concerning him make him the son of Kasyapa and Vineetaa (daughter of Daksha). Kasyapa had two wives, Kadru and Vineetaa. Kadru became the mother of one thousand serpents (Naagas). Vinita laid two eggs, one of which did not hatch. In frustration she broke open the first egg and out came a half developed Aruna who later became the charioteer of Sun God. Aruna cursed his mother for his misfortune and as a consequence she had to serve as a slave to Kadru. Garuda was born when the second egg was allowed to hatch in due course. Garuda fought with the guardians of Nectar (Amrita) and brought the pot to where the children of Kadru resided to release his mother from the bondage of slavery as per the conditions set by Kadru. Vishnu was pleased with his valor and made him not only his mount but also as crest in his banner (Garudadvajha). Sri Karamurti, one of the forms of Vishnu is shown seated on the shoulders of Garuda with his hands supporting Vishnu’s feet. This is the pose we usually see Lord Vishnu as Garudavaahana during special festivals like Vaikuntha Ekaadasi, Gajendra Moksha etc.
It is on Sraavana Sukla Panchami Garuda brought the pot of Nectar after great struggle to release his mother with great fight risking his life. This day is a day of celebration of affection between a mother and her child. It is the celebration of the bond between mother and child. It is therefore fitting and proper to dedicate this day to mother and celebrate it as Mother’s Day by performing special worship to Garuda. Newly-weds perform special worship on Garuda Panchami Day for a happy married life. Religiously devoted, having faith in astrology, who believe they have been afflicted with Naagadosha (ill effects due to serpent curse) hope to get rid of it by this act of worship.
Garuda Panchami is observed with reverence by married women for their better health and future of their children. They pray to make their children as bold, strong and sharp as Garuda. This Worship is observed by newly-wed couples for their married bliss and prosperous life.
Snakes move around typically during monsoon time. Farmers stop tilling the soil to avoid killing these beneficial creatures. They play a big role in controlling rat population that destroys the crop. That is why the Sravan Sukla Panchami becomes an important period to propitiate Ananta.
Vishnu reclining on Adisesha with closed lids is a common scene in HHindu Temples. He is also called Sesha-sayee, Padmanaabha and Ranganaatha. Kaalika Puraana mentions that Adisesha approached Vishnu reclining on the waters (ambasya paare) of Ksheerasaagara (Milky Ocean) and offered his services to the great Lord. He employed his body as a cot for him, and spread his hoods on his head as a cover. Vishnu then went into deep trance (yoga-nidraa). Vishnu, Siva, Subhramanya and Ganesha are all associated with snake and snake ornaments.
Ananta is the primordial serpent or dragon. It is considered as one of the Prajaapatis (progenitors) evolving from Brahmaa who in turn evolved from Vishnu. Ananta is considered as Taamasic (dark), a form of Vishnu abiding in the bottom of Netherworlds (Paataala loka) and worshiped by gods (devas) and sages (rishis). Ananta supports the world on his head. He is also identified with the first born child of Kasyapa (son of Marichi) by Kadru (daughter of Daksha Prajaapati). Kadru gave birth to one thousand serpents of which Sesha was the eldest. Important among the other children are: Vaasuki; Airaavata; Takshaka; Kaarkootaka; Kateeya; Kalmaasha; Nahusha; Kunjara; Kumuda and Kumudaaksha. Ananta is one of the names of Vishnu meaning endless or infinite. Ananta is Vishnu’s taamasic form which resides in paataala. Ananta is also one of the forms of Siva. He is in this form represented as tranquil (saanta) and pleasant (saumya) seated on a red lotus and bedecked with ornaments (sarvaabharanabhooshita).
In Kukke Subhramanya in Karnataka Lord Subhramanya is worshiped as snake as Lord of all serpents. As the legend goes when Vaasuki and other serpents were threatened by Garuda they sought refuge under Lord Subhramanya here.
Mahabharata says: Sesham cha akalpayed devamanantam visvaroopinam | yo dhaarayati bhootaani dharaam chemaam saparvataam || The Supreme Principle created godlike Sheshanaag who is omnipresent and eternal. On his head rests the whole world along with mountains, the sea and the atmosphere.
Before starting the Worship on Naagapanchami day it is customary to remember all the divine serpents celebrated in the Puraanas and worship them with the wife (sapatneeka) together:
Anantam Vaaasukim Sesham Padma Kambalakau tathaa |
Kaarkotakam Naagam Bhujasavatarau tathaa |
Dhritaraashtram Sankhapaalam Kaaleeyam Taksahkam Tathaa |
Pingalam cha Mahaanaagam sapatneekam prapoojayet ||
The two shadows of grahas (planets) Rahu and Ketu are often represented as snakes. Rahu and Ketu are formed by the interaction of the axis of rotation of the moon and the earth. They have huge influence on the mind and are referred to as eclipse of the mind. For one to achieve Moksha one has first to stabilize his mind properly. Naaga Panchami Pooja is aimed towards that.
Naaga Panchami celebration is very ancient and it is believed to be observed even before the Vedic culture came into existence. Womenfolk in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh observe this day as Vrata (ritualistic day) by fasting and praying for the prosperity and welfare of their brothers. It is similar to Rakshabandhan celebrated in the North. If at all food is consumed, it is neither cooked nor fried and consumed without salt.
Naga tribes in the North celebrate this day remembering the past history when they controlled rain by worshiping Sheshnaag returning to the land of rains at the command of their Tantric King. As we all know Chirapunji in Assam gets the heaviest rainfall in a year in the world
In Eastern parts of India (Bengal Assam and Orissa) serpent is worshiped as Maanasadevi by a pooja called Ashtaanga.
During foundation laying prayers are offered to Seshanaag in Kalasa form of worship so that he may bear the weight of the structure of the house on his head and protect it from calamities.
It is a common sight to see the icons of Seshanaag in a slab form under the tree (usually Asvattha) in all Siva temples worshiped by ladies. They also feed the snakes with milk, yoghurt and honey through the opening of the anthill and also worship it as well as circumambulate it. During Brahmotsava (annual festival of ten days conducted in all Vishnu temples) Vishnu and his consorts are taken in procession on Seshnaag as the mount.
Nairs of Kerala claim themselves as Kshatriya Nagavamsis or descendants of divine Naagas. Thiru-Aananta-puram in Kerala derives its name from the Great Ananta Naaga or Adisesha. It is also known for its rich and ancient Padmanabhaswami Temple.
1. Heins Henrich Hock, Early Upanishadic Reader, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, India.
2. Swami Harshaananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Ramkrishna MathMylapore Chennai-4 India.
3. Ramachandra Rao, S.K., Vishnu Kosha, Kalpatharu Research Academy, Shankaramutt, Bangalore, India.
4. Prem Bhalla, Hindu Rites< Riy tuals, Customs & Traditions, Pustak Mahal, Delhi, India.
5. Ramananda Prasad, Bhagavad Geetaa, American Gita Society, Fremont, California, USA.
6. Anantha Rangacharya, Principal Upanishads, Volume 1, Bengaluru, India.
Ashu Garuda Kavacham – Akasha Bhairava Tantram
(Courtesy: K. Muralidharan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The following is a rare armor hymn (Kavacham) on Lord Garuda taken from Akasha Bhairava Tantra and Chapter 14. This Kavacham is given to Goddess Parvati by Lord Shiva and the following benefits are mentioned in the Phalashruti:
· This hymn is capable of bestowing comforts, progeny, longevity, purity, and protection from all adverse influences such as fear of fire, king, theft, ghosts, untimely death, bondage, etc.
· One who chants this thrice a day becomes blessed with Vag Vishuddhi (even sages revere the chanter) and attains Vishnu Sayujya after departing the material world.
Devadeva mahādeva sarvajña karuṇānidhe | pāhi māṁ kṛpayā śambho paramānanda-śaṅkara || 1 ||Yat tu guhyaṁ śubhataraṁ sarva-rakṣā-karaṁ param | garutmānyena mantreṇa santuṣyati hi tad vada || 2 ||
Srisiva uvāca -
Sādhu devī mahāprājñe jñānaṁ vakṣyāmi śaṅkari | āśutārkṣyasya kavacaṁ mahāmantraṁ vadāmyaham || 3 ||
Bhoga-mokṣa-dama-jñāna timirāndhasya taulikam | bhukti-mukti-pradaṁ śreṣṭhaṁ siddhidaṁ sarva-siddhidam || 4 ||
Rishi-nyāsa-prabhāvāśca śaṅkarāditi mantravit | samāhitena manasā japen mantrottamottamam || 5 ||
|| dhyānam ||Amṛta-kalaśa-hastaṁ kānti-sampūrṇa-dehaṁ sakala-vibudha-vandyaṁ veda-śāstrair acintyam |
vibudha-sulabha-pakṣair dhūyamānā 'ṇḍakolaṁ sakala-viṣa-vināśaṁ cintayet pakṣirājam ||
piṅgalākṣaṁ garutmantaṁ svarṇa-varṇa-samaprabham | kuñcitaṁ vāmapādaṁ tu dakṣiṇaṁ pṛṣṭhataḥ sthitam ||
ananto vāma-kaṭakaṁ yajña-sūtraṁ tu vāsukiḥ | takṣako kaṭi-sūtraṁ ca hāraḥ kārkoṭakas tathā ||
padmo dakṣiṇa-karṇe tu mahāpadmas tu vāmake | śaṅkhaḥ śiraḥ pradeśe tu gulikas tu bhujāntare ||
evaṁ dhyāyet trisandhyāyāṁ garuḍaṁ kṣveḍa-nāśakam ||
|| Kavacam ||tārkṣyo-me-purataḥ-pātu garuḍaḥ-pātu-pṛṣṭhataḥ | somaḥ-pātu-ca-me-vāmaṁ vainateyas-tu-dakṣiṇam || 6 ||
śikhāyāṁ-garuḍaḥ-pātu niṭilaṁ-tvahisandharaḥ | nāsikāgraṁ-vibhuḥ-pātu nayane-vinatā-sutaḥ || 7 ||
tejiṣṭhaḥ-śrotrayoḥ-pātu mukhaṁ-santāpa-mocanaḥ | oṣṭhayoḥ-pātu-nāgāriḥ pātu-tālū-prajākaraḥ || 8 ||
jihvāṁ-khageśvaraḥ-pātu dantān-pātvaruṇā'nujaḥ | sīrakaś-cibukaṁ-pātu pātu-cograḥ-kapolayoḥ || 9 ||
mahārihā-galaṁ-pātu cāṁsayoḥ-kṛtavikramaḥ | karau-pātu-ca-raktākṣaḥ karāgre-tu-mahābalaḥ || 10 ||
aṅguṣṭhau-ca-hariḥ-pātu tarjanyau-hari-vāhanaḥ | madhyame-sumukhaḥ-pātu cā'nāmike-trilocanaḥ || 11 ||
kaniṣṭhike-mahotsāhaḥ svātmāṅgaḥ-pātu-doḥ-stanam | kara-pṛṣṭhaṁ-kalātīto nakhānyamṛta-sandharaḥ || 12 ||
hṛdayaṁ-pātu-sarvajñaḥ kakṣe-pakṣivirāṭ-tataḥ | uraḥ-sthalaṁ-kalādhāraḥ pātu-me-jaṭharaṁ param || 13 ||
parātparaḥ-kaṭiṁ-pātu pātu-nābhiṁ-hari-priyaḥ | guhyaṁ-pātu-manovegaḥ jaghanaṁ-khaga-padmajaḥ || 14 ||
jitendriyo-gudaṁ-pātu meḍhraṁ-santāna-vardhanaḥ | ūrū-paśupatiḥ-pātu jānunī-bhakta-vatsalaḥ || 15 ||
jaṅghe-pātu-vaṣaṭkāraḥ sarva-loka-vaśaṅkaraḥ | gulphau-nīlaśiraḥ-pātu pāda-pṛṣṭhaṁ-murāri-dhṛk || 16 ||
dhīraḥ-pāda-talaṁ-pātu cā'ṅgulīḥ-para-mantranut | roma-kūpāṇi-me-pātu mantra-bandhi-vimocakaḥ || 17 ||
svāhākāras-tvacaṁ-pātu rudhiraṁ-veda-pāragaḥ | sākṣikaḥ-pātu-me-māṁsaṁ medāṁsi-pātu-yajñabhug || 18 ||
sāmagaḥ-pātu-me-cāsthi śukraṁ-tu-havi-vardhanaḥ | śobhanaḥ-pātu-me-majjāṁ buddhiṁ-bhakta-varapradaḥ || 19 ||
mūlādhāraṁ-khagaḥ-pātu svādhiṣṭhānaṁ-athā'tmavit | maṇipūrakaṁ-atyugraḥ kaladhī-pātvanāhatam || 20 ||
viśuddhiṁ-aparaḥ-pātu cā'jñāṁ-ākhaṇḍala-priyaḥ | druta-tārkṣyo-mahābhīmo brahma-randhraṁ-sa-pātu-me || 21 ||
aindraṁ-phaṇi-bhujaḥ-pātu āgneyaṁ-kali-doṣa-bhit | yāmyaṁ-laghugatiḥ-pātu nairṛtaṁ-sura-vairi-jit || 22 ||
paścimaṁ-pātu-lokeśo dhautoruḥ-pātu-mārutam | gulikāśīti-kauveraṁ pātu-paiśānyamaujasaḥ || 23 ||
ūrdhvaṁ-pātu sadānanda-gīta-nṛtya-priyas tathā | garuḍaḥ-pātu-pātālaṁ garaśālī-tanuṁ tathā || 24 ||
dhana-dhānyādikaṁ-pātu tārkṣyo rākṣasa-vairi-dhṛk | bhīṣaṇaḥ-kanyakāḥ-pātu bhāryāṁ-agnikaṇekṣaṇaḥ || 25 ||
tvaritaḥ-pātu-cā'tmānaṁ dharma-karma-kratūttamaḥ | putrān-āyuṣkaraḥ-pātu vaṁśaṁ-ripu-niṣūdanaḥ || 26 ||
saṅgrāme-vijayaḥ-pātu māgraṁ-śatru-vimardanaḥ | siddhiṁ-pātu-mahādevo bhagavān-bhujagāśanaḥ || 27 ||
satataṁ-pātu-māṁ-śreṣṭhaṁ svastidaḥ-sādhakātmavān | jāgrat-svapna-suṣuptau ca kuṅkumā'ruṇa-vakṣasaḥ || 28 ||
sarva-saṁpat-pradaḥ-pātu stutir-mantrasya-siddhiṣu |
|| phalaśrutiḥ ||idaṁ tu tārkṣya-kavacaṁ puruṣārtha-pradaṁ param || 29 ||
svastidaṁ putradaṁ sarva-rakṣākaraṁ anuttamam | yuddhe vahni-bhaye caiva rāja-cora-samāgame || 30 ||
mahābhūtāri-saṅghaṭṭe nijapet kavacaṁ śive | smaraṇād eva naśyanti pracaṇḍānalatūlavat ||31||
āśu-tārkṣyākhya-kavacaṁ paramaṁ puṇya-vardhanam | mahāguhyaṁ mahāmantraṁ mahamohana-saṁjñakam || 32 ||
sarva-deva-mayaṁ-mantraṁ sarvāyudha-karaṁ param | sarva-mṛtyu-praśamanaṁ sarva-saubhāgya-vardhanam || 33 ||
pāvanaṁ paramāyuṣyaṁ pāpa-pāśa-pramocanam | munīśvaraiśca yamibhiḥrnābhijādyamaraiḥ paraiḥ || 34 ||
guhyakaiśca suraśreṣṭhaiḥ stūyamānaṁ mahojjvalam | trikālaṁ-prajaped dhyāna-pūrvakaṁ kavacaṁ śive || 35 ||
sahasā sarva-siddhiḥ syād vāg-vibhūtir-viśeṣataḥ | munīnāṁ-api-sampūjyaḥ kavacenāvṛtaḥ pumān || 36 ||
caturdaśasu lokeṣu sañcaren māravattu saḥ | anenaiva tu kāyena bhūtale bahu-sampadam || 37 ||
ciraṁ-prāpya tu dehānte viṣṇu-sāyujyaṁ-āpnuyāt || 38 ||
śikhi-ṛtu-vasu-koṇaṁ cāṣṭa-patraṁ bhuvaṁ ca | kratu-śata-śaśi-cāgniṁ bhāskara-vyomakaṁ ca | sakalaṁ anila yuktaṁ tadbihiḥ sādhya-śaktim | dhṛta-mṛta-suta-vandhyā putradaṁ tārkṣyaṁ etat || 39 ||
idaṁ cakraṁ mahākhyātaṁ sarva-vaktroktaṁ uttamam | mahāguhyaṁ mahābhīmaṁ mahāsiddhikaraṁ param || 40 ||
śukra-vāsaramārabhya pūjya japtvā dina-trayam | anena kavacenaiva japed aṣṭottaraṁ śatam || 41 ||
tajjalenā'bhiṣiñcyātha homaṁ kṛtvā hi rukṣakaiḥ | nimajjatāṁ jale devī bandhayet putra kāminām || 42 ||
|| iti śrī ākāśabhairava-kalpe āśugaruḍa kavacaṁ sampūrṇam ||
Nagas – The Snake Worshippers Were Revered in 26 Countries
Posted by The Editor | Aug 20, 2015 | IndiaDivine.org
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In Genesis the Serpent is a Naga who instructs the new infant (humanity) in what is called the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Christian church has, unfortunately transformed the Initiate-Teacher into a tempting and negative demon-character. The snake or serpent was worshiped as a representation of the great god, lord Sun, along with fire.
The spiritually advanced and realized people whose Kundalini was awakened were called “Nagas” and this was spread throughout world and so we find snake worship all places in the world even where there are no snakes like Ireland and Tibet.
Many examples of Nagas appear on the walls and along an avenue leading to the temple of Ankhor Wat in Kampuchea (formerly, Cambodia) and also in Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka (formerly, Ceylon.)
1. INDIA:In the Mahabharata the Naga Kingdom is the territory of a hardy and warlike tribe called Nagas. They were also considered as one of the supernatural races like the Kinnaras.
2. GREECE : Apolloniy Tiansky – contemporary of Jesus Christ, the main representative of new Pythagorean school – had been trained in magic by Nagas of Kashmir.
3. MEXICO: In Mexico, we find the “Naga” which becomes “Nagal.”
4. CHINA: In China, the Naga is given the form of the Dragon and has a direct association with the Emperor and is known as the “Son of Heaven”. The Chinese are even said to have originated with the Serpent demi-gods and even to speak their language, Naga-Krita.
5. EGYPT: In Egypt the same association is termed “King-Initiate”.
6. TIBET: For a place that has no serpents, Tibet, they are still known in a symbolic sense and are called Lu. Nagarjuna called in Tibetan, Lu-trub.
7. GREECE: In the Western traditions we find the same ubiquity for the Naga, or Serpent. One simple example is the Ancient Greek Goddess, Athena. She is known as a warrior Goddess as well as the Goddess of Wisdom; her symbol being the Serpent as displayed on her personal shield.
8. IRELAND: The serpents was worshipped and deified in Ireland.
9. AFRICA: Africa the chief center of serpent worship was Dahomey, the cult of the python seems to have been of exotic origin.
10. IRAQ: Ancient Mesopotamians and Semites believed that snakes were immortal.
11. ISRAEL: Before the arrival of the Israelites, snake cults were well established in Canaan in the Bronze Age, for archaeologists have uncovered serpent cult objects in Bronze Age strata at several pre-Israelite cities in Canaan: two at Megiddo, one at Gezer, one in the sanctum sanctorum of the Area temple at Hazor, and two at Shechem.
12. SYRIA : A late Bronze Age Hittite shrine in northern Syria contained a bronze statue of a god holding a serpent in one hand and a staff in the other.
13. MESOPOTAMIA [TODAY’S IRAQ]: In sixth-century Babylon a pair of bronzer serpents flanked each of the four doorways of the temple of Esagila.
14. MESOPOTAMIA [TODAY’S IRAQ]: At the tell of Tepe Gawra, at least seventeen Early Bronze Age Assyrian bronze serpents were recovered.
15. EGYPT: Ancient Egyptians worshiped snakes, especially the cobra. The cobra was not only associated with Ra, but also many other deities such as Wadjet, Renenutet, and Meretseger. Serpents could also be evil and harmful such as the case of Aapep.
16. GREECE: We learn from Herodotus of the great serpent which defended the citadel of Athens. The Roman genius loci took the form of a serpent. A snake was kept and fed with milk during rites dedicated to Potrimpus, a Prussian god. The oracles of the Ancient Greeks were said to have been the continuation of the tradition begun with the worship of the Egyptian cobra goddess, Wadjet.
17. On the Iberian Peninsula there is evidence that before the introduction of Christianity, and perhaps more strongly before invasions of the Romans, Serpent worship was part of local religion.
18. AUSTRALIA: In Australia, the Aboriginal people worship a huge python, known by a variety of names but universally referred to as the Rainbow Serpent that was said to have created the landscape, embodied the spirit of fresh water and punished lawbreakers. The Aborigines in southwest Australia called the serpent the Waugyl, while the Warramunga of the east coast worshipped the mythical Wollunqua.
19. CAMBODIA: An Indian Brahmana sage named Kaundinya came to Cambodia, which at the time was under the dominion of the naga king. The naga princess Soma sallied forth to fight against the invader but was defeated. Presented with the option of marrying the victorious Kaundinya, Soma readily agreed to do so, and together they ruled the land. The Khmer people are their descendants.
20. KOREA: In Korean mythology, Eobshin, the wealth goddess, appears as an eared, black snake. In Jeju Island, the goddess Chilseong and her seven daughters are all snakes.
21. NORTH AMERICA: In America some of the Native American tribes give reverence to the rattlesnake as grandfather and king of snakes who is able to give fair winds or cause tempest. Among the Hopi of Arizona the serpent figures largely in one of the dances.
22. SOUTH AMERICA: The rattlesnake was worshiped in the Natchez temple of the sun and the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl was a feathered serpent-god.
23. PERU: The tribes of Peru are said to have adored great snakes in the pre-Inca days and in Chile the Mapuche made a serpent figure in their deluge beliefs.
24. COLOMBIA: Lake Guatavita in Colombia also maintains a Cacique legend of a “Serpent God” living in the waters, which the tribe worshiped by placing gold and silver jewelry into the lake.
5. Norse: Jörmungandr, alternately the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent, of the Norse mythology, is the middle child of Loki and the giantess Angrboða.
26. Carvings about 70,000 years old on a snake-like rock in a cave in Botswana indicate that Stone Age people developed religious rituals far earlier than previously believed.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”
The Jews worshipped a brass metal snake called the Nehushtan on a pole in order to be saved. It was worshipped by Jews until King Hezekiah destroyed it.
PREFACE BY N. R. SRINIVASAN
Literally, the word Garuda means “wings of speech”. He actually personifies the Vedic Knowledge. On his wings, as if it were, Vedic knowledge has come down to us from the world of God. The expression Taarkshya, the name of Garuda can be found in Rigveda. This expression refers to the lineage of the sage Triksha and the offspring of Taarksha viz. Kasyapa. The h golden-winged eagle (Suparna, Syena) bringing Soma down to earth is a Vedic legend Rigveda 4, 26 and the bird is the symbol of the Sun. Unlike popular puiranic deities of Hanuman and Ganesha, Garuda and Vishwaksena are Vedic deities glorified in Rigveda.
Satapata Brahmna has the following mantra: Sa vai saptapurusho bhavati| saptapurusho hyayama purusho yacchatvaara aatmaa trayah pakshapuchchaani
He is composed of seven Purushas, for this Purusha (=Agni) is composed of seven Purushas, viz. the body is four, the wings and tail are three….[the most basic Vedic fire altar covers an areadefined by the square of seven lengths of the sacrificer. Four equal parts of the area define the body, one each two wings and tail. This is a typical form of bird altar specified in Vedas which is often found more elaborate. The origin of Garuda is thus traced in Vedas.
Puranas have elaborately described Garuda deity, espcially in Garuda Purana. His image is usually installed right opposite the central shrine in all Vaishnava temples like Nandi in Siva temples. He is popularly worshiped during Brahmotsava like Hanuman and Adisesha but also temples often conduct Garudotsava as per the wishes of devotees exclusively on any normal day. No such special and privileged procession takes place for other mounts of Vishnu that are confined to Brahmotsava, an annual event. Please find below a detailed description of Garuda whose story I had spoken in my discourse Garuda Panchami and Naga Panchami.
Tatpurushaaya vidmahe suvarnapakshaaya dheemahi | Tannoe Garudaha prachodayaat (MNU)
Amritakalasa-hastam kaanti-sampoorna-deham sakalavibhuda vandyam vedasaastrair-achintyam | vividha-sulabhapakshair-dhooyamaanaandagolam sakala vishavinaasam chintayet-pakshiraajam ||
Kshipa Om swaahaa |
Kasyapa is the Rishi; Pankti is the Chchandas and garuda is the Devata.
Please go through the various mythological stories about Garuda as sent by IndiaDivine.org
Garuda: The King of Birds
Posted by Priya Viswanathan | Dec 23, 2015
The Garuda is a large, “mythical” Eagle, which appears prominently in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Incidentally, Garuda is also the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila.
The Brahmin kite and Phoenix are considered to be the modern representations of Garuda. Garuda is the national symbol of Indonesia – this mighty creature is depicted as a large Javanese eagle.
Namah pannaganaddhaaya vaikunta vasavardhineh
Sruti-sindhu Sudhothpaada-mandaraaya Garutmathe
Sruti-sindhu Sudhothpaada-mandaraaya Garutmathe
I bow to Garuda, the One with the beautiful wings, whose limbs are adorned by the mighty serpents, who he has conquered in battle. I bow to the One who is forever in the devotion of his Lord, Vishnu. He is as adept as the Mandara Mountain, in churning the ocean of the Vedas, capturing the very essence of their wisdom.
In Hinduism, Garuda is an Upadevata, a divine entity, and is depicted as the vahana or mount of Sri Maha Vishnu. Garuda is usually portrayed as being a strong man; having a golden, glowing body; with a white face, red wings, and an eagle’s beak. He is adorned with a crown on his head. This very ancient deity is believed to have a gigantic form, large enough to block out the Surya Devata or the Sun God.
Garuda is widely known to be a permanent and sworn enemy of the Nagas, the ones belonging to the serpent race – it is believed that Garuda fed only on snakes. This behavior bears reference to the short-toed Eagle, which can be found in India. The image of Garuda is often worn as a charm or amulet, as it is believed to protect the wearer from snake attacks and poison.
In fact, Garuda Vidya is the mantra which is often used as a palliative measure to destroy the ill-effects of snake poison and also to remove all sorts of evil the victim has been afflicted with.
Garuda is generally shown as winding the mighty Adisesha serpent on his left wrist and the serpent Gulika on his right wrist. The great serpent Vasuki winds around him to form his sacred thread. Takshaka, the cobra, winds on his hip to serve as a belt. He wears the serpent Karkotaka as his necklace. Further, the snakes Padma and Mahapadma are his earrings. The serpent Shankachuda adorns his hair as a crown.
Garuda is depicted as flanked by his two wives Rudra and Sukeerthi in an ancient Soumya Keshava temple in Bindiganavile in Karnataka state of India. The Importance of Garuda in Hinduism Garuda’s strong position in Hinduism can be estimated by the fact that two ancient Hindu texts, the Garudopanishad and the Garuda Purana, are both dedicated to him.
The Vedas make a mention of Garuda, referring to him as Syena, where this mighty Eagle is adored as the one who brought nectar from heaven to earth. The Puranas also talk about this deed, again equating Garuda with Syena (Sanskrit word for Eagle).
One of the faces of the Panchamukha (five-faced) Hanuman, pointing in the Westerly direction, is that of Mahavira Garuda. Among many Tamil Vaishnava sects, Garuda and Hanuman are referred to as “Periya Tiruvadi” and “Siriya Tiruvadi” respectively.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna, while at the battlefield of Kurukshetra, describes himself as being powerful and omnipresent. He says, “As the son of Vinata, I am the form of Garuda, the King of the birds”.
Krishna and his consort, Satyabhama, are often depicted as riding on Garuda when the former goes to slay Narakasura. Vishnu and Lakshmi are also shown riding Garuda. It is believed that Garuda’s wings chant the Vedas as he flies around the heavens. Garuda has been given various other names, such as Chirada, Khageshwara, Kamayusha, Gaganeshwara, Nagantaka, Kashyapi, Sitanana, Suparna, Tarkshya, Vishnuratha, Vainateya and so on and so forth.
Garuda and Tantra
The Garuda Vyuha is worshipped in Tantra during several Abhichara kriyas, and also used to protect one against Abhichara. Garuda is the Sankarshana energy of the Lord, who is believed to take the manifestation of the omniscient nature of the Lord, during the process of creation. He represents the five vayus that lie within each of us, namely, prana, apana, vyana, udana, and samana via each of his five forms, Satya, Supama, Garuda, Tarkshya and Vihageshwara respectively.
The spiritual seeker can attain a stage of Kundalini awakening, resulting in a state of higher consciousness, through the control of these five vayus, with the help of Pranayama.
Birth and Leelas of Garuda
The Mahabharata relates the details of Garuda’s birth. According to this great epic, when Garuda first burst forth from his egg, he appeared as a tremendously brilliant light emitted by a powerful inferno, which could only be equated to the cosmic conflagration that destroys the entire world at the end of every age. Frightened by the sight, the Devas approached Garuda and begged him for mercy. Garuda immediately complied with their request and reduced himself in size and energy.
Garuda’s Enmity with the Nagas
Garuda was born to the sage Kashyapa and Vinata. Kashyapa was also married to Vinata’s sister Kadru. Kadru gave birth to a thousand snakes, who are considered to be the ancestors of all the snakes that can be found on earth today.
One day, Vinata entered into a petty bet with Kadru, regarding the color of the tail of the divine, seven-headed flying horse, Uchaishravas, who emerged during the episode of the Sagar Manthan (Churning of the Ocean of Milk). Kadru claimed that the color of his tail was black, whereas Vinita claimed it was white.
The stake was that whoever lost would become a dasi or slave of the winner. Kadru, who was bent upon winning by any means, asked her sons, the Nagas, to hang onto the tail of the horse, thereby turning it black in color. Thus, the tail which was actually white, turned to black, resulting in Vinata losing the bet and becoming Kadru’s dasi. An arrogant Kadru, along with her sons, treated Vinata very badly, inflicting untold suffering on the latter.
Garuda, enraged by this incident and wanting to release his mother from this bondage, approached the serpents and asked them what he would have to give them in order to purchase her freedom. The Nagas told Garuda that he would have to bring them the Devamrita or Nectar of Immortality in order to free his mother. Garuda knew that this would be a very difficult task to accomplish, as the Devas zealously guarded this elixir, as it was the very source of their everlasting youth and immortality.
The nectar was protectively surrounded on all sides with a fire that covered the entire sky. It was also impossible to access it from above, because it was blocked by means of a fierce-looking and dangerous contraption of sharp rotating blades. Additionally, two gigantic poisonous snakes had been stationed next to the elixir, to further guard it.
Not easily daunted, Garuda surveyed his situation and hastened toward the abode of the Devas, with the intent of stealing the amrita. However, already knowing of his intention, the Gods waged a war against him. Garuda fought valiantly and defeated the entire army and scattered them around in all directions.
He then gathered the water of many rivers in his mouth and poured them onto the protective fires, extinguishing them in one go. Then, making himself really miniscule in size, he swooshed past the rotating blades and entered the area where the amrita was kept. Indulging in battle with the poisonous snakes, he defeated and mangled the two creatures as well. Then, taking the pot of amrita in his mouth, he leapt into the air and headed toward the Nagas who had kept his mother under their control.
En route, Vishnu appeared before him. However, the two did not enter a fight and instead, exchanged promises. Vishnu promised Garuda of immortality without even drinking from the amrita. Garuda, on his part, promised Vishnu that he would become the latter’s mount.
Further ahead, Garuda met Indra and there was another exchange of promises here as well. Garuda promised Indra that once he had delivered the elixir to the Nagas, he would then ensure that Indra regained possession of the Devamrita. ndra, in turn, promised to give Garuda the serpents as food.
Reaching the land of the Nagas, Garuda placed the pot containing the elixir on the grass, and requested them to liberate Vinata from her servitude. He also requested the serpents to perform certain religious rites before going ahead and consuming the Devamrita.
As the Nagas hurried off to perform the said rites, Indra rushed to the place and took away the pot containing the amrita. When the serpents returned, they were aghast to see that the elixir was missing. However, there were small droplets of it on the grass, which they tried to lick off. This made their tongues split in two. Legend has it that this explains why snakes have split tongues and why they also shed their skin as a sign of immortality.
After having fulfilled his mission, Garuda went on to fulfill his promise made to Vishnu. From then on, Garuda became Vishnu’s vahana and also destroyed his perpetual enemies – snakes – whenever he got an opportunity to do so.
Other Legends Related to Garuda
A sparrow once laid her eggs on a sea shore, but the waves carried away the eggs deep into the sea. Very upset by the incident, she asked the ocean to return her eggs. When the ocean did not respond, she single-mindedly started picking out the water in her tiny beak, ignoring the taunts from all around.
Garuda heard about the sparrow’s massive effort and feeling compassion for her proceeded to help her. Reaching beside the little sparrow, Garuda ordered the ocean to return her eggs, threatening of dire consequences otherwise. The ocean, frightened by Garuda’s threat, returned the eggs safely to the happy, grateful, sparrow.
The flapping wings of Garuda are believed to have formed the basis of the Sama Veda. The two wings of this divine, transcendental Prince of all Divine Vahanas are believed to be the two branches of the Sama Veda, known as Brihat and Rathantara. Garuda vibrated the Sama Veda to pacify and calm his Lord Vishnu.
Garuda always accompanied his Lord on his most important missions. The mighty bird carried Vishnu to Gajendra, the King of Elephants, when the Lord wanted to save him from the clutches of the deadly crocodile that held onto one of his legs. Vishnu eventually killed the crocodile, thus rescuing Gajendra.
During the Sagar Manthan episode, Vishnu placed the Mandara Mountain on Garuda’s back. He then sat himself on the bird’s back and asked him to take them to the middle of the ocean. Garuda also placed the mountain in the spot as instructed by Vishnu. Vishnu then requested Garuda to leave, as Vasuki, the serpent King, would not enter the region otherwise, fearing Garuda’s presence. Once Garuda left, Vasuki was brought in to act as the churning rod to churn the mighty ocean.
Garuda had great love and devotion for Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Shri Maha Vishnu. Lord Indra once sent torrential rain over Vrindavana, the abode of Krishna. It is believed that Garuda, who observed the incident from over the clouds, was so angry and frustrated at Indra’s actions, that he started perspiring profusely.
In another instance, Krishna was fighting with the poisonous snake, Kaliya, trying to subdue him by dancing on his heads. Infuriated by Kaliya’s insolent attitude towards Krishna, Garuda wanted to kill and devour the snake immediately. However, Garuda stopped himself only out of respect for his Lord. Even Krishna warned Kaliya, saying that Garuda would have been powerful enough to kill him, but would not do so only because he saw Krishna’s foot marks on Kaliya’s head.
Once, when Krishna was fighting Brahmasura and his army, Garuda helped his Lord by pecking at the horses and elephants; scratching and gnawing at them with his beak; disturbing them with his swooshing wings. Overwhelmed by the great bird, the animals finally left the battlefield, leaving Brahmasura to fight alone. The asura (demon), realizing Garuda’s great power, struck the bird with all his strength. However, Garuda did not feel even the slightest impact and continued to support his Lord till he won against the asura.
Descendants of Garuda
The Mahabharata states that Garuda has six sons, who gave rise to the entire race of the birds. The members of this race were believed to be very strong and mighty, also completely lacking compassion. They subsisted on snakes, just as their predecessors did and were all under the protection of Shri Maha Vishnu.
Garuda as a Symbol
All through the Mahabharata, Garuda is known to be an impetuous, violent force to be reckoned with. He was supremely powerful, able to move at a great speed and also very well-versed in the martial arts.
In fact, the most powerful warriors and fighters are likened to Garuda who swoops down on a serpent. Acharya Drona developed an entire military formation and named it after the mighty bird, Garuda. Garuda also features prominently on Krishna’s banner during the Kurukshetra War.