Sri Garuda, Part 7

BY: SUN STAFF - 7.9 2021

Sri Garuda

A serial exploration of Sri Garuda, the transcendental carrier of Lord Visnu.

Glorification of Garuda

We have offered in this series an introductory tracing of the presence of Sri Garuda from India's southern tip to the northern Himalayas. There is such an abundance of examples of Garuda worship around the world that we can't begin to cover even the finest here. In fact, the presence of Garuda throughout Java, Sumatra, Bali and Cambodia is so great it will require a number of articles dedicated to that region alone.

Before we complete our series tomorrow with a study of some of the prominent stone sculptures of Garuda in Rajasthan, Central India, and back in the south, in Halebid and Belur, let us first recall some of Sri Garuda's most prominent attributes and pastimes, as noted in Ramashraya Sharma's study of the Valmini Ramayana:

"Among birds only Garuda (variously known as garutmat, the winged, suparna, of lovely wings, tarkshaya, the son of Tarksha-Kasyapa, paksi-raja and pattagotama, the lord of birds) is noteworthy. He is the son of Vinata, the great-grand-daughter of the Prajapati Kasyapa. Arjuna the charioteer of Surya is his brother and Sumati his sister. Sumati was married to king Sagara and on that account Garuda is called matula (maternal uncle) of the sixty-thousand sons of Sagara.

Garuda bears an everlasting hostility to the serpants -- pannagasana, bhujagiri, and other synonyms are his popular epithets - who are possessed of panic the moment they smell of him and try to slip away from his sight in whichever direction possible.

His principle feat is the carrying off of ambrosia from the home of Mahendra, disregarding the blazing flames that were set around it as hurdles. He is also glorified for having saved the Balakhilyas from getting crushed under the heavy branch of the Sucandra-nyagrodha as it gave way under his own weight, rendered heavier by the elephant and the huge tortoise whom he was carrying as food on his onward journey to the Mahendra-bhavana for ambrosia. He is said to have carried a long distance the entire branch along with his load (of the elephant and the tortoise) and dropped it over a habitation of the Nishadas.

Garuda is renowned for his great speed. He ranges in the sky like a meteor, throwing the clouds topsyturvy. The gush of wind produced from his wings causes a tremor in the mountains, a strong flutter in the water of the sea and overturns a large number of trees. Visnu has a great liking for him on account of his might and speed, and employs him as His conveyance. Garuda not only serves Visnu as his conveyance, but also assists him in actual fighting. He flung away the Rakshasa Malyavan fighting against Visnu and released Rama and Laksmana in the Lanka war from the effects of Indrajit's sarpa-bandha."

And given that we will close this series with examples of Garuda murtis from Karnataka in the South, we also offer an excerpt from Garuda Dandakam, spoken by Tamil Swami Desikan, who was initiated into the Garuda Mantram by his Acarya, Sri Appullar. Incidentally, the Tamil word 'pul' means 'a bird'. Here the reference is to the divine bird, Garuda, who is also known as Pakshi Raja (the king of Birds). The Garuda Mantram includes among its five syllables the two syllables constituted by the word 'pakshi'.

This Garuda Mantram was a mantram of Appullar's family. After instructing Sri Desikan on all relevant Sri Vaishnava granthas, Rahasyas Tarka and Vyaakarna, Sri Appullar initiated him into the recitation of Garuda Dandakam, which glorifies Garuda by observing the following:

Vedas praising Garuda Bhagavan

Garuda's service to Sriman Narayana as His Vehicle and Flag

His matrimonial status with his two wives, Rudrai and Sukeerthi

His adornment of great serpents as his jewellery on his limbs

His heroic deed in bringing nectar from Indra Loka

His other heroic deeds in battles on behalf of his Lord

His splendour as the Amsa (aspect) of Para Vasudeva, his Sankarshana Swaroopam

His manifestion in five individual forms

His conferral of Vedhanta Vidya to his aspiring devotees, i.e., his status as an Acarya

The worship of Lord Garudan by learned scholars and saints

His power as the Garuda Mantra Moorthy

His power to bless one with the four Purusharthas (goals) of life

His incarnation as Garudan as a result of the prayers of the Vaalakilya sages

His power to bless one with the true knowledge, or Brahma Vidya

Garuda with Pot of Amrta


Sri Garuda Dandakam
Salutations to Sri Garuda with Beautiful Wings Sloka 1

Nama: pannaganaddhaaya vaikunta vasavardhineh
Sruti-sindhu Sudhothpaada-mandaraaya Garutmathe

My salutations to Garuda with the beautiful wings. His limbs are adorned by the mighty serpents that he has conquered in battle. They are his jewellery. He does all the intimate kainkaryas to his Lord and is His Antharanga dhaasan. Garuda is devoted always to the Lord and His services. He is adept like the Mandara Mountain in churning the milky ocean of Vedas and to bring out the Brahma Vidyas. We can get the benefits of these Brahma Vidyas by offering our worship to him. My salutations are to him.


Dhandakam Paada 1

Garudamakhila Veda NeeDadhirooDam Dhvishath Peedanothkantithaakunta
vaikuntapeetikrta skandhameedhe SvaneeDaa gatipreetha Rudraa Sukeerthi
sthanaabhoga-gaaDopakuDa sphuratkantakavraata veda vyataavepamaana
dhvijihavaadhikalpa vishppaaryamaaNa sphataavatikaa ratna rochischataa raaji-
neerajitham kaanti kallolinee raajitam

Sri Garudans wives Rudrai, Sukeerthi - Bindignavile

Garuda Bhagavan has designed the Vedas as his cage and uses that cage as his seat. (This suggests that the Vedas sing his praise). His Lord Sriman Narayana is bent upon destroying the enemies of His devotees. No one can stop Sriman Narayana in these endeavors. When He sets about to destroy the enemies of His devotees, he uses the shoulders of Garuda as his transport. When Garuda transports his Lord on His missions, his wives-Rudrai and Sukeerthi-- miss his absence from home. When the Lord's mission is successfully concluded, Garuda returns to his wives and they embrace him intimately with affection. In that ecstatic state, the hairs on the body of Garuda become stiff like thorns. This in turn hurts the serpents, which are covering his body. The serpents are overcome with fear and they raise their hoods. On those occasions, the ratnas positioned on their hoods radiate their brilliant red rays. That splendorous group of red rays appear at that time as the mangala Aarathi to Garuda and he sparkles in that flood of red light.


Dhandakam Paada 2

Jaya Garuda Suparna Darveekaraahaara Devaadhipaahaarahaarin diwowkaspati
Kshipta Dambholi Dhaaraa kinaakalpa Kalpaantha Vatoola Kalpodhayaanalpa
Veerayithoodhyacchamatkaara Dhaityaari Jaitra Dhwajaarohanirdhaaritothkarsha
Sankarshanaatman Garutman Marutpanchakaadheesa Sathyaathimurthe na Kascchit
samas te namaste punaste nama

O Garuda Bhagavan! You have been named Suparna, because of the beauty of your wings. Serpents of immense size serve as your food. You brought Nectar, the food of the Devas- from Indra Loka to release your mother from the bonds of servitude. Indra got angry at you during that time and threw his Vajra weapon at you. The sharp edge of that powerful weapon caused wounds on your wings and rest of the body. The welts from those wounds look today as pieces of jewellery on your body and attest to your heroic deed in defeating Indra. Your other heroic deeds stand out like the mighty winds that sweep the universe during the time of the great deluge. You are sitting on the flag of your Lord, which denotes His victory over His enemies; from your position on the flag of your Lord, we are able to infer your glories. You have incarnated as Sankarshana among the four Vyuha Murthys of Sriman Narayana, which are Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradhumna and Aniruddha.

You have divided yourself into five forms-- Satyar, Suparnar, Garudar, Taarkshyar and Vihageswarar-- and matched those five forms with the five Vayus (Praanan, Apaanan, Samaanan, Udhaanan and Vyaanan) and shine thereafter as a supreme Devan. O Lord with the most exquisitely beautiful golden Wings! There is none, who is equal to you. I offer my salutations to you first and then again repeat my salutations.


Dhandakam Paada 3

Nama Idhamajahath-saparyaaya Paryaaya-niryaata- pakshaanilaasppalanodhvela
PaToti Veechi- chapetaahataagaadha paatala Bhankara sankruttha nagendra
peetaasrunee bhaava bhasvannakhasreNayE chandatundaaya nrtyat bhujanga
bhruve vajrine dhamshtrayaa thubhyam Adhyaatmavidyaa vidheyaa vidheyaa
bhavath dhasyamaapaadhayeta dhayaTaasccha meh

O Garuda Bhagavan! Learned scholars offer their uninterrupted worships to you. Your wings in flight generate mighty winds that stir up all the oceans and make them flow over their boundaries. The waves that rise and fall from those powerful winds reach down to the netherworld (Paatalam) and the effect is like a violent blow given by the palm of one's hand.

A frightening sound heard as "Bhaam" reverberates around the world at that time. The mighty elephants guarding the quarters are shaken up by this mighty sound of "Bhaam" and run to attack you, the generator of that sound. Your rows of sharp nails acting as the elephant goad attack those angry elephants of the quarters and repulse them. Your mighty beak raises terror in the minds of your enemies. When you knot your brows, it looks like the movement of the hood of a Cobra. Your canine teeth look like the Vajra weapon of Indra and strikes terror in the hearts of your enemies. My salutations to you of such limitless glory! May thou bless me so that Brahma Vidyas become easy to be possessed by me! Please bless me out of your infinite compassion so that I can have the good fortune to offer kainkaryams to you.


Dhandakam Paada 3

Manuranugata Pakshi-vaktra sphurattharakas taavakaschitrabhanupriyaa
sekharastthrayathaam nasthrivargaapavarga prasuthi: paravyoma dhaaman
valadhveshidharpajjvalath Vaalakilya PratigynaavatheerNa sTiraam tatvabuddhim
paraam bhaktidhenum jaganmoolakandhe Mukundhe mahaanandadhogdhreem
dhatiTaa mudhaakaamaheenamaheenaanthaka

O Garuda Bhagavan residing permanently in Sri Vaikuntam! Your mantram confers to the reciters the four fold (Dharma-Artha-Kama -Moksha) goals of Life. That mantram of yours made up of 5 syllables, has the Pranavam as its first syllable. At the end, it carries the syllable associated with the wife of Agni. May the mantram of that structure protect us! Once, Devendran became arrogant over his powers and insulted the Sages with the name of Vaalakilyas. (The sages got angry and cursed Indra. They cursed that Indra's arrogance be destroyed by an incarnation of Sankarshana (Garuda) on a future date). You were born from the vow made by the Vaalakilyas that you destroy the mighty arrogance of Indra and you made their words come true. You serve as the lord of Death for mighty serpents that challenged you.

Please bless me with the discriminating knowledge to distinguish between true (superior) and false (inferior) knowledge. Your Lord is the fundamental and principal cause of all the universes. Please bless me to have the cow representing the limitless devotion to your Lord, so that it can yield for me its delectable milk. May that devotion of mine be free from the distractions of the insignificant and evanescent pleasures of life! May thou confer on me the boon of possessing such a superior devotion to your Lord and True Knowledge about Him!


Sloka 2

Shat-thrhimsathgana-charanoh nara paripaati naveena Ghumbhagana:
Vishnurata-dhandakoyam Vigatayathu vipaksha Vaahini Vyuham

This entire Garuda Dhandakam is of the form of one slokam. This has four Paadas. Each of the Paadas has 36 GaNaas. Each Gana has three syllables. This Dhandakam follows strictly the rules of composing Dhandakams and has the NagaNaas and RagaNaas in each of the Paadas and yields novel word constructions. When one recites this Garuda Dhandakam, it will destroy the formations of the enemies, who have assembled to do battle with us and scatter them to the winds.


Concluding Sloka

Vichitra siddhidada: soyam Venkatesa Vipascchitaa
Garudadhwaja-thoshaaya Gheetho Garudadhandaka

"Bless us with the superior devotion to your Lord - Garudan, Pomona"

This Garuda Dhandakam was composed and sung by adiyen, the Vidwan known as Venkatesa to please the Lord, who has Garuda on His flagstaff. The recitation of this Garuda Dhandakam will confer on the reciter multifold blessings and fulfill their heartfelt wishes of every kind.