Namah pannaganaddhaaya vaikuntha vasavardhineh
Shruti-sindhu Sudhothpaada-mandaraaya Garutmathe
Finally! It’s time to say goodbye and start the journey towards the end. Aruna has come to greet me, cloaked in a sombre red, as if deeply regretting a parting friend. He will be my sole companion till I reach the gate to the other side. So many memories I’m leaving behind. The blue eyes of my father, the comforting arms of my mother, Vishnu’s laughter, Friends, Acquaintances, the endless wars, betrayals and Love; everything faded away and destroyed – some for Immortality, others for Power and still others for Lust- but all for the Elixir, the Somras, the Essence of Meru.
My story is as ancient as the mountains and the rivers of this land. When I was born, our land has already drifted away from Jambudweep. My home was 200 miles to the east of Kashyap-Meru, the place which defined my destiny. Who am I? I am Garuda, the mighty bird-lion of the east and child of Queen Vinata and Rishi Kashyap.
My father died when I was still trying to flap my wings and fly. My childhood dreams were filled with a pair of sapphire blue eyes and a sharp, hooked nose; a brilliant scientist and a fire worshiper, his eyes held the wisdom of both worlds. He lorded over the entire region of Kashyap-Meru, guarding the Essence zealously from the clans of Devas and Asuras.
He was my superhero. It was believed that he could never really die, each time rising from his own ashes to come back more powerful than ever. Some said he had tasted the Essence and could never be vanquished. The ashes that adorned his body had miraculous healing properties, and creatures from both the world sought his blessings to cure their illness. The truth is, he was just an alchemist who has unraveled the mysteries of science way beyond his time.
But more importantly, he was my father who got killed while guarding his dream project.
Prajapati Daksh, my grandfather was a brilliant strategist, combining his Machiavellian shrewdness with an unhealthy appetite for power. For over centuries, the two warrior clans – Devas and Asuras– have fought with each other over Mount Meru in order to gain access to the Somras; and now Prajapati Daksh was vying it for himself. Daksh’s health was failing him and he knew there was only one way he could regain his youthful vigor and lay claim to his ambitions of ruling the entire world. It was believed that the Amrit could bestow both Enlightenment and Immortality to any mortal who had the strength and the cunning to steal it and face the wrath of my father.
When Daksh had come to power, his kingdom was a mere fledgling land encroached between the River Yamuna and Mount Meru. He was steadily pushing north, already having struck a marriage alliance of his eldest daughter Sati with the King of Kailasha, Somrudra. My father was the last peg in his destination and Daksh pulled out all the stops to win him over, giving away his thirteen daughters in marriage. But history had something else in store for him.
Soon after the marriage, there ensued a war between the clans of Devas and Asuras over Somras. As a last resort to protect it from falling in the wrong hands, my father built a firewall around Mount Meru and in the process, had to sacrifice himself. Through their cunning, the Devas got hold of the Amrit and everything was peace for a while.
But then, Life comes in full circle. The Elixir for whose protection my father dedicated his entire life was destined to be stolen by me. A curse by my brother Aruna set in motion a chain of events that shattered my family completely.
My mother was enslaved by her own sister Kadru and her 1000 Nagas. The sheer torture and insults they used to throw at my mother’s face was enough to fuel my hatred towards them. I had vowed revenge and unexpectedly, I got the perfect chance to obtain it. My cousins demanded the elixir in exchange for my mother’s freedom.
How gullible were they! Even the Devas failed to detect my con. By the time they realized that the Elixir was tampered with, history was already by my side and after that, they were too proud to own up that they lost; not to a man, but to an excessive compliance with their enemy. Vishnu will never forgive me but neither will I forget his greed, which was paid by my father’s life.
The pyre is blazing up nicely; a few minutes more and it will be ready to accept the sacrifice of this physical shell. The cuckoo is singing again in that curious monotone. Time to make the jump.
Phoenix , has often been compared to Garuda, the hindu mythological bird. Interestingly Persian mythology talks about a similar creature called Simurgh, derived from Middle Persian Pahlavi sēnmurw, which in turn is derived from Avestan mereγō Saēnō (the bird Seana), very similar to sanskrit śyenaḥ (another term for Garuda). Note here that the Rig Veda has been ascribed to the Persian Text Zend Avesta and Zoroastrianism is considered to be a precursor to Hinduism. You can’t miss the common thread here, which is sort of exciting, isn’t it?
Garuda was said to born of Rishi Kashyap, the father of all humanity (devas, asuras, nagas etc), author of Kashyap Samhita (treatise precursor to Ayurveda) and grandson of Bramha. Present day Kashmir is said to derive its name from Kashyap-Meru, but that is a story for another day.
What if Garuda was not just an imaginary creature but was as real as dinosaurs? Extinct but real. Kashyap already had immense knowledge in Ayurvedic healing. Both Snakes and Phoenix are ascribed transformational powers (shedding skin vs rising from ashes). What if there was a scientific reason behind their transformation, and Kashyap was the brain behind the alchemy?
No one knows anything for sure, but it makes for a great fictional piece; moreover, alchemy/transformation has always held a special interest for me. So here I am, linking this post to Day 5 of the challenge. With this post, my theme for this week ends in a comforting note; looking forward to the next week where I’ll be blogging with a fresh theme and hopefully, a fresh perspective. Till Then, Sayonara! Have a great weekend, grab some fun and don’t forget to come back with renewed vigor.
Image Courtesy: www.trinetra.org.uk