• 20 Jul, 2024

Garuda's Compassion

Garuda's Compassion

Author's Note: There are parables which are of immense significance but which carry the danger of being misunderstood if emphasis is put at the wrong place. Such a story is the one that follows. This is not meant to illustrate fatalism, far from that; its significance lies in highlighting the attitude of a true devotee — how his efforts should be to make his own wishes and actions a part of the supreme scheme.

In the wondrous region of the Kailas — the subtle Kailas that could not be visible to the ordinary human eye, — was situated the Abode of Shiva.

One evening Vishnu went to see Shiva. He left his living vehicle, Garuda, in front of the grand natural arch leading into Shiva's abode.

Garuda sat alone marveling at the grandeur of the place, the physical place visible to all. The splendors of the rays of the setting sun had sprayed seven colours on the mist and the snow enveloping the high peaks.

Suddenly his eyes fell on a beautiful creature, a little bird seated on the stone arch. "How marvelous is this creation! One who has made this gigantic Himalayas has also made this tiny bird — and both seem equally wonderful!" he thought.

Just then Yama, the presiding Deity of Destiny and Death, happened to enter the arch, perhaps with the intention of having a Darshan of Shiva. As he would step over to the other side of the arch, his eyes went over to the bird. His brows were raised. Then he took his eyes off the bird and disappeared behind the arch.

Garuda who observed this, told himself, “Yama looking intently at the bird can mean only one thing; the bird's time is up! Perhaps on his way back he will take its soul away!”

Garuda’s heart was filled with pity for the bird. He wanted to save it from impending death. But he told himself, “The laws of Destiny are at work. It is none of my business to interfere with it!”.

A minute passed. Garuda found that his emotions were not pacified. “If I can save the bird, why should I not do so?” He took himself to task for it.

Next moment his other voice told him, “This is my egoistic impulse. Who am I to save anyone?”

Suddenly he heard a subtler voice speaking from deep within: “At the moment I’m not sure whether wisdom lies in my taking action or not taking action. I pray, let whatever I do in this uncertain state, become a part of the total, Providential scheme. I offer my emotions and actions to thee, my Lord!”

Next moment he took up the bird and at the speed of lightning went down into Dandakaranya and left it on a rock beside a brook. Then he returned to Kailas and waited for Vishnu.

But Yama came out earlier and he saw Garuda and smiled at him. Garuda greeted the God and said, “May I put a question to you? While going in, you saw a bird and for a moment you looked pensive. Why?”

“Oh, I had forgotten all about it. Well, when my eyes fell on it, I saw that it was to die in a few minutes swallowed by a python, far far away in Dandakaranya, near a brook. I wondered how this tiny bird will cover such a great distance in such a short time. Then I forgot about it. Surely, it must have happened, somehow. It was time for the little creature to take a new birth."

Yama smiled and went away. Did he know about Garuda's role in the matter? We do not know.

But Garuda sat stunned. At first uncertain whether to be sad or happy; soon he transcended the need to be in any such state of mind and said, “O Lord, I'm a vehicle of yours! Let me remain a vehicle of yours both in action and inaction.”

He was back in his mood of enlightened equanimity.


Courtesy: The Heritage. July 1967

Editorial Team

Written, collated or presented by the team of editors at Satyameva

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