Let us continue the story of Garuda from last week. After obtaining enough strength and energy, Garuda attacked the Devas to wrest the pitcher of amrita from them. Vayu was the first to face him and attacked him with a whirlwind of dust. From his wings which spanned miles, Garuda created a great counter wind. One by one, Garuda clawed and mangled all the Devas and they all fled from the scene of battle. He then flew to where the pot of Amrita lay.
That place was protected by a huge fire that burnt in all directions and rose very high. Garuda went to the sea and swallowed up enough water in his beak to fill many rivers and doused the flames with the water. Then, protecting the Amrita was a great wheel which turned at a great speed and had sharp spokes. Garuda assumed a tiny form and with tremendous pace flew right through the spokes. He then saw that the pot of nectar was guarded by two ferocious, giant snakes. He blinded them with a dust-storm and with his claws cut them to death. Thus, he obtained the pot of Amrita and flew into the sky. Finally, to stop him Indra fired his lethal weapon, the ‘Vajra’, at him. This weapon was made of the great rishi Dadichi’s bones; Garuda let one feather of his fall as a respect to the rishi but even that weapon did not harm him.
Garuda then flew to give the pot of amrita to his snake cousins so he could free his mother from the bondage of her sister Kadru. On the way he met Lord Vishnu, who warned him that if he gave the amrita to the snakes they would spread much evil and negativity in the world. He told Garuda to take the nectar to them but then to trick them in a way that they would not be able to drink it. Garuda agreed to this and Vishnu gave him the boon of being his carrier and also to be on his flag pole so he would be even higher then Vishnu himself. He also granted him immortality without partaking of amrita.
Garuda then took the amrita to his cousins who ran to drink it. Before they could do so, he first told them to free his mother from bondage, which they did. He then told them that before they consumed the nectar, it would be the right thing to go and purify their bodies by having a bath. The snakes fell for this and went into the river, leaving the pot unattended. Indra was waiting just for this opportunity and he took (stole) the vessel back to the Devas. In this way, the Devas got the amrita back.
Garuda became the vehicle of Vishnu, which symbolises the rising consciousness in us. When we rise in consciousness the deep spaces within our minds open up to us. The rishis gave names to these inner spaces. They were called ‘chittakash’ and ‘cidakash’. The space where our mind connects to the cosmic or divine mind is known as chittakash. The space where the inner god or divine fragment lives is called cidakash. The consciousness that can enter this cidakash is known as Vishnu and its guiding principle or vehicle is Garuda.
Garuda wants to free his mother from being the slave of her sister, Kadru. When we walk on the path of sadhna, two centres form within us – one that takes our energies outward (the attachment centre) and the other that takes the energy inward (the detachment centre). The attachment centre is Kadru, mother of the snakes, and the detachment centre Vinita, mother of Garuda. Before we come to sadhna, the attachment centre is supreme and the detachment centre follows its diktats. We follow the attachment centre and indulge in the attractions of the five senses and do nothing to free our attention from them. Thus, Vinita is a slave of Kadru. To be free of the diktats of the five senses, there must be a rise in our level of consciousness; consciousness represented by Vishnu and its rising by the symbol of Garuda. The children of Kadru, the snakes, are our numerous thoughts and memory patterns that keep us attached to the indulgences of our five senses.
The pot of amrita symbolises the joy and happiness that comes in our lives. This joy and happiness, at present, is with our positive emotions (the Devas). The negative thought patterns want the amrita. They get it for some time and it is this joy that we must be aware of. When we take revenge on someone, we get a kind of negative joy out of it, as if we have eaten a whole bar of chocolate. This is what is meant by the sarpas getting amrita but we must rise above this. This is done by freeing ourselves from excitement and making the energy of sensitivity more powerful. When this energy is powerful then Indra, or the Lord of the Indriyas (energy of sensitivity), steals the pitcher of amrita from the sarpas.
When in us a negative desire wants its food of excitement, we shift from enjoying excitement to enjoying sensitivity. This comes with a rise in our level of consciousness. Sensitivity is of both pleasure and pain but when we are matured enough to start enjoying just the sensitivity of any event in life then we have derived amrita from life – irrespective of whether there is pleasure or pain.
When the disciple learns this art of extracting amrita through the energy of sensitivity or Indra, he has mastered the greatest art of life.