Monday, August 24, 2009

GAY? - Some points to ponder... Part: (II)

Authors Note: You can read the Part: (I) of this post: HERE.

This so-called "debate" on "gays" is a sham. The shameful treatment meted out to the "eunuchs" or the third gender in our country, is a disgrace. In the "sanatana-dharma"/the ancient Vedic faith or the Vedic civilization (in ancient India), even animals, birds and reptiles were held in high esteem. Most of the current prudishness is a result of the foreign invasions... in the last millennium or the last 1000 years... after the decline or rather the end of Emperor Ashok's rule. One conqueror after another descended on this land... like a pack of wolves, their sole motivation being... to plunder, destroy, kill and maim by the thousands.

Conquerors do not have any faith/belief/religion... they have their own thoughts and interpretations of their beliefs... they only want to expand their kingdom and leave a larger footprint where-ever they go. In the process they also leave behind their distorted views and beliefs, strongly imprinted on the conquered lands and in the psyche of the hapless people living on those lands. These conquerors... in their quest for power and wealth... burn the books, sacred scriptures and ancient literatures of the conquered lands; destroy the holy sites and places of worship as well as the libraries. They imprison/torture/murder the custodians of the "culture" of these lands... and replace them with people of "their" choice - weaklings whose knees are as wobbly as their spines are elastic - and who do "their" bidding.

Hence a powerful "cartel" is formed... and these vested interests protect their own "interests"; in the process the actual "culture, values and traditions" of the land and the people are destroyed, altered and lost forever. This continue for centuries/generations... and today we find a bunch of neo-group(s)/cartel(s)... who want to 'force feed' "their" interpretation of this ancient vedic faith to others. e.g., the caste system that is a bane of our society today, is a complete corruption of what it was supposed to be... i.e., the "varnashrama". Hinduism, rather the ancient vedic faith ("sanatana-dharma") has often been termed "a way of life". The Rig Veda enjoins that human society be divided into four varnas (see: The Four Varnas). The revealed nature of "Vedas" suggests that the varna system is therefore not man-made but of divine origin. Lord Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita that people are allocated to a specific varna according to two criteria, namely (1) guna [personal qualities] and (2) karma [aptitude for a type of work]. He makes no mention of varna being determined by birth. This differentiates the original varnashrama-dharma from the current caste system. The term "caste" originates from the Portuguese term "casta", denoting purity of descent. It has come to refer not just to the four varnas, but to a whole system incorporating occupational sub-castes (jatis). In fact, current caste practices often give far more emphasis to jati than to varna. What really differentiates caste from varnashrama-dharma, though, is its hereditary nature – possibly an imposition by the "Brahmins" attempting to consolidate their prestigious position in society. The fluidity of varnashrama-dharma is acknowledged by numerous textual references to people changing their varna.

There is no concept of "Brahmin" in this ancient vedic faith... as we know it today. There is the Brahman, which is a general term for the Supreme Being or Almighty God/the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedanta philosophy. Brahman is the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe. Note that "Brahman" is different from "Brahmin" (brāhmaṇa, ब्राह्मण), the priests/holy men. In fact "Brahmin" is derived from "Brahman" in the sense that a 'Brahmin is the one who knows Brahman'. The confusion between the terms can be dated back to the translation of the Upanishads into modern English. The English word "brahmin" is an anglicised form of the Sanskrit word "Brāhmaṇa", "having to do with Brahman (Sanskrit: ब्रह्म) or divine knowledge". The sage-seers of the Upanishads had fully realized "Brahman" as the reality behind their own being and of everything else in this universe. They were thus "Brahmins" in the true sense of the word. These rishis described "Brahman" as infinite Being, infinite Consciousness, and infinite Bliss (saccidananda). Today's "brahmins" can certainly not claim to be fulfilling these criteria. Also, there was no gender discrimination originally. Women who were learned scholars, wise and had attained the divine knowledge also underwent the "sacred thread" (upavita) ceremony... it is no longer done in today's times. (I'll be covering these topics in later posts).

There are several instances in our scriptures, epics, mythology and history... apart from Vātsyāyana's Kama Sutra and the paintings and sculptures of the Khajuraho Cave temples - that depict a sensuous poetry carved in stone. Amba reincarnating as Shikhandi in the Mahabharatha, Lord Vishnu taking the 'avatar' (the Sanskrit for "descent" viz., from heaven to earth - usually implies a deliberate descent from higher spiritual realms to lower realms of existence for special purposes; often translated into English as "incarnation") of Mohini (beautiful/charming woman) to kill Bhasmasura. And also after the 'samudra-manthan' - jointly carried out by the 'devas' (demigods) and the 'Asuras' (demons) - for gaining the 'divine nectar'/'celestial nectar of immortality'... or 'Amrita' - in order to ensure that the Asuras did not get even a single drop of it. 'Manthanam' is the Sanskrit equivalent of 'Manthan' meaning 'to churn'. When finally, Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician, emerged with a pot containing amrita, the heavenly 'nectar of immortality', fierce fighting ensued between 'devas' and 'asuras' for the nectar. To protect the nectar from the 'asuras', the 'devas' hid the pot of nectar at four places on the earth - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. (At each of these places, a drop of the nectar spilled from the pot and it is believed that these places acquired mystical power. A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places every twelve years for this reason). However, the Asuras eventually got hold of the nectar and started celebrating. Frightened, the devas (demigods) appealed to Lord Vishnu, who then took the form of Mohini. As a beautiful and enchanting damsel, Mohini distracted the 'asuras', took the amrita, and distributed it among the Adityas/devas, who drank it... and thereafter gained immortality.

More such examples can be found. Arjuna assuming the garb of a transgender (on account of a curse by Urvasi) named Brihannala during the period of the Pandava's disguise. Infact, of all the disguises that the five Pandavas assumed during the last year (out of 12 years) of their exile, none can be considered more curious or surprising than that of Arjuna's. His was not actually a disguise, but rather a transformation due to a curse. Arjuna was despondent over the impending curse, but Lord Krishna assured him that this so-called curse would actually become a useful benediction. It would serve as the perfect disguise for Arjuna during his last year of exile. When the time approached, the Pandavas decided that they would spend this last year in the capital city ruled by Maharaja Virata.

Dressing up like a woman, he was transformed by Urvasi's power into a person of the third sex. This third classification of gender, known as "tritiya-prakriti" in the Sanskrit language, is described as being a combination of both the male and female natures, yet at the same time neither one. Arjuna presented himself donned in a woman's blouse and draped in red silk. He wore numerous ivory bangles, golden earrings and necklaces made of coral and pearls. His hair was long and braided, and he entered the royal palace with the gait of a broad-hipped woman. At the same time his body still remained incredibly stout and muscular. According to the Mahābhārata, his feminine attire hid his masculine glory but at the same time it did not. He appeared just like the full moon when eclipsed by the planet Ketu. The Sanskrit word "kliba" is used throughout Vedic texts to describe many different types of people who belonged to a "gender-ambiguous" and neutral third sex. These people were not considered to be ordinary males and females, and they did not experience attraction for the opposite sex or engage in sexual reproduction. They were taken to be a combination of both the male and female natures, yet at the same time neither one. We are familiar with this third sex today as transgenders, the intersexed, and other types of persons who do not neatly fit into traditional male and female roles. In Vedic times, the third sex category served as an important tool for the recognition and peaceful accommodation of such persons within society. Gays, lesbians do not belong to the 3rd sex category though, and were considered as normal humans (men or women respectively).

Introducing himself as Brihannala, a professional dancer and musician trained by the "Gandharvas" (celestial musicians) or (lesser) celestial beings, Arjuna explained that he was an expert in singing, hair decoration and "all the fine arts that a woman should know." Maharaja Virata was surprised yet pleased with his manner of speaking, and he agreed that Arjuna should live among the palace women and instruct them in singing and dancing. Brihannala (Arjuna) soon became a great favorite within their chambers. The king instructed his daughter Uttarā, "Brihannala seems to be a high-born person. She does not seem to be an ordinary dancer. Treat her with the respect due to a queen. Take her to your apartments." It is important to note that Maharaja Virata addressed Brihannala as a female, accepting her transgender status, and that he was familiar with people of the third sex within his Vedic kingdom. He did not ridicule or belittle her, and he most certainly did not have her sent away or arrested. He also did not suggest that Brihannala change her dress and behave as an ordinary male. Rather, he accepted her nature as it was and offered her shelter and employment within his royal palace. She (he) taught arts to Uttarā, the princess of the kingdom of Virata. She (he) also won the war against the Kauravas for Uttara Kumara, (the prince of the kingdom of Virata), when they attacked the kingdom suspecting the presence of the Pandavas there.

Lord Ayyappa - worshipped in a number of shrines across India - is the son of "Hari" - Lord Vishnu (the "preserver"/"balancer"/"sustainer") in a female form, and "Hara" - Lord Shiva (the "destroyer")... and is also known as "Hari Hara putra" or Hariharasutan ("Sutan" meaning "Son"). He is considered to be born out of the union between Mohini (Vishnu) and Shiva and combines in himself the powers of Vishnu and Shiva, and is a visible embodiment of their essential identity. Lord Vishnu gifted the new-born deity with a little bejeweled bell necklace, so this god is called Manikanthan Swamy ("Mani", means gemstone and "kantan" means wearer around the neck). The story goes like this: the asura princess Mahishi was burning up with anger at the trick the gods had pulled on her brother, the asura king Mahishasura. As Mahishasura was blessed with invulnerability to all men, the gods had sent goddess Durga, to fight and kill him. Thus, Mahishi began performing a fearsome set of austerities, and pleased the creator god Brahma. He granted her the boon of ruling the universe and being invulnerable except to a being that had the combined strength of both Shiva and Vishnu. Since such a person did not exist, she thought she was safe and began conquering and plundering the world. The gods implored Shiva and Vishnu to save them from this catastrophe. Vishnu found a possible solution to the problem. When Vishnu had taken on the Kurma Avatar, he also had to manifest himself as Mohini, the enchantress, to save the nectar of immortality from the demons who were not willing to share it with the gods. If he became Mohini again, then the female Mohini and the male Shiva could have the divine child who would combine their powers and beat Mahishi. Thus, Lord Ayyappa was born.

The boy grew up to be a strong warrior and was very popular among the citizens, but due to family intrigue he renounced the crown to meditate as a celibate atop Mount Sabarimalai in Kerala. Vavar, his dearest 'yavana' friend and companion, accompanied Ayyappa into the forest along with Lila, a beautiful nymph whom Ayyappa had once rescued but refused to marry. It is said that Ayyappa told Lila he would marry her only when male devotees stopped visiting his temples, and for this reason throngs of male devotees faithfully make a pilgrimage each year to keep the demigod free from marriage. The friendship between Ayyappa and Vavar was extremely strong and reminiscent of the relationship between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. At one point Ayyappa tells his father: "Consider Vavar as myself." As the son of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, he is said to represent harmony between the 'Saivite' and 'Vaishnava' traditions; as the friend of Vavar, he symbolizes mercy and friendship toward non-Hindus and outcastes.

When Iravan/Iravat/Iravant (Aravan in South India)... the son of Arjuna and Ulupi (a 'Naga' princess, born in the race of Airavata... here, I think 'naga' is a race... found in the north-east part of India and beyond - Myanmar, Thailand, China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malayasia included - and not a 'serpent') was to be sacrified (to Goddess Kali), so that the Pandavas could win the Kurukshetra War... he expressed his desire for marriage, so that he could get the right of cremation and funerary offerings (bachelors were buried). Since no woman was willing to marry a man who would only live for a day... Lord Krishna took on a female form and married Iravan. Krishna satisfied this boon (the first of three boons granted to Iravan by Lord Krishna himself, in honour of his willing self-sacrifice) in his female form Mohini, the enchantress, married Aravan, and spent the night with him. The Mahabharata portrays Iravan as dying a heroic death in the 18-day Kurukshetra War, which is the epic's main subject. In the Mahabharata, "Iravant" means "sacrificial victim". Iḍā is also used elsewhere to denote a substance that Devas (demi-gods) and Asuras (demons) vie for. Aravan is considered "the symbol of the price war exacts, a representative of countless innocent youth[s] who[m] [sic.] their mothers reluctantly send to the battlefield to be consumed by the insatiable Goddess of War."

The birth of Iravan is mentioned in Book 6 of the "Mahabharata"—Bhisma Parva (the Book of Bhisma)—while the marriage of his parents is mentioned in Book 1—Adi Parva (the Book of Beginnings). Arjuna, the third Pandava brother, is exiled from Indraprastha (the capital city of the Pandava kingdom) to go on a one-year pilgrimage, as a penance for violating the terms of his marriage to Draupadi, the Pandava brothers' common wife. Arjuna reaches the north-east region of present-day India and falls in love with Ulupi, a widowed 'Naga' princess. The two get married and have a son named Iravan; later, Arjuna proceeds with his pilgrimage, leaving Iravan and Ulupi behind in 'Nagaloka', the abode of the Nagas. Iravan grew up in 'Nagaloka', protected by his mother, but was rejected by his maternal uncle due to the latter's hatred of Arjuna. Later, Iravan went to Indraloka, the abode of the god Indra - the divine father of Arjuna, to meet Arjuna, where Arjuna requested his assistance in the Kurukshetra War.

The word 'Naga' in the Sanskrit language means snake or serpent. It seems likely that the 'Naga' people were a serpent-worshipping group who were later described as serpents themselves in ancient Indian literature. This transformation or identification was much like the 'Vanaras' (forest-dwelling humans, 'van' means 'forest') turning unto 'monkeys' in the later literature. Iravati River (Ravi) to the south of Kashmir could be the Indian territory of the 'Nagas' called 'Airavatas'... to which Ulupi belonged. Their original abode could be the Airavata region mentioned in the far north.

Sri Brahma (the creator) is the first created deity in charge of engineering and propagating the material universe. He was born from a single male parent - Lord Vishnu - without any female assistance. At the beginning of the universe, Lord Vishnu (the balancer/the sustainer) lies down upon the universal ocean and a lotus flower sprouts from His navel. Within the lotus appears Sri Brahma. The idea of demigods, demons and humans emerging from a single parent, whether male or female, is a common theme found throughout Vedic literature and transcends all stereotypes regarding reproduction. Sri Brahma himself... often generates progeny without any female assistance and conceives Lord Shiva (the destroyer), the divine sage - Narada Muni and many of the other demigods in this way.

Lord Ganesh (depicted with the head of an elephant) represents the mysterious identities and the "queerness" found in Hinduism and nature - the idea that anything can be possible. The elephant has appeared in cultures across the world. They are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence, where they are thought to be on par with cetaceans and hominids. Aristotle once said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind". The word "elephant" has its origins in the Greek ἐλέφας, meaning "ivory" or "elephant". The smallest elephants (dwarf elephants), about the size of a calf or a large pig, were a prehistoric species that lived on the island of Crete during the Pleistocene epoch (echos of Lord Vishnu's "Varaha" avatar, here... ??). Lord Ganesh (also known as: Ganapati, Vinayaka and Pillaiyar) is widely revered as the "Remover of Obstacles" and more generally as "Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles" (Vighnesha, Vighneshvara), "patron of the arts and the sciences", and the "deva of intellect and wisdom". He is honoured at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies and invoked as the "Patron of Letters" during writing sessions. The principal scriptures dedicated to Lord Ganesh are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India. "Vinayaka" (Sanskrit: विनायक; vināyaka) is a common name for "Ganesha" that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras.

The earliest Ganesha images are without a vahana (mount). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha has a mouse in five of them, uses a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation of Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Of the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the "Ganesha Purana", "Mohotkata" has a lion, "Mayūreśvara" has a peacock, "Dhumraketu" has a horse, and "Gajanana" has a rat/mouse. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the "Matsya Purana" and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle only in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana (mouse-mount) and Ākhuketana (rat-banner) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama. The mouse is interpreted in several ways. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Gaṇapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire". Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ (stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat/mouse... demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāmata-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret of places with ease.

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as "Heramba", is very popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806. Ganesha is also worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera.

Throughout Hindu texts many strange, incredible creatures are found. Garuda, for instance, the carrier (mount or vahanam) of Lord Vishnu, has a form that is half-man, half-eagle. Hanuman, the devotee of Lord Rama, is depicted as half-monkey, half-god. Lord Vishnu's incarnation of Lord Nrsimhadeva/Narasimha appears in a half-man/half-lion form, having a human-like torso and a lower body, but with a lion-like face and claws. The third sex is half man, half woman. Many celestial beings are described in Vedic texts as "kinnara" (literally, "what creature?") or kimpurusa ("what man?"). The peculiar nature of Sri Ganesh's birth and features continues in this tradition, making him very attractive to his followers and hinting at the inconceivable nature of God and His creation. Narasimha indicates God's omnipresence and the lesson is that... God is everywhere. Killing Hiranykashyapu by incarnating as Narasimha is one of Lord Vishnu's major exploits.

Hanuman is one of the most important personalities in the Indian epic, the Ramayana. His most famous feat, as described in the epic scripture the Ramayana, was leading an army of "vanaras" (even though this is literally translated as "monkeys", "vanaras" are probably "forest dwelling humans" - "van" means "forest") to fight the demon King Ravana. He is also referred to as Bajrang Bali (Sanskrit: Vajranga) because his body was hard like a vajra. Sri Aurobindo states that "vanara" does not refer to "monkey": "Prajapati manifests as Vishnu Upendra incarnate in the animal or Pashu in whom the four Manus have already manifested themselves, and the first human creature who appears is, in this Kalpa, the Vanara, not the animal Ape, but man with the Ape nature", i.e. primitive man such as, Homo erectus. Hanuman, in one interpretation, is also considered as the incarnation of Lord Shiva or reflection of Shiva also known as Rudra. The story goes like this: Hanuman was born to 'Anjana', a female vanara on the Anjaneri hill in the Brahmagiri hills near Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra. According to the legend, Anjana was an apsara or a celestial being, named 'Punjikasthala', who, due to a curse, was born on the earth as a female vanara. The curse was to be removed upon her giving birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Others, such as the followers of Dvaita consider Hanuman to be the son of Vayu or a manifestation of Vayu, the god of wind. When Ravana tried to enter the Kailash (the abode of Shiva) he called Lord Shiva "a monkey". Lord Shiva in return cursed Ravana that a monkey would burn his Lanka (name of Ravana's kingdom). Shiva took the form of Hanuman to achieve this. References to Hanuman in classical literature could be found as early as those of 5th to 1st century BC in Panini's Astadhyayi, Abhiseka Nataka, Pratima Nataka, and Raghuvamsa (Kālidāsa).

The Garuda (Sanskrit: Garuḍa गरुड, eagle; Pāli Garuḷa) is a large mythical bird or bird-like creature that appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Garuda is the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila and the Brahminy kite is considered to be the contemporary representation of Garuda. His stature in Hindu religion can be gauged by the fact that an independent Upanishad, the Garudopanidad, and a Purana, the Garuda Purana, is devoted to him. The Vedas provide the earliest reference of Garuda, though by the name of Śyena, where this mighty bird is said to have brought nectar to earth from heaven. The Puranas, which came into existence much later, mention Garuda as doing the same thing, which indicates that Śyena (Sanskrit for Eagle) and Garuda are the same. One of the faces of Śrī Pañcamukha Hanuman is Mahavira Garuda. This face points towards the west. Worship of Garuda is believed to remove the effects of poisons from one's body. In the Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.10, Verse 30), in the middle of the battlefield "Kurukshetra", Lord Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says: "Of birds, I am the son of Vinata (Garuda)" indicating the importance of Garuda. He also, says: "Of Nagas, I am Ananta" indicating the importance of Ananta Shesha.

"The foremost manifestation of Krishna is Sankarshana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krishna, this original Sankarshana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krishna in His transcendental pastimes." (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.24) "That Ananta Sesha is the devotee incarnation of Godhead. He knows nothing but service to Lord Krishna." (Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita Adi-lila 5.120). In Hindu (Vedic) tradition, Shesha (Devanagari: शेष) or Adi-shesha is the king of all nagas, one of the primal beings of creation, and according to the Bhagavata Purana, an avatar of the Supreme God known as "Sankarshan". In the Puranas, Shesha is said to hold all the planets of the Universe on his hoods and to constantly sing the glories of Vishnu from all his mouths. He is sometimes referred to as "Ananta-Shesha" which means "Endless Shesha" and as "Adishesha", which means First snake. Shesha is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in space, or on the universal ocean, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Sometimes he is shown as five-headed or seven-headed, but more commonly as a many hundred-headed serpent, sometimes with each head wearing an ornate crown. He is closely associated with Vishnu. His name means "that which remains", from the Sanskrit root śiṣ, because when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa (cosmic cycle), Shesha remains as he is.

Garuda plays an important role in Krishna Avatar in which Lord Krishna and his wife, Satyabhama (also believed to an Avatar of Bhudevi) ride on Garuda to kill Narakasura/Naraka - the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi (Bhumi) and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha (boar) avatar (incarnation) as per Hindu mythology. In other sources, Narakasura is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. On another occasion, Lord Hari (Vishnu) rides on Garuda to save the devotee Elephant Gajendra. It is also said that Garuda's wings when flying will chant the Vedas. Also according to the Mahabharata, Garuda had six sons from whom were descended the race of birds. The story of Garuda's birth and deeds is told in the first book of the great epic Mahabharata. According to the epic, when Garuda first burst forth from his egg, he appeared as a raging inferno equal to the cosmic conflagration that consumes the world at the end of every age. Frightened, the gods begged him for mercy. Garuda, hearing their plea, reduced himself in size and energy. Garuda's father was the creator-rishi Kasyapa. His mother was Vinata, whose sister was Kadru, the mother of serpents. Throughout the Mahabharata, Garuda is invoked as a symbol of impetuous violent force, of speed, and of martial prowess. The the royal guru and the field marshall of the Kauravas, Dronacharya uses a military formation named after Garuda. Lord Krishna even carried the image of Garuda on his banner.

Garuda in Buddhist mythology: the garuḍas (Pāli: garuḷā) are enormous predatory birds with intelligence and social organization. Another name for the garuḍa is suparṇa (Pāli: supaṇṇa), meaning "well-winged, having good wings". Like the Nāgas, they combine the characteristics of animals and divine beings, and may be considered to be among the lowest devas. The garuḍas were among the beings appointed by §Śakra to guard Mount Sumeru and the Trāyastriṃśa heaven from the attacks of the asuras. In the Mahasamyatta Sutta, the Buddha is shown making temporary peace between the Nagas and the garuḍas. The Sanskrit word garuḍa has been borrowed and modified in the languages of several Buddhist countries. In Thai the word for a garuḍa is Krut (ครุฑ). In Burmese, garuḍas are called ga-lon. In Kapampangan the native word for eagle is Galura. In Japanese a garuḍa is called Karura. For the Mongols, the garuḍa is called Khan Garuda or Khangarid (Mongolian: Хангарьд). Before and after each round of Mongolian wrestling, groups performs the Garuḍa Dance, a stylised imitation of the Khangarid and a hawk. In the Qing Dynasty fiction The Story of Yue Fei (1684), Garuda sits at the head of the Buddha's throne. But when a celestial bat (an embodiment of the Aquarius constellation) farts during the Buddha’s expounding of the Lotus Sutra, Garuda kills her and is exiled from paradise. He is later reborn as Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. The bat is reborn as Lady Wang, wife of the traitor Prime Minister Qin Hui, and is instrumental in formulating the "Eastern Window" plot that leads to Yue's political execution.

Thailand uses the garuḍa (Thai: ครุฑ krut) as its national symbol. One form of the garuḍa used in Thailand as a sign of the royal family is called Krut Pha, meaning "garuḍa acting as the vehicle (of Vishnu)." Indonesia also uses the garuḍa as its national symbol. The Indonesian national airline is Garuda Indonesia. The garuḍa, known as Khangarid, is the symbol of the capital city of Mongolia, Ulan Bator. According to popular Mongolian belief, Khangarid is the mountain spirit of the Bogd Khan Uul range who became a follower of Buddhist faith. Today he is considered the guardian of that mountain range and a symbol of courage and honesty. The bird also gives its name to Hangard Aviation and Khangarid (Хангарьд), a football (soccer) team in the Mongolia Premier League. The elite bodyguards of the medieval Hoysala kings in Karnataka, India, were called Garudas, because they served the king in the way that Garuda served Vishnu. The US Navy's Electronic Attack Squadron 134 is nicknamed the Garudas. Garud Commando Force is a Special Forces unit of the Indian Air Force, specializing in operations deep behind enemy lines.

There is a story on the evolution of the entire "Chandravamshi" clan of Kshatriyas... I am unable to recollect it now, though.

(Stay tuned...)

Note: Some info gathered, Courtesy: Wikipedia and


Lord Krishna and Arjuna... during the Kurukshetra War, where Lord Krishna reveals the Bhagavad Gita during his conversation with Arjuna... a scene from our great epic, the Mahabharata.


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