Sri Garuda with the pot of nectar
Sri Garuda, the dedicated vehicle of Lord Vishnu, is an eternal resident of Sri Vaikuntha. Garuda’s birth is mentioned in the Mahabharatha. He hatched from a egg to his parents Kashyapa muni and Vinita. His mother’s sister Kadru was the mother of the snakes. Due to enmity between Kadru and Vinita (a story for another post), Garuda became the sworn enemy of Kadru’s sons, and all snakes in general. Indeed, Vaishnavas pray to Garuda when fearful of snakes. Those accomplished in the Garuda mantra know that it is extremely efficacious!
The Garga Samhita mentions the tale of how the serpent Kaliya entered the Yamuna river in Vrindavana. This tale is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatham also, albeit with a few extra details mentioned by Gargamuni in his samhita. The following is a description of the story from the Garga Samhita…
Sri Garuda Vahana, Sri Rangam
The island of Ramanaka-dvipa was the abode of all snakes. Yet, Kaliya never ventured there in fear. Kin Bahulasva enquired from Sri Narada muni as to why this was so. Sri Narada muni explained that the snakes from this island once beseeched Sri Garuda out of fear, “O Garuda! Obeisances to you! You are Lord Vishnu’s personal carrier. If you eat all of us snakes, how will we continue to live? Please accept from us each month an offering from a different house an offering sweet as the honey of trees.”
Garuda was in a peaceful mood, and so chose to accept one snake from each household every month. When the time came for the offering, Kaliya arrived and forcibly ate the offering meant for Garuda. When Garuda arrived, he was very angry. He forcefully kicked Kaliya, making him fall unconscious. Then Kaliya again stood up, licking his tongue and hissing. Kaliya, the best of snakes, expanded his one thousand hoods and with many fangs, and savagely bit Garuda. With his beak, the transcendental carrier, Garuda grabbed Kaliya, threw him to the ground, and beat him with both wings, again and again.
Sri Garuda, Tirupati
Escaping from the beak, Kaliya attacked Garuda’s wings. Coiling around Garuda’s feet, he spat poison again and again. At this, Garuda became angry. Taking Kaliya in his beak, he threw him to the ground and savagely dragged him here and there. Terrified, Kaliya ran from Garuda’s beak. Garuda, the king of birds, ardently chased him.
Kaliya escaped to Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, and Janaloka. Each place he went, he saw Garuda there. He then fled to the lower planets, yet Garuda followed him ceaselessly. Realizing that no one could save him, Kaliya fell at the feet of Lord Ananta, beseeching him for shelter from Garuda. Lord Ananta, out of mercy for Kaliya’s pitiful pleas, gave him shelter in the Yamuna, since Saubhari muni had cursed Garuda to never enter it’s waters in Vrindavan.
Kaliya stayed there without fear of Garuda, until Lord Krsna personally subdued him, and sent him away…
(Adapted from Sri Garga Samhita p.174)