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Review of book on Garuda in "Hindu"

From: Cadambi Sriram (sriram_at_qucis.queensu.ca)
Date: Tue Apr 01 1997 - 11:27:22 PST

The following review was published in 
"The Hindu" dated April 1,1997.


Sriram
--------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 01-04-1997 :: Pg: 27 :: Col: d 

TAMIL 

Sri Garudan: N. S. Thathachariar: V. C.
Sriram, 3, South Mada Street, Mylapore,
Chennai-600004. Rs. 24. 

Garuda, the popular vehicle of Lord Vishnu, is extolled by the Vedas as
Garutman with beautiful wings and is referred to with great esteem in several
Vedic passages. Besides, there occurs a special Brahma Vidya, named after Garuda
in Atharva Veda. Occupying an exalted position in the divine hierarchy, as a
prominent Nityasuri (eternally liberated soul), Garuda is deeply venerated and
worshipped not only in India but also in foreign countries like Thailand and
Indonesia. Mantras and Stotras are chanted by the devout in propitiation of
Garuda to ward off evils like illnesses and snake-bites. The great Vaishnava
acharya Alavandar, hails Garuda as the inner soul of the Vedas (Vedatma) and
calls him the Lord's servant, friend, vehicle, seat, flag and fan. 

The two most famous stotras in praise of Garuda have been composed by Vedanta
Desika. Of these, Garuda Panchasat, in the majestic Sragdhara metre of Sanskrit
poetry talks of the effulgence and splendour of Garuda in graphic detail.
The Stotra starts with a vivid portrayal of Garuda and his various
manifestations, followed by a narration of the episode of his bringing nectar to
release his mother from slavery. The third part of the stotra culminates in
Garuda's victory over the serpents. The fourth part gives a scintillating
description of the various serpents with their jewels adorning the body of
Garuda, while the fifth and last part of the Stotra enlogises the services
rendered by Garuda to his Master Lord Narayana. The smaller stotra, Garuda
Dandaka, also sings the glory of Garuda.

The author of the book under review, late N. S. Thathachariar, known for his
scholastic attainments, has provided an elaborate, absorbing commentary on these
two Stotras, drawing interesting and pertinent references from the Ramayana,
the Mahabharata and other Puranas. His interpretation and analysis particularly
of slokas four, eight, nine and 37 of Garuda Panchasat are novel, original and
praise-worthy. 

Some other Stotras in praise of Garuda have also been given including the
kirtanas on Garuda by Saint Tyagaraja.  The author also gives useful details
about Garuda and the auspicious omens and signs associated with it. The book
is a useful guide on Garuda. 

V. N. Gopala Desikan