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Garuda

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_best.com)
Date: Mon Mar 10 1997 - 16:51:03 PST

My thanks to Murali for explaining Desika's Garuda poems
to us. However, I ask a very fundamental question, one that
I am surprised has not already come up.  

I do not quite understand why we as Sri Vaishnavas would
resort to worshipping Garuda (or even the Lord for that
matter) for the sake of obtaining something.  These are
kaamyaartha, are they not, lower desires nowhere near
the pursuit of jnaana, bhakti, and consequently moksha?

For example, it is often stated that recitation of the  
Sudarshana Mantra can be used as means to ward off disease,
that the Garuda Mantra wards off poisons and snakes, etc.
Appeals to the fantastic mythology of Garuda and the 
popular tales concerning his obtaining of amRita are often
told in this context.  Aside from the fact that this 
tale has nothing to do with Bhagavan Garuda's wisdom or
devotion, these ``recite the mantra and get results''
stories smack of a very unenlightened and selfish form 
of religion, one that is not respected very much by
Krishna himself (recall the classification of adhikaaris
in the Gita).

Please note that my comments are not directed towards
anyone in this group, in any manner.

It seems to me that someone who has surrendered his 
very self to the Divine Lord should already be free
from these worldly concerns, or at least try to be so.
Is this not why a prapanna is described by Desika as
a kRta-kRtya (one who has done what ought to be done,
and is therefore supremely satisfied in his Self)?

I must admit that Desika's vivid and fancy description
of the Puranic tales of Garuda also do not hold my
attention very much.  This is admittedly a criticism
of me rather than Swami Desikan, but I fail to see how 
contemplation of the Puranic stories of Garuda (which
are obvious mythologies from any perspective, given 
that Garuda is a nitya-sUri in our sampradAya) helps
one in the path to God-consciousness.

Please give me your reaction to my comments.

Mani