About Garuda Wisnu Kencana

Cultural Park

GWK History

Enjoy the great epic of Mahabharata that enlightens you about the story of the mighty Garuda, from his birth, to his adventurous journey of stealing the Amertha, to how he became the kencana (vehicle) of Wisnu (Vishnu).

Once upon a time there was a wise man called Rishi Kasyapa, who has two wives, Kadru and Vinata. Each of them was blessed with precious children in the form of serpents and Garuda. Although the wise Rishi treted both of his wives fairly and equally, Kadru always sees her sister, Vinata, with jealousy. She tried in every possible way to get rid of Vinata. In every circumstance she always sought to separate Vinata away from her husband.

One day, the sisters entered into a wager about the colour of Ucaihsrawa, the celestial white horse’s tail flying in the sky. Vinata claimed that it would be white, while Kadru bet that the white horse had a black tail. They agreed that the loser of the wager would spend her life in servitude to the other sibling. At home, Kadru requested her sons (snakes) to seek the horse overnight and attach themselves to the tail so that it would appear black during inspection. The next day the sisters went to inspect horse. Observing a black tail, Vinata accepted defeat and started serving Kadru.

As a ransom, Kadru demanded Garuda to steal the Amertha – the elixir of immortality, held by the Gods. To liberate his mother from the slavery of his vicious sister, Garuda seek his mother’s advice to get the Amertha. His mother explained that to get it, Garuda will have to fly to the kingdom of Indra, the king of the gods and get it. His mother also warned him that as the source of their immortality, the Gods guarded the Amertha jealously. They had put series of deadly traps and vicious sentinels to protect the elixir.

Then he flew toward the kingdom of Indra to get the Amertha. When the Gods discovered his arrival, a fierce battle started between them, but Garuda managed to defeat them easily. Then he went to the place where the Amertha was kept. He saw the Amertha was kept inside a vessel surrounded by huge flames, protected by a big wheel with sharp spokes revolving in front of it with two ferocious animals guarding the vessel. He then tamed the huge flames, changed in small size to enable him to fly between the sharp spokes and fought the monsters guarding the vessel. Eventually, he reached the vessel and took it away using his talons.

Garuda could have drunk the Amertha himself and became immortal but he had to offer it to the serpents to free his mother. This selfless act of Garuda impressed Vishnu, who granted him a gift of immortality without drinking the Amertha. But Wisnu asked him to prevent the serpents from drinking it. Garuda took the Amertha to the serpents who released his mother from slavery at once.

In the meantime, the gods were furious with Garuda for stealing the Amertha and wanted to stop him. Indra tried to attack Garuda and the battle continued. Garuda smashed Indra's thunderbolt but spare his live. Garuda promised Indra to regain the possession of the the elixir and take it back to the Gods. Just as the serpents were about to drink from the Amertha, Indra snatched the cup away from them. However, a few drops were spilled and licked up by the serpents, which split their tongues. This is the reason why snakes have forked tongues.

God Wisnu was watching everything from a distance and was pleased with Garuda's strength and determination. He made him the king of all birds. In return, Garuda agreed to become Wisnu's mount and since then, Wishu is always accompanied by Garuda.

At the end, Garuda managed to liberate his mother and finished off the serpent family of his aunt, while the Gods could have their elixir back. From that day onward, Garuda was the ally of the Gods and the trusty mount of Vishnu, as well as the implacable enemy of snakes, upon whom he preyed at every opportunity.