Recently, I was watching a television program where experts were hypothesizing the puranic character of Garuda to be a monster, an eagle-human that they thought to be a product of gene-mutation.
The Vedic culture and sciences are grossly misunderstood in present times. Take for example, an asan. Most people understand an asan to be a form of exercise to achieve a perfect body. Think about it, if the purpose of an asan was indeed to tone up the body then why is there nowhere a mention of asans such as motapa ghatao asan, lambai badhao asan, asthma bhagao asan etc.? Why did our ancients choose to call them Padma, Sarp, Mayur or Garuda instead?
An asan works at the level of consciousness by developing your consciousness to a heightened state. It is from this heightened state that you connect to the energy of creation and open your nadis for a desired change in the body. The terms Padma, Sarp, Mayur or Garuda all pertain to different levels of existence or yonis. Even human being is a yoni. Our ancients were masters of creation, the ones who could achieve supernormal feats with just a thought. They were able to do this by accessing the world of ether…that is exactly what we need to do as well, to tap into the phenomenal gyan of the Vedas. To understand what a yoni is, for some time just take yourself, plants, birds and animals around you to not be the body forms that you can see or touch but just balls of energy.
The energy ball called Garuda is then produced from the shaktis of Vinata and Kashyap along with Arun (the shakti that drives the sun every morning). The brilliance of Garuda far-exceeded that of any of the devas, enough to blind anyone who looked at it. It was called the second agni. This energy then reduced its size and magnanimity in the larger interest of creation. It became the mount of Vishnu, the preserver, and took upon the role of protecting the positive forces in creation by annihilating the venomous forces, given its exceptional strength and martial prowess. In a human body, the paanch vayus represent the five forms of Garuda, balancing which, through practice of yog under a Guru unlocks the doors to kundalini shakti.
In the physical dimension, the key to this energy lies in the form of an eagle. There is a description of the Garuda being able to carry heavy loads (it held a branch on which two rishis were perched to perform penance) and its wings are said to chant the Vedas. In some other cultures an eagle form is associated with taking the soul to the sun (which is the reservoir of gyan). If you study an eagle, you will notice that it has exceptional eyesight (eagles can see five colours as against the three visible to a human being; they are also the only known species on earth that can look at the bright sun directly) indicating the excellence of agni tattva. Other fascinating characteristics of eagles include their loyalty (they return to the same nest and partner every year) and protective nature (they carry their young ones on their wings as against other birds that hold them in the claws). Because of its strength and predatory skills, the eagle features on the coat of arms of many ancient kingdoms as a shield against foes. An eagle is recognized as the undisputed king of all birds across cultures and civilisations.
Garuda asan refers to the state of harnessing the energy of Garuda by a being and this cannot be achieved in a gym or a biological lab or through a surgical implant, but through yog under the sanidhya of Guru. It is imperative that we understand that yog is an experience…not an intellectual exercise; and only your Guru can make you go through it. Our ancients did not alter the genes of a human or an eagle, but tapped into the energy called Garuda. The human brain is limited in ability and capacity, a Guru takes one beyond into the higher dimensions by increasing the brain’s ability and capacity. Trying to understand the Vedas or Yogsutras and their gyan with your limited brains will result in disaster, the same disaster which the producers of this TV programme have fallen into.