Kaśyapa, a great sage, had thirteen wives. They were daughters of Dakṣa. Vinatā and Kadrū were amongst them. Kadrū gave birth to thousand serpents. Vinatā asked two sons mightier than that of Kadrū’s. She was blessed with two eggs. Due to anxiousness she broke an egg out of which Aruṇa was born without legs and thighs. He cursed his mother to be the slave of her sister.

          Once Vinatā and Kadrū saw the face of Uccaiśravā and they had a bet regarding the colour of the tail. The bet was the loser will be the slave of the winner. Kadrū ordered her serpent sons to cover the tail of the horse so that it will look like black in colour. They did so and hence Kadrū won the game. Vinatā became slave for her sister and her sons. She did all services to her.

          In between, Garuḍa came from the second egg. He became gigantic by whom the devas were scared. They praised him and he reduced his form. Aruṇa became the charioteer for Sūrya. Then Garuḍa helped his mother in serving Kadrū and serpents. He took the serpents near the Sun and they fainted. Kadrū worshipped Indra and he brought the rain to rescue the serpents.

          Then Garuḍa asked for the recovery of his mother. Serpents told him that if he brings the Amṛta from heaven then his mother will be released. Garuḍa agreed to that and asked his mother for his food. Vinatā ordered him to eat the barbarians at the sea except Brahmins if any. He did so and swallowed the barbarians and released a Brahmin from his beak.

          Then he asked Kaśyapa, his father, more food since the barbarians were not enough. Kaśyapa told him the story of an elephant and a tortoise. Once there were two brothers by name Vibhāvasu and Supratīka. They were always quarreling to bifurcate the lands and other properties. At last, Vibhāvasu cursed his brother to become an elephant. Supratīka in retaliation cursed his brother to become a tortoise. Both the elephants and tortoise were gigantic in size. Kaśyapa ordered Garuḍa to eat the borthers at the tank who were pulling each other for years. Then Garuḍa went to a Rohiṇa tree and sat on its branch. The branch broke and Garuḍa saw Brahmarṣis by name Vālakhilyas who were doing penance under the branch. He took the branch with his beak and caught the elephant and the tortoise with his nails. He went to Himālayas and placed the branch very carefully. Then he ate the brothers patiently.

Then he went to heaven and fought with the devas. He took the Amṛta by defeating all Devas. Then he saw Viṣṇu and boons were given by each. Garuḍa accepted to become his vehicle.  Then he released his mother and went to Viṣṇu loka.

This story is mentioned in the ādiparva of Mahābhārata in its chapters from 28-33. The story is depicted in a panel from Tirukkuṙuṅkuḍi, Tirunelveli District. The panel belongs to Nāyaka’s period. Here Garuḍa is depicted with all ornaments. His beak holds a branch in which Vālakhilays are hanging. He holds elephant and tortoise by his nails.

Garuḍa holds Vibhāvasu and Supratīka

Garuḍa holds Vibhāvasu and Supratīka

Thus we can see the depiction of Mahābhārata story.

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