Who is the supreme devotee of Vishnu? Garuda or Hanuman?
According to Puranic accounts Garuda was once filled with pride since he helped the gods acquire the pot of nectar from asuras, also he had aided Krishna steal Parijat tree from Indra’s abode. Other than that, Vajra- or thunderbolt the ultimate weapon of Indra was ineffective on him and he was instrumental in killing and wounding innumerable asuras with his strength and speed. Lord Vishnu had given him the coveted position of his Vahana or carrier. Thus Garuda was filled with arrogance to be superior to all other devotees of Vishnu.
Noticing Garuda’s arrogance, Krishna decided to test Garuda. He summoned Hanuman to Dwarka aksed him to help shatter Garuda’s pride and arrogance. After crossing the gates of Dwarka, Hanuman began destroying the palace orchard. He ate all the fruits, uprooted a number of trees, and in no time demolished the whole orchard. The palace guards rushed to Krishna to inform of the unruly monkey wreaking havoc on the orchard.
Krishna called Garuda who was beside him, and asked him to attend to the problem.” You better go with your army and capture the monkey” Krishna advised Garuda.
“O Lord, I don’t need an army to catch an insignificant monkey. I myself can tackle the problem and bring the monkey before you ” Garuda replied brimming with over confidence.
When Garuda came out to the orchard, he found a monkey sitting on a mango tree busy chomping fruits . “You wicked monkey, who are you? And why have you destroyed the orchard of my master?” Garuda thundered. Hanuman ignored Garuda and went on with the destruction. Garuda insulted by the monkey became furious. “You ordinary monkey! You don’t know with whom you are dealing with. I order you to come before my master at once. Else, I will tear you to pieces with my razor sharp claws” said Garuda angrily.
“ I care a fig for you. I have seen many birds like you. If you are really a strong as you claim , why don’t you demonstrate your power to me?” Hanuman challenged the Garuda and coiled his tail tightly around Garuda. After struggling vainly to release himself from the bondage, Garuda appealed to Hanuman “ I have been deputed by Lord Krishna to bring you to him”. Hanuman loosened the grip of his tail and said “ But I am the devotee of Ram, the lord of Koshala. Why should I see your lord Krishna?” Shocked by monkey’s reply Garuda still brimming with arrogance argued “ But isn’t lord Rama and Krishna one and the same? And there is no difference between the two? I order you to present yourself before Krishna”. Hanuman refused his advise and said, “ Go away Bird! Don’t pick up a quarrel with me. Let me eat these delicious fruits”. When Garuda heard these words, he could not contain his anger and tried to attack Hanuman. Hanuman picked up Garuda by his nape and flung him into the ocean. He then quietly walked away towards Malaygiri mountains.
Garuda fell crashing into the ocean waters. Fully soaked, he somehow gathered himself and rushed to Dwarka where Krishna was waiting for him. He fell at the feet of Krishna and said “O Lord, that unruly monkey was so arrogant that he flung me in to the ocean, inspite of my pleadings. I had conveyed your orders to him but he refused to obey by saying only Lord Ram is his master.” Krishna could still sense Garuda’s arrogance in his words.” O Garuda he is Hanuman, the great devotee of Rama. why don’t you go to Malaygiri and tell him that he is been called by Lord Ram at Dwarka. He will never decline his master’s order.” Garuda bowed to Krishna and flew towards Malaygiri with the message for Hanuman.
Meanwhile, Krishna told Satyabhama, to take the form of Sita. He also asked sudarshan-chakra to stand at the gate and not to allow anyone inside without his permission. He himself carried a bow and arrow in his hand, and assumed the form of Rama. Garuda conveyed the message to Hanuman that Lord Ram is waiting for him in Dwaraka. Hanuman immediately agreed to follow. Garuda smirked and thought, “ Let me show him my speed and power” and flew back to Dwaraka as fast as he could.
When Garuda reached Dwarka, he found to his chagrin that Hanuman had already arrived in Dwaraka. At the gate Sudarshan-chakra tried to stop Hanuman as per Krishna’s orders but Hanuman did not want to get delayed in meeting his master, so caught hold of the chakra swallowed it and without wasting any time entered the palace to meet his Lord Rama. Having entered the palace, he saw Rama sitting on the throne with ‘Sita’ besides him. He bowed before his Lord and said “O Lord, where is Sita-maiyya? And why are you keeping the company of this lowly woman?”. Satyabhama, who prided herself about her beauty, felt belittled.
Krishna in form of Rama asked Hanuman“How come no one prevented your entry at the gate?” Of course Sudarshan chakra did try to stop me. But Lord I did not want to get delayed and disappoint you so I swallowed him” Saying thus he opened his mouth and let out chakra. Garuda was taken back by the humility of Hanuman who could effortlessly subdue even the mighty Sudarshan Chakra.
Krishna smiled kindly at Hanuman, as Garuda and Satyabhama stood crestfallen.
Krishna said “ Garuda, power needs to be accompanied by humility”