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Garud and the serpents

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In Nepali art, Vishnu’s angelic servant, Garud, often sports a scarf made of cobras. It stems from a peculiar legend, which tells how his mother was kidnapped by his stepmother, Kadru, the mother of all snakes. Garud appealed to his stepbrothers, the nag serpent-spirits, to free her. They did this on condition that Garud brought them ambrosia from Indra’s heaven. Although Indra later flew down and reclaimed his pot of nectar (leaving the snakes to split their tongues as they licked up the few drops spilt on the grass), Vishnu was so impressed that Garud hadn’t been tempted to consume the ambrosia himself that he immediately hired him as his mount.

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