Garuda comes down personally to save Rama and Lakshmana from the bounds of the deadly Nagastra. After healing them, he lifts the brothers to a sitting position. He then embraces Rama. The senior prince realizes that Garuda is the one who saved both of them from near death. So he offers his salutations to the mighty bird and thanks him for helping them overcome the disaster which was originally created by Indrajit. As a warrior, Rama understands fully, the impact of a leaderless army fighting Ravana.
He compares Garuda to his father Dasaratha and his paternal grandfather Aja and tells the son of Vinata that he is gladdened to meet him.
Then he asks who his savior is!
“Who are you, the one endowed with beauty, having blissful garlands and anointments, wearing clean garments and adorned with divine ornaments?”
He asks this question because he genuinely does not know who Garuda is. Now, does he not know? How can he not identify his own vehicle? Garuda belongs to an elite group known as Nitya Suris. We the Jivatmas are in bondage and go through unending cycles of births and deaths and are called Bhaddhas or Bhaddh-athmas. People who were once Bhaddh-athmas and have crossed that stage successfully to attain Moksha are called Mukth-athmas. Blessed Souls who were never in this cycle and who are eternally free from any bonds are called Nitya-athmas or Nitya-Suris. Garuda belongs to this group along with Adhisesha and Vishvaksena. They are always by the side of Lord Narayana and submerged in his duties day in and day out. The question is surprising given the stature of Garuda. From the other side, it is also not very surprising as we all know about Rama by now and to what extent he can go to prove that he is fully human.
Garuda replies thus.
“O, Rama! I am your dearest friend Garuda dear as your own breath moving outside I came here for the purpose of helping you, both.”
Now, the great bird says the princes are his friends. But the prince asks Garuda who he was. Garuda understands that Rama is human now and hence rightfully he does not recognize him for they have never met each other till that instance. He satiates Rama’s curiosity by uttering these words and then flies away to his abode having completed his duty.
“”O, hero! You need not be so curious to know the cause of my friendship. You will know of it once you have accomplished success in battle.”
This dialogue proves how well Rama undertook the human form. The totality of his incarnation is pretty evident from episodes like this. Whereas at some places, we see him performing Godly acts, there are places where others around him prove that he is God by their acts and speeches…