One day, Yama, the lord of Death, was on his way to collect someone’s soul when he saw a little sparrow. He stared at the sparrow for a second, a little perplexed. But the little sparrow got so scared of the stare that it felt that it would die the next minute. It looked around and saw Garuda flying by. Garuda, the eagle, is the Vaahana (vehicle) of Mahavishnu. The sparrow pleaded with Garuda to rescue it.
“My time of death must be near … I just saw Yama staring at me from the corner of his eye. Please take me elsewhere to a safe place. I do not want to die just now”, the little sparrow said to Garuda. Garuda took pity on the little bird and told it, “don’t worry. I’ll take you to the Himalayas in a trice. You will be safe in the mountains.” He asked the sparrow to hop on to his huge wings and in a few minutes, they were on top of a mountain in the Himalayas. The little sparrow looked around and found a cave and entered the cave and decided to live there.
A little while later Yama met Garuda and told him, “You know, just today I saw a little bird who was supposed to get Mukti in the Himalayas in a few seconds. I am still perplexed as to how that bird will reach the Himalayas.” Garuda asked him, “Which bird was it? Where did you see the bird?” Yama replied, “it was a little sparrow and I saw it in the forest of Dandakaranya. She had good ‘punyas’ accumulated because of which she had to get Mukti in the Himalayas. Maybe I made a mistake because it is impossible that the little bird will ever reach the Himalayas.”
Garuda smiled and told Yama, “Truly, no one can fight death. The sparrow saw you looking at it and she requested me to take her to a place far away. I placed her in a cave in the Himalayas.” Both prayed to Narayana to grant her Mukti without fear of death.