Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Garuda - गरुड

Garuda is one of the three principal animal deities in the Hindu Mythology that has evolved after the Vedic Period in Indian history. The other two are Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of the goddess Durgha, and Hanuman, the monkey god. It is after Garuda that the Indonesian National Airlines is named. Even today, Garuda is much revered by devout Hindus for his ethics and his strength in applying his ethics to correct evil-doers.

Garuda is the king of the birds. He mocks the wind with the speed of his flight. As the appointed charger of Vishnu he is venerated by all, including humans. Garuda is the son of Kashyap, a great sage, and Vinata, a daughter of Daksha, a famous king. He was hatched from an egg Vinata laid. He has the head, wings, talons, and beak of an eagle and the body and limbs of a man. He has a white face, red wings and golden body. When he was born he was so brilliant that he was mistaken for Agni, the god of fire, and worshipped.

Garuda was born with a great hatred for the evil and he is supposed to roam about the universe devouring the bad, though he spares Brahmins as his parents had forbidden him to eat them. Garuda is also well-known for his aversion to snakes, a dislike he had acquired from his mother, Vinata. There is a story behind this hatred of Garuda's mother. As it is quite interesting it is told hereafter.

Kashyap, Garuda's father, had two wives: Kadru, the elder, and Vinata, Garuda's mother, the younger. There was great rivalry between the two wives. They could not stand each other. Once, they had an argument over the color of the horse Uchchaisravas, produced during the Churning of the Ocean just after the time of creation. Each chose a color and laid a wager on her own choice. The one who lost would become the other's slave. Kadru proved to be right and, as part of the agreement, imprisoned Vinata in the nether regions, Patala, where she was guarded by serpents. The serpents are, according to another myth, the sons of Kadru herself.

Garuda, on hearing of his mother's imprisonment, descended to Patala and asked the serpents to release Vinata. They agreed to do so and demanded as ransom a cup of amrita (ambrosia). So Garuda set off for the celestial mountain where the amrita was kept. Before he could get to the amrita he had to overcome three hazards set up by the gods to guard the celestial drink. First, Garuda came upon a ring of flames fanned by high winds. They roared and leapt up to the sky but Garuda drank up several rivers and extinguished the flames. Next, Garuda came upon a circular doorway. A very rapidly spinning wheel with sharp spikes on the spokes guarded it. Garuda made himself very small and slipped through the turning spokes. Lastly, Garuda had to defeat two fire-spitting serpents guarding the amrita. He flapped his wings rapidly and blew dust into the eyes of the monsters and blinded them. Then he cut them to pieces with his sharp beak. So Garuda finally reached the amrita and started to fly back with it to the nether regions but the gods anticipated his purpose and gave chase. Indra, king of the gods, struck him with his thunderbolt but Garuda proved a superior warrior and defeated the gods and continued unscathed on his journey to Patala.

When the serpents got the amrita they were overjoyed and released Vinata. Garuda got his mother back but he became an inveterate enemy of the serpents, the sons of his mother's rival Kadru. Also the serpents, the Nagas, symbolized evil and that automatically invoked Garuda's hatred.

As end-piece to this myth it must be told that, as the Nagas were about to consume the amrita Garuda had just brought them, the chasing gods entered Patala and Indra seized and took away the cup of amrita. Anyway, the serpents had just had time enough to lick a few drops of amrita and this was enough to make them immortal. Also, since the celestial drink was very strong, their tongues were split and that is why, to this day, serpents have forked tongues.

In Hindu religion, Garuda is a lesser Hindu divinity, usually the mount (vahanam) of Vishnu. Garuda is depicted as having the golden body of a strong man with a white face, red wings, and an eagle's beak and with a crown on his head. This ancient deity was said to be massive, large enough to block out the sun.

His stature in Hindu religion can be gauged by the fact that an independent Upanishad, the Garudopanishad, and a Purana, the Garuda Purana, is devoted to him. Various names have been attributed to Garuda - Chirada, Gaganeshvara, Kamayusha, Kashyapi, Khageshvara, Nagantaka, Sitanana, Sudhahara, Suparna, Tarkshya, Vainateya, Vishnuratha and others. The Vedas provide the earliest reference of Garuda, though by the name of Śyena, where this mighty bird is said to have brought nectar to earth from heaven. The Puranas, which came into existence much later, mention Garuda as doing the same thing, which indicates that Śyena (Sanskrit for Eagle) and Garuda are the same. One of the faces of Śrī Pañcamukha Hanuman is Mahavira Garuda. This face points towards the west. Worship of Garuda is believed to remove the effects of poisons from one's body. In Tamil Vaishnavism Garuda and Hanuman are known as "Periya Thiruvadi" and "Siriya Thiruvadi" respectively.

In the Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.10, Verse 30), in the middle of the battlefield "Kurukshetra", Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says - "Of birds, I am the son of Vinata (Garuda)" indicating the importance of Garuda.

Garuda plays an important role in Krishna Avatar in which Krishna and Satyabhama ride on Garuda to kill Narakasura. On another occasion, Lord Hari rides on Garuda to save the devotee Elephant Gajendra. It is also said that Garuda's wings when flying will chant the Vedas.


Birth and deeds

The story of Garuda's birth and deeds is told in the first book of the great epic Mahabharata.[3] According to the epic, when Garuda first burst forth from his egg, he appeared as a raging inferno equal to the cosmic conflagration that consumes the world at the end of every age. Frightened, the gods begged him for mercy. Garuda, hearing their plea, reduced himself in size and energy.

Garuda's father was the creator-rishi Kasyapa. His mother was Vinata, whose sister was Kadru, the mother of serpents. One day, Vinata entered into and lost a foolish bet, as a result of which she became enslaved to her sister. Resolving to release his mother from this state of bondage, Garuda approached the serpents and asked them what it would take to purchase her freedom. Their reply was that Garuda would have to bring them the elixir of immortality, also called amrita. It was a tall order. The amrita at that time found itself in the possession of the gods, who guarded it jealously, since it was the source of their immortality. They had ringed the elixir with a massive fire that covered the sky. They had blocked the way to the elixir with a fierce mechanical contraption of sharp rotating blades. And finally, they had stationed two gigantic poisonous snakes next to the elixir as deadly guardians.

Undaunted, Garuda hastened toward the abode of the gods intent on robbing them of their treasure. Knowing of his design, the gods met him in full battle-array. Garuda, however, defeated the entire host and scattered them in all directions. Taking the water of many rivers into his mouth, he extinguished the protective fire the gods had thrown up. Reducing his size, he crept past the rotating blades of their murderous machine. And finally, he mangled the two gigantic serpents they had posted as guards. Taking the elixir into his mouth without swallowing it, he launched again into the air and headed toward the eagerly waiting serpents. En route, he encountered Vishnu. Rather than fight, the two exchanged promises. Vishnu promised Garuda the gift of immortality even without drinking from the elixir, and Garuda promised to become Vishnu's mount. Flying onward, he met Indra the god of the sky. Another exchange of promises occurred. Garuda promised that once he had delivered the elixir, thus fulfilling the request of the serpents, he would make it possible for Indra to regain possession of the elixir and to take it back to the gods. Indra in turn promised Garuda the serpents as food.

At long last, Garuda alighted in front of the waiting serpents. Placing the elixir on the grass, and thereby liberating his mother Vinata from her servitude, he urged the serpents to perform their religious ablutions before consuming it. As they hurried off to do so, Indra swooped in to make off with the elixir. From that day onward, Garuda was the ally of the gods and the trusty mount of Vishnu, as well as the implacable enemy of snakes, upon whom he preyed at every opportunity.

From: wiki
Nama: pannaganaddhaaya vaikunta vasavardhineh I
Sruti-sindhu Sudhothpaada-mandaraaya Garutmathe II

My salutations to Garuda with the beautiful wings. His limbs are adorned by the mighty serpents that he has conquered in battle. They are his jewellery. He does all the intimate kainkaryas to his Lord and is His Antharanga dhaasan. Garuda is devoted always to the Lord and His services. He is adept like the Mandara Mountain in churning the milky ocean of Vedas and to bring out the Brahma Vidyas. We can get the benefits of these Brahma Vidyas by offering our worship to him. My salutations are to him.

From here: a PDF with prayers
Jaya Garuda suparna dharveekaraahara devaadhipahara haarin divoukaspathi kshiptha dhamboli dharaa kina kalpa , kalpantha vaathoola kalpodhayan aalpa veerayithodhya
Chamathkara dhaithyari jathra dwajaroha nirdharithothkarsha sankrashanathman garuthman maruth panchakadeesa sathyadhi moorthe na kaschid samasthe namasthe punasthe nama.

Victory to Garuda with very pretty wings, who uses huge serpents as his food, who stole the nectar from the devas, which made the king of devas angry with Garuda and made Indra throw his Vajrayudha on him , which in turn caused many wounds on his body , which healed wounds today shine like his ornaments,who shines in the waving flag of Lord Vishnu during his war leading to the extermination of the Rakshasas and his being recognized as the soul of the war, Who is the personification of truth and assumed the form of five winds Prana, upana , Samana, udana and Vyana. There is none like you, I salute you first then again salute you and again salute you.

From: here
Garuda the Compassionate Observer

In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Garuda is a guardian of Lord Shiva. A tale is told how once, perched on Mount Kailash, Garuda noticed a tiny bird. He was struck by the contrast between the majesty of Kailash and Shiva's palace, and the delicacy of " . . . a beautiful creature, a little bird seated on the arch crowning the entrance to Shiva's place. Garuda wondered aloud: "How marvelous is this creation! One who has created these lofty mountains has also made this tiny bird -- and both seem equally wonderful."

Just then Yama, the god of death appeared, riding his black buffalo. Garuda noticed that the gaze of the Master of Death briefly fell upon the bird, but then he continued on his way into the abode of Shiva.

Since a mere glance from Lord Yama presages death, Garuda's heart was filled with pity for the tiny bird. He gently picked it up and flew off with it clutched carefully in his powerful talons. He took it far, far, away to a deep forest where he gently placed it on a rock beside a rushing brook. Then he returned to Kailash and assumed his customary position at Shiva's gate.

When Yama emerged from his consultation with the Great God, he nodded to Garuda in recognition. Garuda took this opportunity to ask Lord Death, "Just before you went inside, I saw you notice a little bird. You seemed to have a pensive expression on your face. May I know why?"

Yama answered, "When my eyes fell on the bird, I saw that soon it would find its death in the jaws of a great python. But there are no such serpents here, high on Kailash, and I was briefly puzzled."

Again, Garuda marveled; this time at the inevitability of the process which is karma.

From: here
Garuda, a bird deity, with the head and wings of an eagle and sometimes with the rest of his body like that of a man, is called the king of birds and he is also the carrier of Lord Vishnu.

Garuda is also known by another name Vinayaka, which he shares with Lord Ganesh. Thus, this god-bird is thought to be remover of obstacles. Garuda is not separately worshipped as an independent god. He is worshipped together with Vishnu. His image is placed near Vishnu in temples and in pictures he is depicted carrying Vishnu in the skies on its back.

The elder brother of Garuda is Urud or Aruna, who is charioteer of Surya, the Sun God. Garuda's son is Jatayu. This bird (Jatayu) tried to rescue Sita, when Ravana was fleeing after kidnapping her. Ravana fights him and wounds him fatally.

From: here
Garuda is the king of the birds and often acts as a messenger between the gods and men. Garuda has the head, wings, talons and beak of an eagle and the body and limbs of a man.

Garuda's mother was Vinata and his father Kasyapa, the law-minded grandfather of the world, who did tapas at the banks of the Lamhitya.

When Garuda crawled out of his egg, he was very hungry. His mother sent Garuda to get advice from his father, who sent him to a place, where he could find food. Garuda could eat the natives living there, but he was adviced to spare the Brahmin, who was living with the natives. However by accident, Garuda swallowed the Brahmin, who got stuck in his throat. The Brahmin said that he would give up his life, if Garuda would not let go all of his relatives. Out of fear to murder a Brahmin, Kasyapa ordered Garuda to spit out the natives with their Brahmin.

Still hungry, Garuda's father sent him to the ocean, where a giant elephant and a tortoise where fighting. He took them and flew to the sky. When Garuda perched on the branch of a tree it broke and again Garuda was full of fear of killing cows and Brahmins with the falling branch, so he caught it. Meanwhile Vishnu saw the bird and asked what Garuda was doing. The bird replied that no tree or mountain seemed able to support his weight. Vishnu offered his arm to sit on and did not tremble when Garuda took place on it.

Even after eating, Garuda was still hungry, so Vishnu offered the flesh of his arm. When Garuda ate from it, no wound showed. Garuda bowed his head to Vishnu, realizing his divine nature and was his heroic friend for all times. In many indian epics, Garuda carries Vishnu.

At a time when Garuda's mother Vinata became imprisoned by Kadru, mother of the serpents, Garuda sought to release her. As a ransom, the serpents demanded the cup of Amrita, which was held by the gods. Garuda stole the Amrita from the Gods and thus he could liberate his mother. Just as the serpents were about to drink from the Amrita, Indra snatched the cup away from them. Nevertheless, a few drops were spilled and licked up by the serpents, which made them immortal and also split their tongues. In another version, Garuda spilled the amrit four times at the four places where the Kumb Mela festival is now held. His journey took 12 days, equalling 12 years for mortals.

From: here

Garuda or Superna is a mythical being, half-man and half-eagle, the Vāhan of Vishnu. Though not strictly divine, he appears frequently in Vishnu's exploits, and, being worshipped together with his lord, it is necessary to give some description of his birth and deeds.

When Daksha's sons refused to people the world, he produced sixty daughters, thirteen of whom he gave to Kasyapa the sage; of these, two come into prominence in connection with Garuda. Vinatā bore him two celebrated sons, Garuda and Aruna: the former, also called Superna, was the king of the feathered tribes, and the remorseless enemy of the serpent race. Aruna became famous as the charioteer of the Sun. "The progeny of Kadru (the other sister) were a thousand powerful many-headed snakes, of immeasurable might, subject to Garuda." * The mother of Garuda is said to have laid an egg; hence her son assumed a bird-like form.

Another legend makes "Garuda the son of Kasyapa and Diti. This all-prolific dame laid an egg, which, it was predicted, would yield her a deliverer from some great evil. After the lapse of five hundred years, Garuda sprang from the egg, flew to Indra's abode, extinguished the fire that surrounded it, conquered its guards, and bore off the amrita, which enabled him to liberate his captive mother. A few drops of the immortal beverage falling on some Kusa grass, it became eternally consecrated; and the serpents greedily licking it, so lacerated their tongues with the sharp grass, that they have ever since remained forked. But the boon of immortality was ensured to them by their partaking of the amrita." * "As soon as Garuda was born, his body expanded till it touched the sky; the other animals were terrified. His eyes were like the lightning. The mountains were driven away with the wind caused by the flapping of his wings. The rays which issued from his body set the four quarters of the world on fire; the affrighted gods imagining that Garuda must be an incarnation of Agni, resorted to that deity for protection." †

Garuda is the mortal enemy of snakes. His mother Vinatā quarrelled with her sister, Kadru, the mother of the snakes, respecting the colour of the horse that was produced at the churning of the ocean; since that time there has been constant enmity between their descendants. On the occasion of his marriage, the serpents, alarmed at the thought of his having children who might destroy them, made. a fierce attack on him; but the result was that he slew them all, save one, which he has ever since worn as an ornament round his neck. To this day superstitious Hindus repeat the name of Garuda three times before going to sleep at night, as a safeguard against snakes.

The following legend from the Mahābhārata ‡ gives the account of his liberating his mother from servitude, and of his appointment as the Vāhan of Vishnu. His mother, having lost her wager with her sister respecting the colour of the sea-produced horse, was reduced to servitude to the serpents, who, being anxious to become immortal, promised to liberate her on condition that her son Garuda should bring them Chandra (the Moon), whose bright spots are filled with amrita. Before starting on this expedition he went to his mother for food, who advised him to go to the seashore and gather whatever he could find, but entreated him to be most careful not to eat a Brāhman; adding, "Should you at any time feel a burning sensation in your stomach, be sure you have eaten a Brāhman."

After receiving this warning, he set off on his journey. Passing through a country inhabited by fishermen, he at one inspiration drew in houses, trees, cattle, men, and other animals. But among the inhabitants swallowed, one was a Brāhman, who caused such an intolerable burning in his stomach that Garuda, unable to bear it, called in the greatest haste for him to come out. The Brāhman refused unless his wife, a fisherman's daughter, might accompany him. To this Garuda consented.

Pursuing his journey, Garuda met his father Kasyapa (he shines as the Pole Star), who directed him to appease his hunger at a certain lake where an elephant and tortoise were fighting. The tortoise was eighty miles long, and the elephant one hundred and sixty. Garuda with one claw seized the elephant, with the other the tortoise, and perched with them on a tree eight hundred miles high. But the tree was unable to bear the ponderous weight, and, unhappily, thousands of pigmy Brāhmans were then worshipping on one of its branches. Trembling lest he should destroy any of them, he took the bough in his beak, continuing to hold the elephant and tortoise in his claws, and flew to a mountain in an uninhabited country, where he finished his repast on the tortoise and elephant.

Garuda having surmounted astonishing dangers, at last seized the Moon and concealed it under his wing. On his return, however, being attacked by Indra and the gods, he overcame all, excepting Vishnu. Even Vishnu was so severely put to it in the contest, that he came to terms with Garuda, made him immortal, and promised him a higher seat than his own; while on his part Garuda became the Vāhan or carrier of Vishnu. Since then, Vishnu rides upon Garuda, while the latter, in the shape of a flag, sits at the top of Vishnu's car.

In the Rāmāyana Garuda is represented as doing great service to Rāma and his followers, and his powers and peculiarities are repeatedly referred to. Thus, in the description of Hanumān it is said, that

"Like a thunderbolt in frame was he,
And swift as Garud's self could flee." *

In like manner it is said of two heroes:

"Sugriva, offspring of the Sun,
And Bāli, Indra's mighty one,
They, both endowed with Garud's might,
And skilled in all the arts of fight,
Wandered in arms the forest through,
And lions and snakes and tigers slew." †

When Ansumān found the ashes of the sixty thousand sons of Sāgar, ‡ who, owing to Kapila's curse, had been destroyed, and was in distress because he could obtain no water with which to offer oblations for the dead, he sees their uncle—

"King Garud, best beyond compare,
Of birds who wing the fields of air.
Then thus unto the weeping man
The son of Vinatā began:
'Grieve not, O hero, for their fall,
Who died a death approved of all.'" §

Garuda then tells Ansumān that if he can succeed in inducing Gangā to descend from heaven, and with her streams to touch these ashes, the dead shall return to life, and finally ascend to Indra's heaven.

In the description of the city of Ayodha, when Rāma had gone into the forest, is a reference to Garuda's antipathy to snakes:—

"The city wore
No look of beauty as before—
Like a dull river or a lake
By Garud robbed of every snake." *

In the following lines is an account of Garuda's resting on a tree when he was carrying off the elephant and the tortoise as narrated above. Rāvana impelled by the accounts of Sitā's beauty, goes to see her, and on his journey

"He saw a fig-tree like a cloud,
With mighty branches earthward bowed.
It stretched a hundred leagues, and made
For hermit bands a welcome shade.
Thither the feathered king of yore
An elephant and tortoise bore,
And lighted on a bough to eat
The captives of his taloned feet.
The bough, unable to sustain
The crushing weight and sudden strain,
Loaded with sprays and leaves of spring,
Gave way beneath the feathered king.
* * * *
The feathered monarch raised the weight
Of the huge bough, and bore away
The loosened load and captured prey.
* * * *
His soul conceived the high emprise
To snatch the amrit from the skies.
He rent the nets of iron first,
Then through the jewel chamber burst,
And bore the drink of heaven away
That watched in Indra's palace lay." †

In the great conflict with Rāvana, as Rāma and his brother were wounded and well-nigh dead, owing to a flight of serpents sent by Indrajit, Garuda appeared to restore them, and thus enabled them to carry on the war. His approach and work are thus described:—

"The rushing wind grew loud,
Red lightnings flashed from banks of cloud,
The mountains shook, the wild waves rose,
And, smitten by resistless blows,
Uprooted fell each stately tree
That fringed the margin of the sea.
All life within the waters feared:
Then, as the Vānars gazed, appeared
King Garud's self, a wondrous sight,
Disclosed in flames of fiery light.
From his fierce eye in sudden dread
All serpents in a moment fled;
And those transformed to shafts, that bound
The princes, vanished in the ground.
On Raghu's sons his eyes he bent,
And hailed the lords omnipotent.
Then o’er them stooped the feathered king,
And touched their faces with his wing.
His healing touch their pangs allayed,
And closed each rent the shafts had made.
Again their eyes were bright and bold;
Again the smooth skin shone like gold." *

For this great work of restoration Rāma expressed his gratitude, whereupon Garuda replied—

"In me, O Raghu's son, behold
One who has loved thee from of old.
Garud, the lord of all that fly,
Thy guardian and thy friend am I.
Not all the gods in heaven could loose
These numbing bonds, this serpent noose,
Wherewith fierce Rāvan's son, renowned
For magic arts, your limbs had bound.
Those arrows fixed in every limb
Were mighty snakes, transformed by him.
Bloodthirsty race, they live beneath
The earth, and slay with venomed teeth."

Garuda is represented in pictures and sculpture in various ways. Sometimes he has the head and wings of a bird, with a human body; sometimes he has a bird's claws; and at others he has a human face, and the body of a bird.

From: here
Garuda, The Eagle King

Garuda, the "Devourer", is the mythical lord of the birds in both Hinduism and Buddhism. According to Hindu Puranic legend Garuda was the son of Kashyapa and Vinata, who after five hundred years of incubation, hatched fully grown from the egg that his mother, Vinata, laid at his "first birth". As soon as he emerged from his egg Garuda's terrifying form filled the skies, the beating of his wings shook the earth, and even the gods mistook the unbearable solar light of his golden body as that of the fire god, Agni.


Garuda has always been the sworn enemy of snakes or nagas, and this pattern of hostility between birds of prey and serpents is common to many mythological traditions. Originally the Indian Garuda, was represented as a great eagle bird and given such names as Suparna (beautiful wings), Garutman (solar bird), Sarparati (enemy of serpents) and Khageshvara or Pakshiraj (lord of birds). His forms later assumed that of a bird-man, a creature half eagle and half man, combining the upper torso, arms and hands of a human with a bird's head, thighs, legs, talons and wings. Zoomorphic variations of Garuda's form spread throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and southeast Asia, where he is still traditionally summoned to ward off snakes, snake bites and all types of poisonings.

In Tibet the Indian Garuda became assimilated with the Bonpo khading (Tib. mkha' lding), the 'horned golden eagle', king of birds and the Bon bird of fire. In Tibetan iconography Garuda is depicted with the torso, arms and hands of a man. Below his waist his large feathered thighs terminate in ostrich-like lower legs with sharp talons. His back is feathered, with long tail feathers that reach to the level of his feet. His curved beak is like that of and eagle or falcon and like his talons it has the vajra nature of meteorite iron. No naga is able to survive Garuda's grip or bite. His wings and eyes are usually golden, his tawny hair twists upwards and his eyebrows blaze like fire. Between his sharp horns a head protuberance (Skt. ushnisha) conceals a naga jewel within his skull, and this hidden jewel is crowned with the insignia of a crescent moon, sun and dissolving point (Skt. nada).

Garuda has great importance in the Dzogchen transmission of the Nyingma and Bon traditions. In the Nyingma tradition he personifies certain wrathful forms of Padmasambhava and in the terma (Tib. gter-ma) or hidden treasure traditions he is venerated as guardian of treasures. As a deity, Garuda is also strongly associated with Vajrapani and Hayagriva. The triple sadhana or practice of these three deities is highly effective for removing obstacles and illnesses, especially naga-related afflictions such as kidney failure, plague and cancer. In this particular practice many different forms of Garuda are visualized in different parts of the body.

Garuda is the vehicle of Amoghasiddhi, the green Buddha of the north and Lord of the Karma or Action Family. The image of Garuda as the supreme golden sunbird appears at the top of the torana or the enlightenment throne of the Buddha, where he spreads his golden wings and grasps the tails of two naga kings or queens in his talons. The auspicious crest of the crescent moon, sun and dissolving flame on his crown symbolizes the union of the lunar and solar winds dissolving into the central channel. His two horns represent the two truths, conventional and ultimate. His two wings represent the union of method and wisdom. His fiery form symbolizes the transmutation of poison into nectar. Hi emergence fully-fledged from the egg at his 'second birth' symbolizes the birth of great spontaneous awareness.

From: here
Description for a statue...
Garuda, the legendary bird of sky and the venerable vehicle of Lord Vishnu. His legendary form is unusual for both, a bird and a man. He has been described in texts as having a bird like forehead, feathers, beak and nails and a man like figure and senses. His wings had the brilliance of gold and he was born with a crown on his head. Garuda has been invoked in 'puranas' by various names - Kashyapi, Vainateya, Suparna, Takshya, Sitanana, Gaganeshvara, Sudhahara, Vishnuratha, Chirada, Khageshvara, Nagantaka, Kamayusha etc.

The mighty Garuda has his earliest reference in Vedas, where he has been invoked by the name of Shyena. In Vedic literature Shyena had brought nectar to earth from heaven; in 'puranas' the bird that brought it is Garuda. Thus, Shyena and Garuda are the same. Garuda has an independent Upanishada and a 'purana', namely, Garudopanishada and Garuda-Purana, devoted to him. This depicts Garuda's legendary magnitude and leads the mind to deduce that Garuda could be the name of a race of birds instead of an individual being.

As the legends have it, Garuda was born to Vinata by sage Kashyapa. He was the younger brother of the illustrious Aruna. It is said that Valakhilyas did great penance so that Indra was born. Later they gave the fruit of their penance to Kashyapa who handed it over to Vinata. She bore an egg and thereby Garuda who, straight from the egg, rose on his wings and stormed the sky with a terrific speed. Later for people's relief he reduced his pace and lustre. His brother Aruna was born without legs. He hence carried him on his back and placed him eastward, where by the power his penance Aruna swallowed sun and released him only when gods mediated and made them friends. Sun then nominated Aruna as his vehicle.

The most popular Garuda legend relates to his stealing 'amrat' from Indra's capital for his mother's release. Her mother Vinata was enslaved by Kadru, his step-mother, who had defeated her, though by deceit, in a wager. She demanded 'amrat' as ransom for her release. Garuda flew to Amaravati, Indra's capital, for securing 'amrat'. Gods' army obstructed him, but after defeating them all he reached the well containing 'amrat'. There rose flames of fire all around. He extinct the fire by flapping his wings, beguiled the dragons on guard, brought 'amrat' and sought his mother's release, though without giving Kadru and her serpent sons any 'amrat' and answering her deceit in her own terms. It was during this event that he met Vishnu who was highly impressed by his honesty, as he had not even touched 'amrat' despite being in its possession for quite long. Vishnu wished that Garuda became his 'vahana', the vehicle. Garuda agreed but on condition that he was held higher to Vishnu and became immortal without drinking 'amrat'. Vishnu accepted and placed him on his flag. Later all Vishnu temples had as an essential element a Garudadhvaja in front of sanctum. The 'dhvaja', usually a tall pillar, enshrined upon it Garuda on an altitude higher to that of the enshrining deity.

This inflated Garuda with ego. Once Indra blessed the serpent Sumukha with immortality. Garuda treated serpents as his food and Indra's boon deprived him of it. He hence not only quarreled with him but also challenged and boasted that he was mightier even to Vishnu. For purging him of his ego Vishnu just pressed one of his fingers on his person. Garuda felt unbearable pressure and prayed Vishnu for relief. Vishnu released the pressure but to keep Garuda reminding of the event garland-like placed serpent Sumukha on his breast.

This metal-cast of Garuda manifests this legendary Garuda tradition quite elaborately. Though born of his step-mother, the great serpent Shesha was his brother and loved and protected him. In this icon the great serpent holds his hoods over Garuda like a halo. The serpent Sumukha lies on his breast. He has towering heights but with his folded hands he is the image of humility and service. Despite his human form and figure, as described in texts, he has a bird's beak, nails, forehead and feather. His entire body bears a fur like look. May be, the caster wished to cover it by feathers or by fur like garment. This magnificent brass-statue has been cast by lost wax technique and is an excellent example of craftsmanship.

From: here
Garuda 'the devourer' is the mythical 'Lord of birds' in both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In the Hindu Puranic legends, Garuda is the son of Kashyapa and Vinata. He is said to have emerged, fully grown, from an egg, after incubating for five hundred years.

Garuda has always been the sworn enemy of snakes and nagas. The archetypal legend of the enmity that exists between birds of prey and serpents occurs across a wide spectrum of transcultural mythologies. Such birds include the Sumerian and Greek eagle, the poison-transmuting peacock of Persia and India, the Chinese peng-niao, and the gigantic snake-eating simurgh or rukh of Sinbad's adventures in Arabian nights.

Literally, the word Garuda means 'wings of speech'. He actually personifies Vedic knowledge. On his wings,as it were, Vedic knowledge has come down to us. He is also known as Suparna (beautiful wings), Garutman (the solar bird), Sarparati (enemy of serpents), and Khageshvara or Pakshiraj (Lord of birds). The female bird is known as Garudi.

Originally the Indian Garuda was represented as a bird. Later his form assumed that of a 'bird man'- a creature half eagle and half man, combining a human body with a bird's head, beak, and wings. Zoomorphic variations of the Garuda's artistic representation diffused throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and South East Asia. In Bali his animalistic image assumed great popularity.

In Tibet, the Indian Garuda became assimilated with the Bon khading (Tib. mkha'lding), the golden 'horned eagle', king of birds, and the Bon bird of fire. Tibetan iconography depicts Garuda with the upper torso and arms of a man, the head, beak and legs of a bird, and large wings which unfold from his back. His curved beak is like that of an eagle. The hair on his head blazes upwards, and his eyebrows twist like fire.

Garuda is commonly evoked to ward off snakes and snakebites. Here he is shown holding two of them in his hands.

From: here
Other sites:
Short article
Garuda Purana
The Garuda Purana
Garuda Dandakam

1 comment:

  1. The audio of Sri Garuda Sahasranamam can be found for free for all devotees at May Sri Garuda bless all !