Garuda – Mighty King of Birds and Mount of Lord Vishnu

Vishnu on Garuda

According to Hindu scriptures, Garuda is a King of birds (Kite or Eagle) and the mount of god Vishnu. Garuda looks like an eagle with a head and wings and sometimes with the rest of his body like a man. Additionally, he is also associated with Sun and Fire.

Garuda is called by various names as – Chirada, Kamayusha, Nagantaka, Suparna, Sushahara, and different other names. Garuda is the enemy of all snakes. It is quite popular to use the image of Garuda as an Amulet to protect from snake attacks and their poison since the king of birds is the worst enemy of serpents (snakes).

Vishnu on Garuda

The Story of Garuda’s Birth

The story of Garuda’s birth is mentioned in the first book of Mahabharata. According to the epic, the father of Garuda was Rishi Kashyapa.

Rishi Kashyapa had two wives, Vinita and Kadru, who were the daughters of Prajapati Daksha. Despite being sisters, they always used to quarrel with each other. Kashyapa once asked his wives to grant them their wishes. Kadru wished for a thousand snakes as her sons, whereas Vinita wished for only two sons who must be laborious and much stronger than the 1000 sons of Kadru.

Later, both of them laid eggs. After some time, a thousand eggs of Kadru hatched into snakes, but the two eggs of Vinita did not hatch for a long period. Being worried and impatient, Vinita broke one half-formed egg with an upper part only as a human; thus, he was deformed.

The deformed son of Vinita cursed her and said she would be a slave to her sister for a long time until her second son was born. Her first son flew away by saying those words, and later on, he became the sun’s charioteer. After waiting a long time, the second egg hatched, fully grown, shiny, and mighty in size, and emerged as the Garuda. Hence, according to the legends, this is how Garuda was born.

Appearance of Garuda

Garuda is a bird-like creature with a mix of eagle and human features. Traditionally, Garuda has a man’s torso and arms and an eagle or vulture’s wings, head, beak, and talons. His body is golden, with red wings and a white face. Similarly, Garuda appears in the form of the enemy for all snakes, which is a symbol of death and the underworld. He was also believed to be massive enough to block the sun.

Followers of Garuda

Vishnu Riding Garuda

Lord Garuda is important in Hinduism, Buddhism, and various other religions. Garuda Vyuha is worshipped in Tantra during several Abhichara Kriyas (Black Magic) to protect one against Abhichara (Negative Energies). Garuda is the Sankarshana energy of the Lord, believed to have manifested into the lord’s nature during the creation process.

Lord Garuda has a very important place also in Buddhism. It is believed that Sakra appointed the lord to protect Mount Sumeru and Trayastrimsa heaven from the attack of Asuras.

Similarly, Garuda also signifies a veritable cultural symbol in Asia. Garuda is Indonesia’s national Emblem, and Indonesia’s national airline is named after him. In India, the figure of Garuda is used as a military symbol specializing in operations behind the enemy lines. Likewise, in Thailand, the Khrut (Garuda) is its national symbol, “Garuda, the vehicle.”Thus, God Garuda is followed worldwide, especially in Southeast Asia.

Garuda in Temples

Being such a powerful deity, it was most likely to have a sculpture or image of Lord Garuda in many temples. Garuda’s beautifully crafted image is in front of the Changu Narayan Temple in Kathmandu. Similarly, Garuda’s large and beautiful stone image is placed in Hanuman Dhoka Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.

An ancient Kal Garuda Temple, also known as “Nachiar Kouil,” is located in Thrivunaraiyur place of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Similarly, the Prambanan temple is a 19th-century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to Garuda. Likewise, there are many more temples, statues, and handicrafts of the god Garuda worldwide.

It is also believed that reading Garuda Purana helps one eliminate misdeeds, and a person becomes good and well satisfied. One who reads Garuda Purana attains the top destination as having obtained all of his desires.