GARUDA with the head and wings of 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
|GARUDA - THE KING OF BIRDS
Garuda is the subject of numerous mythological stories in Mahabharata and other
Purana. Vinita, the wife of Kashyap, the progenitor of gods
and men, laid an egg and became the mother of this bird-god. As soon as Garuda was born, his body
expanded and touched the sky, his eyes were like lightning; the mountains trembled
with the spread of his wings.
Garuda is also known by another name of Vinayak, which name he shares with god
Ganesh. Thus this god-bird is thought to be the remover or destroyer of obstacles.
|GARUDA - THE REMOVER OF OBSTACLES
It is stated that as a result of a dispute between Vinita, the mother of Garuda,
and Kadru, the mother of serpents, a continuous enmity has been going on between
the two and Garuda is on the look out to devour all the serpents he can find.
The story of his becoming the carrier of god Vishnu is related thus. Garuda with
his great strength surmounted many dangers. At last one day Garuda seized the
moon and concealed it under his wings. This worried all the gods in heavens and
under the leadership of lndra the gods attacked Garuda. He overcame all gods
but could not conquer Vishnu. However, when Garuda relented god Vishnu made the
bird immortal and permitted him the honor of being Vishnu's carrier.
The elder brother of Garuda is called Urud or Aruna and he is the charioteer
of Surya, the sun god. The image of this bird is shown as that of a man without
|GARUDA - THE VEHICLE OF VISHNU
Garuda is also said to have stolen Amrit (ambrosia) from the gods in order to
purchase his mother's freedom from the thralldom of Kadru, the mother of a thousand
powerful many headed serpents. Indra discovered this theft and fought a fierce
battle with Garuda. The amrit was recovered but the thunderbolt of lndra was
smashed in the battle.
Garuda is identified with the all consuming sun's rays and popular belief credits
him with the power to cure those suffering from snakebite. The mantra (hymn)
that is effective in such cases reads thus, "Om Tarakishya (Garuda), cast
down my enemies, trample the diseases and venom that might invade me". The
emerald stone traditionally deemed as the antidote of poison, is also associated
with Garuda. Garuda is not separately worshipped widely
as an independent god; he is worshipped together with Vishnu. His image is placed near Vishnu in temples
and in pictures he is shown as carrying Vishnu in the skies on its back.
The name of Garuda's son is Jatayu. This bird tried to rescue Sita, when Ravana
was fleeing after kidnapping her. Ravana fights him and wounds him fatally. Rama
himself cremated this bird after death and sent it to heaven.