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.
Beer, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999.
Harshananda, Swami. Hindu Gods and Goddesses: Madras, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1987.