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,
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