A few weeks ago, we featured the Naga. This week, lets take a look at its enemy the Garuda.
The garuda is a bird-like creature that appears in Hindu and Buddhist mythologies. Just as eagles frequently eats snakes, the garuda is considered the enemy of the serpentine naga. It is commonly represented as having a man’s arms and torso, but a bird’s head, wings, and legs. Variations of garuda imagery can be found throughout southeast Asia.
In the Hindu epic the Mahabharata, the garuda is said to have hatched from an egg that incubated for 500 years. The garuda burst from the egg with a burning light. The god Vishnu gave the garuda immortality in exchange for being his mount.
In Buddhist mythology, the garuda are a group of intelligent predatory birds who are ruled by four garuda kings. They live in silk-cotton trees, and can take on human form if they choose. They guard Mt. Sumeru (the world mountain) and the Trāyastriṃśa heaven
Traditional Representations of the garuda:
- The Mysterious Garuda – Includes excerpts of the legends it appears in
- Notes on the Garuda with References to its Appearances in Malay Legends
- Garuda, The King Eagle – Good introductory reference
Region of origin: Asia, India
Related creatures: pheonix, naga (commonly depicted holding a serpent)
So neither the garuda and naga (though enemies) is evil, which I find interesting. The emnity between the garuda and naga is due to a disagreement between them, but both are revered, guardian, creatures.