Garuda is a legendary bird or bird-like creature found in Hindu,
Jain mythology. He is variously the vehicle
mount (vahana) of the Hindu god Vishnu, a dharma-protector and
Astasena in Buddhism, and the Yaksha of the
Garuda is described as the king of birds and a Kite-like figure.
He is shown either in zoomorphic form (giant bird with partially open
wings) or an anthropomorphic form (man with wings and some bird
Garuda is generally a protector with power to swiftly go
anywhere, ever watchful and an enemy of the serpent. He is
also known as Tarkshya and Vynateya.
Garuda is a part of state insignia in India, Myanmar, Thailand,
Cambodia and Indonesia. The Indonesian official coat of arms is
centered on the Garuda. The national emblem of
Indonesia is called
4 As a cultural and national symbol
6 In other media
7 See also
9 External links
Garuda may be shown as a kite (left) alone or carrying Vishnu. A
Raja Ravi Varma
Raja Ravi Varma (right) showing
Garuda and Vishnu.
Garuda is a divine eagle-like sun bird and the king of
birds. A Garutman is mentioned in the
Rigveda who is described as
celestial deva with wings. The Shatapatha
Yajurveda text mentions
Garuda as the personification of
courage. In the Mahabharata, Garutman is stated to be same as Garuda,
then described as the one who is fast, who can shapeshift into any
form and enter anywhere. He is a powerful creature in the epics,
whose wing flapping can stop the spinning of heaven, earth and hell.
He is described to be the vehicle mount of the Hindu god Vishnu, and
typically they are shown together.
According to George Williams,
Garuda has roots in the verb gri, or
speak. He is a metaphor in the Vedic literature for Rik (rhythms),
Saman (sounds), Yajna (sacrifices), and the atman (Self, deepest level
of consciousness). In the Puranas, states Williams,
Garuda becomes a
literal embodiment of the idea, and the Self who attached to and
inseparable from the Supreme Self (Vishnu). Though
an essential part of the
Vaishnavism mythology, he also features
Shaivism mythology, Shaiva texts such as the Garuda
Tantra and Kirana Tantra, and
Shiva temples as a bird and as a
metaphor of atman.
Garuda iconography at a
Krishna Temple in Kolkata.
Hindu texts on
Garuda iconography vary in their details. If in the
bird form, he is eagle-like, typically with the wings slightly open as
if ready and willing to fly wherever he needs to. In part
human-form, he may have an eagle-like nose, beak or legs, his eyes are
open and big, his body is the color of emerald, his wings are
golden-yellow. He may be shown with either two or four hands. If he
is not carrying Vishnu, he holds a jar of amrita (immortality nectar)
in one hand in the rear and an umbrella in the other, while the front
pair of hands are in anjali (namaste) posture. If he is carrying
Vishnu, the rear hands provide the support for Vishnu's feet.
According to the text Silparatna, states Rao,
Garuda is best depicted
with only two hands and with four bands of colors: "golden yellow
color from feet to knees, white from knees to navel, scarlet from
navel to neck, and black above the neck". His hands, recommends the
text, should be in abhaya (nothing to fear) posture. In
Sritatvanidhi text, the recommended iconography for
Garuda is a
kneeling figure, who wears one or more serpents, pointed bird-beak
like nose, his two hands in namaste posture. This style is commonly
found in Hindu temples dedicated to Vishnu.
In some iconography,
Garuda carries Lord
Vishnu and his two consorts
by his side: Lakshmi(Thirumagal) and Bhūmi
(Bhuma-Devi).[better source needed]
Garuda iconography is found in early temples of India, such as on the
underside of the eave at Cave 3 entrance of the Badami cave temples
Garuda is found in
Vishnu temples; Above: in Belur, India
Garuda mythology is linked to that of Aruna – the charioteer of
Sun god). However, these Indian mythologies are different,
inconsistent across the texts. Both developed from egg. According to
one version, states George Williams, Kashyapa Prajapati's two wives
Vinata and Kadru wanted to have children. Kashyapa granted them a
boon. Kadru asked for one thousand
Nāga sons, while Vinata wanted
two. Kashyapa blessed them, and then went away to a forest. Later,
Kadru gave birth to one thousand eggs, while Vinata gave birth to two
eggs. These incubated for five hundred years, upon which Kadru broke
the eggs open and out came her 1,000 sons. Vinata eager for her sons,
broke one of the eggs from which emerged the partially formed Aruna,
who looked radiant and reddish as the morning sun but not as bright as
the midday sun.
Balinese wooden statue of
Vishnu riding Garuda, Purna Bhakti Pertiwi
Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia
Vinata waited, and later the fully developed brother of Aruna namely
Garuda was born.
Garuda later went to war with his step brothers, the
Some myths present
Garuda as so massive that he can block out the
sun. The text
Garuda Purana is named after him.
Garuda is presented in the
Mahabharata mythology as one who eats snake
meat, such as the story about he planning to kill and eat Sumukha
Indra attempts to intervene. Garudas are also a race
of birds who devour snakes in the epic.
Garuda's links to
Vishnu – the Hindu god who fights injustice and
destroys evil in his various avatars to preserve dharma, has made him
an iconic symbol of king's duty and power, an insignia of royalty or
dharma. His eagle-like form is shown either alone or with Vishnu,
signifying divine approval of the power of the state. He is found
on the faces of many early Hindu kingdom coins with this symbolism,
either as a single headed bird or a three-headed bird that watches all
Throughout the Mahabharata,
Garuda is invoked as a symbol of impetuous
violent force, of speed, and of martial prowess. Powerful warriors
advancing rapidly on doomed foes are likened to
Garuda swooping down
on a serpent. Defeated warriors are like snakes beaten down by Garuda.
Drona uses a military formation named after
Krishna even carries the image of
Garuda on his
Garuda vanquishing the Naga clan, a
Gandhara artwork, 2nd century CE.
Garuda, also referred to as Garula (Pali), are golden-winged birds in
Buddhist texts. In Buddhism samsara, they are one of Astasena or eight
class of nonhuman beings. In Buddhist arts, they are shown as sitting
and listening to the sermons of the Buddha. They are enemies of
Nagas (snakes) and therefore sometimes depicted with a serpent held
between their claws. Like the Hindu arts, both zoomorphic (giant
eagle-like bird) and partially anthropomorphic (part bird, part human)
iconography has been common in Buddhism.
Garuda in Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia.
In Buddhism, the
Garuda (Pāli: garuḷā) are enormous predatory
birds with wings span of 330 yojanas. They are described as beings
with intelligence and social organization. Another name for the Garuda
is suparṇa (Pāli: supaṇṇa), meaning "well-winged, having good
wings". Like the Naga, they combine the characteristics of animals and
divine beings, and may be considered to be among the lowest devas.
The Garudas have kings and cities, and at least some of them have the
magical power of changing into human form when they wish to have
dealings with people. On some occasions
Garuda kings have had romances
with human women in this form. Their dwellings are in groves of the
simbalī, or silk-cotton tree.
Jataka stories describe them to be residents of Nagadipa or Seruma.
Garuda are enemies to the nāga, a race of intelligent serpent- or
dragon-like beings, whom they hunt. The Garudas at one time caught the
nāgas by seizing them by their heads; but the nāgas learned that by
swallowing large stones, they could make themselves too heavy to be
carried by the Garudas, wearing them out and killing them from
exhaustion. This secret was divulged to one of the Garudas by the
ascetic Karambiya, who taught him how to seize a nāga by the tail and
force him to vomit up his stone (Pandara Jātaka, J.518).
The Garudas were among the beings appointed by Śakra to guard Mount
Sumeru and the Trāyastriṃśa heaven from the attacks of the asuras.
13th century Cham sculpture depicts
Garuda devouring a nāga serpent
In the Maha-samaya Sutta (Digha Nikaya 20), the Buddha is shown making
temporary peace between the Nagas and the Garudas.
Qing Dynasty fiction The Story of
Yue Fei (1684),
at the head of the Buddha's throne. But when a celestial bat (an
embodiment of the Aquarius constellation) flatulates during the
Buddha’s expounding of the Lotus Sutra,
Garuda kills her and is
exiled from paradise. He is later reborn as
Song Dynasty General Yue
Fei. The bat is reborn as Lady Wang, wife of the traitor Prime
Minister Qin Hui, and is instrumental in formulating the "Eastern
Window" plot that leads to Yue's eventual political execution. It
is interesting to note The Story of
Yue Fei plays on the legendary
Garuda and the Nagas when the celestial bird-born
Yue Fei defeats a magic serpent who transforms into the unearthly
spear he uses throughout his military career. Literary critic C.
T. Hsia explains the reason why Qian Cai, the book's author, linked
Garuda is because of the homology in their Chinese names. Yue
Fei's courtesy name is Pengju (鵬舉). A Peng (鵬) is a giant
mythological bird likened to the Middle Eastern Roc. Garuda's
Chinese name is Great Peng, the Golden-Winged Illumination King
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January
The garuda is a yaksha or guardian for
Jain iconography shows
Garuda as a human figure
with wings and a strand-circle.
As a cultural and national symbol
Garuda according to Ida Made Tlaga, a 19th-century Balinese artist
Indonesia and the rest of
Southeast Asia the eagle symbolism
is represented by Garuda, a large bird with eagle-like features that
appears in both Hindu and Buddhist epic as the vahana (vehicle) of the
Garuda became the national emblem of
Garuda is rendered in a more traditional
anthropomorphic style, while that of
Indonesia is rendered in heraldic
style with traits similar to the real Javan hawk-eagle.
See also: Brahminy kite
India primarily uses
Garuda as a martial motif:
Garud Commando Force
Garud Commando Force is a
Special Forces unit of the Indian Air Force,
specializing in operations deep behind enemy lines.
Brigade of the Guards
Brigade of the Guards of the
Indian Army uses
Garuda as their symbol
Elite bodyguards of the medieval
Hoysala kings were called Garudas
Andhra pradesh state road transport corporations use Garuda
as the name for a/c moffusil buses
Garuda rock, a rocky cliff in
Tirumala in Andhra pradesh
Aragalur chief, Magadesan's, insignia was Rishabha the
sacred bull and the Garuda
Javan hawk-eagle and Brahminy kite
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Garuda in Indonesia.
Balinese dancers including a man dressed as
Indonesia uses the Garuda, called the
Garuda Pancasila, as its
national symbol. It is somewhat intertwined with the concept of the
Garuda Pancasila is coloured or gilt gold, symbolizes the greatness of
the nation and is a representation of the elang Jawa or Javan
hawk-eagle Nisaetus bartelsi. The black color represents nature. There
are 17 feathers on each wing, 8 on the lower tail, 19 on the upper
tail and 45 on the neck, which represent the date
its independence: 17 August 1945. The shield it carries with the
Indonesian Panca Sila heraldry symbolizes self-defense and protection
Indonesian national airline is
Indonesian Armed Forces
Indonesian Armed Forces United Nations peacekeeping missions is known
Airlangga University, one of the oldest and leading university in
Garuda on its emblem. The emblem, containing a Garuda
in a blue and yellow circle, is called "Garudamukha", and depicts
Garuda as the bearer of knowledge, carrying a jug of Amrita, the water
of eternity, symbolizing eternal knowledge.
A part of planned 120-metre tall
Garuda Wisnu Kencana
Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue in Bali,
currently under construction.
Garuda has become a cultural symbol, the wooden
statue and mask of
Garuda is a popular artworks and souvenirs.
In Bali, we can find the tallest
Garuda statue of 18 metres tall made
from tons of copper and brass. The statue is located in
Garuda has identified as
Indonesian national football team
Indonesian national football team in
international games, namely "The
The stylized brush stroke that resemble
Garuda appears in the logo of
2011 Southeast Asian Games, held in
Palembang and Jakarta, Indonesia.
The stylized curves that took form of
Garuda Pancasila appears in the
logo of Wonderful
Indonesia tourism campaign.
Garuda becomes the inspiration for national costumes worn by Puteri
Miss Universe 2012
Miss Universe 2012 and
Miss Universe 2016
Miss Universe 2016 beauty pageant.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Garuda in Thailand.
Garuda as the masthead of Thai royal barge.
Thailand uses the
Garuda (Thai: ครุฑ, khrut) as its national
symbol, as well as their currency.
One form of the
Garuda used in
Thailand as a sign of the royal family
is called Khrut Pha, meaning "Garuda, the vehicle (of Vishnu)."
Kingdom of Siam has an image of
Garuda in their coins at least since
The statue and images of
Garuda adorn many Buddhist temples in
Thailand. It also has become the cultural symbol of Thailand.
The figure of
Garuda also installed as the figurehead or masthead of
Thai royal barges.
Wingless statue of
Kofukuji Temple, Nara, Japan,
Karura (迦楼羅?) is a divine creature with human torso and
birdlike head in Japanese Hindu-Buddhist epics.
The name is a transliteration of
Garuda (Sanskrit: Garuḍa
गरुड ; Pāli: Garuḷa) a race of enormously gigantic
birds in Hinduism, upon which the Japanese Buddhist version is based.
The same creature may go by the name of konjichō (金翅鳥?, lit.
"gold-winged bird", Skr. suparṇa).
The Garuda, known as Khangarid, is the symbol of the capital city of
Mongolia, Ulan Bator. According to popular Mongolian belief,
Khangarid is the mountain spirit of the
Bogd Khan Uul
Bogd Khan Uul range who became
a follower of Buddhist faith. Today he is considered the guardian of
that mountain range and a symbol of courage and honesty.
Khangarid (Хангарьд), a football (soccer) team in the Mongolia
Premier League also named after Garuda.
Garuda Ord (Гаруда Орд), a private construction and trading
company based in Ulaanbaatar, also named after Garuda.
Garuda (Улсын Гарьд) is a title given to the debut
runner up in wrestling tournament during Mongolian National Festival
In Burmese epics, which was influenced by Hindu-Buddhist beliefs,
Garuda is known as Galone, the nemesis of the Nāgas.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Garuda in Nepal.
Garuda is found in Nepalese traditions of
Hinduism and Buddhism.
In Suriname, there is a radio and TV station called Radio en Televisie
Garuda, which broadcasts programming from Indonesia, particularly
Java, aimed at the
Javanese Surinamese population.
Garuda as national symbol of Indonesia
Garuda as national symbol of Thailand
Garuda (Khangardi) as the symbol of Ulan Bator, Mongolia
5th-century Gupta-era coin,
Garuda with snakes in his claws
6th century coin with
Garuda and Vishnu's chakra and conch on side
Vishnu in Aihole, Karnataka, India
Garuda pillar location at a
Shiva temple, Masrur Temples,
Himachal Pradesh India
Airlangga depicted as
Vishnu mounting Garuda, 11th century East
12th century Cham sculpture, Viet Nam, in the Thap Mam style depicts
Garuda serving as an atlas
The statues of Krut battling naga serpent, a
Thai Buddhist adaptation
Wat Phra Kaeo
Wat Phra Kaeo temple, Thailand.
Garuda figure, gilt bronze,
Khmer Empire Cambodia, 12th-13th century,
John Young Museum, University of Hawaii at Manoa
12th century bas relief at
Angkor Wat in
battle mounted on Garuda
Head of a
Garuda during the 14th century Cambodia, Honolulu Museum of
Garuda returning with the vase of Amrita
Garuda at Srivilliputur Temple, Tamil Nadu, India
Garuda statue at Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali, Indonesia
Garuda pillar, Nepal
Garuda at Durbar square in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Garuda at the funeral of King
Bhumibol Adulyadej of
Thailand in 2017
In other media
Garuda voiced by
Robin Williams appears in the film Night at the
Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
Garuda in the architecture of Cambodia
List of avian humanoids
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Garuda.
The Garuḍa Purana (Sâroddhâra), by Ernest Wood and
S.V.Subramanyam, 1918 (Online, downloadable PDF) archive.org
Garuda Purana (Wood and Subrahmanyam translation, 1911) at
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