Garuda (गरुड़) is a large mythical bird or bird-like creature that appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Garuda is the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila. Garuda's father was the creator-rishi Kasyapa. Garuda's mother was Vinata, whose sister was Kadru, the mother of Nagas.
Jat Gotras from Garuda
The Garuda deity
His stature in Hindu religion can be gauged by the fact that an independent Upanishad, the Garudopanidad, and a Purana, the Garuda Purana, is devoted to him.
Various names of Garuda
Garuda in Vedas
The Vedas provide the earliest reference of Garuda, though by the name of Śyena, where this mighty bird is said to have brought nectar to earth from heaven. The Puranas, which came into existence much later, mention Garuda as doing the same thing, which indicates that Śyena (Sanskrit for Eagle) and Garuda are the same. One of the faces of Śrī Pañcamukha Hanuman is Mahavira Garuda. This face points towards the west. Worship of Garuda is believed to remove the effects of poisons from one's body. Hanuman is also one of the Avataras of Garuda. In Tamil Vaishnavism Garuda and Hanuman are known as "Periya Thiruvadi" and "Siriya Thiruvadi" respectively.
In the Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.10, Verse 30), in the middle of the battlefied "Kurukshetra", Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says - "Of birds, I am the son of Vineeta (Garuda)" indicating the importance of Garuda.
Garuda plays an important role in Krishna Avatar in which Krishna and Satyabhama ride on Garuda to kill Narakasura. On another occasion, Lord Hari rides on Garuda to save the devotee Elephant Gajendra. It is also said that Garuda's wings when flying will chant the Vedas.
Garuda son of Kasyapa and Vinata
Garuda's father was the creator-rishi Kasyapa. His mother was Vinata, whose sister was Kadru, the mother of Nagas. One day, Vinata entered into and lost a foolish bet, as a result of which she became enslaved to her sister. Resolving to release his mother from this state of bondage, Garuda approached the serpents and asked them what it would take to purchase her freedom. Their reply was that Garuda would have to bring them the elixir of immortality, also called amrita. It was a tall order. The amrita at that time found itself in the possession of the gods, who guarded it jealously, since it was the source of their immortality. They had ringed the elixir with a massive fire that covered the sky. They had blocked the way to the elixir with a fierce mechanical contraption of sharp rotating blades. And finally, they had stationed two gigantic poisonous snakes next to the elixir as deadly guardians. The wall surrounding the Cambodian temple city of Preah Khan is decorated with massive stone images of Garuda standing on one serpent and holding another overhead. The wall surrounding the Cambodian temple city of Preah Khan is decorated with massive stone images of Garuda standing on one serpent and holding another overhead.
Undaunted, Garuda hastened toward the abode of the gods intent on robbing them of their treasure. Knowing of his design, the gods met him in full battle-array. Garuda, however, defeated the entire host and scattered them in all directions. Taking the water of many rivers into his mouth, he extinguished the protective fire the gods had thrown up. Reducing his size, he crept past the rotating blades of their murderous machine. And finally, he mangled the two gigantic serpents they had posted as guards. Taking the elixir into his mouth without swallowing it, he launched again into the air and headed toward the eagerly waiting serpents. En route, he encountered Vishnu. Rather than fight, the two exchanged promises. Vishnu promised Garuda the gift of immortality even without drinking from the elixir, and Garuda promised to become Vishnu's mount. Flying onward, he met Indra the god of the sky. Another exchange of promises occurred. Garuda promised that once he had delivered the elixir, thus fulfilling the request of the serpents, he would make it possible for Indra to regain possession of the elixir and to take it back to the gods. Indra in turn promised Garuda the serpents as food.
At long last, Garuda alighted in front of the waiting serpents. Placing the elixir on the grass, and thereby liberating his mother Vinata from her servitude, he urged the serpents to perform their religious ablutions before consuming it. As they hurried off to do so, Indra swooped in to make off with the elixir. From that day onward, Garuda was the ally of the gods and the trusty mount of Vishnu, as well as the implacable enemy of snakes, upon whom he preyed at every opportunity.
Garudas are enemies of Nagas
The garuḍas are enemies to the Nāgas, a race of intelligent serpent- or dragon-like beings, whom they hunt. The garuḍas 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 garuḍas, wearing them out and killing them from exhaustion. This secret was divulged to one of the garuḍas 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 garuḍas were among the beings appointed by Śakra to guard Mount Sumeru and the Trāyastriṃśa heaven from the attacks of the asuras.
Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 31 - Birth of Garuda and Aruna
- Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihasa (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998 p. 239
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