In Hindu mythology, the bird (similar to a kite or eagle) on whom the god Vishnu rides.

Garuda was a younger brother of Aruna, charioteer of the sun god Surya. His mother was enslaved by nagas (hence the emnity between kites and serpents) and was released only after Garuda brought the serpents an elixir of immortality. He is associated with royalty in several S.East Asian countries.

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▪ Hindu mythology
 in Hindu mythology, the bird and the vāhana (mount) of the god Vishnu. In the Ṛgveda (a collection of Vedic hymns) the sun is compared to a bird in its flight across the sky, and the association of the kitelike Garuḍa with Vishnu is taken by scholars as another indication of Vishnu's early origins as a sun deity. The mythological account of Garuḍa's birth identifies him as the younger brother of Aruṇa, the charioteer of the sun god, Sūrya. His mother was held in slavery by her co-wife and her sons, who were nagas (serpents), to which is attributed the lasting enmity between the eaglelike kite and the serpents. The nagas agreed to release his mother if he could obtain for them a drink of the elixir of immortality, the amṛta. Garuḍa performed this feat with a certain amount of difficulty and on his way back from the heavens met Vishnu and agreed to serve him as his vehicle and also as his emblem.

      Garuḍa is described in one text as emerald in colour, with the beak of a kite, roundish eyes, golden wings and four arms, and with breast, knees, and legs like those of the kite. He is also depicted anthropomorphically, with wings and hawklike features. Two of his hands are folded in adoration (añjali-mudrā) and the other two carry an umbrella and the pot of amṛta. Sometimes Vishnu rides on his shoulders. Images of Garuḍa are used by devotees of Vishnu to designate their cult affiliations, in which guise they appeared on coins of the Gupta period.

      Garuḍa traveled with the spread of Hinduism to Nepal and to Southeast Asia, where he is frequently depicted on monuments. He is also associated with royalty in several Southeast Asian countries.

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Universalium. 2010.

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