Lord Garuda: The eagle god & vehicle of Lord Vishnu
Lord Garuda: One thing that is significant in the Hindu mythology is their way of worshiping and protecting the animals and birds. From monkeys to snakes, all of them are given the status of God and worshiped with mush sanctity. The Garuda is an Eagle God that has a special mention in all the sacred stories of the culture. He is known as Pakshi Raja, the king of birds.
Garuda is the vehicle of the Lord Vishnu, who is one among the most important Gods of the Hindus. It is believed that the snakes or Nagas are his sworn enemies.
There is a special day to worship Eagle God called the Garuda Panchami. It falls on the 5th day of the waxing moon phase or Shukla Paksha in the month of Shravana that is in August-September. Garuda Panchami is celebrated as the remembrance of Garuda’s devotion towards his mother, Vinita. The day is celebrated by mother and sons to share the spirit of love and devotion.
Sage Kashyapa lived with his two wives Kadru and Vinita. While Kadru gave birth to thousand snakes, Vinita gave birth to Garuda. When Eagle God came out from his egg, he was a raging firestorm that even the Gods feared. The Gods begged for sympathy, and thus, Eagle God reduced his size and energy.
Once, Kadru and Vinita betted on the color of the tail of the seven headed flying horse, Uchaishravas. Kadru said it was black while Vinita argued it was white. They challenged that whoever lost the bet must serve the other. Kadru won by cheating as she asked her sons, the Nagas, to hang on to the tail of the horse, so it looked black instead of its original white colour. So, Vinita and Eagle God began to serve Kadru and her sons, who were evil towards them. The Nagas agreed to free them only if they brought the Amrit or Elixer, which was with Lord Indra, the King of Gods. Finally, Eagle God brought the Amrit and freed himself and his mother from the Nagas. Thus, the Nagas and Garuda are sworn enemies.
The Garuda Purana, which is a holy scripture, is about Garuda. Eagle God is present as a Dwarapalaka in all the temples of the Hindus.
Garuda is an eagle-like human, who has great speed. He is strong and huge. He can fly any distance in extreme speed. He has a head, wings, tail, and a beak just like an eagle and body with limbs like a man. He has a white face, red wings, and a golden body.
Eagle God married Unnati and had two sons Sampati and Jatayu, who were important characters in Ramayana.
Garuda is called by many names including Rakta-paksha -Blood winged, Gaganeshwara -Lord of the Sky, Suvarna Kaya -Golden bodied, Sweta-Rohita – White and Red, Khageshwara -King of the birds, Taraswin -The Swift, Vajrajit -Conqueror of the Thunderbolt and so on.
Eagle God is among the three principal animal deities of the Hindu Mythology among Ganesha and Lord Hanuman. He is the symbol of strength and doing good.