Creature Compendium

Creature Compendium: Garuda

A few weeks ago, we featured the Naga. This week, lets take a look at its enemy the Garuda.


Garuda and Naga BW by ~yurionna

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:

garuda mania!
Garuda Mania by K Nicol CC (Thailand) – Holding the snake/Naga
garuda at the vishnu temple
Garuda at the Vishnu Temple by Harini Calamur CC (India)
Vishnu sur Garuda (Thommanon, Angkor)
Vishnu sur Garuda by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra CC (Cambodia)

Further reading:

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.


  1. Garuda appears in Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, as the mount of Vishnu, but (since this is in a science fiction setting) I don’t think it’s explained where it came from and why there’s apparently only one of them.

    No Naga, though.

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