This brass statue represents Garuda, the legendary bird of sky and the venerable vehicle of Lord Vishnu. His legendary form is unusual for both, a bird and a man. He has been described in texts as having a bird like forehead, feathers, beak and nails and a man like figure and senses. His wings had the brilliance of gold and he was born with a crown on his head. Garuda has been invoked in 'puranas' by various names - Kashyapi, Vainateya, Suparna, Takshya, Sitanana, Gaganeshvara, Sudhahara, Vishnuratha, Chirada, Khageshvara, Nagantaka, Kamayusha etc.
The mighty Garuda has his earliest reference in Vedas, where he
has been invoked by the name of Shyena. In Vedic literature
Shyena had brought nectar to earth from heaven; in 'puranas' the
bird that brought it is Garuda. Thus, Shyena and Garuda are the
same. Garuda has an independent Upanishada and a 'purana',
namely, Garudopanishada and Garuda-Purana, devoted to him. This
depicts Garuda's legendary magnitude and leads the mind to deduce
that Garuda could be the name of a race of birds instead of an
As the legends have it, Garuda was born to Vinata by sage
Kashyapa. He was the younger brother of the illustrious Aruna. It
is said that Valakhilyas did great penance so that Indra was
born. Later they gave the fruit of their penance to Kashyapa who
handed it over to Vinata. She bore an egg and thereby Garuda who,
straight from the egg, rose on his wings and stormed the sky with
a terrific speed. Later for people's relief he reduced his pace
and lustre. His brother Aruna was born without legs. He hence
carried him on his back and placed him eastward, where by the
power his penance Aruna swallowed sun and released him only when
gods mediated and made them friends. Sun then nominated Aruna as
The most popular Garuda legend relates to his stealing 'amrat'
from Indra's capital for his mother's release. Her mother Vinata
was enslaved by Kadru, his step-mother, who had defeated her,
though by deceit, in a wager. She demanded 'amrat' as ransom for
her release. Garuda flew to Amaravati, Indra's capital, for
securing 'amrat'. Gods' army obstructed him, but after defeating
them all he reached the well containing 'amrat'. There rose
flames of fire all around. He extinct the fire by flapping his
wings, beguiled the dragons on guard, brought 'amrat' and sought
his mother's release, though without giving Kadru and her serpent
sons any 'amrat' and answering her deceit in her own terms.
It was during this event that he met Vishnu who was highly
impressed by his honesty, as he had not even touched 'amrat'
despite being in its possession for quite long. Vishnu wished
that Garuda became his 'vahana', the vehicle. Garuda agreed but
on condition that he was held higher to Vishnu and became
immortal without drinking 'amrat'. Vishnu accepted and placed him
on his flag. Later all Vishnu temples had as an essential element
a Garudadhvaja in front of sanctum. The 'dhvaja', usually a tall
pillar, enshrined upon it Garuda on an altitude higher to that of
the enshrining deity.
This inflated Garuda with ego. Once Indra blessed the serpent
Sumukha with immortality. Garuda treated serpents as his food and
Indra's boon deprived him of it. He hence not only quarreled with
him but also challenged and boasted that he was mightier even to
Vishnu. For purging him of his ego Vishnu just pressed one of his
fingers on his person. Garuda felt unbearable pressure and prayed
Vishnu for relief. Vishnu released the pressure but to keep
Garuda reminding of the event garland-like placed serpent Sumukha
on his breast.
This metal-cast of Garuda manifests this legendary Garuda
tradition quite elaborately. Though born of his step-mother, the
great serpent Shesha was his brother and loved and protected him.
In this icon the great serpent holds his hoods over Garuda like a
halo. The serpent Sumukha lies on his breast. He has towering
heights but with his folded hands he is the image of humility and
service. Despite his human form and figure, as described in
texts, he has a bird's beak, nails, forehead and feather. His
entire body bears a fur like look. May be, the caster wished to
cover it by feathers or by fur like garment. This magnificent
brass-statue has been cast by lost wax technique and is an
excellent example of craftsmanship.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr
Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the
National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated
on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
Of Related Interest:
Lakshmi-Narayana on Garuda (Brass Statue)
Garuda (Silk Painting)
Garuda Coral Pendant (Sterling Silver Pendant, Made in Nepal)
Garuda Coral Ring (Sterling Silver Finger Ring)
Garuda (Copper Sculpture)
Garuda (Comic Book)
How to keep a Brass statue well-maintained?
Brass statues are known and appreciated for their exquisite beauty and luster. The brilliant bright gold appearance of Brass makes it appropriate for casting aesthetic statues and sculptures. Brass is a metal alloy composed mainly of copper and zinc. This chemical composition makes brass a highly durable and corrosion-resistant material. Due to these properties, Brass statues and sculptures can be kept both indoors as well as outdoors. They also last for many decades without losing all their natural shine.
Brass statues can withstand even harsh weather conditions very well due to their corrosion-resistance properties. However, maintaining the luster and natural beauty of brass statues is essential if you want to prolong their life and appearance.
In case you have a colored brass statue, you may apply mustard oil using a soft brush or clean cloth on the brass portion while for the colored portion of the statue, you may use coconut oil with a cotton cloth.
Brass idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are especially known for their intricate and detailed work of art. Nepalese sculptures are famous for small brass idols portraying Buddhist deities. These sculptures are beautified with gold gilding and inlay of precious or semi-precious stones. Religious brass statues can be kept at home altars. You can keep a decorative brass statue in your garden or roof to embellish the area and fill it with divinity.
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