Garuda is the vehicle, or vahana, of the Supreme God Vishnu. Here Vishnu is seated on Garuda's shoulders whose hands are folded in the anjali mudra. Vishnu wears a high crown (karandamukuta), a pair of circular earrings, both small and long necklaces, and armlets and bracelets. There is a floral halo behind him.
The half-avian, half-human Garuda wears a similarly shaped crown
though smaller in size. His wings spread out behind him. Indeed,
literally, the word Garuda means 'wings of speech'. He actually
personifies Vedic knowledge. On his wings,as it were, Vedic
knowledge has come down to us. He is also known as Suparna
(beautiful wings), Garutman (the solar bird), Sarparati (enemy of
serpents), and Khageshvara or Pakshiraj (Lord of birds). The
female bird is known as Garudi.
The mighty Garuda has his earliest reference in the Vedas, where
he has been invoked by the name of Shyena. In Vedic literature,
Shyena had brought nectar to the earth from heaven; in 'puranas'
the bird that brought it is Garuda. Thus, Shyena and Garuda are
the same. Garuda has an independent Upanishad and a 'purana',
namely, Garudopanishada and Garuda-Purana, devoted to him. This
amply reflects Garuda's legendary magnitude.
Of Related Interest:
Lakshmi-Narayana on Garuda (Brass Statue)
Lakshmi Vishnu on Garuda (South Indian Temple Wood Carving)
Garuda (Water Color On Silk)
Garuda (Paperback Comic Book)
Vishnu: A Symbolic Appreciation (Article)
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