Garuda Half-Man Half-Bird

All the Legends, Myths and Mysteries

Garuda is said to be a mythical creature associated with Hindu and Buddhist mythology, many of which can be see throughout Thailand. They are considered to be the king of birds and often act as messengers between humans and gods. Though they may have the head, wings, talons and beak of an eagle, the body and limbs are that of a man. In other words they are half man and half bird.

Legend says that Vinata was the mother of this special spiritual individual and Kasyapa was the father who apparently is also the law-abiding grandfather of the world who often preformed tapas on the banks of the Lamhitya.

Newly hatched from the egg, the Garuda was said to be hungry so his mother sent him to his father who then sent him to a place where he could find food. This half man-half bird was allowed to eat the natives who inhabited the place, but was advised to spare the Brahmin who was also living with the natives.

Somehow by sheer accident, the Brahmin got lodged in the mystical creature's throat and was almost swallowed. But before that happened the Brahmin said that he would surrender his life, for the release of all his relatives. Out of fear of killing the Brahmin, Kasyapa ordered Garuda to regurgitate the Brahmin as well as the rest of his clan.

Still hungry, Kasyapa sent his offspring towards the ocean, where he soon found a giant elephant and a tortoise fighting. There he quickly grabbed them both with his claws and then flew away. Perched high up on a branch of a tree, he began to enjoy his meal, but the branch began to break. Fear of loosing his catch with the falling branch, had to find a safe spot to fill his belly.

Garuda figure on the prow of a Royal Barge

In the meantime Vishnu, a trusted comrade, had witnessed the seriousness of the situation his friend was facing and suggested that he could sit on his arm to enjoy the rest of his meal. This appeared to have worked as it seemed that there was no tree or mountain that could support the weight of this half man-half bird.

Nevertheless Garuda was still hungry after his fill so Vishnu offered him the flesh from his arm, but when the half man-half bird started to eat, he noticed that no wound was at all evident. Garuda then lowered his head to his friend and at once realized his divine nature. Thereafter becoming his heroic friend.

In so many great Indian and Buddhist epics, the half man-half bird is seen carrying Vishnu. There was a time when the half man-half bird's mother Vinata became imprisoned by the mother of the serpents Kadru, so her offspring had to procure various ways to secure her released.

These serpent-type mythical creatures had demanded a ransom in the form of the cup Amrita, which the Indra god held. The serpents of Kadru then stole the Amrita from the Indra god thus allowing his mother to be liberated.

As the serpents were about to drink from the Amrita, Indra snatched the cup away from them. Nevertheless, a few drops were spilled and subsequently licked up by the serpents, which then made them immortal and also split their tongues.

I bet many of you don't believe a word I've said. Yeah! I know it does sound a little hard to swallow (excuse the pun) but you have to be very aware that there are a lot of bizarre and bewildering fables emulating out of Asia. Unlike most westerners who are a little suspicious of these misunderstandings, Thai's become fully engrossed in mythology and their strange mystical creatures.

Hope you enjoyed this story so far. Below are a few more links to other bizarre legends, myths and mysteries. We explore further into the wanderlust that makes Thailand so extremely interesting.

Half Man-Half Bird at Wat Phra Kaew

More Amazing Mythologies you may like see

Naga is a serpent-like protector of Buddha 

Kinnari appears in the form of a half-woman and half-bird. Read More...

Apsonsi appears in the form of a half-woman and half-lion Read More...

Yaksha appears in the form of a grimacing giant statue. Read More...

Makara is an aquatic monster part crocodile, part elephant and part serpent. Read More...

Singha has a lion-like figure whose primary function is to guard temples. Read More...

Erawan is a three-headed mythical elephant of Hindu origin. The elephant statue seen in the photo is located in the province of Samut Prakan just outside Bangkok. Read More...

Hongsa is often seen as a glittering five metre tall swan-like figure gracing the prow of a royal barge or perched high on the apex of temple roofs. Read More...

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