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A garuda from Bali

Shrekton / Flickr.com, Creative Commons License

A garuda is a bird creature of Buddhist mythology that combines the features of gods and animals. The Dhyani Buddha Amoghasiddhi sometimes is pictured riding a garuda.

The garuda first appeared in Hinduism, where they were pictured as humans with wings and beaks. In Buddhist iconography the garuda is more birdlike.

In Tibetan Buddhism, the garuda is one of the Four Dignities -- animals that represent characteristics of a bodhisattva. The four animals are the dragon, representing power; the tiger, representing confidence; the snow lion, representing fearlessness; and the garuda, representing wisdom.

Garudas are the enemies of nagas. In the Maha-samaya Sutta of the Pali Canon, the Buddha makes peace between nagas and garudas.

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