According to different cultures, the Garuda is invoked to drive away negative forces.

These negativities often relate to health, including warding off snakes, snake-bite, and all types of poisons having an animal, vegetable or mineral origin.Of course, disease is sometimes thought to be related to the activities of the Nagas, traditional enemies of Garudas.

Garuda is also a weather-deity sometimes depicted with a hammer representing thunder, for example.

There is a female Garuda known as a Garudi, but I know of no practices associated with them.

IN BUDDHISM

Garuda is regarded as a protective Deity.  Shakyamuni is reputed to have manifested as Garuda at the request of Vajrapani to pacify and overcome the harmful acitivites of malevolent Naga beings who were creating sicknesses.

Practices with which I am familiar combine Garuda’s qualities with those of the enormously  powerful deity, Vajrapani, who is the first to be praised and invoked.

There are different forms of Garuda, with colours representing aspects of Wisdom and characterisitics of the 5 Buddha Families:

Yellow Garuda (Earth), Black Garuda (Air),  Red Garuda (Fire), White Garuda (Water) and a Blue or Rainbow Garuda (Space).

Different parts of the Garuda’s body also represent aspects of Dharma, as well as the solar and lunar winds entering the central channel.

Forms of Garuda are sometimes strutting on the ground or flying, and may be zoomorphic combinations of man and Garuda (most commonly) or Garuda and Snow Lion for example, combining the qualites of each. There are also depictions where the snakes in his mouth have become garlands of jewels and the face then resembles Kirtimukha  – to me this may be blurred iconography or another combination of two beings.

So, I may invoke Garuda simply through making offerings, reciting his mantra ( OM PA KSHIM SVAHA)  and visualising a particular Garuda. Alternatively,  I may invoke a specialised form through a ritual.

(Source:  Robert Beer’s Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs)

Note: Offerings to Garuda

In addition to offerings traditionally made to a Buddhist Tantric Deity, there was formerly a ‘red offering’ of flesh and blood to Garuda.  In Tibet, in both Bon and Nyingma historically regarded Garuda in some aspects as a ‘bdud’ demonic force to be propitiated with such an offering. This practice has now been abandoned although it is not known if isolated practices continue.

Amoghasiddhi

In the same way as Garuda is seen as the guardian and mount of Shiva, in the Vajrayana he is seen to have the ame relationship with Amoghasiddhi.  The shang-shang half-man half-bird is seen as representing man in transition towards a new level of consciousness.  (Lama Govinda).

RITUAL: Fire Sword of Black Garuda (for those with HYT empowerment only)

An example of this is the Fire Sword of Black Garuda which was relatively recently popular as a protection against the SARS outbreak. This description is of the process and omits the actual mantras etc.

The ceremony begins with Refuge and the generation of Bodhichitta. If performed for your own health it must be with a motivation of being healthy in order to serve others.

Offerings are then made to Garuda of the usual substances.

Praise then follows describing the power of the Garuda to shake even the galaxies and to destroy all spirit possession and other harmful obstructions above, amidst and below.   The pacifying mantra garland and all phenomena then blaze with the fire of purification, including all creatures, land and planets.

There is then recitation of mantras to further pacify obstructions, followed by a powerful wrathful mantra recitation with a visualisation of powerful beams of light emanating from Garuda into the bodies of those ill or suffering harm from spirits.

The person performing the ceremony visualises that they possess all the qualties of Black Garuda  – omniscient mind, realisations, perfect power, compasison etc.

(Note: for this purpose Garuda is regarded as a Buddha)

There then follows a Dedication and request that the practitioner may attain the enlightened state of Black Garuda and lead other beings to his enlightened state.

(Source document: FPMT Lama Zopa Rinpoche)

RITUAL: Vajrapani, Hayagriva and Garuda

(Meditation and Recitation of the Threefold Wrathful One)

Tantric Empowerment is required to perform this ritual.

This ritual invokes the powers of three deities in combination to purify all diseases, maicious inflictions, negativities and obscurations of the practitioner and others.  The practice may be performed for specific individuals.

There is self-generation as Vajrapani adorned with Hayagriva and Garuda.

The usual offerings, praises and requests are made and the ritual ends with Vajrasattva 100 syllable mantra as Purification, followed by Dedication related to Vajrapani Threefold Wrathful One. (It is important to regard the combined qualties of the deities as a single being.)

All the blessings and inspirations of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are concentrated and directed as lights emanating from the mantra rosary to purify the practitioner and other beings.

The mantra is:  OM VAJRAPANI HAYAGRIVA GARUDA HUM PHAT.

(Source document: FPMT Sadhana)

GARUDA IN Highest Yoga Tantra

Garuda is invoked and the Garuda Mudra is performed to purify substances and provide protection for the practitioner during such offerings as Kusali Tsog.

Note: Offerings to Garuda

In addition to offerings traditionally made to a Buddhist Tantric Deity, there was formerly a ‘red offering’ of flesh and blood to Garuda.  In Tibet, in both Bon and Nyingma historically regarded Garuda in some aspects as a ‘bdud’ demonic force to be propitiated with such an offering. This practice has now been abandoned although it is not known if isolated practices continue.

IN HINDUISM

I know very little of Garuda as a deity who is invoked, but would assume that  his main role is in dealing with snakes and illnesses and as a thunder God. Unlike in Buddhism where the Garuda is at times regarded as a Buddha, in Hinduism he is a lesser deity.

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