Just an ordinary bird of the vulture group to an Ornithologist, Garuda has attained a divine status from his unique personality to the Indian mind. It is also known as Brahmani Kite. It is not confined to India alone; it is found in Burma, Ceylon, Malaya, Indo-China, Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc.
The uniqueness of this bird is his white beak which has distinguished him from others of his category. But in our tradition, he is not just a bird but a divine being worthy of worship in temples. There is a vast mythological literature which describes his origin, personality, character and divinity.
Basically, he is the king of birds with unlimited strength and energy and his power of seeing is proverbial. He can penetrate to long distances and understand the nature of things. Actually ‘garutman’ was originally Sun god conceived as a bird in Rigveda. Mythology has many stories with regard to him. He is the son of seer Kashyapa and Vinate. Aruna is his brother. There is also an upanishad called garu-doupanishat attached to Atharvaveda. In ancient warfare, garudavyuha was quite popular — it was a geometric formation of soldiers and to come out of it was difficult for the enemy.