A class of mythical birds generally mentioned in company with
Nāgas (E.g., J. iv.181, 202).
They live in Simbali-groves (E.g., J. i.202) and are usually huge in size,
sometimes one hundred and fifty leagues from wing to wing (J.iii.397). The
flapping of their wings can raise a storm, known as the Garuda-wind (J.v.77).
This wind can plunge a whole city in darkness and cause houses to fall through
its violence (J.iii.188).
A Garula has strength great enough to carry off a whole banyan tree, tearing
it up from its roots (J.vi.177). The Garulas are the eternal enemies of the
Nāgas (J.ii.13; iii.103) and live in places, such as the Seruma Island
(J.iii.187), where Nāgas are to be found. The greatest happiness of the Nāgas is
to be free from the attacks of the Garulas (J.iv.463). A Garula's plumage is so
thick that a man - e.g., Natakuvera
(J.iii.91) - could hide in it, unnoticed by the bird. Sometimes Garulas assume
human form; two Garula kings are said to have played dice with kings of
Benares and to have fallen in love with their
queens, whom they took to the Garula city - one of the queens being
Sussondī (J.iii.187) and the other
Kākātī (J.iii.91). In each case the
queen, being found unfaithful to her Garula lover, was returned to her husband.
The Garulas know the Ālambāyana spell, which no Nāga can resist (J.vi.178, 184).
It is said that in olden days the Garulas did not know how to seize Nāgas
effectively; they caught them by the bead, and the Nāgas who had swallowed big
stones were too heavy to be lifted from the ground; consequently the Garulas
died of exhaustion in trying to carry them. Later the Garulas learnt this secret
through the treachery of the ascetic Karambiya,
as related in the Pandara Jātaka
Garulas are mentioned as sometimes leading virtuous lives, keeping the fast
and observing the precepts. One such was the Garula king mentioned in the
Pandara Jātaka, and another, the son of Vināta, who visited the park of
Dhanañjaya Koravya and gave a golden garland as present after hearing
Vidhurapandita preach (J.vi.261f).
The Garula's body was evidently considered to be specially formed for quick
flight, for the ancient proto-type of the aeroplane was based on the Garula
(DhA.iii.135). One of the five guards appointed by Sakka to protect Tāvatimsa
from the Asuras was formed of Garulas (J.i.204).
The Bodhisatta (J.iii.187) and
Sāriputta (J.iii.400) were both, on different
occasions, born as Garula kings. The Simbalī is the special tree of the Garula-world
(Vsm.i.206). The Garula is often represented in art as a winged Man. (See
Fergusson: Tree and Serpent Worship, pl.xxvi.1; xxviii.1. etc.; also Gründwedel:
Buddhistische Kunst, pp.47-50).
The Garulas are sometimes called Supannas (Suvannas). VvA.9.