[Buddha-l] angels

Stephen Hodge s.hodge at padmacholing.freeserve.co.uk
Tue May 24 21:15:30 MDT 2005

Joanna Kirk wrote:

> Sorry--Garuda is a vahana (vehicle or transport), a half man-half bird
> vehicle of Vishnu. He is not an angel.
> Garuda is also Hindu not Buddhist, although he was appropriated by the
> Mahayanists, along with lots of other Hindu stuff, eventually.

I suspect that Vishnu / vahana concept is relatively late and I would also 
hestitate to characterize garu.das as originally Hindu -- on philological 
grounds, I suspect that the word originated with one of the non-IE tribal 
languages of India.  The traditional connection between naagas and garu.das 
also hints at this -- perhaps they originally had some totemic import (I 
think garu.das are supposed to have originally been some kind of eagle). 
The term is also found in early Jain literature, where (as well as some 
Buddhist sources) a garu.da is actually a yak.sa.  So, it would perhaps be 
better to think of the garu.da as "pan-Indian", appropriated and developed 
by both Hindus and Buddhists.  This is just the sort of topic that they'll 
love on Indo-Eurasia :)

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge 

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