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 (J.vi.175f).
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.