The Emblem and Vahana of Lord Vishnu
Sri Garuda is said to be the embodiment of the Vedas. In the Vaishnava tradition he is known as Periya Tiruvadi, and is considered to be the avatar of Sankarshanan, a fierce form of Maha Vishnu. He is believed to have gotten extra ordinary powers through the penance of his father Sage Kashyapa. It is said that He earned his position to eternally serve the Lord through his humility and devotion.
Sage Kashyapa has two wives, Vinata and Kadru. Garuda was born to Sage Kashyapa and Vinata. Once, Vinata lost a bet with with Kadru and was taken a slave by Kadru's sons, the serpents. Garuda wanted to free his mother from slavery. The serpents promised to release her if he got the nectar of immortality to them. Braving many hardships and fighting Lord Indra, who had the 'Amrutha', Garuda delivered it to the serpents and secured the release of his mother. As they got ready to consume the nectar, He told them that they had to consume it only after cleansing themselves. When the serpents went for their bath, Indra took away the nectar.
Pleased with Garuda's act, Lord Vishnu offered him a boon. Garuda sought complete surrender at the Lord's feet and asked to be granted the honor of being his emblem. Maha Vishnu granted this and also asked him to be the His vahana, to which Garuda gladly agreed.
Sri Garuda is also known by other names like Kamayusha, Gaganeshwara, Kashyapi, Chirada, and Vaineteyan among others. He is known to have powers that can heal any kind of poison.
Garuda wears the serpent Adisesha on his left toenail, and Gulika on right cerebral vortex. His sacred thread is formed by the great snake Vasuki, his waist belt is formed by Takshaka. Karkotaka is a necklace around his neck, Padma and Mahapadma are earrings. Garuda is associated with birth and heavens. Hence prayers are offered to him by devotees seeking children. Garuda Purana, one of the eighteen Mahapuranas is a conversation between Maha Vishnu and Garuda. It was then narrated to Sage Kashyapa by Garuda which hen spread in the Naimicharanya forest and reached Sage Vyasa and through him to mankind.