Garuda (Tib. khyung) – a mythical bird that symbolizes various aspects of the Buddhist path.
The Garuda symbol can have the following meanings:
- A mythical Tibetan creature
- One of the four dignities associated with the windhorse
- A deity of protection
- Our primordial nature
A Mythical Creature
On the outer level, the Garuda is a mythical bird-like creature that is the enemy of the nagas.
One of the Four Dignities
Deity of Projection
The Garuda can also represent a deity of protection. For example:
- It is one of the Three Deities of the Great Master Vajrapani
- It is depicted above Vajrakilaya in Vajrakilaya thankas
Our Primordial Nature
In the Dzogchen teachings, the Garuda represents our primodial nature. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying says:
- The Dzogchen Tantras, the ancient teachings from which the bardo instructions come, speak of a mythical bird, the garuda, which is born fully grown. This image symbolizes our primordial nature, which is already completely perfect. The garuda chick has all its wing feathers fully developed inside the egg, but it cannot fly before it hatches. Only at the moment when the shell cracks open can it burst out and soar into the sky. Similarly, the masters tell us, the qualities of buddhahood are veiled by the body, and as soon as the body is discarded, they will be radiantly displayed. 
- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, page 109.