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The Srimad Bhagavatam describes how Krishna flew on the back of Garuda to kill the demon Narakasura, which is the inspiration for the holiday Deepavali:

After Bhauma [Narakasura] had stolen the earrings belonging to Indra’s mother [Aditi], along with Varuṇa’s umbrella and the demigods’ playground at the peak of Mandara mountain, Indra went to Lord Kṛṣṇa and informed Him of these misdeeds. The Lord, taking His wife Satyabhāmā with Him, then rode on Garuḍa to Prāgyotiṣa-pura, which was surrounded on all sides by fortifications consisting of hills, unmanned weapons, water, fire and wind, and by obstructions of mura-pāśa wire.

My question is, is this the first time that Vishnu's incarnation Krishna met Vishnu's bird Garuda? Or did he meet him earlier than that?

A couple chapters earlier, there's a description of Krishna's chariot already having a flag of Garuda on it:

My dear King, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma mounted Kṛṣṇa’s chariot, which flew the flag of Garuḍa and was yoked with tremendously swift horses, and pursued Their elder’s murderer.

When did Krishna first put Vishnu's Garuda flag on his chariot? Did he use it ever since he started riding chariots in Mathura, since unlike Rama he always knew he was Vishnu? Or did he start using it after some encounter with Garuda?

Note that Garuda is referred to in the story of Krishna defeating the serpent Kalinga, but the two don't actually meet then.

(On a side note, Garuda also had an encounter with Vishnu's incarnation Rama, where he saves Rama and Lakshmana from the snake weapons of Indrajit, as I discuss in this answer.)

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    I would assume that since Krishna and Rama are avatars of Vishnu, the answer would be that they always knew Garuda and didn't necessarily need to be "introduced" on Earth. I'm curious to see if there's a more interesting story, though. – Akshay Nov 8 '14 at 17:35
  • @Akshay Rama first met Garuda on the battlefield of Lanka; see point 1 in my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/2348/36 Rama asked him who he was and why he was helping them, but Garuda refused to answer because the fact that Rama was an avataram of Vishnu was a Devarahasya or divinely held secret. He just said "You need not be so curious to know the casue of my friendship. You will know of it, once you have accomplished success in battle." – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 8 '14 at 18:26
  • @Akshay But yeah, Krishna knew he was an avataram of Vishnu, so presumably he could summon Garuda at any time. I just want to know when is the first time he met Garuda. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 8 '14 at 18:29
  • I could not understand one thing. How come Rama didnt know he is avatar of Vishnu ? – tekkk Mar 16 '15 at 5:26
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    @sysinit Vishnu intentionally made it so that Rama wouldn't know his true identity. It was a Devarahasya (a divinely held secret). That is why, when Rama sees Indra (as described in my answer here), Indra leaves immediately so that Rama doesn't find out who he really is. And as I discuss in this answer, when Garuda helps Rama at the battlefield of Lanka, Garuda refuses to tell Rama who he is: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/3552/36 – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 16 '15 at 6:39
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The Harivamsam, a part of the Mahabharata, gives us the story when Krishna and Balarama try to save the kingdom from Jarasandha. In the process, their grandfather (Kamsa's father and king) advises them to proceed from the south. In this process, they encounter Parasurama who them guides them to a place where Garuda provides them with weapons.

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    Thanks! I wasn't aware of this incident. But you should expand your answer by adding citations and/or quotes from the Harivamsa. You can read the Hari Vamsa here: mahabharata-resources.org/harivamsa/harivamsa-cs-index.html Krishna and Balarama meet Parashurama in chapter 39 of the Vishnu Parva, and Garuda puts a crown on Krishna's head in chapter 41. I don't see where Garuda gives him weapons though. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 8 '15 at 10:03
  • I have cited HariVamsam. This should be sufficient and rest of the research can be conducted by the questioner? – user1195 Jan 8 '15 at 10:19
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    The thing is, the point of Stackexchange sites is not just to benefit the questioner, but also to benefit people reading the answer in future. So answers that just say things like "this story is in the Vishnu Purana" are not acceptable on this site, because it's hard for the average reader to know whether it's really there or not, and it's hard to read more about it just from the statement that it's in some Purana. That's why specific citations and/or quotes are important; they allow a casual reader to verify that the answer is accurate. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 8 '15 at 10:40
  • After all, there could be other users who may say things like "the story is in the Shiva Purana", but it may be that they're mistaken. So the reader needs some way of distinguishing between the two. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 8 '15 at 10:41

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