Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Vāhana

  • Carl Olson
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_550-1

The term vāhana means vehicle or means of conveyance and is inextricably related to the means of locomotion of divine beings. Thus, Hindu deities are associated with a vehicle that transports them from one place to another. These vehicles are normally depicted as animals that are for the most part associated with a single deity, although there are some instances of overlap among the deities with whom certain animals are associated. By the epic literary period around 300 B.C.E. and thereafter, the following animals are symbolically related, for example, to particular divine beings: the wild goose with Brahmā, the lion with Durgā, the elephant with Indra, the bull with Śiva, the peacock with Skanda, Viṣṇu with Garuḍa and Śeṣa, Yama with the buffalo, Agni with horses, and Gaṇeśa with the rat. Oftentimes, the animal associated with a particular deity is also the animal that must be sacrificed to that deity. The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa(6.2.1.5) calls for a horse to be sacrificed to Varuṇa, a...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Religious StudiesAllegheny CollegeMeadvilleUSA