Hinduism and Tribal Religions

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


  • Carl OlsonEmail author
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( calls for a horse to be sacrificed to Varuṇa, a...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Bergaigne A (1963) La religion védique d’ après les hymns du Rig-Veda. Librairie Honore Campion, ParisGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gonda J (1963) Die Religionen Indiens, II. Der jüngere Hinduismus. W. Kohlhammar Verlag, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gonda J (1965) Change and continuity in Indian religion. Mouton & Company, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gopinatha Rao TA (1968) Elements of Hindu iconography, 2 vols, 2nd edn. Motilal Banarsidass, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Zimmer H (1946) Myths and symbols in Indian art and civilization. Pantheon Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Religious StudiesAllegheny CollegeMeadvilleUSA