A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ganapati's Vahana The Rat

Let us understand the origin/relevance of Ganesha’s vahana, the rat or the Mushika.

Ganapati is referred to as the Mushhak Vahan, or the rider of the rat. As we have seen that Ganesha is a harvest deity and the rat is one of the major problems of a farmer. Rats are known to devour the farmers produce and having a deity who rides a rat, is seen as someone who can control the menace that a rat is, for the farmers. Ganesha is known to have conquered the menace and riding the vanquished is a very common motif in our mythology (Krishna dancing on the serpent Kaliya, Shiva riding the bull, etc.). Riding the rat also depicts the control Ganesha exerts on the devastative power of the rats on crops.

Continuing with the same logic, Mushhak also means thief and the title Mushhak vahan also implies the lord who rides on the field rat, who is also the thief of the field.

The rat is also an animal that multiplies rather rapidly, is again symbolic of fertility and its productive power. The rat’s association with the harvest god, Ganesha could collectively symbolise the significance of a bumper crop brought in by the arrival of the god.

According to some scholars, a study of ancient India shows that there was the rule of Matanga (elephant) dynasty. There is a mention of a King of Kharvela of Kalinga who during the third quarter of the first century BC is supposed to have attacked the city of Musikas. Ancient India saw such dynasties with the totems of elephants and rats and there are records of the elephant dynasty being victorious over the rat dynasty. We can safely surmise that it is not entirely impossible to depict such aspects of history into mythological references of the conquered yielding to the conqueror.


  1. Our mythology has appreciation about animals. So every God is associated with one animal at least ( not necessary domestic ). The question is why we call these animals as their Vahan? We have never heard or seen any pictures of shiva riding on nandi, ganesh riding on mushika ( of course also sounds impractical), krishna riding on cows. though we do have goddess sitting on the respected animals ( in pictures, may be, just to associate them with the animal) So "WHY IS THE WORD VAHAN USED"


  2. They are called vahana, as they are carriers of the gods. Yes there are depictions of Ganesha riding on a rat, however, impractical it be. There are references of Shiva atop the Bull as mentioned in the description of his marriage procession. We also have references of Bahuchara Mata sitting on a cock! The very act of sitting atop the animal or a bird, is to show the aspect of conquest, that the animal stands for. As mentioned in the article, the conqueror sits atop the conquered.