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.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vahana – the carriers of Gods

In Indian Mythology, all gods and goddesses have been depicted with a carrier or a ‘vahana’, which serves as a mount or a vehicle for the deity. Vah in Sanskrit means to carry or to transport.

Deities have always been depicted to have an animal or a bird as a vahana. This could be a real animal, or a mythological and sometimes even a combination of both.

In iconography, the vahana is both the symbol and the emblem of the deity that it carries. Nandi the bull, vahana of Shiva, represents strength and virility. Parvani the peacock, vahana of Skanda, represents splendour and majesty. The swan, mount of Saraswati, represents grace and beauty.

As the assistant of a deity, the vahana serves the function of doubling the deity’s powers. Durga the warrior destroys the demon Mahishasura with the aid of her mount, Manashthala the lion. Lakshmi, goddess of fortune, dispenses both material and spiritual riches from her mount, Uluka the owl. Ganesh, remover of obstacles, cannot go everywhere despite his elephant-like strength. However, his vahana, Mushika the mouse, can slide into the smallest crevices and overcome the greatest obstacles. He also carries Ganesh's benedictions.

The vahana symbolizes the evil forces over which the deity dominates. Mounted on Parvani, Skanda reins in the peacock's vanity. Seated on Mushika, Ganesh crushes useless thoughts, which multiply like rats in the dark. Shani, protector of property, has a raven in which he represses thieving tendencies. Under Shani's influence, the raven can make even malevolent events bring hope.

There are a number of smaller myths about each animal and its relation to the respective god and how they become their vahana.

1 comment:

  1. Depicting gods with their Vahana is a Mesopotamian influence (refer myths & symbolism in Indian Art and Civilisation-H.Zimmer, dont remember the page number and cant find the damn book). Also i personally feel that vahana rather than symbolising domination of the evil forces over which the deity dominates adds and accentuates the character of the God for e.g Skanda, the war god has peacock, now peacock is known to be omnivorous and wander in the battlefield feasting on....has reference of it in MB, Similarly Ganesha who is ultimately a fertility deity has mouse as his Vahana as rats are known to destroy crops...on metaphysicalplane you can easily argue that rats symbolise evil thoughts....you can argue this point....