Divine vehicles (Part 2)

In continuation to the deities and their spectacular 'vahan's worshipped in India.

The Blackbuck, 'vahan' of the wind god or 'vayu'. The Blackbuck is probably associated with the wind god owing to it's speed and agility. The buck looks like it's flying through the air when in motion, thereby posing as the 'vahan' for 'vayu.'

The Ram, 'vahan' of the fire god or 'agni'. A powerful god in Hindu mythology, agni is considered to be as powerful as Indra some texts even pronounce him to be Indras' twin. A messenger of gods, agni is usually a symbol of  important rituals be it a wedding, a havan or a normal religious ceremony in a Hindu household.

Considered to be the mouth of the Indian gods and goddesses, a lot is given to agni for well being and new beginnings also known as a sacrificial fire. It is probably due to the sacrificial nature of agni that the Ram is associated with him as it is considered the ultimate animal of sacrifice.

The Eagle, Vulture or the Crow as the 'vahan' of 'shani dev.' Shani Dev is said to be a messenger of bad luck. Potrayed as a dark coloured deity with a  displeased disposition, he sits  atop an eagle, crow or vulture who as scavengers are considered bad omen.

The vulture in particular being a bird who only consumes carcasses is said to be a harbinger of death to one who chances upon it. In Orissa, if a vulture is seen sitting on top of a house, death to one of the family members of the concerned household is said to be inevitable.

The cat as the vahan of 'shasthi' or the feline goddess. A goddess worshipped mostly in Eastern India (Bengal), Shasthi is said to be the protector of children and said to auspicious to those who want to have children. Often worshipped under a Banyan tree, the depiction is that of a motherly figure cradling an infant.

Locals believe that ' Shasthi puja' will bring them a male child and protect children against all evil and diseases. The association of a cat with the goddess could be possibly due to the cats nature as a fierce, protective mother. The other explanation could be the longevity of a cat (9 lives) which should be passed on to the child born giving him/her a long, healthy life.

The cows as the 'vahan' for usha or the dawn goddess. Depicted as a radiant, adorned maiden, Usha is worshipped as the bringer of the light of a new day, away from darkness and evil. She is said to bless humankind with strength, awakening and the need to be useful through the day, benefitting not just self but others as well.

The cows are probably associated with Usha as a symbol of purity and benefit as the udders of the cow not only benefits the calf (for milk) but all those in need of it.

The donkey as the 'vahan' of Shitala Devi or the Goddess of small pox. Known to heal diseases like small pox and fever  and keeping the environment pure and clean, Shitala translates as one who cools. The goddess is worshipped to cure children of diseases and she is said to fight demons who spread illnesses, in this case a demon called 'Jwarasur' with 'Jwar' translating as fever and 'asur' as demon. According to legend, She is said to have fought him and protected children.

She is depicted as carrying water in an earthern pot, to cool places she visits and she propagates the love for everyone equally, which is why she has chosen the donkey as her 'vahan' to show that the most spurned of animals can and should also be respected. No one should be shunned based on illnesses or their position in society.

The Rhino as the 'vahan' of goddess Dhavdi. Do not know much about this goddess except that she is largely worshipped in Gujarat. her choice of 'vahan' could be based on its brute strength and power but it would be interesting to understand, why the Rhino, considering they are not found in Gujarat.

Dog as the 'vahan' of Bhairava. Bhairava is the most terrifying form of Shiva. However why would such a strong deity need something as friendly as dog as the vahan? dogs are said to be forever seeking validation.

 Whether in terms of affection, territory or even guarding its food. Bhairava is said to be symbolic to controlling this need for validation, so as to not be territorial, seeking attention or even seeking material pleasure.

The bull Nandi as the 'vahan' of Lord Shiva. Shiva is said to be the most humble of gods and  more down to Earth than the rest of them. The bull therefore is said to be associated with him as the mark of  his grounded disposition.  Another probable reason for the Bull to be associated with Shiva is because the Bull is a symbol of rural India with who Shiva shares a close connect.

Photo credit for all images: www.onlineprasad.com, www.wikipedia.org, www.quora.com 


  1. Hey Bhavna!! You are the best👍 well asked and so effectively explained. Hope and pray for understanding this by them, whome we call HUMANS! Great sharing indeed💐❤💐

    1. Thank you so much :) am glad you liked it!


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