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Vehicles of the Gods

Hindu Deities & Their 'Vahanas'


Hindu deities have particular vehicles or 'vahana' on which they travel. These vehicle, which are either animals or birds, represent the various forces that he or she rides. These deities are seldom depicted without their corresponding creatures.

Vehicles as Symbols

Goddess Saraswati's vehicle, the graceful and beautiful peacock denotes that she is the controller of the pursuit of performing arts. Vishnu sits on the primal serpent, which represents the desire of consciousness in humankind. Shiva rides the Nandi bull, which stands for the brute and blind power, as well as the unbridled sexual energy in man - the qualities only he can help us control. His consort Parvati, Durga or Kali rides on a lion, which symbolizes mercilessness, anger and pride - vices she can help her devotees check. Ganesha's carrier, a mouse represents the timidity and nervousness that overwhelm us at the onset of any new venture - feelings that can be overcome by the blessings of Ganesha.

Below is a list of Hindu gods and goddesses who are inseparably linked with their respective 'vahanas':

  • Aditya - seven horses
  • Agni - the ram
  • Brahma - seven swans
  • Durga - the lion
  • Ganesha - the mouse
  • Indra - the elephant
  • Kartikya - the peacock
  • Lakshmi - the owl
  • Saraswati - the swan or the peacock
  • Shakti - the bull
  • Shani - the crow
  • Sheetala - the donkey
  • Shiva - Nandi, the bull
  • Varuna - seven swans
  • Vayu - a thousands horses
  • Vishnu - Garuda, the eagle & Adi Shesha, the serpent
  • Vishwakarma - the elephant
  • Yama - the male buffalo
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