Hindu Gods and Their Animal Vehicles or Vahana's
A vahana is a vehicle or the carrier of something immaterial and formless. The vehicles of the gods and goddesses in Hinduism are animal mounts that the gods/goddesses ride. All the Hindu gods and Hindu goddesses are represented as using vahanas to separate themselves; each vehicle is very different and even more symbolical. Below is a list of each god and goddess that has a designated vahana, what their vahana is, and the symbolism behind the vahana.
Ganesh - "The remover of obstacles" - The chubby, gentle, wise, elephant-headed Ganesh, or Ganesha, is one of Hinduisms most popular deities. He is the remover of obstacles, the deity whom worshippers first acknowledge when they visit a temple. He is usually shown in sculpture accompanied by or riding a rat. Since rats are seen as being capable of gnawing their way through most things, the rat symbolizes Ganesh's ability to destroy every obstacle.
Shiva - "The Destroyer" - Shiva (Sanskrit: Auspicious One), or Siva, is one of the main Deities of Hinduism, worshipped as the paramount lord by the Saivite sects of India. Shiva is one of the most complex gods of India, embodying seemingly contradictory qualities. He is the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger. His guardian is Nandi (the white bull), whose statue can often be seen watching over the main shrine. The bull is said to embody sexual energy, fertility. Riding on its back, Shiva is in control of these impulses.
Lakshmi - "Goddess of Fortune and Wealth" - Lakshmi represents the beautiful and bountiful aspect of nature. As Bhoodevi, the earth-goddess, she nurtures life; as Shreedevi, the goddess of fortune, she bestows power, pleasure and prosperity on those who deserve her grace. To realize her, one must respect the laws of life and appreciate the wonders of existence. Her Vehicle is the owl. ;
Durga - "The Unconquerable form of Devi" - Durga is the most splendid manifestation of Devi. Virginal and sublime, contain within her the power of all the gods combined, she is the invincible power of Nature who triumphs over those who seek to subjugate her. Durga is one of the names of the goddess that is the wife of Shiva. Durga has the role of a warrior goddess who destroys demons. She is usually depicted with ten arms that hold the weapons of the various gods. Durga's vahana is a lion. Her lion acts as her means of transportation and one of her many weapons.
Vishnuu - "The Preserver" - Vishnu's vahana is the eagle King named Garuda. He is often shown as a winged human-shaped figure with a beaklike nose. Garuda carries Vishnu to Vaikuntha (heaven) where he lives.
Saraswati - "The Goddess of Wisdom" - Saraswati, the goddess of art, music and learning, usually holds a book and a stringed instrument called a veena. She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation; she is the dawn-goddess whose rays dispel the darkness of ignorance. Without her there is only chaos and confusion. To realize her one must go beyond the pleasures of the senses and rejoice in the serenity of the spirit. Saraswati's vahana is a peacock or a swan. The peacock represents arrogance and pride over its beauty, and by having a peacock as her mount, the Goddess teaches Hindus not to be concerned with external appearance and to be wise regarding the eternal truth.
Agni- "The God of Fire" - Agni is the Hindu god of fire and is present in every fire that is lit. The Rig Veda signified that Agni was one of the main gods. Agni's vahana is the ram. He is usually seen riding the ram or in a chariot pulled by many fiery horses.
Brahmama - "The God of Creation" - The god of creation is called Brahma. Brahma is often seen on temple walls or in wall hangings in a Hindu household. Brahma is usually seen carrying the Vedas, a scepter, a string of prayer beads, a water pot a spoon used in making offerings in the fire sacrifice, or a bow. Brahma is usually portrayed with four heads and four arms. Brahma's vahana is a goose or a swan.
Indra - "The Storm God" - - Indra is a Vedic storm god that carries thunderbolts as his weapons and is also a bringer of rains. Indra was an important god with the Aryan warriors. Indra's vahana is a great white elephant called Airavata. Airavata is often depicted with four tusks.
Hanuman - "The Monkey God" - The monkey god Hanuman is one of the most widely worshipped gods in all of India. The reason for Hanuman's popularity is because he helped command an army of monkeys that helped the god Ramama defeat the demon king Ravana. Due to Hanuman's popularity and stature because of his devoted loyalty to Rama monkeys are rarely harmed in India. Hanuman does not have a vahana.